Whatever happened to the plastic Jesus?


Please allow me to state that I am a spiritual person. I am not asking this question to be disrespectful or anti religious. It’s a serious question to ponder, because I think that the plastic Jesus is gone forever, along with the slide rule and tape recordings, whether eight-track or reel-to-reel. I believe that the government caused its disappearance.

In the 50’s and 60’s, nobody locked their vehicles because nobody stole them. Vehicles were massive and all metal. What the vehicles lacked in design, they made up in weight. During the same time frame, Catholics, predominately, drove around with a plastic statue of Jesus standing prominently in the middle of the vehicle’s dashboard. That practice was so significant, that it led to an American folk song, written by Ed Rush and George Cromarty in 1957. Remember the lyrics about not caring whether it rains or freezes so long as you got that plastic Jesus riding on the dashboard of your car?

What magic power did that simple plastic statue possess?

One day, a couple of teenage boys, motivated by the scientific method, attempted to find out. They postulated that the power must come from the magnet in the base of the statue, and then set out to prove that theory. Their method took advantage of two facts … number one, nobody locked their vehicles, and number two, almost every Catholic had a plastic Jesus in his unlocked vehicle. Ipso facto, it wasn’t hard for these young scientists to accumulate a couple of dozen statues on which they could do research.

After placing the pilfered collection across the dashboard of their laboratory vehicle, these two geniuses headed to a remote test site where the research began. Using several of Einstein’s theories, the fledgling scientists accelerated quickly and stopped even quicker. The statues with the inferior magnetic bases rapidly fell from the dashboard and were eliminated from further consideration. This research continued at higher speeds and harder braking until there remained only one plastic Jesus. It was declared the most powerful and omnipotent statue, and it became a hood ornament to acknowledge its success.

And then the government intervention happened. In the wake of the 1975 Arab Oil Embargo, the U.S. Congress enacted Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) to improve the miles per gallon achieved by cars and light trucks. Suddenly, the all- metal American vehicles had to shed weight, and plastic replaced steel, especially on the dashboards. No magnet, no matter how powerful, could adhere to a plastic dashboard. Without a magnet, the plastic Jesus also must have lost its power, and it became a relic of the past.

And, as Paul Harvey might have said, “That’s the rest of the story.”

9 thoughts on “Whatever happened to the plastic Jesus?

  1. The plastic Jesus disappeared when Rich and Dave were dating two Villa girls. They were often driving the Villa grounds searching for the girls and their presence came to the attention of the nuns. Consequently, Rich and Dave were labeled on the no-fly list. As one would expect, not allowing the guys on the grounds only served to make their trips more exciting. The boys were known to take plastic Jesus which had a magnet on the bottom and hang it upside down from the mirror. They also gathered as many plastic Jesus as they could. Taking the statues would cut down on the supply and raise the demand. Dave was an economics major at the time and understood the supply curve well. Maybe the boys cut down on the supply too much and that’s what ended Jesus


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