Outside of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Davidson, North Carolina, there's a sculpture of Jesus. But you might only realize it's Jesus by the small crucifixion marks on the statue's foot, and a plaque next to the it.
The statue features Jesus huddled, lying on his side on a park bench, completely hidden by a blanket, seemingly homeless. In pretty stark contrast to traditional depictions of Christ such as the infant Jesus, Jesus the shepherd and Jesus at the last Supper.
And according to an NPR report yesterday, while some people get it, a lot of people don’t. One woman in the town called the cops on the bronze Jesus statue because she thought it was a homeless man. Another resident who lives nearby said the statue “creeped him out,” and wrote a letter to a local news website, DavidsonNews.net.
The NPR report also said:
"Some neighbors feel that it's an insulting depiction of the son of God, and that what appears to be a hobo curled up on a bench demeans the neighborhood."
(Which, you know, makes sense considering the statue’s plaque quotes Matthew 25:40, and Jesus himself associated with the homeless, prostitutes and beggars.)
Not limited to the confines of Davidson, N.C., this morning on The Today Show, the statue brought us one extremely confusing minute of theological analysis such as, “It’s like the Joan Osborne song, What if God Was One of Us?”
The statue was created by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz, for whom it took a year to find a home for the original sculpture. After being passed on by St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto, the original found its home at the University of Toronto’s Regis College.
St. Alban’s then purchased a copy of the original that sits in Toronto, for $22,000 as a memorial to a member of the church who died of cancer in 2007.
What do you think, is it disrespectful?