Over at Thailand's "The Nation", you will find coverage of a bizarre practice, made all the more strange by the fact that it happens each and every year. In this report, 24 penitents had themselves nailed to crosses in a recreation of Christ's crucifixion and death. They apparently leave out the death part, but they do go through the actual process of having themselves nailed to a cross, with large nails hammered into their palms by guys dressed up as Roman soldiers.
Now you've got to hand it to them (no pun intended), these are people who really truly believe. They're also not entirely sane, I'd wager. But I guess nothing says "I believe" like participating in a brutal display of torture and human sacrifice.
A lot of questions surround this practice, and I'm not even talking about the question of whether there was a Jesus who died for our collective sins. The questions are more along the lines of this:
Who, in their right minds would have this done to them?
Who would watch this happening and think to themselves that this was anything but insane?
What kind of person, acting as the Roman soldier, hammers nails into another human being's palms unless they're dangerous psychopaths?
How does this continue from year to year?
Why did people think it was okay to bring kids to see Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ"?
This is a brutal and sadistic display and yet . . . the mind boggles. Happily, the Catholic church does frown on this practice and suggests that people go to church and engage in spiritual meditation instead of this type of "extreme form of penance". I guess there's hope. Over on Google Plus, a friend of mine, who unlike me is religious, summed it up this way.
"Jesus went to the cross for all of us, so that we do not have to. Putting oneself through this just shows that the person does not get it."
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