Sunday 24 October 2010

What Would Jesus Steal

A reliable source informs me that one of Australia's big Christian bookstore chains has serious problems with shoplifting. Can you guess what their most-stolen item is?

The WWJD bracelets.


Richard Hall said...


michael jensen said...

I heard this line several years ago! Urban myth?

Pamela said...

Thanks Ben I needed a good laugh.
WWJD on hearing that news - probably, with Elvis in tow, leave the building - disgusted that those bracelets were ever invented.

Stuart said...

Oh the irony!!

I've linked to you and copied your text here.

Hope that's OK, let me know if it's a prob.

Anonymous said...

they'll have to steal a few indulgences to cover over that one

byron smith said...

If the punishment for thieving were to be loss of the offending hand (as some would suggest), then this would provide an added irony...

Mike W. McVey said...

When I worked for a Christian bookstore in the United States, the inventory that was most unaccounted for was the WWJD supply... of course that was when WWJD was at its peak in popularity.

Paul Tyson said...

Seriously though, Ben’s question is a good one. Father Tim Jones advocated shoplifting for the poor from large retail chains, and I think that is sage advice. Fact is, our faith is not about ‘good’ socially conservative morality. “One of Australia’s big Christian book store chains” (some choice in possibilities here!) fits the large exploitative retail chain pretty neatly, so I think it worth advocating shoplifting for impoverished theology students there – though finding any theology (at all) worth stealing is the challenge. Some years back I went into one “big Christian bookstore chain” in Australia looking for Barth’s commentary on Romans and was asked how do you spell Barth by the ‘Jesus-junk’ sales assistant.) So, seriously, what would Jesus steal?

Highanddry said...

@ Paul,

I've had similar experiences in said bookstore. It always disturbs me how small their 'theology' section is given the size of their store. I have however, found the reduced/sale items to be the most fruitful. I picked up some Hauerwas, some Newbigin and even some out of favour Tom Wright. All cheap as chips and destined for oblivion.

Anonymous said...

"Thou shalt not steal." (Exodus 20:15)

Damn that socially conservative (Jewish?) morality.

besideourselves said...


Interesting comment, but I think that should maybe read;

What would Jesus multiply like loaves and fishes?

A) WWJD Bracelets
B) Books by Barth
C) Helpful Retail Assistants
D) Scourges of Small Cords

Anonymous said...

WWJS? A few lost souls from under the nose of a sleeping monster? A lamb, and come out with a lion? I suspect he'd have few qualms about robbing a bank when the banks have been stealing so much from the poor. He'd steal life in the face of death and wouldn't be ashamed of the scars... oh yeah, he might just steal your heart... (yeah, I know...)

kim fabricius said...

At university I knew a guy who sewed two pillow cases into a large overcoat. He used to walk out of the college book store with half the stock. Jesus would probably settle for a good pair of trainers (not Nike).

Anonymous said...

This makes perfect sense of course because without one of these bracelets how can anyone know it’s wrong to steal one? The more telling statistic is - how many bracelet shoplifters steal a second one? And the answer, obviously, is none. By that time they possess a portable, plastic moral compass & know it’s wrong.

In fact, the more that get stolen the safer it is for the rest of us. I’d go so far as to say that stealing one of these should be a mandatory part of all community service orders issued by the courts.

Saving the world one stolen bracelet at a time!


Paul Tyson said...

Interesting… St Francis ‘stole’ lots of loot from his rich father for various reckless projects of totally unpragmatic piety and for random acts of senseless compassion until he was basically disinherited. Jesus himself doesn’t seem to use money at all. (Sure the disciples had a collective purse – kept by Judas – but when asked for the temple tax, Jesus obviously has no money on him… seems He just found, or asked for, or was given, or just took, or made what He needed and never wanted more than was needed. Even so – as with the loaves and fishes – He was always superabundantly generous). So if Barth and Ellul are right and following Jesus is not about being religious or moral, then all the Laws and social Norms about exclusive ownership and the preservation and protection of ‘legitimate’ self interest within the bounds of exclusive ownership, would probably not have meant anything to Jesus. Stealing which is about the re-appropriation of ownership and the preservation of self interest has no place in the way of Jesus, but by the same token, neither, perhaps, does money and power have any place in His way. If all wealth comes from God, and if both scarcity and luxury are perverse human inventions (controlled and maintained by the principality of money), then the idea that someone who genuinely needs something, or that some genuinely good thing should be denied someone, just because they don’t have money, is surely an affront to the way of Jesus? So, WWJD regarding his approach to money, ‘stealing’, and the distribution of needs and goods if He was born in a railway station to Aboriginal parents some time in the late 1970s?

besideourselves said...

More and more interesting.

"As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack."

So an attempt at a kingdom interpretation of “Thou shalt not steal” may go something like:

“You have heard that it was said... but I tell you, whosoever appropriates providence to the privation of his brother has already stolen from the treasury of the kingdom”. So;

"... All the Laws and social Norms about exclusive ownership and the preservation and protection of ‘legitimate’ self interest within the bounds of exclusive ownership, would probably not have meant anything to Jesus."

Quite probably; In much the same way that the social justice laws of the Old Testament (jubilee, gleanings etc.) would violate our private property laws. Growing up in a poor Polynesian community, the same boys who took your ball at morning tea would give you their pie at lunchtime. In a collective culture can we say that it’s not theft to unilaterally address a ‘need differential’?

Mind you, when the ownership of necessary use gave way to the conspicuous ownership of status you could be sure you’d get your head punched and your cap plain STOLEN (not that I ever had a cap worth stealing).

A fascinating discussion thank you Paul, but I'd think we’d need to redefine terms before WWJS can be moved from the ‘humour’ category.

Paul D. said...

Jesus' parables are full of examples of property ownership. But considering that he was unemployed and homeless, it's no wonder he was poor himself.

Of course, it's possible he kept working and the gospels ignore that aspect of his life.

Ross said...

Your source is correct. Sadly, this is true.

Anonymous said...

I have heard from my own reliable source that it is actually just one man who travels around Australia, stealing as many as he can. He hoardes them at an undisclosed location and I believe his plan is to mould them into one enourmous bracelet that will fit around the perimeters of Parliament House.

Anonymous said...

Damn you Tony Abbott.


Anonymous said...

When I worked at Borders the religion section netted the highest losses from shoplifting corporation-wide and therefore all religion books were security tagged whereas in other sections tags usually only went on books worth $25 or more.

dave said...

love to see a link to a news story on this. Anybody?

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