Stop It With the Back Facing Raised Hand Pictures Already

Today, I went to several church websites to get e-mails and make contacts. Visiting each home page I spent some time exploring the site (since I am naturally easily distracted on the web).

No joke, on each and every site, there was a picture like the one below…


The idea is to convey freedom and celebration in the Christian life – specifically in terms of joining this local church to have such a thing.

No offense to the sites that have pictures like this up, but when everyone has this up on their site the picture loses its meaning. It doesn’t speak freedom, creativity and exuberance in the Christian life – it speaks conformity and the ever growing copy-paste-and-it-will-work-at-our-church mentality that pervades American church culture.

People post up these pictures like that alone is going to set people free.


Yeah, visuals work, but if its the same visual everywhere I look, is it really doing the job?

I mean, Christian visuals are significant. Symbols like the cross, the ChiRho and Trinity symbol are famous the world over, and communicate across time and culture. Stained glass and altar paraments speak volumes to a visual guy like me, but not iStock photos and Microsoft Word Clip Art.

So, I’m not saying that these pictures can’t work, or don’t mean anything to anyone, but it isn’t working for me and I don’t think it is for a majority of people my age.

Can we attempt solid Christian art again rather than computer database images that business professionals use in their Power Points? Is it really communicating something sacred if it easily found in so many secular contexts?

Can we try to create and use art that is Scripture based, Scripture inspired and Scripture soaked? Because, if we believe that Scripture is efficacious then we can believe that art inspired from it can actually accomplish what we hope to with the back-facing-raised-hand-picture.

I hope so.

Because then maybe I would be so inspired that I might raise my hands in some isolated place like that lady up there.

Maybe. 🙂




Filed under Christianity

8 responses to “Stop It With the Back Facing Raised Hand Pictures Already

  1. recreative

    Preach it sister.

    Icons are handy and full of meaning (if not sacramental). Thanks for the comment and the link.

    There is a good chapter in Tony Jones’ “The Sacred Way” about iconography. Although I don’t buy the whole theology behind icons, I do enjoy the idea that art and creativity can in some way connect us with the LORD through meditation on His Word and the image. I think there is something there. I mean, well done altar paraments help, why not icons?

    Good stuff. Thanks.

  2. Gabriel Stewart

    Thank you for your post. One conclusion I have come to is without the Tradition of the Church, church is done according to the whims and fancies of individuals. And where do these whims come from? Well, this being an example, more often than not, these whims are according to the spirit of the age, in this case taking cues from the business world. Instead of the Church being the divinely established mystical body of the risen Christ, it is a gathering of like-minded individuals that form a denomination. In an attempt to be “relevant,” the holy and transcendent is replaced with the trite and the banal, the Divine replaced by the carnal. I was pleasantly surprised that the two comments on this topic were regarding icons. While many Protestants don’t even know what an icon is (I would guess, the vast majority), even fewer realize that the liturgical use of icons has been seen by many Christians through the ages not as a matter of personal preference, but as essential, the ubiquitous practice of the church since the Apostles (St. Luke the Evangelist being the first iconographer)- a matter that many have defended to the death. Without icons, how often are Christians reminded of these and other holy martyrs (who are depicted in icons holding crosses)? Well, when Christianity is mingled with American comsumerism, Christians have to be entertained and marketed to. The idea of martyrdom isn’t a particularly fashionable one (nor asceticism, nor monasticism, nor obedience to any kind of authority beyond one’s self). Could you imagine the words “Let us not, who would be Christians, expect anything else from [the world] than to be crucified.” being heard from any of today’s most popular Christian speakers (quote by Fr. Seraphim Rose, a 20th century American Orthodox monk)? Anyhow, thank you for bringing up this topic, and I’m glad you guys know about icons!

    • recreative

      Thanks for the input Gabriel. I especially enjoyed your point on “could you imagine the words…being heard from any of today’s most popular Christian speakers?” Probably not.

      It is a challenge to them as much as it is a challenge to you and me.

      I would love to talk icon theology sometime with you Gabe. Where are you at these days?

      • Mission Mobilizer

        Look, I just want to go to church to have fun. Stop screwing it up for me! How else will I know which churches are fun unless they all have the same fun images???

      • recreative

        Hilarious Peter. Hilarious. I’ll try that the next time I am at church. I usually go there to think too hard, judge other people and critique the pastor’s sermon unfairly. Fun? Church shouldn’t be fun! 😉

      • Mission Mobilizer

        Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve critiqued a pastor’s sermon unfairly. I’m totally going to do that tomorrow. It will make it way more fun! Also, i’m pretty good at judging, so that just comes second nature. No practice needed there. And thinking hurts too much, so I try to avoid that entirely. God doesn’t want me to be in pain, does He? I mean, this life is supposed to be all laughs and giggles now that I’m a Christian, so I do what I can to keep it that way.

      • Gabriel Stewart

        I’m still in Irvine; I’m taking pre-med classes at Cal State Fullerton. Any plans to visit?

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