Bendable Jesus of Nazareth doll

A Jesus that you can twist, bend, and pose — an analogy for religion packaged like any other action figure. And, it’s on sale! Only $7.99 on Amazon.

I found this gem in store marketed next to “vintage” signs and children’s novelty toys. It’s made by NJ Croce, which makes licensed bendable figures, including the Simpsons, DC’s Justice League, and, of course, Gumby. I would love to see how the company obtained the licensing for Jesus and its other religious bendable, “Mary Mother of Jesus“.

The Jesus bendable is a lot like Gumby. He’s cute, harmless (well, except as a choking hazard), but ultimately disappointing (only his arms move).

Does the doll look like Jesus? Well, he definitely looks like an Americanized version of him. Indeed, he looks like he walked out of a painting by Del Parson. He’s a coifed, grinning Jesus whose sandals match his robe.

But before you comment, “Jesus wasn’t white!”, take a look at Mary. She’s as alabaster as Swedish snow. Jesus was given more pigment than his mom. Which, of course raises questions about Jesus’s father (fill in your theology here).

The analogy gets even better because this Jesus is made to make money but is packaged as a sincere representation of the real thing. It’s not an ironic toy but something for people to buy friends and children. Here’s one review from “Kim R.” on Amazon:

When I share photos of Bendable Jesus with friends and family members, it always starts a great conversation about who Jesus *really* is: the totally all loving, all flexible, all merciful, human personification of our great and awesome God. Quite the opposite of the mean, old, judgmental god that so many would have us believe in, who would send us straight to eternal damnation, complete with fire and brimstone if we don’t follow “the rules,” God loves us just as we are. He bends down to reach us, we don’t have to change ourselves to reach Him.

“All flexible, bends down to reach us.” Can I trademark that?

 

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Tobin Grant

Tobin Grant

@TobinGrant blogs for Religion News Service at Corner of Church and State, a data-driven conversation on religion and politics. He is a political science professor at Southern Illinois University and associate editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

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