This Saturday I was passing through Prague, OK (pronounced "Pray-g" when you're in Oklahoma, by the way) and since I had some time to kill, decided to stop at the National Shrine of the Infant Jesus.
What I found was a statue dressed up by faithful adherents.
It reminded me a great deal of the Shinto-Buddhist statues I used to see all over the place in Japan, where the pagans gave "love offerings" to their pagan small-g gods, like so:
Shrine to some pagan god in Kagoshima, Japan. Look how some worshiper was so nice to put a hat and sweater on this dumb idol so it would have protection from the rain. Awwww. Maybe it can't grant favors as efficiently if it's wet and cold. Isaiah 44:9-20
I admit to wondering aloud where this idea comes from, that it's a good idea to depict Jesus as an infant. Obviously there are those among my brethren who believe it's never justifiable to visibly depict Jesus in whatever form (I don't entirely agree but am quite sympathetic to the position), but why an infant? What precisely did Jesus ever do as an infant? My guess is that He ate, slept, made cute noises, quietly learned, and pooped. But the Infant Shrine website tells us this:
Many pilgrims visit the Shrine every day to ask the Little Infant for His help and to thank Him for favors He has granted.They are asking a nonexistent entity for these favors. Little Infant Jesus does not exist any more than little infant Rhology exists. Infancy is intended to be a mere phase in the life of a person, and it doesn't last long. God created Adam and Eve as fully-grown people and while He intended that they reproduce in the Garden and commanded Noah's family (ie, all of humanity) to multiply and fill the Earth after the Flood as well, He did that to produce worshipers. Infants don't worship, they don't teach others to believe all that Jesus commanded, they don't go into all the world and make disciples. They eat, cry, sleep, make cute noises, quietly learn, and poop.
My best guess is that Roman Catholics make a big deal out of Infant Jesus because Jesus is more approachable when a baby than a full-grown man. Already within Roman theology the idea that Jesus is a hard-hearted Judge to be feared is strong and leads people to ask His mom Mary to help them ask Jesus for stuff, since who can refuse one's mother?
This shrine's slogan is "The more you honor me, the more I will bless you." I can only assume this is an extra-biblical revelation from Jesus Himself. To be consistent, should not Roman Catholics start a TertioCanon and append it to the backs of their Bibles, so as to contain the revelations God is giving here in these latter days?
The saddest part of all about this shrine actually surprised me. As I got closer I noticed this scene at the base of the statue:
Yes, those are coins, much like one might toss into a fountain for "good luck". What in the world do people think these trinkets are supposed to mean to Almighty God who took on flesh and actually died a horrible torturous death for the sins of His people? And a couple of quarters at some lousy shrine is going to attract more love and favor? The evidence of gross deception in play here had me amazed and saddened. At least I got to take the opportunity to teach my kids about such deception and to think about the differences between this kind of nonsense and biblical worship of Jesus. They're getting it, too.
Oh, and I found a good use for some of the quarters.