Ready for a little blasphemy?
Ryan and I were meandering about the mall earlier today waiting for Mom to finish a little shopping, when we spied something interesting leaning against one of the store entrances. Framed in faded gold swirls and dusty flower buds, sat a tall oil painting of Jesus. We slowed our pace a bit, noticing the age and deep oily shadows which hung like draperies about the face, His hands rising in benediction above a large visible heart crowned with thorns. A red “Sale” ticket hung ostentatiously from a corner of the frame, shining and enticing like the eyes of an unwanted puppy.
Now there is much I could say on this subject, metaphors and allegories that I could draw from this image concerning the state of religion today and the store owner’s eagerness to rid the shop of such religious merchandise when hole-y jeans, sinful chocolate, and Nine Inch Nails CDs sell much better. Certainly I could write about all those things, but honestly it sounds too much like preaching to me. Moreover, I pity the salesman. No amount of faith or devotion would convince me, a devoted – though at times liberal – Irish Catholic, to purchase such a painting and then display it in my home. Staring across a room above a fireplace like a tell-tale heart, the painting would drive me insane, burdened by the constant restraint – an Irishman can take only so much temperance. Heck, my choice of DVDs in itself would be halved. Incapable of committing sin within my own home, I would be forced to venture outside, inflicting my vices on an unsuspecting world.
No, what truly captured my imagination was the unknown individual who would buy such a painting. The man or woman walking down the mall corridors as I now type and upon seeing the bright red tag exclaims “Oh Lucy, I had been waiting forever for Baldingtons to put Jesus on sale. He was far too expensive last month what with Christmas and all, but now I can buy Him for the parlor and still have enough for that new pink scarf.” The shopkeeper would then wrap the purchased visage in brown paper and relinquish the parcel to its new owner. Leaving the mall, brown paper cracks between thin fingers; the new owner would gently place the painting onto the faded upholstery and then return unburdened to the shops in search of a scarf the color of cut salmon. The jolt of the door closing awakens small statues pasted onto the dashboard, their bobbing heads welcoming the latest relic.