Coca-Cola Crucifixions

Invesco Field at Mile High. Coors Field. I can handle that. But Coca-Cola Crucifixions? That’s going a bit far. Yet, according to the Telegraph, Coca-Cola and Smart Telecommunications are sponsoring a festival in the Philippines in which people reenact the crucifixion of Jesus, in some cases using real nails. The March 20 article by Thomas Bell carries the absurdly understated title: “Easter warning: crucifixion is bad for you.”

The link also shows a Reuters photo of a man hanging from a cross with nails through his hands. Well, he’s cheating a bit, because his arms are tied to the crossbeam with ropes, and the nails are pounded through his palms. As I learned in my childhood church, the nails actually went through the wrists, so that they didn’t tear through the flesh between the bones in the palms. (You wouldn’t want people falling off their crosses!) And part of the agony of crucifixion is that it’s hard to breath while hanging from the wrists, so you have to keep lifting yourself up by the nails in your wrists, until you become too exhausted to do so and suffocate to death. The man shown in the photo doesn’t look especially comfortable, but the ropes are denying him his opportunity to fully share in the misery of Christ. But, then, these people don’t imagine that they can come back to life after decomposing in a tomb for three days, so they get to come down off their crosses before doing too much physical damage to themselves. (While I learned little in my church about, for instance, the Christian takeover of Roman government, I learned quite a lot about crucifixions.)

Anyway, the article reports:

Many people in the Philippines consider crucifixion and self flagellation good for the soul, but it is bad for your health according to new government advice for penitents.

“We are not trying to go against the Lenten tradition here because whipping has somewhat already become some form of ‘atonement for sins’ for some of us,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque the 3rd said.

“Getting deep cut wounds during whippings or lashings is inevitable and being so exposed during the course of the penitence, with all the heat and dust blowing in the wind, welcomes all sorts of infections and bacteria like tetanus,” he explained.

Re-enactments of the Passion of Christ are common in many parts of the mostly Roman Catholic Philippines but frowned upon by the church authorities.

In San Fernando City 23 people, including two women, have signed up to re-enact the crucifixion at three “improvised Golgothas” around town. Four of them will use real nails.

The city government’s website trumpets the preparations.

“The City Health Office (CHO) autoclaved all the nails to be used and will administer anti-tetanus vaccine to all the ‘Cristos’ to ensure their protection from possible infection,” it points out. City officials will conduct an inspection of the Golgothas on Thursday. … [Credit for link: Paul Hsieh]

Doesn’t this juxtaposition of tatanus shots, made possible by germ theory and medical science, alongside ritualistic self-torture, strike anyone as, you know, odd?

Thankfully, here in Denver, reenactments of the crucifixion don’t involve actual nails.

Voluntary crucifixion, while morally reprehensible, is similar to prostitution in that it should be legal for consenting adults, however stupid and self-destructive it is. But for the local government to sanction the event is — I struggle to come up with an adequate adjective. Absurd? Ridiculous? Hysterical? Detestable? Horrific?

But maybe Coca-Cola can push the gig a bit further. Do you think sugar water can be subject to transubstantiation?