the christian clown angel sheep jesus card :: please, make it stop

July 23, 2010

Look again at the picture above.  Wrap your brain around it.  Drink in all of its glorious absurdity.

I received this card almost 10 years ago now.  Inside was a very nice note from a member of our congregation.  But the front cover…  *shudder*  I’ve kept it all this time as the gold standard in horrible Christian schlock art.  Please, for the love of God (and I mean that absolutely literally), make it stop.

Let’s analyze this together, shall we?

(1) Is this a clown that has died, or an angel dressed as a clown?  And then we must ask the follow up… WHY?  Is not Heaven a place of radiant joy?  What in the Sam Hill would Heaven need clowns for?  Are there kid birthday parties in heaven?  We live forever, so… the magic might wear off when we’ve been there ten thousand years.  Further, I’m quite sure Mickey D’s (while serving up delicious burgers) is a sign of the fall of man, and there will be no need for them or their clowny mascots in the world beyond.  And if this is a clown who has died… well that’s the creepiest ever.  Nobody likes clowns anyway.  We like dead clowns even less.  Can I get an Amen?

(2)  Jesus hair, or early ’80s feathered mullet?  Either way, we lose.  Unfortunately the artwork is too primitive to provide adequate detail, so we’ve gotta go with context clues.  The scripture reference below suggests that this might be Jesus, presenting His sheep to be fed.  But that is a whole new world of disturbing.  Why then, the clown nose, wings, and Mickey Mouse gloves? 

(3)  The sheep in this picture seems to have recently stumbled upon some carelessly discarded Vicodin.  Note the ever present look of happily surprised wonder.

(4)  The scripture reference seems recklessly tied to this inexplicable picture on purpose, as though putting a sheep in the cartoon justifies use of the verse, which makes it “Christian…”  If we connect the dots here, either this dead clown is Jesus (a view that my atheist friends buy, but that the Church obviously rejects) offering a sheep to us as a visual aid.  Or, if WE are His sheep, maybe this verse has been written to an unidentified army of angel clown warriors, whose sole job in the heavenlies is to make sure we get enough to eat?

Ridiculous.  Right?  All of it.  Whether you are a Christian or not, we can find common ground on this:  This is BAD ART.  And I propose that when the Christian sub-culture produces, endorses, tolerates, purchases, or passes along such horrible, tacky, thoughtless art, we are HURTING the cause of Jesus Christ.  We are proving ourselves to be irrelevant.  Thoughtless sheep, following the herd, willing to endorse anything with a “Christian” label on it.  Yuck-o.  Drives me crazy.

I’ve written about this before, and it generated quite a lengthy discussion.  But I still believe that when it comes to art, the Church ought to offer our best.  God has given His Body different gifts, and each ought to serve according to their gifting.  And again, to be clear, that is not to say that someone WITHOUT an artistic gift has any less merit or worth in the Kingdom.  I am not the church’s Administrator for good reason. I don’t have those gifts.  We serve where we have been given gifts to do so.

That’s why I have kept this card for the last decade.  So that some day it might do some good – as a clear example of what we MUST NOT do.  Someone thought this up.  Someone drew the artwork.  A company mass-produced this.  Someone else chose to buy it…

Please, for the love of God…  make it stop.


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Psalm 24:7 & Luke 10:42 >> Like David, and Mary, I'm in pursuit of my one thing. I'm the Pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Montgomery, IL. Pastor, teacher, writer, communicator, designer, and drummer. I definitely got the better deal in my marriage to Amy. And I couldn't be any more proud of my five amazing boys. Deeply grateful.

11 responses to the christian clown angel sheep jesus card :: please, make it stop

  1. Ummm, yeah, I get the profoundly disturbing thought that this picture came just after Jesus clown inflated and twisted around a tuft of wool…

    “Real clowns make balloon animals but only Jesus clown can make real animals.”

    …and he looks more ready to eat the sheep than feed it…

    File this under “things I wish I could unsee….” Thanks for the nightmares I’ll have tonight!

    • Anything to edify the flock, brother. I know… it sticks in your brain. I keep looking at it because I still can’t believe it’s real. Like a car crash. Or Anna Nicole Smith. Sharing this with the masses is part of my therapy. 🙂 God bless, and thanks for checking in here.

    • I agree! He looks like a big furry corn on the cob… with a face…

  2. HAHAHAHA…okay, you totally made my day. I completely agree. I hate seeing things like that because it seems to put a “bad” name on Christianity. Not to say that the makers of the card didn’t mean well, but…it definitely didn’t translate. One more reason why I can’t stand Bibleman.

    • Hannah, when I think of gifted artist using their gifts for God’s glory, your name is at the top of my list. God bless, friend. Keep on creating.

  3. AMEN, POPS! And… just between you and me… do you really think THAT clown would be in HEAVEN? Maybe that’s a bit predujiced, but andybody with that nose is NOT exactly “entertaining”. 😀

  4. I didn’t give you that card, did I? 🙂

    • Nope. You’re safe. 🙂 And the family that did give it to me wrote a very nice note inside congratulating us on the birth of our second child. ‘Twas lovely on the inside, creepy on the outside.

  5. Paul Johnston Sr July 24, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Josh: I have three thoughts on the subject. The first and most probable is that the card designer had visited a circus and then had just emerged from an LSD trip taken in a church while looking at stained glass windows. It is as creepy and meaningless as you suppose. Or two if I wanted to come to the designer’s defense and make you feel better when you look at it. I will say that the clown is not Jesus but Peter in all his foolish humanity. He after all being a fisherman not a soldier lopped of the ear of the high priest’s servant with a sword. Bozo never pulled a trick that bad. It was Peter to whom the Lord said the words printed on the card after asking him three times if he loved him. About then Peter probably looked as foolish as the clown in the picture having earlier bragged how he loved him more than the other disciples. Peter however was not alone in all of his foolishness. He did have the power of God on his side, hence the wings. No one does the work of God in his or her own strength. Those who wait upon the Lord will mount up with wings as eagles. If you look closely at the sheep its wool appears to be shaped into human forms as representative of the unsaved masses we need to reach with His Word. God chose the foolishness of preaching to save the world and he chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. A clown may be an accurate if not humbling representation of all of God’s servants.Thus, the card was designed by an astute Bible student with a flair for the symbolic. Third and probably more likely than number two it was a totally materialistic rip off of Christianity to sell a card. It is in poor taste by someone who may have been secretly mocking Christianity while selling his/her wares to Christians. If this were the case then some good may come out of it. I would remind you of the following passage from the book of Philippians. “Philippians 1:14-18 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. (15) Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: (16) The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: (17) But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. (18) What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” It is God’s Word to “feed my sheep”. Perhaps however we are reminded of this message it is good. A God who can change Saul into Paul can probably find a way of working good using a horribly tacky card regardless of the motives and intentions of its designer.Aren’t you glad we have a Designer who can do so? Perhaps now you can actually look at the card before you go to sleep at night and not have nightmares.

    • Paul… BWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Excellent analysis, brother. Your first hypothesis was at the top of my list. The second… about Peter and the masses of humanity stretched my understanding of exegesis. Well done. But the THIRD option actually has crossed my mind:

      “It is in poor taste by someone who may have been secretly mocking Christianity while selling his/her wares to Christians.”

      I actually wonder about this often as I look at horrible “Christianized” brick-a-brack, stickers, music, and pop-culture-reference rip-offs that are marketed at our local “Book and Bible” stores. Could there be a subset of the econpomic engine out there… non-believers who produced crappy art with Christian themes, just knowing we’ll buy it, because it’s Jesus-y? Sometimes I honestly wonder that.

      That’s why I find it fascinating to watch the slow crumble of the “Contemporary Christian Music” label. I mean, I wish the Christian artists NOTHING but blessing. I just think that the term “Christian,” when applied to art, is a very cumbersome term. It comes loaded with an expectation that the subject matter will have an overtly spiritual message. But I have had profound moments of thanksgiving and worship while listening to Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Peter Gabriel, Gustav Mahler… Sometimes the beauty of the art is enough. And I love to see bands like Switchfoot creating comforatbly as ARTISTS – not bound to produce an overt Christian message in every song (although they often do, because they write from their experience, which is Christian faith).

      I’d like to see this happen in more and more artistic fields. Just art. Not broken into “secular” and “Christian.” Just art. And what is beautiful and true will inspire worship in me.

      This card? Not so much. 🙂 God bless, Paul. Thanks for the dialog, as always.

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