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.

Views: 313

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?" 

Comment by James Cox on June 25, 2013 at 1:51pm

Yes, sadly my frig. is not a matter transporter!

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on June 25, 2013 at 5:18pm

@bongani - It reminds me of the quote by Archbishop Desmond Tutu from your part of the world:

“When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land”.

Comment by Physeter on June 26, 2013 at 12:32am

What professor Robert said, basically. A reminder to see Jesus in the least of these. Also, probably a reminder that Jesus didn't come to the rich and powerful, or live in a palace or a million-dollar church when he was on earth--he came to the poor and taught the poor.

There's a lot of cognitive dissonance there because, as you say, if that god was real he could save the starving children better than just one person giving one bit of food to one child while 100s more go hungry. At the same time, it's not an ugly picture in and of itself. Maybe it's a reminder to those Catholics that they need to help the poor. Maybe they regularly give money to help starving Africans. Maybe they're honestly doing everything they know how to do to make the world better.

Comment by Diane on June 26, 2013 at 6:36am

I am sure they have helped as much as they could.  They seemed like good people

Comment by Unseen on June 26, 2013 at 9:11am

I wonder what a prayer for starving children sounds like. 

"Dear Lord, I know you work in mysterious ways your wonders to perform, but what mysterious wonder requires children to starve in order to perform it? Over."

Comment by Strega on June 26, 2013 at 9:56am

Sounds like it is reminding the catholics to give money to feed the poor, since without Jesus, the thought would never occur to them.

Comment by Unseen on June 26, 2013 at 10:07am

Strega: Well, it didn't occur to Jesus so...

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on June 26, 2013 at 7:16pm

I once asked a Catholic why he had a 2 metre high cross in his kitchen. He said that each time he saw it he would be reminded of Jesus dying for his sins. I said if it was me I would not need a reminder as I would be unlikely to forget something as important as that. I did not get that cup of coffee…….:-)

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