24th August 2005
I sat in meetings all day (I love being back from sabbatical — really!). In honour of my boring day, I figured it was about time for another light-hearted installment of “Jesus Junk and Christian Kitsch” (for previous installments, see volume 1 and volume 2, as well as related posts here).
This time I am tackling the whole area of “Christian” clothing. I know I said in my last installment that I was going to cover Christian toiletries (somewhat relevant considering my “potty” posts), but all I could find (thankfully!?) were these items:
From left-to-right you have the cleansing Bar of Faith Prayer Soap, Bar of Faith Hand & Body Lotion, and Bar of Faith Conditioning Shampoo. You know what the Bible says, “Cleanliness is next to godliness!” You can purchase these all from Christian Toiletries, Inc.
Anyhow… back to Christian clothing… This topic isn’t quite as “kitschy” as others. The importance of distinctive dress for some in the community is emphasized in both the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (tefillin, tzitzit, etc.) and the New Testament (head coverings, modest dress for women). Historically Christians have often distinguished themselves from others through clothing (and some still do, e.g., Hutterites, Amish Mennonites, etc. — As a side note, Colleen McDannell has a great discussion of Mormon under garments in her book, Material Christianity: Religion and Popular Culture in America [Yale University Press, 1995; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com]). And, hey, my own kids wear tee-shirts from the Christian camps they attended and I even sport a Dead Sea Scrolls tie every once and a while!
When the Bible talked about distinctive dress, however, I’m not sure that this is what was intended! (And I wonder if any of these have ever been challenged in regards to copyright infringement?)
The Christian Tee-Shirt is a staple of Christian merchandising. Some classics are the Coke and 7/11 knock-offs:
I was actually surprised how many different “Christian” Tee-Shirts there are (see here and here for more). Some others I found interesting, include the following shirt which I hear looks quite similar to a beer bottle label, as well as another one that I wasn’t quite sure about until I discovered that the hand configuration means, “I love you” — isn’t that sweet!
This Atkins diet-inspired shirt is also quite trendy, though it is guilty of false advertising since paper is probably quite high in carbs!
And, of course, you can get shirts for kids:
(I have to admit that these are rather cute — even the Bob the Builder knock-off).
“Christian” Socks and Undergarments
I found quite a few varieties of “Christian” socks (gee, I wonder if they smell or if you can walk on water with them?!), and even some underwear!
There is a whole line of “Wait Wear” panties with slogans such as “Abstinence Ave. Exit When Married,” “Traffic Control. Wait for Marriage,” or “No Vows. No Sex” (The only question I have is who will be reading this underwear?)
There is also a bunch of underwear that can’t really be called Christian because they appear to be mocking Christianity — I won’t bother showing any here.
I was quite surprised, however, to find the following rubber top sporting a Christian icon on it:
I should probably clarify how I came upon this image — and no, I was not searching for “Christian bras”! Earlier this summer I volunteered at a “Jerusalem Marketplace” Day Camp, so in an effort to discover what authentic garb in first century Jerusalem would look like, I did some Google searches for “first century Palestine clothing” and the like, and I found the bra above when searching for “Jesus clothing” (honest… check it out for yourself. It was even with moderate safe-search selected!). OK, enough explanation!