An image of Jesus appeared in a pancake at a California restaurant right before Easter Sunday, and it’s not the first time the savior has appeared in flapjack, a tortilla, a window, a pierogi, and dozens of other objects and food stuffs. You might even say it’s become somewhat of a lucrative business, but what’s really going on here? Is Jesus playing a game and hide and seek with us?
The owners of the California cafe have been going through some emotionally trying times recently, and had been praying a lot, before spotting the image of Jesus in a pancake made on Good Friday. They see the image as Jesus looking down, and watching over them. They are trying to preserve the pancake for yet to be announced reasons.
Others who have claimed to see Jesus in objects, especially food objects, have taken the sighting straight to eBay, and then straight to the bank.
How much are those images worth?
The image of Jesus in a pierogi sold for $1,775 in an eBay auction.
An image of Jesus in bathroom wall plaster sold for $1,999 in an eBay auction.
Dozens of Jesus in Toast images have been sold for varying amounts in eBay auctions over the years as well. They sold so well, someone even created a toaster that makes Jesus toast every time.
In 2006, Jesus’s previous appearance in a flapjack was receiving bids upwards of $15,000 on eBay before it was revealed to be a hoax and the auction was shut down.
At first glance it might appear Jesus is doing a Where’s Waldo?, or Where’s Wally? depending upon where you call home, impersonation, and making sure the people who find him get paid prize money, but a closer look, unfortunately, shoots down that idea.
First of all, we don’t really know exactly what this guy known as Jesus looked like, so it’s kind of hard to pick him out of a lineup of burnt sandwiches. We only know the image artists have created to represent Jesus, and somehow the image of a white Jesus became the norm (No real mystery there.).
The real reason behind it is a little thing called Pareidolia, which is the term used to describe our brain’s determination to make sense of randomness and visual chaos. Our brain is always looking for patterns. That’s what it does. That’s how it recognizes things. This is especially true when it comes to human faces.
Identifying faces and reading them correctly is thought by some to be a hard-wired instinct to protect us from danger. One study indicated our brains react to images that look like faces in much the same way it does to real faces.
The ventral fusiform cortex is where this processing takes place, and difference in its reaction time between real faces and perceived faces is just 35ms. In other words, seeing non-faces as faces is something our brain does almost instantly in most cases.
With a lot of the Jesus sightings, and Jesus-like sightings, it sometimes takes a little work to see the image in the way its described. The religious nature of the imagery makes the perception a little more like acheropites or simulacra, in that is religious imagery believed to be created by supernatural or natural means.
While facial recognition is more of an every-human thing, sightings such as these are dependent upon cultural imprinting. Someone who has never heard of Jesus won’t be seeing images of him in their bathroom mold.
Still, these religion-inspired sightings hold powerful meaning for some observers. They see it as a true sign from a supreme being. In some cases, such happenings draw droves of onlookers, like the image of Jesus that appeared in a chapati in India in 2002.
In terms of economics, when one person sees the image, and convinces others its there, that image can be worth quite a bit of cash as the eBay auctions prove — with the exception of those items bought by corporate entities just looking for publicity.
Seeing faces where there are none, and making images of Jesus out of random patterns in wood grain, are all just screw-jobs of the mind, and fortunately, or unfortunately, our minds are quite susceptible to this kind of trickery. It’s perpetually fooling itself by working too fast and then rationalizing those results.
The spot between our ears is truly a weird place, and most of us don’t even realize just how weird it is.
Enough of that though, here are a bunch of photographs of Jesus appearing in different objects: