My friend Adam Copeland has started up a meme about faith and tattoos. Being someone who has faith and a tattoo, I feel compelled to participate (and because he used a photo of my tattoo in the initial post). So here are Adam’s instructions from his site, and below are my responses to the questions.
In a few sentences, respond to the questions below. When you’re done, share, tag a few friends, and pass on the questions. Keep the title, “Meme: My Faith, My Tattoo” for easy searching. For background on what the heck a “meme” is, see this article.
1. Describe your tattoo(s):
I have only one tattoo (seen in the above photo) and I got it in a small tattoo shop in West Jerusalem. I was in the Middle East in the summer of 2005 and knew that I wanted to get a tattoo. My original plan was to get the coptic cross tattoo from a cathedral in Cairo. Egyptian Coptic Christians would flock to a specific cathedral once a week and get the tattoo. However, I arrived in Cairo on the wrong day.
So, one day after some friends and I worshipped with Palestinian theologian Naim Ateek at Sabeel in East Jerusalem, I mentioned to his daughter Nevart that I wanted to get a tattoo. She said she knew a great place and so off we went. The picture on the right is of me and the tattoo artist. He wasn’t real thrilled to be getting his photo with me, but…oh well.
2. What made you want that tattoo(s)?
I wanted a coptic cross because I really liked the design of it. It was also something to remind me of my time in the Middle East. It was also small enough that it wouldn’t be as noticeable (which, while a concern for me 5 years ago, is not something that I care about now). I also just really like tattoos and think they can be very cool expressions of art.
3. How did your faith influence your tattoo, indirectly or directly?
As mentioned above – for me it’s a reminder. It’s a reminder of my faith – on days when I feel like I have no faith. And it’s a reminder of my time in the Middle East and helps me remember to pray for those who are still caught in a dire situation.
4. What’s the relationship between your tattoo and your broader understanding of your body?
I don’t know that I’ve really put much thought into that. I think tattoos are just one other way that one can express something about oneself and adds to the uniqueness and diversity of humanity.
5. Was it worth it…do you have regrets?
Totally worth it. I really like it and am glad that I did it – especially that I got it done while in the Middle East. I definitely want another one – just haven’t decided what or where I’d like it to be (I had thought about the Greek word Epektasis back in 2009).
6. What funny story has happened because of your tattoo?
Can’t say that there have particularly been any funny stories that have occurred because of it – but I do occasionally get some looks from older folks at church. No one has had an issue with it. This is very unlike when I got my eyebrow pierced as a 22-yr old youth minister in a small church in Idaho. While double-checking with my pastor at the time twice (he said he had no problem with it), some older folks in the church wrote letters to the pastor, and I was given the ultimatum of having to choose between keeping my job or keeping the eyebrow ring. That was fun. I took it out, was pretty pissed, and my pastor took me out to a dump in Idaho and we shot guns together to let off steam.
7. How did your tattoo change your faith (and if not, why not)?
As Bruce mentioned, I don’t know that it has had a profound effect on my faith, but it does serve as a reminder to me.