I don't know what to file this under

Today I was at a home as part of my job.  It had a bunch of interesting things in it, among them a cow's skull mounted on the wall, a huge Jacuzzi that was so large it made other parts of the bathroom barely accessible, and the item that is the subject of my confusion and consternation.  

It was one of those images that change according to the position of the viewer.  It was posted on the refrigerator and when I first saw it I saw a picture of a starving child.  Wondering why someone would have a picture of a starving child on his or her refrigerator, I took a closer look.  When I changed my position a little I realized that the other image was Jesus' face.  I toggled my head back and forth a few times to make sure I was seeing it correctly.

There must be a story behind the card.  Maybe they got it as a token of remembrance after donating to some Catholic charity.  These people were clearly Catholic, from their Jesus-laden crucifixes to their Mother Mary pillow on the sofa.  This was the picture of Jesus with the thorny heart, Catholic to the core.  

I don't care that they were Catholic, but maybe knowing they are will help provide an explanation for this picture.  Of course Jesus loves the little children.  Then why is that one starving?  Why are millions starving?  Does it relieve a little bit of their Catholic guilt to know that they have helped to feed some children somewhere even though in the big picture their efforts are as Mickey Mouse bandages on a deep, gaping wound?

I did not dislike the woman with whom I was working.  I was there to provide my little bit of person-by-person impact on the world.  There is no judgment of her here, just confusion and a little sadness over the picture.  In some other instance, such as one in which I knew the person personally and felt comfortable enough to ask about it, I might have said, "Hey!  What the &%$# is up with this picture?  Please, for the love of all that is good in the world, explain it to me!"  Now I may never know.

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Comment by _Robert_ on June 24, 2013 at 10:00pm

Yep. That's pretty typical. Catholics love to suffer. I know first hand. It's a critical component. This has been lost on many other Christian cults. By suffering you are closer to god. I recall Mother Angelica once telling of a woman who voluntarily died in childbirth along with her child (rather than abort) was in the fast lane to be with god and jesus.

Comment by Diane on June 24, 2013 at 10:48pm

I wonder what a prayer for starving children sounds like.  What level is it at?  What approach do they take?  Do they pray for remediation of all of the factors causing millions of starving children, or is it a simple, "Jesus, please feed the children?"  

An omnipotent god could do just that.  If that were to happen, I wonder what form it would take.  Would a god lower the birth rate in affected parts of the world?  Would it facilitate access to safe and free birth control?  Would it stop political and religious conflicts that have been raging senselessly for centuries?  Would it make the Hutus and Tutsis suddenly see eye-to-eye?  Would food just appear in front of every starving child?   Could it save children who are too weak and sick to eat or drink?  Can god start an IV?

See?  This is why I can't pray.  This is what my mind does with issues like this.  

Comment by Doug Reardon on June 24, 2013 at 11:05pm

In the Catholic church all disease and suffering are due to sin.

Comment by Dr. Bob on June 25, 2013 at 1:28am

Hi @Diane.   I can't say what meaning the family found in the picture, but I can offer my reaction as a Catholic.

The picture you describe would for me be an instant reminder that we must see Jesus in other people, especially those in need.  It immediately calls to mind the New Testament verses to the effect of "Whatsoever you do for the least of my people, that you do for me."   The iconography is of "the Sacred Heart of Jesus", which is religious symbology for the love God has for all of humanity.

It is a religiously poignant call and reminder to serve others, and care for those in need.

Comment by Tom Sarbeck on June 25, 2013 at 2:59am

Hi, Diane, I suggest you file it under "Missed Opportunities to Connect with Others".

Comment by _Robert_ on June 25, 2013 at 6:28am

more like a " religiously poignant call and reminder to serve the church, and create those in need"...professor. That is what you really do, want and need.

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on June 25, 2013 at 8:32am

Comment by bongani muthwa on June 25, 2013 at 8:55am

@Reg The Fronkey Farmer- although I first LMFAO after seeing this picture, but comparing this guy with the dark skinned lady, the diferrence is the bible-giving-guy is well fed and looks well clothed.

Comment by James Cox on June 25, 2013 at 1:26pm

I came from a catholic family. These type of 'things' were in my environment for most of my childhood. I think these things were part of my long term dialogue concerning religion, ethics, and sanity.

I think the picture could be evaluated via multiple lenses:

a) The starving child and Christ, both suffering. The child suffering on the 'cross' of human indifference. Christ suffering on the 'cross' of human ugliness and cruel judgement. Both link at the root of human inhumanity/evil.

b) There could be a sense of powerless to change either, but through faith and compassion. Sadly for both, it is likely too late.

c) The picture yanks the short hairs of our compassion and humanity, reminding us of the power of choices and judgements and their effect upon the world. Sadly, the sense of powerlessness might interfer with the motivation to change anything! So the statis-quo is preserved.   

Comment by Rick Yost on June 25, 2013 at 1:48pm

I haven't read all the responses here...so this may have been suggested already,
Could it just be a reminder to all who take food from the fridge, that there are those who starve? I'm reminded of the old parent-to-child phrase from my childhood, "Clean your plate, there are starving children in Biafra?" 

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