I typically believe in signs. Everything from the bunt sign and exit signs to tea leaves and crop circles. I just don’t always follow them, especially speed limit signs. My driving record can attest to that.
But recently I’ve taken objection to one particular sign. Driving to work this week, I saw a spray-painted board nailed to a tree that read, “Jesus is Coming.”
The sign seems to suggest a message that good things are coming for those who have been good, or hell, damnation and/or coal await those who haven’t been so good. That type of theology, if three words can be said to aspire to such, is better left to Santa and nursery rhymes.
Since it is December, the message immediately brought to mind the lyrics from Santa Claus is Coming to Town” — “You better not shout. You better not cry. You better not pout. I’m telling you why …” and then just replace Santa with Jesus and you get the idea.
I wanted to paint my own sign to post beneath it that says, “Why Wait? Be the Christ You Want to See in the World.” You know, as in the “on Earth as in Heaven” part of the prayer Jesus taught his disciples. I want to tell the person who spray-painted this prophetic three-word warning that Jesus would probably prefer that he or she attend to the needs of this life rather than waiting for whatever awaits in the next one.
The sign promotes this Pharasetic notion that belief trumps action. Don’t worry about all the awful shit happening around you in this world. Just make sure you have your bags packed and ticket punched when the Jesus train shows up to cart off all the “true believers.”
Promoting this type of mentality has some pretty damning consequences. This week, I also read a profile of the at goofy-looking asshole who killed three people at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado on Nov. 27. According to a recent New York Times article, his former wife described him as “a serial philanderer and a problem gambler, a man who kicked her, beat her head against the floor and fathered two children with other women while they were together. He found excuses for his transgressions, she said, in his idiosyncratic views on Christian eschatology and the nature of salvation.”
Her affidavit in 1993 stated: “He claims to be a Christian and is extremely evangelistic, but does not follow the Bible in his actions … He says that as long as he believes he will be saved, he can do whatever he pleases.”
You can chalk the shooting up to crazy, but part of what we’re seeing is the expression of a culture that has been saturated with over simplification and extreme polarization of issues via cable news and our political talking heads. It not hard to figure out how this guy might have come to the conclusion that his white, heterosexual, male, Christian, American way of life was under constant attack. And if he perceived himself as being attacked, what else would he do other than fight back with his second-amendment-protected firearm.
Clearly, this is a case of self defense, culturally speaking. He was just protecting his way of life against an unjust world whose values don’t align with those of his warped perception of our country’s forefathers. And I’m sure that this mantra is already among the talking points on some cable news stations and blogs. Fucking A.
Can I resign my position as a white, heterosexual, male, Christian, American? I want new representation. I feel better aligned with any minority group or all of them. I’m considering becoming a Jewish LGBTQ woman, a transgender Buddhist, a Skittle-loving African American teenage boy with a hoodie or a dyslexic Muslim parrot, depending on which application process is fastest. But in truth, my application would probably be denied because I’d be viewed as a potential threat based on the track record of “my people.”
But perhaps I protest too much. Maybe I should just stick with a simple sign. A single finger ought to do it.