DAVIDSON, N.C. — A sculpture of Jesus as a homeless man installed outside a church in Davidson has neighbors and church leaders debating its message and appropriateness.
According to articles on sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz’s website, the same “Homeless Jesus” now at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church was rejected by cathedrals in New York and Canada. Schmalz’s site also includes articles claiming Pope Francis blessed and accepted “Homeless Jesus” into Vatican City.
From a distance, especially at dusk, you would swear the sculpture is a real-life homeless man sleeping on a bench in front of the church.
Cindy Castano Swannack called police the first time she drove by it.
“I was concerned for the safety of the neighborhood,” she said.
For the safety of the neighborhood. Not the guy sleeping on the park bench? He’s not part of the neighborhood, clearly. The neighborhood doesn’t have room for a guy like that. Especially not outside a church, I mean, come on.
It’s too easy, with people like this. It’s cheap. People like this, they don’t need us to make them feel like assholes, because they full well know they’re assholes, and they’ve convinced themselves they can’t help it. Because of their overriding concern. For the safety.
Of the neighborhood.
From the comments:
I have no idea what Jesus would do, I don’t buy into fairy tales too much. However in his day you didn’t have cracked out homeless people committing crimes left and right. He also didn’t have a telephone or modern day police, so a call to them wouldn’t have happened.
One day when you grow up, have a real job, buy a home, have kids, pay taxes and have a vested interest in your community you will understand why someone might be concerned about something like this.
There’s really nothing to be done here. How many times a day do we hear this, middle-class people in relatively low-crime areas, that we’re all just one broken window or beer-can litter pile away from perdition? That safety is so fragile, so paper-thin, that one guy with unkempt hair and an old coat taking a nap in the open is going to tear us apart? People say this so often that they honestly don’t even hear themselves anymore. They honestly don’t hear how they sound.
They just hear the righteousness of their own justifications. They think there’s no other way to be, because this is the world, and if they’re not vigilant, if they’re not afraid, if they’re not angry, if they’re not standing on the wall with a gun in their hands, the earth will open up and swallow them.
She wishes it showed Jesus standing over the homeless protecting them.
“Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help,” she said, “We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.”
I can’t even make fun; the desperation in this statement is too palpable.
There is no such thing as Buddy Christ, who’s going to make it all okay. You can wish all day long for a cosmic handyman to just slap some duct tape on the world so you can get back to your dinner, but if you actually think that’s going to stop the leaks in the pipes there’s nothing I can do for you, and I think you know that.
There’s nothing but you, to take care of each other, and the Jesus you like so much one day a week told you that every which way He knew how. How much more can you underestimate your own capabilities, than to wish for a Jesus who’d come down and take care of this homeless guy on a bench? How much shorter can you sell yourself, as God’s creation and your own, than to give yourself a pass, and say we need Jesus to take care of this?
Instead of seeing Jesus on the bench, and taking care of Him.