Monday, April 11, 2005

Could it be...a new Jesus fish??

As a commuter in one of the most congested parts of the entire country, I'd like to bring you a news update on the so-called "culture war". Bumper stickers are the primary weapon in this conflict, and given the sheer number of hours I spend behind the wheel each and every week, I consider myself an "embedded" reporter of sorts. I brought you an initial report on this conflict back in January, but I've witnessed an interesting turn of events in recent months.


As our troops are still in harm's way, we continue to affix countless yellow ribbons to every imaginable surface. But have you noticed their orientation? Many of them are now lying on their sides. Originally, I was sure that this was a matter of practicality. As in the photo linked in the title, you have to get creative if you have a tiny bumper.

I was sure it was just practicality, until I started noticing giant SUVs wearing their ribbons sideways, too. And today on my way home, I crept for miles and miles behind a bright red Mini Cooper with a sleek, white racing strip. This Mini confirmed suspicions that have been building for months and months. On the back of the car were three stickers, all placed with utter disregard for the car's lovely paint job. The first was of Calvin kneeling at the cross. The second was a sticker of the Jesus fish, except that it was patterned after the American flag. The third sticker was a bright yellow ribbon lying flat on its side. If you look at it, that yellow ribbon looks a lot like the Jesus fish when it lies sideways like that.

I don't think this recent phenomenon would bother me if I thought it meant, "Pray for our troops". Rather, it seems like another form of competitive patriotism & religiosity between our red and blue citizens. I don't remember having any slogans on the ribbons we put up during the first Gulf War. We just put up ribbons because we were thinking about our soldiers. But now we have to have the slogan on our ribbons because it's part of the false dilemma to which we've reduced any debate about our current war: either you support the troops, or you have questions about the budget, government intelligence, etc., etc., etc...

Symbols are very powerful, and this one seems to up the ante and further increase the false dilemma from which we Americans are supposed to choose: (1) either you unquestioningly support our troops and believe in Jesus; or (2) you are an atheist Liberal who "blames America first". I worry about invoking Christ in such casual, flippant exchanges about a topic as heated as our current war in Iraq. And I hate to think that, as a result, some non-believers may come to regard the Christian faith as a package deal that comes with a bunch of politics they may not agree with.