Christianity and Tattoos
I can’t remember the first time I saw a Christian with tattoos. But, I am sure it was long before tattoo-laden, preacher extraordinaire, and disciple of Christ, Nadia Bolz-Weber, burst onto the scene. I’ve long been fascinated with this form of art and the stories that tattoos tell about who we are.
Tattoo art is, from my vantage point, one of the most powerful forms of truth-telling. They are a way we express our love for one another, God, and ourselves. They often tell a deep and profound story about a particular piece of our journey through the world. Tattoos are a profound form of truth-telling. What we express in art is often beyond what it is we can express in words, or gives voice to things we cannot verbalize out loud.
Christianity is a tradition founded on truth-telling. Discipleship depends on it. In fact, our very lives depend on it.* Part of our call in the world is to tell our truth to God and one another, to be vulnerable risk-takers for Jesus. Filmmaker Bianca Giaever must know something about this visual art form and the power of testimony, because her latest project Videos 4 U captures both.
The videos were created in conjunction with This American Life, WBEZ Chicago, and m ss ng p eces to help people say things to friends and loved ones they cannot bring themselves to say out loud. Her latest masterpiece Tattoos is a funny, poignant, tender, beautiful exploration of a young woman named Maggie who is covered in tattoos. Her conservative Christian parents, Linda and Randy, wouldn’t approve and so do not know about any of her body art. Here it is:
This is a testimony of faith, our deepest desire to be fully known for who we are, and making room for God’s grace in our lives.
Maggie sums it up here: “The only thing I want from my parents in making this is to be honest. I can’t give up. I still want this relationship with them.”
Bianca sums up in this film what it is to be human and to be Christian in the world. We hold a deep desire to know one another and be known for our most authentic selves. We are pursued by a big, wild, beautiful God who knows the depths of our being and longs for us to be in vulnerable relationship with one another. It’s time to be truth-tellers church, in our hearts, in our testimony, and even on our bodies. Because when we do, we open ourselves up to the grace beyond grace that God pours out upon us.
* A quick footnote: for more on truth-telling and how our lives depend on it, see SALT's latest book trailer for Standing Naked Before God: The Art of Public Confession by our friend Rev. Molly Phinney Baskette. Molly and her church are teaching us how to be truth-tellers too!
As always, let us know what you think of all of this! We love to hear your comments, praise, disagreements, feedback, constructive criticism, etc.
Heidi (and the whole SALT Team!)