Lenten Post for April 4, 2023

The devotion for today from Good Courage referenced an image of Jesus in a straitjacket.

My first response was that it makes sense to me, to see Jesus depicted as vulnerable, and suffering.

My second, more considered response was to wonder if straitjackets are still used in mental health care. The short answer is that while they have largely gone out of favour, and have often been used inappropriately as punishment, they are still in use.

My worry is that depicting Jesus in a straitjacket, rather than serving to underline the suffering of those with mental health issues, actually contributes to that suffering by perpetuating a stereotype.

The devotion also asked the reader to think about their current favourite depiction of Jesus. Mine is one that I included in the Palm Sunday service this past weekend. It is one of the MAFA paintings produced in Cameroon in the 1970’s, based on scenes acted out by people from the MAFA villages. Missionaries had paintings made, to allow the villagers to see the stories of Jesus illustrated with familiar images.

I like this one of Jesus welcoming the children.

I am moving the image of Jesus in a straitjacket to the bottom of this post, so it is not the image that comes up first.

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