Looking for Jesus in all the wrong places

I have a soft spot for pareidolia, as regular readers know. It amuses me to no end to see Jesus and Mary popping up on freeway underpasses, tacos, toast, pieces of sheet metal, Lava Lamps, and the like. I thought that I had seen it all--until now:

His image has been seen on rocks, windows - even a tortilla as recently as Ash Wednesday.
Now, in the days leading up to Easter Sunday, it appears yet another strange image of Jesus has emerged.

Erika Scheldt, 24, claims she photographed a stingray with a glistening depiction of Christ on its back after it washed ashore a South Carolina beach on Friday.

The dead cownose stingray washed up on the beach at James Island, Ms Scheldt told The Island Packet.

But even she was skeptical at first.

'I just kind of thought it looked like a bearded homeless man.

Which rather describes Jesus, don't you think? Wasn't he, in essence, a bearded homeless man? Even believers have to concede that, given that Jesus didn't, as far as we know, have a fixed address.

Erika would have had it right the first time, but then enter her friends:

'But when I posted pictures on Instagram, one of my friends was like, "That's Jesus." And I was like, "Oh, my God. You're right,"' she said.

Judge for yourself:


All hail Stingray Jesus!

Personally, as is so often the case with pareidolia, I think it looks like Treebeard:

Really, to me the image looks more like Treebeard:


Or Gandalf, or Saruman, or...well, you get the idea. I do admit, though, that I am rather Lord of the Rings-centric in my pareidolia. I guess that, from a neuroscience standpoint, it's just another anecdote that goes to show that what you read into patterns depends on what you value.

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Let's see. We've seen the Virgin Mary on trees, under a freeway overpass in Chicago, a window in Perth Amboy, NJ, and even in the brain. We've seen Jesus himself show up on toast, on a piece of sheet metal, on a potato chip, on a pierogi, on a ceiling tile, and even on a cat. Heck, we've even seen…
It's no secret that I'm a bit of a connoisseur of pareidolia. The various shapes and contortions the human mind can impose on clouds, stains, pancakes, trees, toast, Lava lamps, toilet seats, and even medical imaging tests never ceases to amaze me. We are pattern-seeking creatures, and our brains…
Regular readers know that I'm a bit of a connoisseur of pareidolia, so much so that I even have a category devoted to it. For those not familiar with the concept, pareidolia is nothing more than seeing patterns in things. One of the most famous examples is seeing faces, animals, or other objects…

#23 Denice: And look out for that burled wood paneling. Those little demon bastards are everywhere!

By fancyflyer (not verified) on 28 Apr 2012 #permalink

It's kind of like how everything looks phallic. Everything looks like Jesus, apparently.

Gandolf popped up in my head. My dad was a fan of fantasy novels when I was a kid, so I've seen many a novel covers with a similar face.