As bad as the racing folks are, Christians can be ten times worse when it comes to merchandising God. Just peruse the aisles of the local Christian bookstore and you'll find a myriad of decorative and knick-knacky crap, all with a religious sheen. (I would have posted some links to real wacky merchandise, but the first website I visited crashed my Firefox. Jerks.) But I do have to wonder at the intent of the manufacturers of all this religious kitsch. Are they really looking to serve and edify God or just make a tidy buck off of a bunch of ugly stuff made cheaply in some far-off sweatshop?
Accumulating religious doo-dads probably started way back in early churches of the late Roman Empire and Middle Ages when relics of all sorts became the rage. People went ape over a splinter from the One True Cross or a scrap of clothing rumored to have been worn by Christ or a bone from a long-dead saint. It's a unique form of idolatry, the longing for a physical, earthly link to the heavenly realms. Kind of like those scarves Elvis used to toss out during his concerts. Or like the pen you let the Cute Boy in homeroom borrow that you place worshipfully on your dresser because He touched it, maybe even chewed on it a little.
The other night, following a story from Yahoo!, I found Virtue, the world's first spiritual perfume. No joke. Eau de God. I couldn't have made this ridiculousness up. I must admit that I only skimmed the majority of the website; I had to stop reading because I feared I'd give myself a brain embolism.
But I'm a generous sort of gal, so I thought I'd share with you, dear readers, the story of Virtue in all its cerebellum-melting glory, using of course, text pulled straight from the website.
When we started Virtue® there was no IBI. We were just two individuals, who had a dream to make a difference in the world we served. How could we make a dream a reality and have it be truly Inspired? Truly in service to our intent to create a fragrance that would serve a Spiritual purpose. To truly serve the Spiritual side of humanity. The key... was the fragrance. And the key to the proper fragrance was Spirit, Itself.What?!? You want "to serve the world and make a difference" so you create a PERFUME? There are dozens of ways to "serve the Spiritual side of humanity" and these wingnuts went for fragrance? Maybe I dozed off during this portion of Sunday School, but I am pretty sure Christ didn't mention anything in his teachings about helping the world smell nice.
A year later, while doing some research on the name, we became aware that Virtue was actually associate [sic] with fragrance the world over. In practically all religions and Spiritual practices, persons of high Spiritual attainment are known to give off a fragrance, attributed to their Virtue. Christ, many of the Saints, and numerous others with highly developed spirituality, are, historically, known to have given off such a fragrance.Again, I think I missed the part in the Bible where it talked about Jesus smelling like flowers. More than likely, considering the hygiene practices of his time, Jesus stunk like sweat. And I don't think that made him any less of a Messiah.
I'm going to skip the overly drawn out section of the website that is dedicated to the perfume's rather banal logo. The earnestness with which the design is described is both hysterical and pathetic.
Onto the perfume itself. Here's how the World' First Spiritual Scent is described:
Let it’s [sic] contemporary notes of Apricot (the real forbidden fruit), Fig and Pomegranate transition into a gentle heart of Iris, warming to a golden base of rich exotic woods including Frankincense, Myrrh, and Spikenard, ever so lightly sprinkled with Cinnamon and Cassia. Your journey is complete. You are firmly placed in an ancient realm of the senses, enduring and timeless for over 3,000 years.According to the Virtue folks, Eve munched on an apricot. (Here's where I crack open Genesis...) And what in the world is Spikenard? More importantly, why would I want to apply it to my body.
I really like the notion that somehow God's essence was more pure in the ancient world, so that in order to truly connect with God time traveling would be required. Also, this notion that the ancient world was brimming with all of these divine scents, like some sort of mystical Yankee Candle store, is ludicrous. More than likely, the "ancient realm of the senses" smelled like animal dung, B.O., and raw sewage.
The makers of Virtue point out that in order for their fragrance to work, you can't just mist it in the air and walk through a cloud of perfume on your way out the door. They outline specific steps one must take in order to receive the full blessing of the sacred odor.
Begin your spiritual practice (prayer, meditation, contemplation, etc.)I have no words. This shit is beyond me.
Establish your desired spiritual state.
Smell your wrist, maintaining awareness of your spiritual state.
Keep repeating this association.
In the course of your day, let it remind you of your spiritual state by smelling your wrist.
Maintaining contact with the Spiritual Self brings inspirations and insights, only available by spiritual awareness.
And just when you thought it couldn't get better, there are testimonials!
"I found that an added bonus is that it mixes beautifully with the other two perfumes I wear regularly. I can spray on my other fragrance, then dab on some Virtue® and love the results."Whoa , Stinkerella! This woman wears THREE different perfumes? I feel sorry for anyone who has to share the same 50 cubic feet with this woman.
"The concept is such a good idea, and I look forward to gradually associating that smell with my 'Spiritual State', so that each time I get a whiff of it during the day, I'll instantly feel that refreshment and reverence. "I can't help but get this mental picture of Mary Catherine Gallagher jamming her hands in her pits, pulling them out, and taking a nice big whiff.
"The best use so far has been spraying it in my home, my children's room or on their pillow before they sleep. To all of my sisters in Christ I say: A mother's heart is like a deep well that bursts forth in tears when her children are in pain, who prays endlessly for love to guide them to a righteous path and blesses the broken road because their journey will end in strength, faith and a victorious life."This poor woman's kids who reek of perfume. And I am not sure what she's getting at with her mish-mash of metaphors at the end there, but I try not to question any woman who sprays perfume all over her house. She might just be in the running for Vice-Mayor of Crazytown.
Best part about all this insanity is the asking price. For only $80 you can own your very own bottle of Biblical scent. Really, dear readers, is that too much to ask for "a reminder of the eternal I AM"?