Wearing a Crucifix

I wear a crucifix.

And because I'm a Protestant I often get puzzled questions from people at church.

"Why do you wear a crucifix?"

Because it is a bit strange, this bit of Catholic spirituality in a Protestant context. As we know, Catholics have the body of Jesus hanging on the cross--the crucifix. Protestants tend to display empty crosses.

And one reason for this difference is often inserted into the questions I get asked: "Why do you wear a crucifix? Jesus is no longer on the cross."

I tend to disagree. I think Jesus is very much still on the cross. Everywhere.

Which goes to the reason why I wear a crucifix.

When people at church ask me why I wear a crucifix I have to judge how to respond. In my mind I'm asking, "Would you like to hear a lecture about Girardian theology?" Almost everything about me has a long lecture behind it. It's an occupational hazard. For example, if someone casually asks about my tattoo of Rublev's icon--"Tell me about your tattoo!"--I'm going to talk for sixty minutes about the intersections of hospitality (welcoming God in the stranger), Trinitarian ontology and Eastern Orthodox iconography.

I've literally contemplated making cards and keeping them in my wallet so that when people ask about my tattoo I can just hand them some reading material. "Here, read this. Make sure you turn it over for the bibliography."

It's a similar situation with wearing a crucifix.

But I try to answer and keep it short. I say something like this:
I believe God is found among the victims of the world. God is hanging on crosses all over the world.

And so I wear a crucifix to remind me, to help me see.

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9 thoughts on “Wearing a Crucifix”

  1. throughout Scripture, God tells his people to use symbols and ways to remind them of what he has done for them (Joshua's memorial stones at the Jordan comes to mind). The crucifix is another reminder, so not sure why protestants would have a problem with that.

  2. Indeed, the crucifix is a powerful symbol, a reminder to look beyond ourselves at who is actually suffering. It is such a shame that a part of our nation, in particular, white, conservative Christianity, is so focused on itself, how it sees itself as the victim. How they cry of suppression, slavery and loss of freedom, as if they have actually experienced them.

    What I see are pacts with the rich and powerful, shameless accusations of "lazy" and "irresponsible" that we know are racist code words, efforts to keep power out of the hands of those of color, the elderly, the poor and those of other religions, while behind it all is the rationalization, "it isn't fair that a plurality of minorities are forcing their will on us, the majority". It saddens me when I see videos on Facebook that a church member has posted of someone who pretends to be homeless begging for handouts, with the poster's comment, "This is why I never give to beggars". I guess one video of one fraud trumps the words of Jesus. And the near giddiness that some display for the death penalty sickens me.

    Someone is probably saying, "This is politics". No, it is a force whose base is in many conservative churches, a force that fears a loss of power, that has actually lost the power to die to self.

    By the way, I am a middle class white man. Health care, food, voting power, social acceptance for people of color, the elderly, children of the poor, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, as well as other religions, and the LGBT community have not brought suffering upon me in the least. I thank God that I began to see a little light as I aged. So I keep praying that the cross is embraced as it should be, like it is described in Richard's post, and not made into a political symbol of power or a "synonym" for the dollar sign.

  3. every time i wear my staff football sweatshirt out to dinner or just out, I get into some pretty fun conversation and people just walk up and start talking.
    B Y U


  4. God's fool, God's jester
    capering at his right hand
    in torment, proving the fallacy
    of the impassible, reminding
    him of omnipotence's limits.

    I have seen the figure
    on our human tree, burned
    into it by thought's lightning
    and it writhed as I looked.

    R.S. Thomas, the opening of "Crucifixion" in Counterpoint (Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1990), p. 36.

  5. Many Church of England churches may not have a crucifix on the altar but will have one by the pulpit 'for we preach Christ crucified...'

  6. I don't wear a crucifix, but I can definitely relate to the feeling that I can never succinctly explain the deep reasons behind some of the things that I do. How exactly does one encapsulate months or years of thought on a topic into a 2 second response?

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