there goes the neighborhood…

there goes the neighborhood… August 24, 2010

… I got new neighbors and, judging by the kitsch in their yard, they’re Catholic. Let the competition to be crowned the Tackiest Neighbor begin. At least this gives me an excuse to break out the Christmas lights a few months early. Oh, this is going to be so much fun.

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  • Please pardon nme, Kat, but this is stupid – how?

  • oh, you mean the label "stupid things"? Because it's me… doing stupid things… like trying to out tacky Catholic my neighbor. What, this is normal behavior?

  • I don't get it, Kat. Me, I don't put statues in my yard or anything (though I have pictures all over the living room). But I'm pleased to see that other people do. I don't agree with folks like the Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons, but I rather admire their zeal and wish I had more of it for Catholicism. But when it comes to how or how much we express our faith, seems to me that's a very personal thing. I deal with many unbelievers and ex-Catholics, so tread lightly among them.

  • One of my selfish reasons for wanting my husband to convert is that I will then be able to start buying and putting out statues in the yard.

  • Bob, you reading far too much into this. It is post in jest about a friendly "competition" between 2 neighbors to out Catholic the other by having Catholic Kitsch strewn about our yards… much to the bemusement of our non-Catholic neighbors.

  • My homeowners association won't let me put up the Christmas lights early or leave them up past MLK day.I never want to live in a 'planned community' again.Long live Kitsch!

  • Ah, I see. Thanks for the explanation, Kat. I never would have understood otherwise.

  • One of my friends in college asked me once, "Why do Catholics put Mary in a bathtub?" Took me a minute to figure out she was talking about "yard art"….

  • I was going to say, just don't put your Mary in a bathtub … but Elise beat me to it.

  • A friend of mine snaps a picture of these kinds of things as she comes across them. She has one bathroom decorated in 4×6 framed photos of Mary in a bathtub. (Yes, my friend is Catholic – and they have their very own statue in front of their house although I don't think the Blessed Virgin is protected by a bathtub.)

  • Aside from that…that parrot(?!) in there, this is actually one sweet little shrine in the photo.

  • Actually, I believe there is iconographical authority for picturing Mary with a parrot. Kat would know far better than I, though, because she actually knows art history. I just have this little maybe-fact niggling at the back of my mind.

  • Here I must confess to wearing the Brown Scapular, Holy Face medal and the Miraculous Medal. Although I must also confess to confining my Catholic Kitsch to my room and to tasteful Icons, statuettes and incense Burners.

  • There is a man in our town who built a Marian outdoor chapel, for lack of a better term, with lattice and cinderblock. There are CHERUBIM!! In the winter, he puts on white lights. Some vandals tried to steal the statue and couldn't. He'd "grounded" the statue and the whole thing with steel pipes set into cement several feet underground.In the write-up about the attempted theft, he revealed he is not Catholic or even in an organized church but somehow he's touched by Our Blessed Mother. How cool is that?

  • Can you say street shrine?

  • Out here a man built a big shrine to Our Lady on the property he has abutting the Mass Turnpike. It was a gift to OL when his wife had cancer. Everyone calls her Our Lady of the Highway. It was kitchy 25 years ago but he's kept it up, added a spot light and a nice arbor. We do grow out of our 70's art.

  • If you see a couple of plaster lions at each side of Mary in the weeks coming up, then they are not only Catholic, but also Italian. It's OK, I always make fun of my own kind.

  • Here we go. Parrot associated with the Virgin Mary in art via a story about Julius Caesar. Really.

  • Mariella, that is fascinating! So not only is there Catholic Kitsch, but there are sub-categories of Cultural Kitsch!

  • Lydia, thank you for the great link. Good informative stuff in there. I knew the parrot was a symbol of prosperity but not the history behind it representing a heralding of good news or the connection with the Blessed Virgin. Thanks again.

  • If you really want to know what "white trash" is…our JR Terrier LOVES to lift his leg on our St. Anthony statue in the corner of the herb garden (heathen dog!)…I yell at him; I yell at Br. J (who is supposed to be watching him)…no good…he sprays anyway.that's why we can't find anything around this Godforsaken place…yep.

  • Thanks for sharing, Father. Now I will have to go poke out my mind's eye.I would love to have a Marian shrine in my yard. However, it would have to be unpainted; in almost all the statues I've seen sold at Catholic gift stores, the BVM looks wa-aaa-ay too Caucasian.

  • Sorry, Anthony,…the damned dog has a "mind of his own"…we yell, we scream…to no avail…it's a lost cause (other than putting him out the front door, which is another story which I won't bother you with!!).And we LOVE St. Anthony here…poor guy!

  • There is a house about a mile away from me that has a life-sized Sacred Heart statue in the front yard, surrounded by assorted angels. I have to give them credit: the statuary is all from the same line or made by the same company and matches.