Jesus on Aisle Ten

This morning I came across a most amazing news story. The parents among you may already know this, but I was surprised to learn that Jesus has been coming again for a while now, and his next stop will be WalMart. Instead of clouds, he's arriving in a little cardboard box wrapped in plastic and covered with stickers that proclaim the Gospel According to Madison Avenue. Here's a sample of the wisdom:

"I Talk. Try me!" (There are several Bible verses on a microchip.)

"Fully Poseable." (Jack and Jill can make their very own crucifix!)

And lest we mistake him for just another action figure we have this:

"God's Son." (As opposed to a Transformer? A Mutant Ninja Turtle? Buddha?)

Of course I had to do a little digging. It seems this second coming is courtesy of a company in California called Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Company. It also seems this thing is a something of a holy crusade ("Take Back the Toybox!") created by a Christian man. But the division selling BHTB's plastic Jesus dolls is run by a Joshua Livingston, who is allegedly Jewish and if so, ought to know better. Mr. Livingston says, "I have a very open mind and believe people can have their own beliefs and religion." One wonders what it is he thinks these Christians believe as they rush out to trade filthy lucre for a little plastic god.

Also offered are Samson, Mary, David, Ester and Moses, and with them, I have no problem. It's a great idea to teach kids the Bible using toys (or almost any other way we can) and heaven knows we need healthy alternatives to the trash they're selling to our children, especially our boys, who seem to be growing up these days on a steady diet of blood and guts.

But come on. Jesus Christ, the action figure?

I don't know why I am surprised. As a writer of books that are mostly read by Christians, I sometimes attend an annual convention put on by a trade organization created to support stores that sell Christian products, books included. Years ago at the first of these I was amazed to see a sales booth offering Christian workout clothing. (You know: so you can proclaim the Gospel boldly while sweating off those church social donuts.) Towering above the sales booth was none other than a ten foot Styrofoam Jesus, suggestively stripped down to a loin cloth, wearing a crown of thorns, and struggling in spite of a Schwarzenegger-like physique to perform a squat thrust with his cross.

I digress.

It seems Jack Hayford has endorsed Our Dear Lord in a Box, and Focus on the Family is something called a "ministry partner." And speaking of the box again, I see it has yet another label:

"Ages 3+"

Ah, the formative years. The age when fact and fantasy are one. As a three year old I had a teddy bear named Wilber. He probably wasn't born in Beverly Hills since I come from humble stock, but Wilber was good enough for me. He was my best friend. He could walk, and talk, and everything. When I was sad, he made me feel better. When I was happy, he was happy too. Wilber could do anything. He had magic powers. He was alive. There were moments when he was more important to me than anyone. I loved Wilber, because he first loved me.

Then I grew a little older, and one Christmas morning I got another toy, a little plastic fellow with a cape. I think he was called "Dare Devil." I don't remember playing much with Wilber after that. After all, by then I had figured out that Wilber wasn't real.

There my story ends for now. But I mustn't let you go without quoting the final pearl of wisdom on Jesus' little box, the bit in small print near the bottom where it says:

"Warning. Choking Hazard."

Posted byAthol Dickson at 6:38 AM  


BJ said... July 31, 2007 at 9:50 AM  

There's bad taste, and then there's tacky. This marketing "brainstorm" goes way beyond tacky. Does the word "blasphemy" come to mind?


Kelli Standish said... July 31, 2007 at 7:04 PM  

Okay, Athol,
You should have put a small print warning at the beginning of this POST about a choking hazard. Your droll descriptions have me laughing so hard I can't breathe!

Write on :)


Timothy Fish said... August 3, 2007 at 7:01 AM  

I am sure that there are plenty of people who are more than willing to pay for something like this. I personally think that it is disrespectful and has the potential to cause kids to think of Jesus as nothing more than a doll, a playmate or a moviestar.

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