An Iron Jesus

The following “news” item was recently published by the Associated Press:

AP – METHUEN, Mass. — A Massachusetts woman who recently separated from her husband and had her work hours cut said an image of Jesus Christ she sees on her iron reassured her that “life is going to be good.”

The woman said a brownish residue on the bottom of the iron looks like the face of a man with long hair. The 44-year-old Catholic and her two college-age daughters agree that the image looks like Jesus and is proof that “he’s listening.”

She plans to keep the iron in a closet and buy a new one.

I wanted to gag! 

What this woman has experienced is a psychological phenomenon called “pareidolia”, which involves a vague or random image or sound being perceived as significant.

In 1978, a New Mexican woman thought that the burn marks on her tortilla looked like the traditional western version of the face of Jesus Christ.  She framed the tortilla and thousands of mindless lemmings flocked to see it.[1]

There is a market for such items as evidenced by the presence of them on eBay.  One famous instance was a grilled cheese sandwich with the Virgin Mary’s face.[2]

In September, 2007, a callus on a tree resembled a monkey, and “believers” flocked to the tree to pay homage to the Monkey God.[3]

The fact that this happened is not, however, what made me want to gag.  Consider this:  This likely emotionally vulnerable woman (recently separated from her husband and having her work hours cut) may have been particularly susceptible to wishful thinking and imagining.  Sadly, two college-age daughters (I’m assuming they are in college), whom one would hope would know better, affirmed their mother in this silliness.  But even THAT is not what made me want to gag.

What made me want to gag is the fact that this woman, believing that this reddish brown crud on the bottom of her iron is a message of comfort and reassurance from Jesus … assuring her that He is listening … takes Jesus and puts him in a closet somewhere … and goes out and buys a new iron.  Hmmm maybe the new iron will produce an image of the Virgin!

It occurs to me that there are also many true Christians who, assured of His love and His care and provision in their lives, put Jesus into a closet somewhere … and go on to live their lives as if He were no more significant or real than a random Rorschach-type inkblot image on the bottom of the iron in the closet. Then they bring him out on Sunday (maybe even only on Christmas and Easter).

It made me gag to think that sometimes I may come perilously close to doing that very thing.  How about you?

May I suggest, if you want assurance that Jesus is listening, and that He will provide for your needs, that you   not go looking at the bottom of irons, or on your tortilla or your trees.  Instead, look at the pages of God’s Word.  That is where God reveals himself and His Son Jesus.

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