Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bumper Stickers

I believe that your parents help to shape a lot of who you are as a person. My parents have influenced me in a number of ways, one of which is in relation to bumper stickers. To my knowledge, my parents have never put a bumper sticker on any of their vehicles. Likewise, I am proud to say that I as well have never put any type of sticker on my motor vehicles.

I have this theory that bumper stickers are a good indicator of your sanity level - the more bumper stickers you have, the more likely you are to be insane. All of us have seen those cars (usually a beater or a Toyota Prius) where every single inch of the back is covered with bumper stickers - yeah, those people are usually crazy.

I wonder what possesses people to actually put a bumper sticker on their vehicles. I know people want to be heard and to communicate, but is a bumper sticker ever an effective means of doing this?

The most memorable bumper sticker I have seen was on this beat-up, rusted-out old dirty van. On the back was a bumper sticker that said: "Don't laugh, your daughter is in the back" That is just disturbing.

There are so many types of bumper stickers that annoy me. Below are a few:
  • Really old campaign stickers - Gore/Lieberman lost the 2000 election seven years ago, it is time to take off the sticker
  • Religiously fanatical stickers - "If case of rapture, car will be unmanned" "Real men love Jesus", etc.
  • Blind Patriotism - "God Bless America" "Support our Troops" "First Iraq, then France" etc.
  • Politically Angry - "Impeach Bush" "The Bush Legacy: Leave no child a dime" etc.
  • Calvin peeing on anything
  • 1-up bumper stickers - Jesus fish, Darwin fish eating Jesus fish, Truth fish swallowing Darwin fish, etc.
  • Prideful parent stickers - "My kid is an honor student" "My kid beat up your honor student" etc
There are a few bumper stickers that I do not mind. Those transparent stickers with the name of a college are the only ones that come to mind. I would rather just not be associated with those that have the ridiculous bumper stickers, so I am going to choose to never use them.

I think that I should add "bumper stickers" to my list. Here is where it stands now:

1. Wearing a cell phone on your hip
2. The idea that a nice smile is the "normal" way to pose for a photograph
3. People who cut to the front of a traffic back-up when they know they need to get over
4. Local TV Newspeople
5. Confirmational Reactionist
6. Wearing a blue tooth headset as a fashion accessory
7. Putting Bullethole stickers on your car
8. Placing a fake baseball on your car that gives the allusion that it has shattered your window
9. People who litter
10. Ignorcycles
11. Bumper stickers

The Irresistible Revolution

A few weeks ago Laura and I went with some friends to a church in downtown Durham to hear this guy, Shane Claiborne, speak. He was a fascinating individual. He currently lives in Philadelphia in a intentional community known as "The Simple Way." He has also served with Mother Teresa in Calcutta and went with some people (including a few folks who went to Duke with me) to Iraq right as the war was starting as a part of peace-keeping team.

Shane's unique experiences and fresh perspective of the gospel made him a great speaker. I soon found out that he is also a great writer. Much like his speaking style, Shane's writing style is very relaxed and conversational. However, the words and stories are anything but comfortable. This book was extremely challenging to my "comfortable" Christian existence.

I thought the main theme that was prevelant throughout the book was the question: "What if we took the words and life of Jesus seriously?" What would happen if we really did love our enemies and thought of creative ways other than violence to solve conflicts? What if we really did sell our possessions and gave them to the poor? What if we really did care about the invisible people on the margins of society who have no voice?

Something that really struck me was a chapter where he described the relationships he was building with his neighbors in Philadelphia. He and his friends starting helping folks, and they in turn started helping him with things like groceries and car repairs. He made the profound point that in a true community money has no power. In our society, money has the power to exclude and divide. But when those barriers and boundaries are overcome, money loses its power.

I thought this book was excellent. It had a lot of subtle humor weaved in between strong and bold claims of the gospel. I actually recommend not reading this book unless you are wanting to welcome a serious challenge to the way you are living your life.