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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Religious Statues: just decors or something else?

I thought to make this post today because there is an event happening locally today (or yesterday, by the time I actually publish this) which in some way illustrates the subject of the post. 

Today is the Feast of the Black Nazarene.

The feast is not actually the topic itself, but like I said, it will serve as an illustration or example later on. 

Before I start, I would just like to say: for those who will disagree with what I will say, all I ask is that my post be read with an open mind, and please do not take any offense from it because none is intended.  It is merely voicing out questions in my head.  Thinking out loud, so to speak.  And doing so also for the benefit of those who may find any benefit from it whatsoever.  Thank you.

In that aspect of life dealing with God, beliefs, faith, religion... there is something I've been wondering about for maybe around 20 years or so now. 

I admit, I am not one of those who have read the Bible completely, and I am definitely not one of those who can quote Bible verses from memory.  But from my exposure to readings from the Bible over the course of the years, one of the things I remember is that we are not supposed to fashion any images representing any figures, whether man or woman or whatever else, for worship.  Am I correct?

Now, it may be alright to have a little figurine there or a statuette (or maybe it is not alright, I'm not really sure...) but only if it is treated like just a picture - meaning, like a picture of a loved one who is currently living abroad.  During times when you miss that loved one, you may pick up the picture in its frame and talk to the picture, but you know in your heart and mind that the person doesn't actually hear you just because you talked to the picture!  You know for certain that you are not talking to the actual person.  It is only a representation of him or her.

But it's quite a different story when your faith becomes focused on the actual object.  Isn't it?

I've seen people who have a habit of going up to statues in the chapels or churches after praying, and touching the figures with their hands or handkerchiefs or bowing to them.  What exactly do they do that for? 
There are parents who admonish their children while pointing to statues telling them to behave or be quiet or else Jesus (or whoever the statue is supposed to represent) will get angry.  And then the children will fall quiet giving the statues furtive glances.  Hmm...

And then taking the Black Nazarene as an example, at the procession during the feast, people actually stumble over each other, stampedes break out, as people try to get near or on the carriage where the life-size wooden sculpture is, and touch it (or even just the rope pulling it), or throw a towel to someone on the carriage to have it wiped on the statue and then thrown back to the owner.  Again, why do they do that?  I don't quite understand...

But the impression it gives me is that people seem to think there is something about the statue itself.

Now, it may be that a lot of the devotees will insist that it is not the statue itself, but God who they are professing their faith to.  But I'm just wondering why it seems the object is getting so much reverence.

Once again, I'd like to say, most especially to devotees: I hope no offense will be taken from my post.  I am merely wondering out loud. 
If you know in your heart and mind that it is God you believe in and not the statue, then so be it.  Perhaps this post is just a test of faith for you. 
But if you look within yourself and find that you were beginning to attribute blessings (or miracles) to the object itself, then perhaps this is an opportunity to check yourself.


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