Blessed are the suits

The other day Mrs. Imagethief found herself being proselytized to in the elevator of our apartment building by a Chinese woman who is a member of the Beijing Seventh-Day Adventist Church. The woman handed my wife a flyer which is interesting for being entirely in Chinese, but featuring art that seems lifted from American evangelical materials ca. about 1955. An extremely white Jesus is blessing the Cleaver family or some similar assortment of apple-cheeked midwestern types in throwback hairstyles (the distortion is from the original):

SDA flyer

Bless you, my children, but about the hair.

In another picture, Jesus is apparently blessing one of the Mad Men of Sterling Cooper while a naked Adam romps, tastefully obscured, in the background:

Hey, nice fabric!

Having gone to the University of California at Santa Cruz, naked men with their arms raised heavenward conjures in my head a set of associations that have nothing to do with religion, unless you count pagan elf-worship accompanied by ’60s rock.

No greater point other than that it seems quite weird for a flyer designed to be given to Chinese people. Believe, my children, and ye may ascend into heaven with a bunch of white people from the Eisenhower administration. I’ve seen plenty of religiosity in China, although this is the first time we’ve been proselytized to in our apartment complex. Spiritually speaking, it’s probably wasted on my family, but at least it’s a change from the usual assortment of massage, waisong and black market satellite television flyers that gets crammed under our door.

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5 Responses to Blessed are the suits

  1. Shaan says:

    Clearly Jesus is giving that man a massage, available starting at 98 kuai/hour for 60 minutes.

  2. Wolfgang Hans Cespedes says:

    What liberals do not like to acknowledge is that the influence of Christianity is a significant factor in making many countries successful and generous. If many of them were of European descent, is it politically correct to critize this? Why are Christians, males and whites fair game? Although I am not a Seventh Day Adventist (nor Caucasian), I think it is wonderful and courageous to be trying to make a real difference in people’s lives in this country that sorely needs it. It is a far better venture than cheap shots that are not very funny (Mad Men, really?). How about writing about the struggles of Christians (Chinese and foreigners) in Mainland China. I guess that wouldn’t be so funny.

  3. Will says:

    Wolfgang, I have no idea what being liberal has to do with any of this. I know plenty of people who are (brace yourself) both liberal and religious. I am admittedly a liberal atheist. But I don’t actually think those things are related, and in any case draw sweeping conclusions based upon me only at your own rhetorical risk.

    While I may indeed be a serial and unapologetic committer of cheap shots, I pass no judgment in this post on the woman doing the proselytizing. I do however pass judgment on the flyer. As a communications professional one of the lessons you learn is to be as relevant as possible to your target audience, and show them someone they can either identify with or aspire to be. Being contemporary is part of being relevant. And while potential converts may indeed aspire to heaven, very few of the Chinese I have met aspire to being white.

  4. Nate Holdstein says:

    First off I think you’re on the money with the Mad Men reference. Specifically I think that figure is a carbon copy of Duck Philips.

    With respect to why the figures in the picture are white I think it is for a few reasons. 1) These pictures were probably easy to find on the internet 2) Plausible deniability, in that if the government comes after a church then they can say they didn’t distribute them since the figures are not Asian looking in the slightest.

  5. Shannon says:

    The pictures are scans from old Signs Publishing Company children’s books. The Signs Publishing Company is wholly owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Don’t ask why I know these things…

    As for the “message” being wrong, recent research from (of all places) New Zealand shows that the messaging on that flyer is probably exactly right. Chinese & Koreans associate Christianity *specifically* with desirable white-middle-classness.