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There has long been a temptation within Christianity to make “Christian” versions of normal, everyday things. Sometimes this can be very helpful, especially when it repurposes something else in a new way. Sometimes, though, it is just crass marketing.
As I heard one Orthodox priest say recently, you don’t make something “Orthodox” just by slapping an icon on it. But for some people, however, that icon, or cross, or crucifix, or prayer on a mundane object might just provide enough sanctification to get them to buy something they neither need nor want. Slapping a cross on your candy does not remove the calories. I’m pretty sure that confectionaries were never mentioned in any of the accounts of the Last Supper either, and so ineligible to be used in the Eucharist. Easter this year, naturally, brought an interesting object lesson in questionable candy.
This year I was horrified to discover “The Jellybean Prayer,” which seeks to sell jellybeans in a cross-shaped tin by convincing you that by eating said beans in a certain flavor sequence, you are “praying” some misbegotten sugary missive to the divine. My eldest received one of these tins, noted that licorice (her favorite and mine), being black, was the sinful bean, leading her to quip “Mmmm … delicious licorice sin beans!”
But I fear such candies are a mark of the commercial beast and a sticky foretaste of future profane abominations. Candy makers naturally want to sell more candy, and certain Christians want to sanctify their overindulgences, so in a newly molded Baptist-and-Bootlegger alliance, we will see further such ill-crossed candies. In short, I am hereby predicting that at some future date confectioners will be making Peep crucifixes, complete with pink marshmallow bunnies crucified on chocolate, on a Golgotha of marzipan. Alas, not only does this profane the real resurrection and make a mockery of the Eucharist (eating the body and blood of Christ), but such a meal will likely produce a more visceral resurrection of stomach contents.
I suppose, given the rather binary reception of licorice (love it? hate it?) and its dark hue, that this confectioner felt it appropriate to represent sin, yes one could certainly argue that sin can indeed taste delicious. Still, it’s just candy, and selling it in a cross-shaped tin doesn’t change that.
There is neither a transubstantiation nor consubstantiation at work when popping beans — they neither are nor become anything else but a tummyache and a dental visit if you overindulge. And you are not doing the work of prayer in eating them (even when worshiping at the porcelain throne a few hours later). I have no problems of selling the beans in the cross-shaped tin — such items are fun mementos of Easter — but people are going to buy the jelly beans anyway. It’s Easter, that’s what you do. You don’t make them any less a candy by claiming them as a prayer aid (though it is hilarious to picture someone popping them in place of using their rosary or prayer rope).
You do not necessarily take something mundane or profane and turn it sacred merely by slapping a bit of scripture on it, or some other religious symbol. You won’t make a Juggalo any less demented by making him wear a WWJD bracelet (and picturing a Juggalo with a “what would Jesus do?” bracelet is so nonsensical that it may really better off as a Buddhist koan). It is what we do with ordinary objects that makes them sacred (that’s why the Cross is venerated in the first place). Overindulging in Easter candy, no matter how it is dressed up, will still make you sick.