Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ever dream of being Red Cross Knight?

Well, now you can dream while dressed AS the Red Cross Knight ("on his brest a bloudie Crosse"). At least you can if you are very short. Although this garb would be thrilling to anyone with an Edmund Spenser fetish (and I know that such fetishists must number in the, oh, tens), they are actually designed not for participants in Renaissance festivals but for children fighting the good nocturnal fight against Satan.

I can't help but to wonder: if a Jewish child is dressed in these high quality high fashion Armor of God pajamas, will she combust?


Anonymous said...

Fucking insane. I suppose they are next going to make "Armor of Chertoff" underwear that will keep me safe from Terrorists. The fundies are crackpots.

Eileen Joy said...

The Armor of God website/pajamas are so frightening and absurd, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. The best filmic companion piece to this is Bill Pullman's movie [which he directed and starred in] "Frailty"--an absolute must-see film for anyone who teaches religious literature [and much under-appreciated when it came out]. I teach it alongside "Paradise Lost," Books I & II [along with "Dogma"]. And now I can add this website--perfect!

Anonymous said...

Can you get these outside the US?


Jeffrey Cohen said...

Although I can't confirm this, N50, I suspect that if you pray hard enough a pair will be delivered anywhere in the world via Archangel Express.

Or at least it should be.

Karl Steel said...

Having been raised (victimized?) in a fundy household, I've some hope for the Xian kids who receive these as gifts, as they--at least the outfit for the kid--offer a lot of space for imaginative recreation. The history of Xian art--take, for example, the distinction between the early medieval martial Christ and the homoerotic Sebastian, and the ready collapse of the two into one another--tells us to expect such personal appropriations. I remember sitting in church (twice on Sunday, once on Wednesday, for 17 years) at that age when children, especially boys, draw eschatological pictures of tanks, aliens, and explosions. When I wasn't drawing such images on the back of prayer cards, I read the scarier prophecies of Revelations and Ezekiel obsessively. I especially liked the 'dry bones' bit. From these passages, and from Hal Lindsey and Salem Kirban, it wasn't that far a step into the old DC comic Swamp Thing and HP Lovecraft.

What's especially striking about the Armor of God pajamas is that: 1) it's pure medievalism, as the armor Paul imagined would have looked nothing like these pajamas (and, indeed, would have been a great deal scarier/sexier, if you're into Graeco-Roman military role-playing. Which I'm not, swear to the FTM); 2) Paul genders the armor only implicitly, but it's clear that men are as much his default addressees as they are elsewhere, so to make room for women, the pajama designer has to appeal to a whole 'nother discourse (see 'medievalism,' above). So there's a space for gender/feminist critique for any kid savvy enough to read his/her bible more carefully than the designer.

You want weird fundy products (if we can call Catholics fundy, which, pace Jack Chick, they have been for a decade or so in this country)? Here you go.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Karl, leave it to you to find something affirmative and creative here. Really you're reminding us of what many medievalists have argued through their non-normative approach to medieval Christian cultures of piety (e.g Karma Lochrie, Carolyn Dinshaw): engagement with received religiousness need not be flat, dully accepting or blandly conformist.

I followed the link. If the Ballet Jesus were actually wearinga tutu, I would have purchased it.

Anonymous said...

I suppose it depends on their sense of style and how festive they choose to dress.

Karl Steel said...

On a less affirmative note, there's this, from (sorry! it stuck with me me!) Zizek, Plague of Fantasies, 50 (although I'm sure he says it about 7 times elsewhere):

The enthusiasm of fans for their favourite rock star and the religious trance of a devout Catholic in the presence of the Pope are libidinally the same phenomenon; they differ only in the different symbolic network which supports them. (50)

So one lesson here is that the addiction to sacrifice characteristic of so much Xianity would find expression through some other form were Xianity to disappear, whereas little Karl, with his hard kernal of critical distance and desire for monsters (monsterwunsch?), made of Xianity what he would, and would have made of anything what he would once he got his grasping little paws on it (yes: the kernal has paws...). In other words, there's a self-substance/accident or base/superstructure thing going on here.

But I don't like where that ended up one bit. Clearly I need to go back to something (back to Butler or Foucault? Back to performance?) to avoid that conclusion.

Re: Lochrie & Dinshaw. Thanks for the connection, JJC. At first, I would have thought that what made for the multiplicity of pieties in med. Xianity was that Xianity was the dominant cultural form, so it had to be spoken variously. It just contained too many people, while today, there's a great many more cultural venues. But then I remembered that the addition to sacrifice seems just as common in an era struggling to be post-religious as it was 1000 years ago (Zizek, above). And I remembered not only little me and his creative xianity (who doesn't count because of the atheism he took on/realized at 16) but also people who are still Xians, some of whom, to be a bit patronizing, can be my ally, even if they supersticiously believe their Big Other has a stability I'm sure mine lacks. Not every Xian's a scary Dan Brown albino or Jerry Falwell or Rick Santorum.

I suppose the upshot of all my morning nonsence is that: 1) somehow I spoke up for the existence of 'true selves' (oops); 2) chances of those pajamas being shanghaied into a resistant cultural program may be good, but it may not matter.

And I do know that I've met very few fellow ex-fundies among my fellow academics/students, although whether that's due to the dampening effects of fundamentalism on intellectual curiosity or due to class is still a mystery to me.