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Friday, January 20, 2012

Guest Post: How Much Could Jesus Bench Press?

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Big D is a stay-at-work dad who spends his early mornings surfing, his days building strategic advertising campaigns, and his evenings professionally repairing surfboards on the side in San Clemente, California. He is a husband to an amazing wife, a proud father of three, and a cultural mormon who enjoys reading the writings of our country's founding fathers.

While sitting in priesthood class one day I looked over and noticed all the usual church posters on the wall. You know the ones ... they usually portray Caucasian kids doing something related to the catch phrase showcased above the activity they are involved in? It appears that all of these were created just after the release of Jaws and a hair before the sitcom Different Strokes became popular.

Apparently the church felt these clever collateral pieces were effective in teaching the youth how to be a better person. So much so in fact that thirty years later they are still on the walls. While scanning through all of these I recollected back to a conversation I'd had with an individual about how the church reports the fact that 50% of its members are outside of the U.S. now. With that fact swimming around my mind I thought, “Geez people, at least throw a Puerto Rican or two in these pieces.”

But then again, I work in marketing/advertising so maybe I’m just simply trained in recognizing the importance of diversifying your message, layout and models to fit the designated target. Or maybe in the 1980’s the target was middle-class Caucasians? To me, the posters really just seem to showcase the proactive paradigm in LDS promotion at the time. But if we’ve learned anything from The Simpsons, using words like “paradigm” and “proactive” are just buzzwords that stupid people use to sound smart ... but I digress.

After scanning through all of these faded-yet-classic LDS art-deco pieces, my eyes became suddenly fixed on the quintessential Jesus photo found in many LDS churches and homes. You know, the one where Jesus is wearing a white t-shirt with an unusually heavy-looking red robe over it? I always liked this one. Apparently Jesus was a gloriously handsome and very muscular Spaniard. One could deduce from the artists rendition of the Savior and his broad shoulders that the physical Jesus could max out in at least the 300+ lbs range.

Do you think this portrayal is accurate? Does it matter? I wonder how much our beliefs are influenced by images commonly used within our culture. Maybe we'll be surprised at what Jesus actually looks like if we ever get to meet him. I just hope I don't have to arm wrestle him to gain admittance to the Celestial Kingdom.

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