Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmick!
One of the strangest and most persistent confusion of ideas is the belief that life-like statuary has some spirit or spiritual power trapped inside it. The ancient Egyptians believed that the spirit of a dead guy could inhabit a statue made in his likeness, and talking to the statue was the same as talking to the dead guy. I suppose it is the same in one respect, the statue is just as likely to answer as the corpse is. Hey, add a pinch of ergot, or an unscrupulous high priest and a cleverly concealed speaking tube and anything is possible.
Various religions throughout the world make use of artistically rendered chunks of plaster, metal, wood and stone as a focus for worship, but none seem more bizarre to me than the subcult of the Adoration of the Blue-eyed, Blonde Hummelesque Child Jesus. This was apparently started by the Carmelites in Germany, and has inexplicably spread to areas where a Saxon Jesus should have raised some eyebrows, to say the least. The picture above is of a statue in Columbia, to which one Father Rizzo attributes the divine discovery of Marketing. The “official” story can be read here.
My take on it goes like this: Father Rizzo is charged with shaking down the locals for the funds to build a new church. The locals see a scruffy-looking guy in a cassock panhandling and pretty much ignore him. The next day, he gets the bright idea to take a pretty statue along with him and sets up on the side of the road. It works. The statue is a draw, and in addition, it lends legitimacy to his efforts by showing that Mother Church trusts the Father with an expensive piece of art. Since the Father has been trained to believe that he is incapable of independent thought, the inspiration must have come from God. Besides, the legend of a talking statue increases the marvelous and mystical mumbo-jumbo power of the Church (lookie what we got!).
The web page where I got the image closes with these lines:
“The devotion to Child Jesus spread to all Latin America with an avalanche of wanders, miracles, conversions... people who left alcohol and drugs, poor families finding scholarships for their children, jobless finding jobs, physical healings, family reconciliations...”
And just like a Carlton Sheets scam, for every success story, there are.... (how many failures?) that we will never hear about and will never be attributed to the failure of the god/formula to perform.
“You may want to try doing the simple 3 day Novena, because the favors are not obtained by any statue of picture, but by devotion and honor and adoration to the real Jesus Christ in His childhood... try Him!... let us now the results. God bless you.”
Now send this in an e-mail to everyone you know in the next five minutes, or Father Rizzo’s brother Ratzo will fill your head with bad show tunes.
More fun here: