Creeping Jesus

July 19, 2011

I heard this today when a woman at my work was describing an incident where she was getting changed and Kenny (our KP) barged into the changing room and caught her in a state of undress. I do not think that there was anything in Kenny’s head as he entered other than changing and leaving, and perhaps I do him a sid-service with my choice of the word ‘barging’ but it caught me as a strange thing to say, ‘what does Jesus have to do with it?”

It is, it transpires, an interesting, though ultimately archaic and confused, phrase. It is what they call a Hiberno-English phrase, which really means (in this case) a phrase that was used in Scotland to describe something pertaining, loosely, to Ireland. A Creeping Jesus is understood to be someone prone to making unnecessary and overt gestures of religiosity. A Roman Catholic who makes a point of visiting all four points of the cross in a church only for the benefit of the people watching him. It’s specificity has loosened over time and has come to mean purely someone acting in a hypocritical way, related to religion or not.

Another string added to this phrases bow is it’s use by William Blake. In ‘The Everlasting Gospel’:

“If he had been Antichrist, Creeping Jesus,

He’d have done anything to please us”


It is similar in use to that which I outlines originally (in that in talks about someone disparagingly using their religious beliefs) but also has a literal reference; in that he is talking about Jesus specifically (or more correctly his imagined anti-christ.) He says: if he were not Jesus and rather the devil, he would have no need to challenge or human nature and established social order so.


I think that’s what he means anyway, but it seems a self-negating argument: as ‘good’ is subjective and in instructing us to act in a certain way, how do we know that he was not pulling us away from salvation.



July 19, 2011

This is a French word (never!!). It means to issue forth, or to flow out from a narrow, confined space into a bigger area. It has specific military connotations meaning to march out into open ground and also is used to describe natural shit like rivers. It’s the kinda word James Fennimore Cooper used in fact it is perfectly suited to his use of language as it marries the world of nature with the world of warfare. A largely pointless word but one that I like as it lends itself so easily to a French accent that you hardly have to even try.