I Sure Hope the Bible Isn’t this Creepy

I Sure Hope the Bible Isn’t this Creepy May 22, 2012

So, it seems that this image is making its way around the evangelicalfacebookosphere. Maybe it’s just me, but it really creeps me out. If you have that kind of relationship with the Bible, you may need counseling.

It also leads me to ask, What if the person getting the creepy hug were a man?

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  • This must be my problem: I always thought that only real human beings could give me hugs, not books.

    Who knew?

    • Are you kidding? Any good bibliophile knows that books give hugs!

      • Jeanette

        Thank you, Gina! I couldn’t agree more.

  • Darryl Schafer

    And in good evangelical form, the Bible is masculine…

  • Mark

    I fail to see what qualifies this hug as creepy? Is it the word-wrap around the body of the guy, or a look you perceive in his face? Surely it isn’t the manner of the hug itself, as I see no sexual connotation at all (i.e. no copping a feel). Or maybe you’re just sharing an unspoken prejudice toward evangelicals who have a certain understanding of relationship with the bible as a living entity? Where’s the creep factor?

    • Thisle

      Really? You don’t see why this is even a little bit creepy?
      Yes it’s not sexual – but its a giant page morphing into a man and reaching out and “hugging”/grabbing a girl… That’s more in line with a horror movie than the way I envision the Spirit of God…

    • It’s creepy because it’s probably what would have happened to Harry Potter if he hadn’t closed the book at 50sec in this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTpk_M9PQHA

    • Marco Conti

      No, it’s creepy. And it’s just begging to be photoshopped.

      • Jeff Weskamp

        It’s looks exactly like something out of the TV series, “American Horror Story.”

  • Colleen

    Ew. Something about that is just off.

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  • Ha! This made me laugh really hard. It’s definitely pretty creepy. I’m reposting this for sure.

  • Carl

    I would like to believe the book-being is whispering that she should get out while there’s still time. (it’s also fun to see the effect used accounts for t-shirt sleeves)

  • Aaron

    I had seen this image several months ago…only without the text “only The Word of God Can do this…” Interesting how much that changes the picture and the meaning.

  • I don’t find this creepy, but I do find it really off. Scripture is the story of the people of God attempting to relate to their God. It seems to me that this implies a living breathing existence to a text that is closed by the early councils of the church. I suspect what is most disturbing is the fact that the Church has never said, “AND THE WORD BECAME BOOK” the church affirmed when it canonized John that “THE WORD BECAME FLESH” and that flesh is Jesus.

  • Jon

    I used to enjoy your commentary and insight. It makes me sick to read your posts now. You are extremely divisive and frankly seem to be struggling to come up with relevant material. Stop wielding your sword on the body of Christ. It seems to me that while you’re winning the battle you are being crushed in the war. Stop becoming all the things you used to rail against.!grace and peace!!

    • Jay

      Jon, If this makes you sick stop looking, unless you like being sick which makes me sick, now I have to stop, thanks John now we’re all sick! ;~) Swords, battles and being crushed by wars oh my!

  • It is pretty creepy! In mainline denominations we would be having a conversation about boundary training.

    I think it’s key to note that the person hugging is clearly male, and the person receiving is a rather attractive young woman. It may not be overtly sexual, but it has that sense. And, as Tony notes, how would you feel if the recipient were male? Would that make a difference?

    • Dave

      Have we now reached the point that we can neither embrace…nor be embraced? Why do you have such issues with the concept that one might find comfort in scripture? Or, is it that you can’t get the metaphor? Or…perhaps…your worldview no longer allows being embraced by scripture, or even understand why anyone would want to be.

    • But Bob, that’d make the Bible gay and therefore super evil and worthy of legislation preventing it from being happy due to misappropriated scripture selectively and poorly read!

      • Chris

        Andy (and Tony), that is plain dumb! And quite a revealing comment.

        “What if the person getting the creepy hug were a man?”

        Straight men do embrace you know? Straight women embrace too, it means nothing. Except for someone that has an irrational preoccupation with the sexual. Which is ostensibly your argument against evangelicals.

        • nobodyssister

          “Straight men do embrace you know? Straight women embrace too, it means nothing.”

          Unless they are evangelical, then they side-hug.

          • And here I always thought that side hugs were to be done with the opposite sex to keep from the appearance of impropriety. As usual, I’ve been doing it all wrong. If hugging has become so rule laden, perhaps we should not do it at all. Can we find a proof text to support this?

  • I don’t find it creepy. The image looks very comforting to me. The power of words (especially sacred ones) to reach out and come alive and comfort is a mystery and beautiful. I feel envy when I see this picture. I think it’s a romanticized idea of scripture, at least for me. I don’t find scripture that comforting. It’s edgy and challenging and confusing and in some cases downright harsh. I am comforted by other (God) things these days but scripture isn’t one of them. I kind of hope that some day I find that in scripture again but so far that’s not the case.

    Jon – really? I find Tony very human in his observations. It’s how he feels when he looks at the picture…should he fake it?

  • Nick

    I find the picture as art expressing metaphor. If you literally take it as a book man hugging someone it’s wierd. It’s mean to express the Word of God comforting others who read them through the work of the Holy Spirit.

  • Really? No one sees this as a play on the incarnation? The Word became flesh? I’ll admit it’s a misrepresentation of the “Word” but that’s what I see.

  • toddh

    I’m on the creepy side on this one. It reminds me of the Greendale Human Being mascot (!)

  • Jay

    This is just more cheesy Jesus junk, lighten up folks it’s funny. If christian book store art makes you happy go for it!

  • John

    It’s a little bit creepy, but that’s largely because I can’t get over the woman’s face. She looks more frightened than comforted. It’s that fake weird social smile some people give.

    PS: I want to play the psychoanalyst and suggest that she wouldn’t be so awkward if she didn’t try and replace real human interaction, like hugging another human being, with a book … but I don’t really know a thing about the lady.

  • ben w.

    I’m a committed evangelical (theologically, not speaking about a political identifier) and find this troublesome too. 2 Timothy 3:16 speaks about the Word “teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness”. So maybe we need to add in some coresponding pictures of the personfied-Bible-man teaching a classroom of pupils, rebuking the the abusive / unloving father, redirecting the wayward teen, and a pushing an olympic athlete. Hebrews 4 speaks of the Word being sharper than a 2-edged sword and “dividing between soul and spirit, joints and marrow”. So maybe the personified-Bible-man could be a surgeon cutting out cancers in the body and reconstructing a brain to think right thoughts. Surely this picture of the Bible-man hug is a too safe and domesticed view of the Bible, and the God who speaks through it. Those who see the Bible *only* in this fashion likely fail to see themselves as grave sinners in need of correction and instruction, but only as the hurting and troubled in need of comfort. If one *only* approaches the Bible looking for personal comfort, God’s communication the good news of Jesus’ salvation for sinners will be neglected.

    Hopefully, the picture was supposed to be in the context that we truly meet Jesus in the text of the Bible, but it doesn’t communicate this very clearly…

    • Alex

      I couldn’t get past the “teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness…”

      the mental image that popped into my head was the book with the woman over it’s knee and I lol.

      • Timothy

        Alex, that was EXACTLY the image that popped into my mind.

  • Curtis

    As has been pointed out on other blogs, this artwork was originally a promotional piece commissioned by the Australian postal system to encourage people to write more letters to each other and use the post office to mail them. http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/2007/australia-post-touch/

    Someone obviously copied it and pasted the slogan about the Bible on the top. So not only is it bad theology (or good theology, depending on your theology) it is misuse of intellectual property, since the original ad is copyrighted. In this case you can decide for yourself which wrong is more egregious.

    I don’t see anything inappropriate about point out the wrong theology this represents, nor the wrong use of copyrighted material that this demonstrate.

    • Simon

      Hey Curtis – good spot. Thou shalt not steal and all that. Only the Word of God can do this – “select the bits we like or agree with and find comforting and ignore those that condemn our own activities”. Unless the person who cut and pasted it *did* pay a royalty to AusPost. Somehow I doubt it, but then maybe other people’s sins are more important to them than there own.

      • Curtis

        Even if they are going to claim fair use, they need to at least attribute the source. But I think even fair use is a stretch, since the entire work is basically a cut and paste operation.

  • ME

    What were the intentions of the person who created the graphic? Probably pretty good. If their execution is off, so be it. Hopefully we can be charitable in our criticism, like ben w. is.

  • Tony, watching people wring their hands and clutch their pearls (“Oh my stahhs and gahtahs!”) is hilarious. I love your posts on their own, but the added nuggets of self-victimization from Jon, Mark, and the others sure to follow are icing on a delicious cake.

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s especially creepy (and deeply problematic) to conflate the Bible with Jesus. Not the same. I think that Michael Bartley is dead on (though we may disagree about “creepy” being the appropriate word). Thanks for sharing, although I’m going to blame you for the nightmares I get tonight after falling asleep with a James Ellroy book in my hands.

  • The image has been lifted from an Australia Post advertising campaign, with the message, “If you really want to touch someone, send them a letter”.


    • Scot Miller

      I wondered where the image originally came from. In the original, it’s more obvious that it’s a letter (“I know it’s difficult not being able to see each other…,” the letter begins.) Whoever turned the image into a commentary on the Bible had to blur the words.

  • JohnnieCanuck

    Context is everything. As originally created for Australia Post, it’s not creepy at all. It’s a nice sentiment that a love letter is, in a small way, the same as being together.

    It strikes me that the image thief concocted a lie when they superimposed their caption. The words they blurred, the artist’s intent, all show that secular love ‘can do this’.

  • CP

    Seems to me it’s less creepy and just yet another example of the unoriginality of Christian art, and not only because it was taken and re-appropriated. This will sound elitist, perhaps because it is, but the leading artists and writers in a culture are always 10-15 years ahead of the rest of society. The Church and Christian culture imitate their way along behind 10-15 years later.

    Twas always thus…

    Exhibit A: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_Fools
    Exhibit B: http://www.ccmmagazine.com/

  • Bertley

    It’s creepy because it’s not true! The word of god is not the only way a person can find physical and emotional comfort. I’s not even the only book that can provide physical and emotional comfort.

  • Mark

    many xtians really don’t worship god, they worship a book.

    • Melody

      Isn’t that the truth. =/ Certain commenters here are among them. That’s why they criticize us for finding it creepy.

  • JD

    The arm has the text “Billy Joel Music”. What kind of sloppy, inattentive person repurposed this image to talk about the Bible?

  • LoieJ

    And what would you all think if the guy in the page was hugging another guy?

  • It should be a “Christian side hug” just saying.

  • Gina

    I saw this before, and since it says “Billy Joel” on the arm, and the words are so obviously not bible-like… well, it is obvious that someone photoshopped it to make the bible point (by stealing other people’s content-but that is a different thing all together). I wanted to find the source of it, to understand what the original intent was after all the hubbub on different blogs. I found this. It was to promote letter writing in Australia. The actual original one is here: http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/2007/australia-post-touch/

    • Mrs Grimble

      So not only has the image been stolen, but it was an image created to encourage people to communicate with other people. Not to read “God’s Word”.

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  • Steve

    I find intolerance and people who are hug-a-phobes creepy!

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  • paul morelli

    the Word of God is alive and powerful, sharper than any two edged sword, able to pierce between the soul and the spirit and discern your heart!….wow…that is creepy!

  • Stephen Nicholson

    When is it realized that any text, whether it be considered holy
    scripture or not, while “embraced” by the masses should not to be used
    as holy porn.

    That said, the bible is nothing more or less than
    an expression in terms of the human condition as perceived at the time
    of writing and significant repeated editing by its authors, and not
    necessarily (often not) reflecting the view of the masses and
    challenging the popular culture in which they lived. A set of views
    forming a “tradition” often against the best interests of the masses
    over which an elite attempted (still attempts) to exercise political
    power and control within family, tribal and local communities, in both a
    national and international context. Today we see the worst excesses of
    those former cultures brought to bear against a secularized and civil
    society born of the Enlightenment, preaching bloodshed and counter
    bloodshed in their divisive holy wars – not to mention that so-called
    “war on terror”. So Joshua Jinno, no side embrace for me. I’ve seen
    through the real motives behind that false doctrine of “love thy
    neighbor”, when de facto, on the ground it means “do as I say” of be
    shunned and die.

    Logic, reason, peace, civility and ultimately redemption, are simply not on your side.

  • Stephen Nicholson

    In any even, plagiarism and thievery does not honor your theological cause. You could at least have credited the meme’s secular source. Notice it has nothing to do with scripture at all, but representing a letter from one friend to another from a country where distances between communities is great, Australia.