Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bishop Blesses New Tattoo

OK, so you have a past. Who doesn't? You were hanging out with some friends one night and had a few too many shots of tequila and staggered by a 24 hour "Skin Art" studio. You woke up the next morning with a cool (then) skull tattoo.

But oops... now you've become Orthodox, grew a beard and you're thinking "priesthood". By God's grace you got the tattoo where you might be able to hide it wearing full vestments or a cassock. Oh sure, you told the story and showed it to your spiritual Father in your life confession, but the permanent record remains. Now you aren't sure if you should show it to your bishop before you talk to him about ordination. Why waste 3 years of your life in seminary and years of student loans to pay off for nothing because you have a skull tattooed on your shoulder?

Well! Your days of embarrassment and apologies are over! A Bishop of the Russian Church has just blessed a new tattoo design for converts called "Orthodoxy or Death".

When asked why he blessed this design the Bishop said, "If the Church can baptize the Greek culture, it can certainly baptize American skin art."  The "Orthodoxy or Death" motif is designed so it can easily be retro-fitted around almost any skull tattoo and thus it can be "Orthodoxized".  Just imagine your willingness to be martyred for your Orthodoxy emblazoned around the former permanent record of a falling down drunken stupor! Give your skull a new Orthodox name!

So if you have a tattoo... don't apologize, EVANGELIZE!
Don't remove your tattoo, transform it!
It's best because it's blessed!
Heck, you might even be regarded as a "fool for Christ" by your friends!... (and they'd be half right.)

(Disclaimer: the Church will not pay for retro-fitting existing tattoos, nor does it endorse any tattoo artists who do not know Russian. Consult your spiritual Father, priest or bishop for potential side effects of "Orthodoxy or Death" tattoos, which may include but not limited to: prelest, vainglory, Russophilia, Society for Creative Anachronism Syndrome, posing, exhibitionism, arrogance, super-correctness, Monkabee syndrome, marginalization by friends, family and fellow Orthodox,and rejection for ordination by a normal Bishop.)


Athanasia said...

you, of course, are joking...aren't you?

Abe said...

It's not a Tattoo, SP (rolling eye's like a teenage girl). It's an organizational banner...with skulls and large knives...oh cool! I'll send pics soon!

discourse said...

Ok,'s an organizational banner for a motorcycle group (I hesitate to say "biker gang", not sure if that's PC)?

I guess I just don't understand why it needs blessing. Someone enlighten me.

Abe said...

Motorcycles are dangerous. Might be a good reason to get a blessing for safety.

s-p said...

Yes, Gaberaham, I know it is a "banner" (rolling MY eyes like a girl back at you :). But anything can be turned into a tattoo... especially something as "counter-culture Ortho-cool" as this that has *BONUS*! a Bishop's blessing! Whoo hoo!

Discourse, depending on your priest or bishop, almost anything you do "needs a blessing". I once approached a bishop about getting a blessing for a "ministry" and he said, "You don't need a blessing to be a Christian". A priest then told me I had to have a "blessing" and clergy oversight of it. (And no, my blog doesn't have a blessing...:) If "O or D" is an "official ministry" of a parish or diocese then it would need a blessing. If its just a group of people starting a "club", getting a blessing jumps the "Ortho-street cred" of the organization exponentially.

Tim Andrews said...

But it's not a bishop performing the blessing - it's jsut a normal priest!

s-p said...

Tim, oops, dang bifocals. :)
But... he is an abbot, so that bumps the blessing up a notch from "just a normal priest". :)

Ingemar said...

Is it really "American convert mania" if we're talking about a Russian cleric blessing a Russian emblem (albeit inspired by a Greek slogan)... IN RUSSIA?

BTW, I was chrismated yesterday. But no tattoos for me! And I'll continue shaving thankyouverymuch.

I took the name "Peter."

November In My Soul said...

The abbot looks familiar, like a guy I know in California. The manimal in me wants to growl at this, yeah take over the streets, Orthodox or Die! then the English Major in me says but in a deeper sense it is true, at least for me

s-p said...

Ingemar/Peter, Many years! The banner has already gotten "legs" here in the USA among the convert blogosphere. The fact that it is from Russia makes it even better because it can't be written off as just a bunch of ex-protestant biker ministry goofballs dreaming up something "culturally relevant" to evangelize America with "Athonite Ink" etc. :)

William, good to see you. I keep checking on your blog... I pray all is well with the job hunting etc.

Anonymous said...

Funny, but . . . One of the comments at the site you link to points out that if it's read as, "YOU be Orthodox or die!" (as opposed to "I choose Orthodoxy or death") then we have a little jihadist-toned problem on our hands, don't we? So not worth it.

Sigh. I am already imagining which converts I know will show up with this as a bumper sticker or a patch on their jackets or something soon. And no doubt it's sinful for me to imagine these accusations (and they do amount to accusations in my mind, to demeaning thoughts about "how lamely predictable you are in your fantasy SCA-style costume-party Orthodoxy"). This is what we get for branding EVERYTHING, for seeing EVERYTHING as some kind of vehicle for self-expression, for loving fantasies of who we think we are and thus try to express ourselves as rather than seeing who we actually are, and for importing the whole behavior into our religion.

Ingemar said...

The tattoos remind me of the tattoo in this video

Anonymous said...

I agree! People often don't "get it" about the power of images, and how the mind processes their messages. The greater the historical/general ignorance level, the more likely a big mistake will be made.

This reminds me of a horrible Orthodox youth group poster/T-shirt featuring a row of upraised clenched
fists in the currently popular red/blue graphics style that is a knock-off of old Eastern bloc propaganda.
The message was supposed to be about the energy and power of youth with the Christian msg etc. Given that the general anti-Christian mindset views Christians as dangerous, violent etc, this kind of image is a disaster. I emailed the Priest in charge of the site trying to explain how misguided this was; especially in view of the communist killing of Orthodox - using their graphic style for ANYTHING Orthodox was in especially poor taste. What does a raised fist have to do with the love of Christ?? But beyond that, you can convey the same message of gentle but irresistible power via other means - the famous image of an old crusty locked chest burst open by the pressure thousands of tiny grass seedlings is an example of a better kind of image.

This banner image will be misused, misinterpreted
and just scare people away. I don't say this because the image has the skulls, (I love my Mexican folk art)
I say this because it doesn't treat the image of relics
with any love...and there are plenty of very similar images from the plethora of Nazi wanna bes, biker, various street gang, drug and music logos to absorb
it completely.

It will not stand out and something that points to "a better way." Let alone the only way, to life. Kay

Chrys said...

"So if you have a tattoo... don't apologize, EVANGELIZE!
Don't remove your tattoo, transform it!
It's best because it's blessed!
Heck, you might even be regarded as a "fool for Christ" by your friends!... (and they'd be half right.)"

(Is it me, or is there more than a trace of Tom Lehrer's influence here?)

bob said...

Proof that one can be a complete flake and be an abbot. Is there anything he won't bless? Sorry, but this is just grotesque. In a Church this big you'll have bishops like ours and obviously abbots like ours. There's a problem in the Church about monastics. A certain mentality that thinks anything is **cool** if a monk does it. Not that a monk might do something because it's right. Notice the difference?

s-p said...

I just read a blog post at Mystagogy that gives some perspective on this slogan

a really good line in it: How about "Orthodoxy IS death..."

Anonymous said...

I think they (whoever 'they' are?) ripped off "DEATH TO THE WORLD" which I prefer. That Orthodox group has been in ministry for years. Check them out.


justjamey said...

Thanks for giving me an idea for a tattoo, Steve! Hey, if we converts are going to be crazy, why not have some kick-ass tattoos to go along with it?!??!