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Postmodern Village
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The Fashion of The Christ: An Extreme Makeover for The Son of Man
by Annie Prada-Klein

Undeniably, the Christian core of this nation is under attack. From the heights of Brokeback Mountain to our flagging moral Will-power and lack of Grace, we’re being peered at by a Queer Eye indeed, staring us down with the Armies of Darkness. The liberal elites force their agenda down our throats and then give themselves Academy Awards for the effectiveness of their iniquity.

With the glowering specter of such broadsides against common decency as Tinky-Winky, The Book of Daniel, and Spongebob Gaypants, how are the young to be brought to Jesus? How can a moldering old religion, this old rugged cross of Christianity, be made relevant to a generation of lost souls constantly jacked into the violent pornography on their video iPods?

GiottoA partial answer may lie in a simple change of wardrobe. Traditional depictions of Christ are of two primary sorts: the living Jesus in some kind of old-fashioned robe - most likely tan or a dingy white - wearing sandals and sporting an unruly beard and indifferently-styled hair. The other image is of Christ crucified, the classic ecce homo look on all those depressing crucifixes painted by Giotto in the 14th Century. Here, Jesus Christ is seen as emaciated and bleeding, clothed in only a loincloth and with a thorny chunk of the landscape as His headgear.

While these images are no doubt theologically cogent, neither is likely to appeal to a cadre of kids whose sense of style has been carefully coiffed by neo-Jazz-age Sean Jean suits and a blinged-out 50 Cent. The youth of today view a midriff-bearing, go-go booted Jessica Simpson as the all-American girl, even as she seduces an obviously underage boy in a Pizza Hut spot. What could be more off-putting to an image-conscious “metrosexual” than a Lord and Savior who looks the part of a bleeding-hearted, LSD-addled old hippie? Likewise, the young ladies who are trained to respond to the Vin Diesels of the world are bound to find a scrawny fellow with handmade underwear and a hat made from shrubbery a bit unlikely for the role of Holy Warrior of the Armageddon.

In other words, in order to stay relevant, J.C. needs a makeover, and I mean now.

Much in the same way that churches everywhere have traded in “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need” for catchier, simpler, more rhythmic Praise and Worship songs, Christian image-makers need to do away with both the oddball flowing robes with the Bedouin-meets-Grizzly-Adams look, and the buzzkill picture of suffering and despair. I mean, seriously, this is 2006: if the message is too downbeat or the look not hip to the street, kids can just change the proverbial channel over to the dangerous likes of New Age mysticism or atheistic Secular Humanism, both of which get dandied up by Hollywood types through seductions like Star Wars and the Harry Potter series.

First of all, Christ’s hair. If we must have length, the least we could do is go all one length: something more surfer hunk and less Willie Nelson junk. Perhaps something chin length would be appropriate, and make sure Jesus gets a good shampoo, conditioner, and blow-dry: we want a Holy head with body and sheen. Next, the beard has got to go. Period. And no goatees - that is far too ‘90s proto-emo - and no stubble. We need a clean-shaven Jesus who shows a little self-respect. How are we supposed to believe in Him when He doesn’t believe in Himself enough to run a razor across His cheeks every once in a while? To finish off the spa treatment, Jesus should get a nice facial massage and an eyebrow pluck. The little things that are noticed the least make the biggest difference. I would also personally recommend teeth whitening, but chances are His glowing, Godly beauty will do enough to shine through here.

Next, the Heavenly body. I know that the lean look was meant to convey a certain asceticism, a reflection of the paucity of faith of this world and the sinfulness He died on the cross to correct. But really. Get Jesus to the gym. How can a Christ with no pecs and no six-pack be fit to fight the devil? You can sure bet Satan and all his minions project a much buffer image than that! We need a Christus Victor who can lift the Whore of Babylon and curl her with one bicep, not a Redeemer who will crumple like a house of cards in a five mile an hour breeze.

Casual, Hip Jesus

A more updated Jesus takes to the town; His style is casual but hip, street savvy, but approachable -- perfect for today's teen.

Last in the appearance department would have to be the Son of God’s clothes. A strict adherence to tradition does us no favors in a decontextualized postmodern age. Ask your average adolescent if she knows what people wore in 33 A.D. and she will look at you like you just walked out of a Steppenwolf concert. That is because she does not know and she does not care: history is for boring old people who like their movies in black and white. I’m thinking Jesus needs something forceful and fit from Armani for more formal occasions, something double-breasted and white, with a baby-blue Fubu tracksuit and a few gold chains for gatherings at the flag pole. He could even go with Abercrombie and Fitch or (if need be) The Gap for church mixers and prayer groups. One could even envision our Risen Lord in a pair of lo-rise jeans (all the better to show off His gym-fresh glutes!) and a turtleneck ala J. Crew for lazy days of miraculous healing and fishing for men.

 

Finally, whatever the Christian community in this country does, it should not show Jesus dying! Of course He died for our sins, and that is certainly important. But Generation Y does not like to dwell on the negative; that’s for passe, Morrissey-loving Gen-Xers. Today’s youth need an upbeat Jesus, one who can be envisioned enjoying a cappuccino at the local coffee shop or maybe snowboarding at Aspen. We need an X-treme sports Jesus, a Christ with an MP3 player blasting Jars of Clay. We need a successful Lord, one who represents our values. If Christianity is to survive, it must move upscale from a King of Kings with only an ass to ride on to a King of the Benjamins riding on 24" rims in a Cadillac Escalade. A Redeemer bivouaced on a mountainside delivering bromides about flowers and stories about servants may have been meaningful to a first century Hebrew crowd, but today’s youth will only listen if Christ can invite the crew of MTV into his phat crib next to the Family Research Council HQ in Colorado Springs.

Skeptics may scoff at what is being presented here, but it is not out of line with what has already been accomplished by the wholesaling of worship as big-box store that is the contemporary MegaChurch. What works for value-conscious Baby-Boomers would work equally well for style-conscious young people. We fighters in the culture wars must act boldly; if we want to save souls, we must use any means necessary.