Friday, July 25, 2008

The Truth

Loyal Readers, the above graphic is of a bumper sticker that I've seen a couple of times here. It is one of many many Christian bumper stickers that adorn a large number of vehicles in this area of the country.

For the record, I have no objection to religious bumper stickers. I enjoy them quite a bit. I do notice that the vast majority of them, perhaps all of them, are Christian in nature. Come to think of it, I have yet to see a catchy little phrase marketing a particular car owner's Jewish or Muslim beliefs.

Back to the sticker.

"Orthodoxy. Proclaiming The Truth Since A.D. 33. "

Two things bother me about this sticker.

One. The arrogance of "The Truth". I just love when people think that they know "The Truth" about anything that concerns things larger than ourselves. As if a normal human brain - especially one which compels one to slap a bumper sticker on one's car publicizing one's most important core beliefs - can be large enough to KNOW the so called Truth. I, for one, hope that "The Truth" is a little larger than what my little brain can fathom.

Two: The bumper sticker proclaiming to "Proclaim The Truth" does not, in fact, "Proclaim The Truth".

The so called orthodox gospels as we know them- the ones that the Orthodox Church follows - emerged in their present form long after A.D. 33. It was not until the end of the second century when they began to resemble what we know today. In addition, there were many other gospels in existence (Thomas & Philip, for example) that were in competition with those that eventually became anointed FOUR. (Mathew, Mark, Luke & John...even I, an atheist can remember what they are in part because they were the names of the four hunky Carswell brothers I went to high school with, but I digress.)

If we are going to be "Proclaiming The Truth", we ought to get our facts right, oughtn't we?

I was prompted to go to a website sponsored by the Orthodox Church and was amused to see that the first topic that it dealt with under the Frequently Asked Questions section was circumcision. Would someone please tell me why lopping off excess skin on a penis has anything to do with one's spiritual life? I don't have strong feelings about circumcision, for the record. Oh, yes, the Orthodox Church didn't object to circumcision for hygienic reasons but didn't think that Christians were obligated to follow the old testament rules on this procedure. Another main topic on the site was the explanation of fasting seasons and days. Hmm.

Anyway, if you are interested in reading more about the topic of the gospels, there are some wonderful books by Elaine Pagels, a professor at Princeton, who is, I believe, a Christian. I love to read about historical Christianity. It may surprise you, Loyal Ones, but it used to be one of my favorite topics. That one man could walk the Earth over 2000 years ago for less than four decades and get but three mentions (three small mentions) by the historian of the times (Josephus) and yet completely change the belief systems of the entire world is fascinating to me.

But, whether he was "The Son of God" or simply a man who was enlightened beyond our normal human experience, I think that he would be mortified at some of the hateful things that have been done in his name.

I think also that if Jesus could have seen the future, he would have hired a good agent and publicist to ensure that his message was delivered with some class and taste. There are some horrific examples out there of the opposite. To wit:

Jesus felt my pain? How does this driver know?

Must we cheapen one of the most influential spiritual leaders man has known with Racing Flags?

Sounds like a Yippee! thing to me. He suffered, but the hell with him, what's in it for me? Where's the tact, people? Yes, perhaps we should be happy about this, but it is a little insensitive to proclaim it in this fashion, if you ask me. (And, of course you do.)

LOVE this one. As if people cannot help but murder one another if the bible isn't taught in our schools. Puhlease.

In closing this post, I offer one of my favorite bumper stickers of all time. I think it says it all and that Jesus's marketing guys would have gotten his enthusiastic approval on it. It really does point out how misguided the God on Our Side stuff is.


Jason said...

I cannot describe how much I agree with your logic throughout this post. Kudos to you! Spirituality=good. Kitschy, "humorous", faith-based bumper stickers=the wrong message.

SSS said...

My favorite (progressive) religious bumper sticker adorns at least a couple cars in my church's parking lot:

"When Jesus said love your enemies, I'm pretty sure he meant don't kill them."