We have all seen the mixed message car. The bumper stickers and license plate holder have sayings on them that conflict in philosophy. Yesterday, I saw this.
The Jesus fish, I 'heart' the U.S. Army, and Go Army as Bumper stickers. Last but not least, the Peace symbol in camouflage.
Why hide Peace? Why disguise it? Like you would hide in a bush waiting to jump out at someone with Peace?
If we have learned anything over the last eight years, it's that Peace cannot survive in a Bush.
Then, add in the Jesus fish and army stuff and you have a four wheeled contradiction. How else can you explain it? I don't get it. There were a lot of armies back in his day and I don't recall most of them doing good things in the Bible. Do you? How did we get Jesus enlisted in the United States Army?
My friend says, "Why do people keep getting to use his name?"
Like it was a trademark issue or something that the courts and yet to resolve.
"Yeah. Why is that?" I sagely replied.
"People attach his name to everything."
I pondered this for a moment. I am an agnostic. That means I believe that their might not be anyone ignoring our prayers.
The polite thing to do at this point is to write something like, if you are a Christian and serve in the Army, thats cool. So there that is.
Is there a passage in the Sermon on the mount that mentions anything about making war? If there is I can't see it.
Jesus does not salute.
Is Jesus copyright protected? Is he considered intellectual property? Does someone own his image? These are the big questions.
How can I make money on Jesus?
Not saying that the Church and people with sincere belief have not done a lot of good, but everyone can name a few periods in history where his name has been attached to some horrific episodes. When the good stuff did happen, it was when Jesus was alive. When he showed people what he could do. They killed him.
So mixing the Symbols for Peace, Christianity and the Military seem a little strange. Or very American.
I beat up Jesus a lot in my blog. Not him really, but what has been done to his name. Jesus was not white. If he was, that might explain why he had such a hard time in the Mid-east two thousand years ago. Jesus is also not unique. Don't freak out yet if you are reading this with contempt. What I am saying is, the whole saviour for our sins, rise from the dead and even his birthday were all key elements in other cultures myths before his time.
In what is now Iran, the Persian people once believed in a God named Mithra. He was crucified to take away the sins of the world and was said to have been born on December 25th.
Tibet, also had a man known as a God and Saviour, Indra. He to was nailed to a cross, his mother was a virgin, he had to die for mans sins, he rose from the dead and was believed to be eternal.
These are just two examples. Almost every major culture has had the appearance of a 'Jesus.' Makes you think. Hmm?
My friend in the car happened to be a Christian. Don't ask how we get along. We manage. When I list off these various incarnations of what I see as an enduring myth that cuts across so many different histories, he says, "Maybe he appeared to them too. Who knows."
"Who knows? You do. You keep saying you know. You and everyone else who calls themselves Christians speak as if you know the truth and the only truth. You can't sit there after I have told you lots of other cultures had a Jesus figure with most of the same claims-he was born a virgin, he died for the worlds sins, he rose to Heaven and returned to life three days latter- doesn't that make you wonder a little more than, maybe he appeared to other people? Where is that in the book?"
He sits there with his eyes wide and uncomfortable. What is he suppose to say? I can't make one guy answer for a two thousand year old church. Can I?
He takes a breath and attempts a good natured smile. "I have always meant to ask, what happened to you?"
This only makes me more angry.
This usually happens. I talk about religion in my act a lot and in my blog because they interest me and I did not in fact have a very good experience with it growing up. But this, this question of what happened to you always infuriates me. Implied in the question is the idea that something bad must of happened to me as a boy to make me turn away from God. I turned away. You see what they accomplish in the argument with this? It is my fault that I don't believe or don't understand and not the creator of the universe whose son supposedly died for me and could work miracles. Get it? It's my fault and not God's even though he is much more powerful than any of us, it is still us. Hence the invention of original sin. The idea that we all enter this world with an automatic debt of having done something to offend the Almighty. That sounds like a God I can really get behind.
"Why do you think something bad happened for me not to believe in God?"
"Something did though, right?" He says with confidence.
"Actually, nothing happened. That was the problem. Everyone kept telling me to listen to my heart and guess what, God wasn't talking to me like my heart was a radio. I don't believe because I have not had the experiences you have had and history tells me that the Jesus myth is common to many cultures."
Now it's quiet. I think it's a fair statement though.
Then, right on time and as if it has been scripted, he makes the comment that everyone makes at this point in the conversation. "I feel sorry for you."
Is this written down somewhere in a play book for talking to those who don't share your faith?
"Thats funny. I was thinking the same thing about you."
Bumper stickers. Fucking bumper stickers.
Maybe in a thousand more years the bumper will be regarded as a religious icon. People will pray to it and question it and debate it. Who knows? Maybe it is really just a bumper or really it is something more than anyone could hope to understand.