Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bumper Stickers

Adjoining cars in the church parking lot with opposite POV's. On the one hand, that's very Covenant. Different politics - we try to get past that.

Before you point out that it's unfair to draw too many conclusions about folks from bumper stickers, let me note that no one makes you oversimplify your views that way. I'm not drawing the conclusions - you are drawing them for me when you put the slogan on your car.

I have some issues with both cars, er, their owners, here. As we are returning to this church after 13 years, I don't know who they are, and they don't read my blog. So I feel I can be a bit freer than I otherwise might.

The car on the right (natch):
TRY AND TAKE IT, with a stylised logo that is a guy shooting a rifle. A star figures prominently.

The car on the left had three stickers. Multiple stickers are more typical of the left than right up here:


I contrast this to the political stickers at my old church, same denomination. Usually, just a candidate's name. The state chairman for the McCain campaign had two stickers, one a 5" square McCain decal, and another 5" square decal that said FREE TIBET. Someone else did used to have an IRAQ IS ARABIC FOR VIETNAM one. As it was still 2003, a touch annoying in its haste, but who knows, it could've turned out to be true. And anyway, he and his wife had met in the Peace Corps in Yemen, so you cut a little slack for that. Way before that, maybe 1997, a psychiatrist who attended for a few months had EXPOSE THE RIGHT. Which my son Jonathan, a high school senior then, thought was pretty good.

So I'm spoiled, I admit it. The tolerance I am used to is not likely to be matched elsewhere.

Easiest first. "Jesus is a socialist." I like the "is," instead of "was." That shows a nice orthodox alertness. And the sentiment is merely wrong in its schoolboy equivalences, not so much insulting. Yes, Jesus wants us to share, and socialism reportedly wants us to share, but that's about the end of the similarity. No matter. Remembering Churchill's maxim, it might even be a good thing on a young person's car.

Moving over to the right, "Try and take it," I have a problem. The right to protect your family seems consonant with Christianity. Defending just yourself, maybe. I won't get into the complexities of that here, but if someone wanted to take the hard-line Nope view, they would have some good scriptural foundation for it. The sticker pretty clearly says if the government tries to take my gun(s), I will shoot its representative when they come. That's not overreading, is it?

Do you really mean that, dude? Because if so, I think that's a dangerous idea in Bedford. If you lived in Camden NJ or Detroit, maybe I'd cut you some slack on it. Certainly, if we lived in East Timor or Kosovo, I could see your point, and your ability to protect your family would be so impaired by being underweaponed compared to some very evil people, that I wouldn't criticise. Christians in comparable situations might have the authority to contradict you, but I wouldn't dare from my comfortable life.

If you don't really mean that, if you're just trying to express how important this is to you in a dramatic way, then find another way.

The fun one to criticise. "Yeah, like Jesus would own a gun and vote Republican." First, you'd have to establish that Jesus would vote at all. Since if he wouldn't, the second half of your statement becomes meaningless. I know that you might technically be saying "Naw, I'm just objecting to the Religious Right claiming he's on their side. I say don't vote for anyone." But really - that's not it, and everyone knows it. If you attempted that escape route, I would, if anything, have even less respect for you as a coward and a liar.

Jesus's immediate followers pretty much disengaged from politics, whether imperial or religious. Three centuries later, it was different. You can call that the great downfall of the Church, or a reasonable response to the need for social order, or an essentially neutral development that had consequences good and bad; but putting political statements directly into Jesus's mouth strikes me as really dangerous territory, given the 2nd Commandment and all. Everything has to be extrapolated, deduced, pondered, in that territory.

As to owning a gun, well, his disciples carried swords. They didn't have guns then so we don't get an exact read here, but hey, a sword's pretty close. Plus a whip to drive the moneylenders out of the Temple. I think guns look like a possibility, at least for the disciples while traveling through Philly.

The last one. "Republican Family Values: Greed, Fear, Hate." That just doesn't go in a church parking lot. That's just evil. I mean that. You worship with these people, and you can't see the remotest possibility that they might disgree with you for good reasons? The only possibility that you can even imagine is that they are evil to the core, that's why they hold those views?

Again, I am not offering the standard escape, because it is dishonest and cowardly. To say "Oh, I didn't mean all Republicans - I'm sure you mean well, but Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, now..."

You actually want to be caught saying "Not you, you're one of the good niggers?"

It tempts me to get a bumpersticker that says PROGRESSIVES PROJECT and park right next to you. That works for driving around, too. It takes a moment to get the meaning, and folks would have to think...But that would be unfair of me. A fleeting fantasy, but I wouldn't do it. And anyway, people would read it too fast and think it was a possessive, which would cause them to put the accent on the wrong syllable of "project," and it would just be a puzzling statement that looked vaguely liberal.

Much better to just try and find one that says ON THE OTHER HAND...


Donna B. said...

All these are good examples of why I refuse to put bumper stickers on my car.

Although "ON THE OTHER HAND" might be one I could live with! It is similar to the only t-shirt slogan I've ever considered: "Comment Loading" with a progress bar underneath.

Anonymous said...

Jesus COMMANDED his disciples to buy swords, the most deadly personal weapons available in HIS time. Luke 22:36

Just more church-heavy "Christians" shamefully ignorant of the Bible.

james said...

Whether you interpet his "buy a sword" as a metaphor or not, notice that 2 swords for 11 disciples was "enough."

Anna said...

I love it how liberals think that conservatives think that Jesus would vote Republican (love, as in cynically). Is it really inconceivable to them that someone might think the Repubs are the party to join with just for pragmatic reasons? Do they really think we only vote Repub because we think Jesus is telling us to?

Granted, we try to vote with our principles, but voting Repub most of the time does not equate to condoning the actions of every Repub nor does it equate to a commandment from God.

These are the same people who say "Jesus was a Liberal", so it is definitely another case of Progressives Project.

Dr X said...

There is research linking bumper stickers and other forms of personalized markings on cars with more aggressive driving and road rage. The more markings, the greater the association with aggression.

The authors of the study hypothesized that personalized stickers function as territorial markers and that people who use them react as if they are defending their territory.

When the study was published,I wondered if the bumper sticker/road rage link was instead related to narcissism.

Regardless of underlying explanation, the research findings raise an interesting question. Do we intuitively react negatively to cars with bumper stickers? Perhaps we sense an aggressive dimension to these personal displays.

I know that, regardless of the content, I tend to have a negative reaction to bumper stickers.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Now that's fascinating, Dr. X. I will certainly much ponder it.

I sometimes sport a single candidate's bumpersticker, which I remove after the election.

karrde said...

I am always amused by the bumper sticker which reads "Stop the Violins: Visualize Whirled Peas".

On a more serious front, most of the ideas seen on bumper stickers are too pithy to be deeply-thought. They are either offensive and narrow, or too broad to be useful.

james said...

I saw a bumper sticker about 25 years ago that still gives me a shudder when I think of it: "Prosperity Is My Birthright."

Gringo said...

The only bumper stickers I have had on my car in the last ten years have been for Bob Wills, the King of Western Swing, and for the Jewish cowboy, a.k.a. Kinky Friedman, for TX governor.

A Demo friend of mine- a blue dog type- has his car plastered with Demo party stickers, but he is not a road rage type. When he jabbed me about Karl Rove not liking Delaware candidate McConnell, I jabbed right back about the "bearded Marxist" Demo opponent Coons. That shut him up.

terri said...

Dr. X's comment is interesting.

It does seem to make some intuitive sense.

It reminds me of all the in-your-face Christian T-shirts that I have seen, and some of which I wore in my youth. They give the illusion that you're saying something really important and that someone is going to read the witty pun, or the sharp jab and change their mind.

Same thing with Jesus fish and Darwin lizards(?).

I don't ever have bumper stickers on my boring gray car. Some of us are too vanilla to want to stick out in a parking lot.

Paul_In_Houston said...

I too have noticed that it seems to be mostly the leftists that have cars festooned with multiple stickers; giving me the uncharitable thought that the depths of one's thinking might be inversely proportional to the number of stickers on his/her vehicle. :-)

Anonymous said...

OK, try to work your way out of 2Thess 3:10.
Jesus was absolutely NOT a Socialist nor anything approaching what today's socialist represents.
Misleaders of the flocks and 2Tim4:3-4

Ymar said...

At the time of Jesus, the Middle East was at peace. After his death and some say resurrection, various rebellions came up against Imperial rule. Guess how many the Romans crucified in response. And that was only one of 3 or so rebellions the Jews put up.

Given the Left's propensity for violence, cruelty, war, and revolutionary fervor... I'm not quite sure why they would want Jesus to be on their side. Because if he was, they would stop fighting. And then they'd have to Judas goat Jesus so they can find a reason to say "Vive Le Revolution", right.

Seems kind of pointless.