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Marcus Goodyear

Only Zombies Worship Styrofoam Jesus

Avoid cheap epiphanies; find the real thing.

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At some point that morning, after my third or fourth cup of coffee, I excused myself into the private backstage bathroom. It was a small bathroom with a sink and a shower. As I was taking care of business, I noticed something poking oddly against the shower curtain. It seems crude to explain the details like this, but it is important to understand how exposed I felt. There was no artifice in that moment. I was naked before God and whatever monster lurked in the shower.

When I pulled back the curtain, I saw the bleach-white Styrofoam Jesus propped against the tile and poking one crucified arm at me. He was a prop for a cross, but the cross was hanging on the wall of the church somewhere. And Jesus was stuck in a shower backstage.

Jesus scared me half to death that morning.

Too often, I think American Christians can't be surprised by Jesus anymore. We are caught up in the industry of church, and we need someone to turn over the tables of the money changers.

I'm not saying all Christian businesses are bad! Nor am I condemning the Christian publishers or radio and broadcast people. But we must hold ourselves to a higher standard than the world. We must constantly remember the paradox of engaging our culture in a language it understands while still seeking first the Kingdom of God.

Styrofoam Jesus woke me up. I needed a Jesus who could bleed. I needed a Jesus who ate fish for breakfast. This was my epiphany. Jesus is not a lifeless statue at the front of our church. Only zombies are content with worshipping a lifeless Jesus, and I don't want to be a zombie anymore.

Write Your Epiphany

Christians like to talk about making culture and changing the world. Bobette Buster claims we can only do this through stories in which we face our fears.

Books & Culture is challenging its readers to share an epiphany in a blog post or a public Facebook post. Your epiphany should be in the form of a story or a poem. Please keep your stories under 700 words. When you are done, post a link to your epiphany on the Books & Culture Facebook wall by December 15. I will personally read all stories and poems and comment on as many as possible. Books & Culture editor John Wilson will comment on the best entries. In the new year, during the first week of Epiphany, we will feature one of your poems or stories on Books & Culture.

For inspiration, we suggest you watch Bobette Buster's original Q talk on "The Arc of Storytelling."

Marcus Goodyear is senior editor for He is the author of a collection of poems, Barbies at Communion.

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