Protestant's Safari: Observations of an Ecclesial Anthropologist I
Observation 1: Natives who follow the Crucified shy away from the Crucifixion;
The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified." (Matthew 28:5)
There are two trends in the modern Christian comfort with wearing and displaying that horrible Roman instrument of torture: A) the Protestant cross, which is bare (with the exception of those which are bedecked with flora and fauna or Ralph Lauren plaid or colorful ethnic design- I have a few of these on my own wall, I admit, and a gold one hanging around my neck) and B) the Other Kind, which has the shameful image of a half-naked, dying young Jew on it.
Most intriguing is the highly divergent behavior of Christians regarding the Cross.
Protestants seem loathe to tolerate the image of the Crucified One on theirs; I have seen them roll their eyes at it, hide it, sheild their children from it. The explanation I have heard for such behavior is the proper observation that expected "But Jesus is not on the Cross! He is risen! The Cross is empty." And this is very true.
Now, true Catholics believe the same thing, but their behavior is different towards the Man on the Cross. As He hangs prominently in view in their churches and on their rosaries, they fix their eyes on the crucifix, kneel before it, make their children do the same, bend low to kiss the image when they have the opportunity, even make its shape on their bodies. Their explanation goes that this is an image of their Lord, and their response is worship.
Three observations off the top of my head-
1) Matthew 27 and Mark 15 both portray Jesus' mockers as demanding His descent from the Cross to prove Himself; "Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him!" As we believe, Jesus did not "come down" from the Cross. He died on it, and thus achieved our salvation. The crucifixion becomes an inextricable part of His story, and ours.
2) Muslim aesthetics would sympathize with the Protestant tendancy; hanging on a Cross is just not what a Prophet of God does. Christians like Soren Kierkegaard, (who was Protestant) on the other hand, urge to the contrary- hanging on a cross is the unique prerogative of our God.
3) The Risen One is ever the One who was Crucified. But in all fairness, the early Christians, many of whom risked crucifixion themselves for their faith, did not like to portray the Crucifix either. Too close to home. Thus you find Jesus portrayed as the Good Shepherd, or as a kind of Apollo figure in the Catacombs. Understandable. But surely not the case for your average WASP.
So what's the problem???...