Poll

Is it proper for an Orthodox Christian to get a tattoo?

It's fine, nothing wrong with it.
38 (23.6%)
They can if they want, but I wouldn't.
26 (16.1%)
Only in some circumstances.
18 (11.2%)
I don't think it's proper, no.
33 (20.5%)
It is absolutely, positively sinful!
11 (6.8%)
I'm not sure.
32 (19.9%)
None of the above.
3 (1.9%)

Total Members Voted: 161

Author Topic: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos  (Read 50205 times)

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Offline Justin Kissel

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Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« on: December 27, 2009, 09:44:01 PM »
We've had tattoo threads before, but I don't think we've had a poll, and I think quite a few new regularly participating members have joined since the last thread. So... is it proper for an Orthodox Christian to get a tattoo? I assume that the content makes a difference--I'm not talking about flaming pentagrams here. Does the culture that you come from make a difference? Does the sex of the person make a difference? Does a tattoo not being publically visible most of the time make a difference?
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Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2009, 10:56:08 PM »
I'm not sure. 

I understand it, as I always wanted to get a full sleeve in earlier years and had many friends that did.  I am very glad I didn't now, but it is mostly because of the temptation of vanity. 

However, considering that we all primp ourselves in front of mirrors like harlots, it's probably not a sound criticism.  ;)
« Last Edit: December 27, 2009, 10:56:27 PM by Alveus Lacuna »

Offline coptic orthodox boy

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2009, 11:28:14 PM »
I have no problem with it.  Happy I didn't get a tattoo of a cross on my wrist when I was practicing (a common practice amoung members of the Coptic Orthodox church) since I'm trying to get into the Navy OCS program and a tattoo on the wrist would most certainly disqualify me (U.S. military is getting strict with tattoos now-a-days).

Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2010, 01:38:08 AM »
So... I was mostly wondering about this because I had planned on getting a second tattoo, and I wanted to see what other Orthodox thought. Specifically, I got this one on my upper left arm about a week ago (I just printed it out and gave it to the tattoo artist)...



Whether I'm Orthodox or not (and fwiw I am attending an Orthodox parish at the moment), Orthodoxy has had far more impact on me than other things I might get a tattoo of, so I figured I might as well get this one. Of course, had I waited a week I might very well have gotten a memorial tattoo instead, but you can't change the past I guess, and what's done is done. :)
« Last Edit: January 05, 2010, 01:40:16 AM by Asteriktos »
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Offline HandmaidenofGod

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2010, 01:55:30 AM »
It's always been my understanding that tattoos are a "no-no" in the Church, regardless of content.

I could be wrong though.
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Offline genesisone

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2010, 11:09:46 AM »
What concerns me is respect for our bodies. A tattoo (and piercings) really aren't necessary, so should they be done?

When my son was a teenager he suggested that he wanted a tattoo. I told him before he did that to visit a seniors' nursing home and ask all the veterans to show him theirs. He still doesn't have a tattoo, and he'll be thirty-two in a couple of weeks. And what's more, he's a naval officer (reserves) now!

Offline GammaRay

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2010, 12:04:09 PM »
Asteriktos, if you ever get the time to, post a pic of it! I can imagine that it looks nice.

I also thought of getting a tattoo, but I'm afraid that I'm going to regret it later. :-\
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Offline Bogoliubtsy

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2010, 01:48:22 PM »
Among others, I have this on the inside of my arm/bicep.  :)
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Offline Rosehip

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2010, 01:57:08 PM »
I think original culture does make a big difference. I personally find tattoos to mar the beauty of the wearer and can't understand why anyone would consider this vanity. It's just icky. No offense to those who have them please, but I find them intolerable.

>ducks for cover<
« Last Edit: January 05, 2010, 01:58:47 PM by Rosehip »
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Offline Bogoliubtsy

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2010, 02:00:43 PM »
I think original culture does make a big difference. I personally find tattoos to mar the beauty of the wearer and can't understand why anyone would consider this vanity. It's just icky. No offense to those who have them please, but I find them intolerable.

>ducks for cover<

For me, they can go both ways- either be hideous and/or trashy, or look quite nice.
"When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the poor have no food, they call you a communist". - Archbishop Hélder Pessoa Câmara

Offline BoredMeeting

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2010, 02:04:12 PM »
I have heard tattoos should be avoided as it involves the sort of body modification that Orthodox Christians should reject.

But this got me thinking (assuming that this teaching is correct), if you have the tattoos when you become an Orthodox Christian, wouldn't having them removed be considered body modification?

Are pierced ears ok then? If those are ok, what about other piercings? I know an Orthodox mom who was upset about her son getting a tattoo (a three-bar cross) but she sports a navel piercing (around the community pool).

How about cosmetic surgery?

It would be helpful if there were a set of rules, including the theology behind them, that could be referenced.

Offline Bogoliubtsy

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2010, 02:10:45 PM »

It would be helpful if there were a set of rules, including the theology behind them, that could be referenced.


Yeah, like an Orthodox Christian Talmud or something.
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Offline Rosehip

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2010, 02:11:34 PM »
I agree. We need a set theology about these matters. :) Piercings are pretty barbaric in my books too. Have never been able to make the leap and get my ears pierced. I always back out at the last minute. For me, earrings are quite nice-vanity would be involved there, definitely- and I would be sorely tempted to undergo pierced ears just so I could wear these items, but the thought of dealing with the holes etc. is too exhausting and uncertain, so I forgo it.
+ Our dear sister Martha (Rosehip) passed away on Dec 20, 2010.  May her memory be eternal! +

Offline Papist

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2010, 03:26:05 PM »
So... I was mostly wondering about this because I had planned on getting a second tattoo, and I wanted to see what other Orthodox thought. Specifically, I got this one on my upper left arm about a week ago (I just printed it out and gave it to the tattoo artist)...



Whether I'm Orthodox or not (and fwiw I am attending an Orthodox parish at the moment), Orthodoxy has had far more impact on me than other things I might get a tattoo of, so I figured I might as well get this one. Of course, had I waited a week I might very well have gotten a memorial tattoo instead, but you can't change the past I guess, and what's done is done. :)
My brother had the Byzantine Cross tatooed on the back of his calve.
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Offline Rosehip

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2010, 03:40:22 PM »
I just realized what a hypocrite I am. I have at least three tattoos on my body, but, you know, "out of sight-out of mind". I have no idea what they look like either.
+ Our dear sister Martha (Rosehip) passed away on Dec 20, 2010.  May her memory be eternal! +

Offline BoredMeeting

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #15 on: January 07, 2010, 10:13:18 AM »
It would be helpful if there were a set of rules, including the theology behind them, that could be referenced.
Yeah, like an Orthodox Christian Talmud or something.
I was thinking more along the line of at least finding a few links to Orthodox clergy referencing the Church's teachings on this question. ;D

Offline GammaRay

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2010, 10:26:44 AM »
Among others, I have this on the inside of my arm/bicep.  :)
That's a nice one, though I think that the birds are a bit of thin. Cool. ;)
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2010, 03:23:17 AM »
Among others, I have this on the inside of my arm/bicep.  :)

Sinner!  Just kidding. It looks nice... certainly blows my small, black/grey ones away! It looks like it almost goes down to your elbow, if you don't mind my asking, do you ever have issues with people seeing it (e.g. work related)?


Asteriktos, if you ever get the time to, post a pic of it! I can imagine that it looks nice.

I also thought of getting a tattoo, but I'm afraid that I'm going to regret it later. :-\

Fwiw, I first wanted to get a tattoo when I was a teenager, but waited till I was 30 to get my first one. I'm glad I did, otherwise I'd probably have Metallica's Master of Puppets album cover across my back or something  :D  I'll post a pic whenever I get another digital camera, maybe in a couple days. I used to be able to use my webcam and then hit the print screen key and paste it into a graphic program, but for some reason that doesn't work now. *shrugs*

I'll be going to get a memorial tattoo for Mary on Tuesday. Nothing elaborate, just a black rose with Mary's name by it. I gave the tattoo artist a few pictures I pulled off the net to let him know sort of what angle and whatnot I'd prefer for the rose, but I haven't seen what he's drawn up yet. Hopefully it'll be something as nice as this one.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2010, 03:28:40 AM by Asteriktos »
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2010, 03:27:48 AM »
I think original culture does make a big difference. I personally find tattoos to mar the beauty of the wearer and can't understand why anyone would consider this vanity. It's just icky. No offense to those who have them please, but I find them intolerable.

>ducks for cover<

Throws tomato  :P  Nah, everyone has their opinion, which is perfectly fine. I sometimes react the same way when I see some tattoos... like "how could you get that permanently put on yourself?"  But to each their own. Both my grandfather and father had/have multiple tattoos, so maybe it just seems like a normal form of expression to me.
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Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2010, 03:32:48 AM »
It would be helpful if there were a set of rules, including the theology behind them, that could be referenced.
Yeah, like an Orthodox Christian Talmud or something.

So sassy!

Offline SolEX01

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2010, 03:37:59 AM »
I think original culture does make a big difference. I personally find tattoos to mar the beauty of the wearer and can't understand why anyone would consider this vanity. It's just icky. No offense to those who have them please, but I find them intolerable.

>ducks for cover<

Throws tomato  :P  Nah, everyone has their opinion, which is perfectly fine. I sometimes react the same way when I see some tattoos... like "how could you get that permanently put on yourself?"  But to each their own. Both my grandfather and father had/have multiple tattoos, so maybe it just seems like a normal form of expression to me.

Or a mechanism for inflicting pain in order to tolerate more pain or a mechanism to remind oneself of past pleasure, pain or both.  The following is extracted from a Boston Globe book review on Why People die of Suicide by Thomas Joiner

Quote
The third factor in Joiner's theory is the development of the capacity to perpetrate lethal self-injury. Joiner identifies the root and branch of this ability in repeated painful experiences that desensitize the individual to the ultimate injury. Among many examples he cites is his father's maneuvering a pleasure boat through a stormy sea. When the steering wheel snaps off, badly lacerating his hand, he continues to grapple with the shattered tiller, seemingly oblivious to the blood streaming from his hand.

source

>ducks for cover<

Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2010, 03:41:39 AM »
Or a mechanism for inflicting pain in order to tolerate more pain or a mechanism to remind oneself of past pleasure, pain or both. 

Perhaps. :)
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Offline Robert W

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2010, 03:56:08 AM »
Among others, I have this on the inside of my arm/bicep.  :)

Heraldry as tattoos are AWESOME!!  8)

My wife recently got these two symbols as tattoos on her wrists

They both obviously represent the trinity. Our priest commented positively (he might have just been polite :P) and said that unfortunately priests are not allowed tattoos.

Have anyone else heard this about priests not being allowed tattoos?

Offline Irish Hermit

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2010, 04:04:00 AM »
I've got my son tattooed with a Celtic cross.  He is a solvent abusing street kid and so if he ever gets mashed by a bus or a train we will have a better chance of identifying him.  I thought of having a chip put in but it seems they only do that for dogs <joking>

Just to remark that I live in the South Pacific where tattoos are a significant part of the local cultures, whether Maori or Samoan or other Polynesian cultures.   They are very common.  Nobody is offended by them and they do not denote that one is a member of the underworld or of the criminal classes.   :)

Here is a tattoo very similar to Nick's, except his is smaller.


Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2010, 04:06:44 AM »
Among others, I have this on the inside of my arm/bicep.  :)

An awesome tattoo!

Offline Riddikulus

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #25 on: January 11, 2010, 04:39:13 AM »
Among others, I have this on the inside of my arm/bicep.  :)

Heraldry as tattoos are AWESOME!!  8)

My wife recently got these two symbols as tattoos on her wrists

They both obviously represent the trinity. Our priest commented positively (he might have just been polite :P) and said that unfortunately priests are not allowed tattoos.

Have anyone else heard this about priests not being allowed tattoos?

Yes, the priest at our old parish mentioned this. Something to do with self-mutilation, if I recall correctly. But he was against tattooes for everyone; piercings, too..... except a female's ears.  ??? I like those trinitarian symbols, btw.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2010, 04:39:54 AM by Riddikulus »
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Offline Riddikulus

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #26 on: January 11, 2010, 04:41:01 AM »
I've got my son tattooed with a Celtic cross.  He is a solvent abusing street kid and so if he ever gets mashed by a bus or a train we will have a better chance of identifying him.  I thought of having a chip put in but it seems they only do that for dogs <joking>

Just to remark that I live in the South Pacific where tattoos are a significant part of the local cultures, whether Maori or Samoan or other Polynesian cultures.   They are very common.  Nobody is offended by them and they do not denote that one is a member of the underworld or of the criminal classes.   :)

Here is a tattoo very similar to Nick's, except his is smaller.



Like that, very much!
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Offline SolEX01

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2010, 04:44:06 AM »
Or a mechanism for inflicting pain in order to tolerate more pain or a mechanism to remind oneself of past pleasure, pain or both. 

Perhaps. :)

Thanks for not throwing rotten tomatoes, at least publicly.   ;)

Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #28 on: January 14, 2010, 07:45:15 PM »
I can't seem to get my new digital camera working properly. It was fine the first day I used it, but now it shuts off after every pic I try to take, and doesn't save the image.  :-\ So I don't have a pic of the cross tattoo, but I did get a pic of the memorial tattoo...



I'm not crazy about the coloring outside the leaves, and wasn't asked about that... but what's done is done now.
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Offline Riddikulus

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #29 on: January 14, 2010, 07:49:09 PM »
I like that, Asteriktos!
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Offline Papist

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #30 on: January 14, 2010, 08:43:17 PM »
I've got my son tattooed with a Celtic cross.  He is a solvent abusing street kid and so if he ever gets mashed by a bus or a train we will have a better chance of identifying him.  I thought of having a chip put in but it seems they only do that for dogs <joking>

Just to remark that I live in the South Pacific where tattoos are a significant part of the local cultures, whether Maori or Samoan or other Polynesian cultures.   They are very common.  Nobody is offended by them and they do not denote that one is a member of the underworld or of the criminal classes.   :)

Here is a tattoo very similar to Nick's, except his is smaller.


I thought monks couldn't have children?   ???
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Offline Quinault

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #31 on: January 14, 2010, 08:51:39 PM »
You guys think a tattoo of a cross is on your body is wrong?

A streetkid-solvent abuser has lived on our church premises for many years.  It's a long story - a lifetime of physical and sexual abuse from his "fathers" in multiple foster homes.  In other words, more sinned against than sinning.

Some years back I wanted to get him a birthday present - his name is Nicholas and he was born on Saint Nicholas day.  In the past any presents, such as walkmans, have been stolen from him by his street "friends" within a few hours.

He loves Irish things and he is a Christian in his own way, comes to church venerates the icons, says his prayers.  So I got him a present that couldn't be lost - a tattoo of a Celtic cross on his forearm.  He loves it -and there is the odd advantage pointed out to me by a policeman that if he is ever hit by a bus or burnt in a derelict house they can use the cross to identify him!

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,5844.0.html

Offline Rosehip

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #32 on: January 14, 2010, 08:59:50 PM »
I was puzzled too, about Irish Hermit's children. Unless he means spiritual child? Asteriktos, I don't really like tattoos but yours is quite lovely.
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Offline Irish Hermit

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #33 on: January 14, 2010, 09:03:09 PM »
I thought monks couldn't have children?   ???

Many monks have children.  Patriarch German of Serbia had two sons and they both became his deacons at the patriarchate.

Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #34 on: January 14, 2010, 11:10:24 PM »
I've really wanted one for a long time but I've never talked to my priest about it.  My housemate has a really nice tattoo very close to Asteriktos' cross, and I've always wanted one that looks very similar to Fr. Ambrose' son's Celtic cross (big surprise  :P).  But for me, unless I get my priests' permission, it ain't gonna happen.  But, I pass absolutely no judgment on all y'all for getting one (or many).  :)
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Offline Bogoliubtsy

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #35 on: January 14, 2010, 11:23:22 PM »
Among others, I have this on the inside of my arm/bicep.  :)

Sinner!  Just kidding. It looks nice... certainly blows my small, black/grey ones away! It looks like it almost goes down to your elbow, if you don't mind my asking, do you ever have issues with people seeing it (e.g. work related)?




Yeah, I have to wear long sleeves in work/work-like environments. Kind of a bummer, but not too much of a pain. Occasionally I wear short-sleeves. Students think it's either cool or weird, but either way want to know what it's all about and will keep pestering you til they get the full story.  :)
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #36 on: January 15, 2010, 02:26:46 PM »
Yeah, I have to wear long sleeves in work/work-like environments. Kind of a bummer, but not too much of a pain. Occasionally I wear short-sleeves. Students think it's either cool or weird, but either way want to know what it's all about and will keep pestering you til they get the full story.  :)

Lol, well I guess if you were more evangelically minded you could use it as a way to break the ice on your way to converting them ;)
« Last Edit: January 15, 2010, 02:27:02 PM by Asteriktos »
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #37 on: January 15, 2010, 02:28:46 PM »
So today my camera is working normally again. *scratches head confusedly* Anyway, I don't have anyone else to take the pic, so the cross is sort of twisted, but fwiw here is a pic...

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Offline scamandrius

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #38 on: January 16, 2010, 03:37:10 PM »
I have been told that a carry over from the old Jewish Law is that tattooed Orthodox christians cannot be buried in an Orthodox cemetery.  Is that correct?
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Offline Bogoliubtsy

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #39 on: January 16, 2010, 03:38:26 PM »
I have been told that a carry over from the old Jewish Law is that tattooed Orthodox christians cannot be buried in an Orthodox cemetery.  Is that correct?

Haven't heard that. Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II is out of luck, I guess.  ;)
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Offline GregoryLA

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #40 on: January 16, 2010, 06:15:25 PM »
The most ridiculous tattoo I've ever seen was this guy I knew who got a goat's head and pentagram tattooed on his throat- from right under his chin to his clavicle. I was at a barbeque at a friend's house when the parents of he girl whose house it was asked- quite politely- what the significance was. He said it was an ancient pagan symbol for something or another but that it had been supressed by the Catholics from before the time of Christ. I about fell over backwards at that and asked him to clarify, but he was quite sure of what he said. Haha.

I guys all those Catholics were just sitting around waiting! :laugh:
« Last Edit: January 16, 2010, 06:18:21 PM by GregoryLA »

Offline BoredMeeting

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #41 on: January 17, 2010, 06:02:06 PM »
I have been told that a carry over from the old Jewish Law is that tattooed Orthodox christians cannot be buried in an Orthodox cemetery.  Is that correct?
I have never heard that and I would seriously question it.

Offline Isadore

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #42 on: January 18, 2010, 05:23:35 AM »
Tattoos and piercings are standard here--I've got none, but am planning a few. White tattoo on my wrist (won't be visible)--ex libris, reminding myself to read and write. Small black tattoo on my ankle--longitude and latitude of the beach my father took me to as a child. Don't know about the rest.

If anyone's seen the Baz Luhrman version of Romeo and Juliet the (Franciscan?) monk has a giant cross over his back--a Byzantine version seems like it would be nice, just not on me!
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Offline ChristusDominus

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Re: Orthodox Christians and Tattoos
« Reply #43 on: January 23, 2010, 10:45:37 PM »
Tattoos and piercings are standard here--I've got none, but am planning a few. White tattoo on my wrist (won't be visible)--ex libris, reminding myself to read and write. Small black tattoo on my ankle--longitude and latitude of the beach my father took me to as a child. Don't know about the rest.

If anyone's seen the Baz Luhrman version of Romeo and Juliet the (Franciscan?) monk has a giant cross over his back--a Byzantine version seems like it would be nice, just not on me!
Do you know where I can get a glimpse of this particular tattoo?
« Last Edit: January 23, 2010, 10:46:25 PM by ChristusDominus »
There is no more evident sign that anyone is a saint and of the number of the elect, than to see him leading a good life and at the same time a prey to desolation, suffering, and trials. - Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

Offline Isadore

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"Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved."