A controversial new exegetical study released this week aims to prove that Jesus Christ identified with the “Cottagecore” aesthetic, a fashion and lifestyle subgenre that has recently launched into popular consciousness via social media.
In the article, ex-Vatican press correspondent Starlie Medford uses a number of biblical texts to conclude that the son of God’s “fixation on bread and white linen” proves his allegiance to the aesthetic movement. Below is an excerpt from the intro to Medford’s “Lilies of the Field: Christ as the Founder of Cottagecore”.
“The Cottagecore aesthetic as portrayed on various social media platforms is strongly associated with a sort of peaceful counter-culturalism. Cottagecore ‘mood boards’ often include images of rolling meadows, naturally-sourced linen clothing, flowers and bread-baking. These convey what appears to be an overarching message of harmony among mankind. As such, the Gospels provide an abundance of evidence to show that the message of early Christianity aligns exactly with that of Cottagecore.”
The article opens with a detailed analysis of Jesus’ fashion choices, which Medford feels is key to understanding the argument. Using centuries’ worth of art depicting Christ, as well as a few biblical passages, Medford concludes that Jesus’ preference toward long, flowing skirts and cream tones (see Matthew 17:2) is a clear display of Jesus’ aesthetic tendencies.
“We know from John’s passion narrative that Jesus’ clothes were woven,” writes Medford. “This, as well as his overturning of the tables in the temple marketplace, implies clear scorn of what influencers have defined in recent years as ‘fast fashion’ — the cheap mass-production of clothes that has been decried by Cottagecore bloggers time and time again since the movement’s inception.”
One section of Medford’s article lists over a hundred scriptural instances of what she deems “deliberate aesthetic choices” that she feels contribute to her argument. These include (but are certainly not limited to) Christ’s mention of “shepherds, sheep, lambs, grain, wheat, agricultural imagery, pastoral imagery, lilies, grass, sparrows, vines, olive trees, seeds, harvest, grapes” and, most importantly, “bread.”
“The creation and consumption of bread is an absolutely essential part of the Cottagecore aesthetic,” writes Medford. “It is almost universally accepted as a founding tenant of the movement, appearing on nearly every ‘Cottagecore Starter Pack’ list. As such, it is no coincidence that the word bread is mentioned no less than 492 times in the Bible — neither can it be ignored that Christ himself chose, following his ascension, to manifest himself to his people in the form of unleavened bread. This is perhaps the strongest evidence we have that Jesus Christ was the ancient Hebrew equivalent of a Cottagecore icon.”
Medford’s article has been a matter of great dispute among Christian social theorists and biblical scholars since its publication. Some see it as an important chance for the Church to connect with modern youth culture. Others are confused.
In an effort to gauge the response of Catholic scholarly circles, the Troubadour approached eminent theologian Scott Hahn to ask his opinion on the article. His response to our list of 10 well-thought-out questions concerning the article and its contents was a brief and resounding, “No.”
We felt that his reply was appropriate.