To the best of my knowledge no one in my family or extended family has a tattoo. I see most tattoos, however, intricate in design as defacing rather than as adorning the body. My upbringing conforms to religious teaching that the body is the temple of god and should not be defiled. I didn’t know in my youth that Judaism and Islam have viewed tattoos as taboo, citing scripture and hadith. Like vulgar language, I feel tattoos are unnecessary and convey a message that “I want attention.” Some tattoos bear the name a significant other and are proudly displayed; others are made visible to only a lover. And they cost to have them removed when that commitment sours. Apparently some athletes, who are tattooed on arms, face and elsewhere, signal they are macho and, like body piercing, they tell us “I have and can withstand pain.”
Yet, should I not loosen up and simply acknowledge that there are motivation for tattoos vary and can be even for religious purposes. A recent Huffington Post describes this relationship:
“50 Religiously Inspired Tattoos Show Faith That's Not Just Skin-Deep Posted: 11/09/2013 10:16 am EST HuffPost blogger Jacob D. Myers shared his thoughts about the spirituality of tattoos, commenting, "Just as art has always conjoined the spiritual and the religious, tattoos can combine the inward and outward expressions of a spiritual or significant experience, literally, as art on the body."
“Though cultures and religions differ in their official teachings with regards to tattoos, it's undeniable that many people find them a meaningful way of expressing their personal faith and spirituality. . .
“Others see tattoos as a unique way to evangelize, proudly showing off their faith with their bodies adorned with religious symbols. Daniel Ostrowski, who founded the Christian Tattoo Association in 1998, told Beliefnet, "Tattooing is a unique way to express your faith. It shows on the outside what you got on the inside -- if it is real."
“Check out 50 religiously inspired tattoos here, and tweet us your spiritual ink here @HuffPostRelig: Interfaith, Jesus Tattoo, Buddhist Tattoos, Christian Tattoos, Cross Tattoo, Hindu Tattoos, Jewish Tattoos, Muslim Tattoos, Religious Art, Religious Tattoos, Tattoo, Tattoo, Virgin Mary Tattoo, Religion News” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/09/religious-tattoos_n_4243007.html
Might not the larger issue “to or to not to tattoo” signal our self-absorbed culture is hungry for meaning. We are immersed in a sea of selling/buying skin products, clothing, jewelry, fashion, feasting on E-television of celebrity talk, and expensive toys for the big spenders. Thousand dollar tickets to and million dollar spots for Super Bowls and its imitators are other ways we express our self-absorption. Might tattoos be just another way some of us privileged are immersed in self-absorption when our planet is exploited and polluted and when the knotty problems for half the human race is striving to have enough to eat. Do I still need to loosen up and be entertained by these body symbols of adornment?