Chocolate Jesus

Well it’s got to be a chocolate Jesus
Make me feel good inside
Got to be a chocolate Jesus
Keep me satisfied ~Tom Waits

In an album released in 1999, Tom Waits, a well-known music artist, wrote and produced a song called Chocolate Jesus. In the years since people have attempted to analyze the song – was Waits mocking Christians and Christianity? Was he mocking Jesus? Or was the song a criticism about the way faith is packaged, in a way that is palatable and sweet, going down easily and satisfying without substance?

I have no idea why Waits wrote the song and perhaps readers will weigh in on this, but today, on a day that I set aside as a day of rest and reflection, I’m thinking about the packaging of faith. My husband, who worked in a Christian bookstore for a couple of years, walked off the job one day. I think it was the day that a woman came in and wanted a Bible to match her high heels. Or perhaps it was the time that a family came in wanting the little toaster that popped up Bible verses. Whatever day it was, he was exhausted with packaging a faith to coddle, entertain and please. He could no longer deal with customers that had reduced faith to a color and a toy.

Our world is looking for depth and substance. Are we giving them a chocolate Jesus, packaged in a gold wrapper much like a chocolate Easter bunny? If my faith is just to make me feel good and go down easy, I don’t know that it is strong enough for the world that surrounds me, a world where people hurt deeply and feel they may never heal. A world where homeless are getting colder, and Wall Street is getting richer. Or will a chocolate Jesus give people a taste of something lovely, an experience that makes them want to come back for more? How do we, rather, how do I package my faith? When I interact with people do they see a person that reflects grace and truth, or something smooth and packaged well? A Godiva Marilyn I do not want to be.

What are your thoughts about your faith and how you present your faith? How is faith “packaged” in our society? Would love to have you join the conversation in the comment section.

18 thoughts on “Chocolate Jesus

  1. When my faith is stretched, it feels scary, lonely and burdensome. A faith similar to the kind Jesus displayed when he was finishing his ministry while hanging on the cross grasping for breath as he spoke his final words. However, the by product of faith ( even the the size of a mustard seed) brings a strength that endures, a peace that passes all understanding, and a hope that shouts praise!


  2. I can’t get passed the idea that someone would want a toaster that pops up Bible verses or a Bible to match their heels!! Madness! How often we try and make our faith palatable to others and compatible with our own agenda. Sadly that’s when it loses its power and impact and ironically, that’s when it is the least satisfying.


    1. I know Sophie – and your last sentence says it all. When we reduce it to a palatable faith, there is no satisfaction. You should hear Cliff tell these stories some time. They are simultaneously hilarious and sad.


  3. I am reminded this weekend as a dear sister-in-Christ, Erin B., mourns the demise of her mother/best friend that in order for us to acknowledge that the bible indeed is “the living word”, we have to be there for one another without reservation. You and Cliff know Erin from homegroup. Life is to precious and to short to package Jesus and what he stood for in comfortable bite-size pieces. All that matters is that we lift each other up and acknowledge when our dear Lord calls us to serve him.
    Romans 12:15 Weep with those who weep, rejoice with those who rejoice.
    It is now more important than ever to assure that the bible remains a living word. So despite our pains and disappointments let us be there for one another.
    Love in Christ,


  4. You’re back, and it’s good.

    If I had a buck for every time I’ve been hurt by a fellow believer I could retire early. My mind is swirling in all the directions I could go with comments on this subject; does faith come down to behaviour control? Is faith so internalized that evidence of it must be voiced? How much of our faith is simply what we’ve convinced ourselves of in the sheltered confines of “fellowship”? You definitely got me thinking out loud.

    The “What A…Friend?” link struck a resounding chord with me too.


    1. So glad for the comment Bruce. I, too, have had the same experiences that you verbalized. The questions belong to a bigger face to face discussion. More recently Cliff and I have realized how much more comfortable we often are with people who don’t share our faith because there is an honesty present and we don’t try to pretend. We’ll have to have dinner and discuss…


    1. Thanks for reading Joshua. I remember one time one of my brothers saying that Christians were so busy producing marriage manuals and cheap novels that they had forgotten how to produce true art. And your quotes are right on.


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