Calling the Cops on Jesus

homeless_Jesus4I don’t think I can adequately describe the emotional and bodily reaction I experienced when I first heard this story broadcast on NPR. I can tell you I nearly broke the bowl I was washing at the time. St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Davidson, N.C has recently installed a new sculpture in front of the church that prompted one passer-by to phone in concern to the local police. I would really love to know the woman’s response to being informed that the homeless person she thought was sleeping on the bench was actually a sculpture titled “Jesus the Homeless,” the creation of Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz. The installation at St. Alban’s is the first in the United States, though he did shop it around to several more high profile churches before the St. Alban’s purchase – all declined for various somewhat dubious reasons. Other reactions have included one neighbor to the church being “creeped out” by the sculpture and others viewing it as a “demeaning” depiction of Jesus. This is the point in the story where I nearly busted the bowl – demeaning? How about authentic? That’s what the Rev. David Buck, rector and resident provocateur for the St. Alban’s parish sees as the gift of the sculpture – authenticity. Jesus was homeless. The juxtaposition of this sculpture in front of a fairly affluent parish situated in a wealthy neighborhood is breathtakingly poignant . . . art as witness.


Another take on the story and the resulting controversy can be found here.

“I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.”
~ Matthew 25:40 CEB


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