Monday, March 3, 2008

bumper sticker beliefs

bumper sticker beliefs

This weekend, I saw a bumper sticker on a car that said, "My child eats bugs." There was a picture of a kitten on the sticker.

I think that sticker was supposed to tell me, the reader, "I love my cat so much she's like one of my children." Or maybe, "cats do the darnedest things, like eat bugs." But when I read it, I felt like it just told me, "Hey there, I'm a crazy cat lady."

Then I saw another one on a different car that said, "Garbage kills bears." I had no idea this was a problem in bear communities. I mean if I had seen the sticker, "Bears kill campers," I would not have been surprised. But I learned something new and for that I was grateful.

It got me thinking though, why do we put on bumper stickers? What makes us stick them to the back of our cars? I think we do that because we want to share some message with the people behind us. To say, "Hey stranger, I have placed the single most interesting thing I have to say about myself and my beliefs on the back of my vehicle for your reading pleasure. Enjoy." Or maybe we think they're funny or silly or vital. As we enter the election we'll certainly see a lot of stickers that are strongly in support of a certain political party. But even so, political stickers are still just another way to share a belief.

The question becomes then, as a Christian, what kind of sticker would I put on my car or more importantly my life? If I had one sentence to communicate with someone about the Lord, what would it be?

I'm not sure what I would put on my car, but one thing I wouldn't is any form of the "Got _____" sticker. It comes in a lot of varieties. Here are a few I've seen:

Got Jesus?
Got God?
Got Forgiveness?
Got Grace?
Got Prayer?

If you have one of those stickers on your car or a t-shirt that says the same thing, please don't take offense at the following sentences. My biggest challenge with this message is that I think it grossly fails to accurately and creatively represent the creator of the universe.

Imagine if the person that created this campaign tried to present it to God. Here's what I believe would follow:

Guy selling idea: "I've got that new idea that you wanted God. I think you'll love it."

God: "Great, lay it on me."

Guy selling idea:
"We're going to make bumper stickers that millions of people that don't know who you are will see. They'll say 'Got God?' Brilliant right?"

"Wait a second, isn't that really similar to the 'Got Milk?' campaign?

Guy selling idea:
"It is, actually we just rewrote that campaign and made it about you."

God: "Really?"

Guy selling idea: "Really! What do you think?"

God: I gotta tell ya, that is weak. I mean honestly, I created the heavens and the earth. I breathed light into existence and made the Cayman Islands and the platypus. I invented creativity. Is rehashing a campaign about cow milk the best way to capture and reflect the glory of my name?"

Maybe that's not how it would happen. Maybe God is cool with having reheated second servings when it comes to our creativity. But I wouldn't do that for one of my earthly clients. For instance, I write for Home Depot. I wouldn't just steal a Lowe's campaign and tell them to run that. But we do it all the time with God.

None of this might matter. It's only a bumper sticker at the end of the day, but I think it's important. I think that God deserves our best. I think that if there is ever a time to be truly creative it's when we are creating art for God.

My confession is that sometimes I've fallen short in the posts I write. I've rewarmed old messages or rushed through ideas focusing on getting people to comment or just getting something online instead of trying to simply shine the brightest light possible on God.

For that I apologize. There's a lot of 2008 left and I hope that in the weeks and months and years ahead, I will never write the equivalent of "Got Jesus?" because you and God both deserve more.

This post goes well with:
When nougat is more meaningful than God.
The dating site and God.


Chad Wright said...

And the dark side to Christian bumper stickers is sometimes that's the extent of someone's pubic show of faith. Which to me is pretty weak.

I've known way too many people with a fish on the back of their car and lives that are no where near being close to God.

I've never wanted to be one of those people so I just avoid all Christian paraphernalia on my car. Although I do have an Apple sticker on my truck. Not sure what that means. I guess I'm less worried about offending Steve Jobs versus offending God.

CXLink said...

I agree with you and Chad. I stay away from the Christian paraphernalia . I think the reason I avoid it is because of the connotations the words carry in our society. Not that I am ashamed to be a Christian, but because we are so misrepresented in our culture I find opening with that fact to be a conversation killer. I would much prefer to get to know someone so that when I pull out the "C" word its a bit more accepted.

I would much prefer a bumper sticker that inspires questioning. Dang Haddaway for stealing it but "What is Love" might have been a good one.

Ivey McCoig said...

I have an Ichtus on my ankle. Yeah, I know. What a great tribute to the King, right? I got the tattoo on a dare and justified it by saying... "well, at least it's something I'll never be ashamed of."

Today (a wife, 4 kids and 12 years later), all I have is a TATTOO on my flippin' ankle! When I wear shorts, I usually put a band-aid over the little fish... Not because I am ashamed of Jesus and what the fish represents... but because I have a tattoo... on my ankle. It's easier to let folks think I cut myself out mowing the lawn or doing something very dangerous than to explain the whole "dare" thing.

I think bumper stickers are an awesome idea...

jofarrill said...

Speaking of reusing material, didn't you do a post about the whole "Got God?" thing before? But hey, it's all good. Truth is truth. I mean if we took all the books that Christian author write to help inspire and help change us in our sanctification process, well we could probably put that in a single book, i.e. the fricken bible (I've always wanted to type the phrase fricken bible).
The point is that we forget and need to hear the same stuff many times from many sources.
On a side note, as I began reading your post, I was reminded of something from comedian Demitri Martin: "Bumper stickers are great because they all say the same thing and are a great time saver, let's not hang out." Or to steal an idea from another movie, "how many pieces of flare do you plan to put on your car?"