Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tattoos and the Body of Christ

Following on from my previous post, one of the obvious markers of social class (round here at least) is tattoos.

Working class men, especially of my age, tend to have obvious tattoos. Middle class men don't. I don't live in an especially rough area, it's certainly a lot nicer than some places I've lived. But it's a fairly traditional working class housing estate, and I'm conscious that I'm about as middle class as it is possible to be, and I don't really fit in.

Q. What proportion of men aged between 25 and 60 have noticeable tattoos?
A. According to this US page, 40% of people aged between 25 and 40 have tattoos. I can't find stats for Britain. I'd guess at least 50% of men on this estate do... There are 3 or 4 guys in the congregation with noticeable tattoos, and a few women as well.

Q. What proportion of male clergy aged between 25 and 60 have noticeable tattoos?
A. I'd guess very low. I know hundreds of male clergy in that age bracket, and I can hardly think of any with noticeable tattoos. Isn't there a question there about being incarnational?

Because of the way the C of E works, I only get three years here. If I knew I was spending my life trying to reach this sort of estate, I'd seriously consider getting a tattoo, maybe like Pete Postlethwaite's in Romeo + Juliet (see above). Don't know what my wife would say though!

Theologically, tattoos were banned for Israelites in the OT Law (Lev 19:28). But we're not Israelites, and in the NT, we're told Jesus has a tattoo (Rev 19:16), which is probably symbolic rather than literal.

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