Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I just walked into a lamp post

a different pair of legs
I have just walked into a lamp post, and I am afraid I was looking at a woman's legs, and she was wearing the tiniest of skirts. I was not ogling just shocked, she had tattoos over the entirety of both legs, her arms were bare they too were tattooed.

There are lots of people in Brighton more or less covered in them and men and women whose faces are covered with piercings, I was in a fish and chip shop a few months ago, a woman was drink a cup of tea, and the tea was coming out through the holes in her face.

I don't know what it is about Brighton people and tattoos and piercings, there are tons of seedy tattoo and piercing studios in the city, and I am told that a really good one can be really expensive and some fine arts graduates have got into this "medium". My problem is what happens when these living canvasses age, the skin coarsens and wrinkles, there are going to be rows of old ladies in nursing homes with sagging butterflies or wreathes of barbed wire wobbling over flabby muscles and old men with holes in their ears which once held large fashionable earrings, yes and more tea dribbling down wrinkled faces.

What caused my accident was that the shock of seeing outside the CookShop, a pair of legs with rather pornographic imagery, in a rather fascinating Pop Art Genre, these were an expensive artistic statement, definitely not prison art done with a darning needle and a Biro.

I was distracted by the horror of it!

I mean what does someone think of themselves that they "modify", that is the term, themselves. I wanted to go up to the woman and say, "Look, God loves! You are made in his image and likeness! Listen!" Instead I just walked into the lamp post, no blood though.

Constantine the Great forbade the facial disfigurement of felons when he was converted. The Church has always regarded tattooing, scarification, piercing in the same light as mutilation. Modern examinations of conscience always seem to have a reference to "excessive" tattooing or piercing. There seems to be something profoundly unchristian about, but saying that one of my parishioners has a tattoo of the Holy Father on her shoulder....
Now I must put a note in the newsletter about modesty of dress when coming to Mass.


Boris said...

I struggle with appreciating the artistic beauty of tattooing or excessive facial piercing. The trouble is this defacement of the body becomes an addiction. The act of having the tattoo becomes as important as the final result. My friends with tattoos are obsessed with having more done and consequently end up covered in them. I just dont get it. I wonder what the church says about plastic surgery

Michael Petek said...

You've discovered, Father, that Brighton is a city full of 'characters'. It's what makes the city what it is. As for what happens when they age, I suppose they'll be thinking about, if not donating their bodies to medical science, having themselves auctioned at Sotheby's!

nickbris said...

I'm sorry Father but Sailors & Soldiers have always had tattoos.It was thought to ward off Malaria as various tribes they met in their travels never seemed to be affected or bothered by mosquitoes.Nowadays it is peer pressure and rebelliousness.We were never told at St Swithins that it was against Gods wishes.In the Navy & Army it was forbidden in case of infection & anybody getting infections was punished for a Self Inflicted Wound,until quite recently junior ratings got the cane

Fr Ray Blake said...

Michael, I have always known of the Brighton characteristics, it is in your face no need to discover.

Anonymous said...

Christ is Risen!
well, as in the Days of the Levites, it still can be an act of Idol worship..even the Holy Father can become an idol to some.
Lev. 19:28
"You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD."
They tell me that piercings and tattoos in the past, in the scripture were signs of ownership in slavery to something or someone, but thats no longer the case today..but, i am not so sure!
1 Cor. 6:19-20
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore GLORIFY God in your body.

where i live in Vancouver the it seems everyone, mostly girls, have tattoos and piercings, especially piercings..even amongst Chucrh crowds.
here is a article by Father Peter Joseph –a Maronite Priest regarding .

Pax et Bonum

Amette said...

Given the dangers of infection associated with tattoos and the lifestyle often connected with the people that have them, I doubt many of them will make it to the old and wrinkled stage. Who was it who said once people stop believing in God they will believe in anything? I think a lot of people have these things as 'comfort blankets' - after all, if you are looking at a person's tattoos and piercings, you are not really connecting with them - so they can hide behind them.

Laurence said...

I walked into a lamp post the other day too, Father, so I realise how unsettling the whole experience can be!

Anonymous said...

I have four tattoos, and I'm a woman (both upper arms so at least they are easily hidden). I had them done in my late teens when I didn't believe in God and was going through a severe self-hate phase. I'm 30 now, and although I can live with my tattoos (I don't hate them), I do wish I'd never had them done.

God bless.

Doreen said...

If you had a tattoo, Father, what would it portray?

Anonymous said...

Great idea that-your proposed
note in the parish newsletter encouraging modest dress at mass.
Would that many more parishes all over the country would follow your
from Tom.

fr from up north said...

are these the legs that launched a thousand ........r these really the legs u saw that led to your unfoprtunate encounter with the lampost? was this really ginny's dark secret?

Anonymous said...

I got my nose pierced after I went to India and thought Indian women looked beautiful with glimmering pieces of gold set against brown skin. Some Indian women attach a gold chain from the nose stud to the hair. In India the more gold you wear the less poverty-stricken you might be. I suppose for women it's all about adornment and for men too in other developing countries (e.g. tribal tattooing in coming-of-age rituals). In the west, piercing and tattooing seems to be the opposite of enhancing beauty - it's more about self-mutilation and looking 'hard' or scary. But there is still a sort of tribalism to it. Tattooed,pierced people tend to gravitate towards each other. In fact, in some pubs in Brighton it's a required dress code! I suppose it's saying: "I'm not one of the office crowd" - "We are all individuals!" (Very Life of Brian!)