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Arts and Culture

‘Somebody Called the Cops on Jesus’ (Audio)

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Posted on Apr 13, 2014

Photo by mockstar (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Residents of “an upscale neighborhood filled with well-kept townhomes” in Davidson, N.C., now share the block with a bronze statue depicting Jesus Christ as a vagrant asleep on a park bench on the grounds of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, NPR reports.

The Son of God is “huddled under a blanket with his face and hands obscured; only the crucifixion wounds on his uncovered feet give him away.”

One woman called the police on the statue the first time she drove by, apparently thinking it was a real homeless person, a local reporter told NPR. Another neighbor wrote a published letter to an editor saying the work creeped him out. Others claimed it insulted Jesus and demeaned the neighborhood.

The creator is Canadian sculptor and devout Catholic Timothy Schmalz.

NPR reports:

The bronze statue was purchased for $22,000 as a memorial for a parishioner, Kate McIntyre, who had loved public art. The rector of this liberal, inclusive church is Rev. David Buck, a 65-year-old Baptist-turned-Episcopalian who seems not at all averse to the controversy, the double-takes and the discussion the statue has provoked.

“It gives authenticity to our church,” he says. “This is a relatively affluent church, to be honest, and we need to be reminded ourselves that our faith expresses itself in active concern for the marginalized of society.”

The sculpture is intended as a visual translation of the passage in the Book of Matthew, in which Jesus tells his disciples, “as you did it to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me.” Moreover, Buck says, it’s a good Bible lesson for those used to seeing Jesus depicted in traditional religious art as the Christ of glory, enthroned in finery.

See a picture of the statue here.

NPR:

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.


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