Over the past few years, I've blogged repeatedly about the practice (click to continue reading original links). In 1998, my initial objections were stated in a well-researched article, which journalists may find worth reading, entitled, "Beyond Superstition: Doing Justice to the 'Just Man'." Nearly a decade later, I created an interactive map called "St. Joe 2.0: Geography of Faith" where anyone who believed in the practice could document their prayer experiences to St. Joseph and others could propose alternative spiritual practices.
Then after a Catholic conference on Social Justice was canceled in Boston for lack of interest, my blog posts became more pointed: "Social Justice for Real Estate Dummies."
Unlike NPR's Talk of the Nation which kicked off their program "Selling Your Soul to Sell Your House" with an interview about St. Joseph, the Wall Street Journal told their audience that some Catholics are offended by the practice of burying St. Joseph statues upside down because they believe it is superstitious. Some Catholic bookstores objective to selling the statues for the same reason.
For years, I've thought about offering a "St. Joseph Statue Buy-Back Program." An employee of one local religious book store expressed an interest in exchanging statues for coupons to buy books which would give real insight into Catholic teachings. My recommendation, the day after All Saints' Day, would be The Saints' Guide to Happiness. (The author, Robert Ellsberg, was a classmate at Harvard and is the son of Daniel Ellsberg.)
Looks like the WSJ blog post is generating some heated discussion. I'd love to invite anyone who wants to take a more positive approach towards "reinventing" this misguided devotion to St. Joseph to consider our fund raising campaign for AIDS orphans or to propose their own ideas to the honor patron saint of the Catholic church and Social Justice. Isn't it time sellers, real estate agents, and the press do justice to the "just man"? Your comments are most welcome here or on our wiki.
Real Estate Cafe blog posts on practice of burying St. Joseph statues to sell real estate:Social Justice for Real Estate Dummies