Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tissues: Icons of Sacrificial Purity

Now that we are well into this year’s cold and flu season, I’m sure most of us have already caught some kind of sinus-burning, sneeze-preventing bug that renders us bedridden and weak. Sure, most of us have NyQuil, warm soup, and possibly loving mothers to nurse us back to health, but I believe that most people overlook what is perhaps the humblest yet most helpful healing tool at our disposal: tissues. That’s right, these thin sheets of soft, fluffy paper not only make our sinuses feel better, but they are also a symbol of sacrificial purity. From their color to their structure and texture, tissues are a convincing modern icon of selfless sacrifice.

First, let’s begin by examining a tissue’s color: pure white like freshly fallen snow and bubbles in a bubble bath. All of the good children who paid attention in English class should be saying to themselves, “Oh! I get it! White means purity!” And indeed it does in our Western, Christian-influenced society. So many pure things are white: paper, wedding dresses, marshmallows, white chocolate, sugar, salt, old people’s hair, and of course tissues. The question is, why make tissues white? The answer, I believe, is very simple. We, as human beings, love making pure things dirty with our own mess. We’ve been taught that only something pure can make all things clean. Tissues are white simply so that we can sully them with our never-ending streams of sinus juices and our noses can be made clean once again. Yes, there’s nothing quite as beautiful as something clean becoming dirty to make something else clean, especially when you consider how we also use tissues for bloody noses.

Not only do tissues have a pure white color, but they also have a soft, weak structure. They tear apart easily and there’s no solidity to them whatsoever. They are weak, humble, and nearly weightless. Any burdens they have are trivial to what they take away from us. Tissues—brave, feathery tissues put up no resistance when we pluck them from their boxes and sneeze our sickness all over them. Tissues allow us to defile them with never-ending jets from the nasal equivalent of Niagra Falls. They do not fight back, but instead they accept our burden of sickness, and for what reward? They put themselves on the line for us only to be thrown away, but it is their will that they perish so we may one day be made well again, free from burning sinuses. This is sacrificial purity at its finest, an icon of an age old and most profound concept of something weak and pure dying for something defiled. The same argument could made for toilet paper. Come to think of it, we put a lot of disgusting things on pure, white things.

In any case, the next time you blow through a box of tissues, thank each little piece for what it has done for you. They fight bravely and silently without a single complaint. Salute each one like a soldier, taking your germs upon its gentle frame and residing itself to life in a landfill. A humble beginning leads to a humble end.

If Jesus Christ came to earth as a tissue, he would’ve died for our sinuses.


image from here.


  1. I really love that last paragraph, it made me smile :)

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  2. This is hilarious! I love it. Is there such a thing as Christian stand-up comedy? You'd be brilliant. Love the punch line "If Jesus Christ came to earth as a tissue, he would’ve died for our sinuses."

  3. Thanks, Anne!

    I think Christian stand-up does exist, and by that I mean I've seen comedians who are Christians and make Christiany jokes.

    I'm glad you enjoyed reading this. :)