Prophetic Aftershocks, part 1
Avoiding Even the "Appearance" of (Religious) Truth

Body Tracts


The days of witnessing with "Chick" tracts and the like are nearly gone.  But a new kind of tract is coming on the scene: body tracts -- scripture verses and evangelistic messages tattooed on human carriers. Unlike their predecessors, which can easily be thrown away, these works of art (well...most of them are "art") are being displayed daily for an unbelieving world to see.

So what do you think? Are "body tracts" an effective way to bring one's testimony of faith in Jesus to today's culture?  Or will this method fade from use (hmmm... tattoos don't fade, do they?) like so many others?



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There's a good chapter on the spiritual significance of tatooing in contemporary culture in the book Signs of the Times: The Secret Lives of Twelve Everyday Icons by Peter Graystone []
The permanance is part of the point: it's an interesting piece of cultural protest in a society increasingly marked by provisionality, change, disposability... Needs a Dick Hebdige style cultural analysis, I suspect.

It reminds me of the words from the book of common prayer, used in some faiths during baptism: "An outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace." Perhaps, like baptism, a tatoo can be a perpetual reminder of a point in time when we made a commitment of faith, or when we reached some significant faith crossroads and chose to continue with Jesus. It's interesting.

I have two tattoos.

The first is a celtic-knot cross on my left shoulder. It symbolizes to me the idea of carrying my cross, but also ties into my Scottish roots. I got it at a point in time when I finally felt released to be "me" and also felt a deeper sense of connection to and commitment to follow Jesus.

The second is a yellow rose on my right calf. It twines up the outside of my calf, and around my ankle it blends into a triple-weave of rose stem/vine/thorns. The rose itself is a just-opening bud. On the inside of my ankle there is a place where a thorn pokes me and there is a small drop of blood -- barely visible. I got this one in memory of my mom. She was from Texas (yellow rose) and it was through her I got my Scottish roots (weave around ankle). Her brief (66 yrs) life here was just the start of her new life with Jesus (just-opening bud) and that life is the main thing I want to remember (so the rose itself is large and on my outer calf), as opposed to the pain of ehr loss -- which is real and which I do feel, but which is small in comparison to the joy I feel re: her life (this the small thorn poking me is on my inner ankle and is tiny).

I heard leonard Sweet say that in past generations, tattoos were seen as for bikers and for drug-thugs. (FYI, before that, they were for sailors -- and they're introduction to the US was from sailors who saw the markings Pacific Islanders made on themselves...)

...but today's generation, Sweet said, sees their bodies as living canvases on which to tell their stories.

That's how I see it -- and my 5 ear-piercings each tell stories as well.

My thought is that the next tattoo I get, however, will be on a place where I would have to *try* to cover it up. In other words, no one will see my leg or shoulder uinless I wear shorts or a sleeveless shirt. But I think my next tattoo will be either on my right fore-arm (somewhere I would have to intentionally hide it by wearing a long-sleeved shirt) or maybe even on my right palm -- where I could only hide it by wearing a glove.

~ Keith


...but the tattoo I get will be an image which tells part of my story -- not just a scripture verse or "tract" thingie.

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