The Common Good

Jesus Tortillas: Deconstruction, Preconceptions and God

Here I am, urging people to deconstruct their preconceptions about God, and this guy finds Jesus in a tortilla.

Russ, my father-in-law, lives outside of Espanola, New Mexico. He can tell you from years of living there that the area is jumping with religious mysticism. One of the most famous sites in the state is the church at Chimayo, where people visit to touch the holy dirt and be healed. There are photos of people who claim to have been restored all over the place, along with crutches and canes left behind.

I’m not one to affirm or challenge that what people experience there is real. But I did find it interesting that the priests who serve the church simply bring in new dirt to fill the hole when they get low. Perhaps they bless it; I have no idea. But it’s interesting to me the power we inhere to certain items, acts or places. Is God more or less there than somewhere else? Is there something about the experience that opens us up to the already-present God? Is it an example of the uncharted power of the human mind?

In support of the notion that we see what we choose to see, there’s Jesus in a tortilla.

This time, anyway.

(And it's not the first time, no even in New Mexico. In 1977 there was another famous tortilla savior sighting in Lake Arthur, N.M. There was even a shrine where the supposedly miraculous carbohydrates in question were preserved and venerated for years.)

 

According to RoadsideAttraction.com, the original Tortilla Jesus tale goes like this:

 

In October of 1977, Maria Rubio was rolling up a burrito for her husband Eduardo's breakfast, when she noticed a thumb-sized configuration of skillet burns on the tortilla that resembled the face of Jesus. Needless to say, Eduardo went hungry that meal as Maria told family and neighbors of the miraculous event. It happened in the small town of Lake Arthur, New Mexico, 40 minutes south of Roswell.

Space Alien fever had yet to infect the state, and visitations were of a predominantly religious nature. NM's historic Santuario de Chimayo., with its miracle dirt pit, drew thousands of annual visitors looking for spiritual connection to the miraculous cross that burst from the hillside in 1810. Elsewhere, statues occasionally shed a tear, or passing clouds took on the shape of the Blessed Mother.

 

 

Wide-eyed believers call them "signs."

Cranky skeptics ascribe them to a human faculty for delusion called "pareidolia," a perception of pattern and meaning from natural randomness. At the same time, scientists believe humans are hardwired to recognize facial patterns, our hunkered fore-apes' need to quickly identify foe, friend or mate. We'll perceive a familiar face in an unfamiliar place, before seeing, say, a locomotive or a cotton gin.

Jesus has turned up (apparently) in Wonder bread, tree bark and any number of other baked goods. I once saw a guy who had found a potato chip in the shape of Mary Magdalene.

How any of these folks actually know what Jesus or Mary look like is completely beyond me, but the stories make news.

CLICK HERE for a video news clip about the most recent Jesus-tortilla sighting.

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