Decorating with Jesus

Pokhara, Nepal

Like many agnostics, I was originally raised Christian, and so despite myself, when gazing upon religious icons like this giant blue Shiva statue in Pokhara, I'll find myself instinctively thinking about how wild and weird it all is. I will fleetingly think how goofy and cartoonish their religious deities frequently are... how "other"... but then again, that "other" is often so beautifully exotic, that it immediately makes me want to decorate my house. This one is blue like an Avatar, has a trident like King Triton from the "Little Mermaid," and is riding a dead but animatedly surprised tiger - like if Aladdin traded in his magic carpet for the skinned pelt of Jasmine's pet.

And a smaller version would look great on the damchiya in my den.

I try to push these thoughts away, but not before considering the fact that we westerners sure do seem to decorate our homes and gardens with foreign deities a lot, don't we? I mean... for a religion we don't necessarily subscribe to, we sure do use their Buddha statues with baffling regularity. Not for worship, as they are intended, but just for interior design purposes. And I have no problem with that, as Buddha statues are often quite beautiful. My point is just that I have yet to see any evidence whatsoever that other cultures reciprocate.

Namely, in all my travels, I can't recall a single time that I've seen any culture just frivolously decorating with our Jesus.

It's probably not because these other cultures are just too dignified to appropriate our Western religious icons for their own shallow home decorating purposes, since most appear to be just fine with many other garish displays of religious commercialism. No, it is likely the same reason that even Christians don't decorate with Jesus very often either: Jesus is upsetting.

Despite Jesus always having stellar abs, an erotic torture victim who is either dead or dying and almost always naked is an extremely difficult thing for an interior designer to work into a room.
Despite Jesus always having stellar abs, an erotic torture victim who is either dead or dying and almost always naked is an extremely difficult thing for an interior designer to work into a room.

In his most iconic pose, a few things are always happening: Jesus is mostly naked and being tortured on a cross, and simultaneously, he is disturbingly sexy, especially for someone who is either dying or already dead. The guilt is built in! And I'm not talking about the classic Catholic guilt of lore, I'm talking about the guiltiness we've all felt after realizing we might have just been briefly checking out the rock-hard abs and chiseled jawline of a deity and/or corpse. Whether or not you agree with the series of odd artistic decisions that led to Jesus being famously and constantly depicted in this way, I think we can all agree that it makes him very hard to decorate with in your home or garden. A giant blue genie vs. an erotic torture victim? Now who has the most bizarre religious iconography, huh? Clearly, all of them are pretty f*cked up when you stand too closely.


When I was studying in Italy, and seeing portraits of Jesus day after day, in countless museums and galleries, I always found myself wondering, "Who is this?" I mean, I know it's supposed to be Jesus, but who is this really in each of the paintings? And not in a metaphysical sense, I'm talking, who did the artist literally base this face off of? It had to be inspired by someone, did they all just paint their boyfriends? I like to think so.

This huge blue Shiva was finished in the very recent past, in late 2021. And I can just picture this quiet, unsuspecting guy, standing next to his loving boyfriend, the artist, at the unveiling party... as a giant sheet is whisked away to reveal his own enormous blue face and shirtless torso, looming over all of Pokhara.

"Really, Chad? Really? You don't think maybe we should have at least a small conversation about this first? And good lord, man! You sure have given me a lot of accessories! Is that how you see me? You put a crescent moon fascinator in my hair. Tell me, where exactly am I supposed to be going, dressed like that, would you say?"

But that's probably nothing compared to the awkward conversations that the Jesus artist gets to have with his boyfriend. "Oh great. I see I'm dead again. Real mature, Brandon. You've even added a bit more blood plus a side wound to my corpse this time. Okay! I get the point. Stop painting me carrying lumber already, I'll go with you to Home Depot."



Mystery solved, perhaps artists are just fashioning the deities after themselves? My partner Seth happens to be an artist (surprised?) and when I asked him to please draw a rendition of God for me (as a visual pun for one of my articles about ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS) it didn't take long for him to arrive at the conclusion that he would just base the Big Man in the Sky off of... himself.

He didn't have a model readily available to pose for him, so he used the next best thing - a photo of himself, hastily shot in the bathroom mirror of his apartment.

See how the finished work eventually turned out HERE! (Note: we had to lose the oddly blowing Fabio hair...)


Read about my yard back in Dallas HERE, HERE, and HERE!