The Jesus/Christian Paradox

This post, despite it’s title, should not be offensive to anyone regardless of religious affiliation, or lack of religious affiliation.  So keep reading!

There is a thing that I’ve found myself referring to a lot lately, but I came up with the idea a long time ago.  I refer to it as “the Jesus/Christian Paradox.”  What it is, is when someone starts to get backlash, because their followers/supporters/fans are assholes, and not based on their own merit or lack thereof.  If you listen to most of what Jesus said, it’s pretty non-controversial, and while there are many amazing Christians, there are a few that are so irritating, that they make us not want to associate with the term anymore.  It’s not really fair to Christianity on the whole, but we feel the need to go far away from it. Like the Westboro Baptist Church, they’re just so far from what we consider reasonable, that we want to disconnect.

When I first came up with this concept, it was after having spent a few years disliking Joss Whedon.  For a while, I thought he was a talentless hack of a writer, and then I watched some more of his shows/films and realized, he is a talented writer, but I hate his obnoxious fans who would tell me how he’s the most brilliant and innovative writer because he killed Buffy.  He wasn’t the problem and it took me a while to realize that.

In the last year, I’ve referred to Boston sports teams (and I stand by it) as being guilty of this Jesus/Christian Paradox—most sports teams might be.  Then there was Oprah, after the week of talking about whether or not she’d be running for President, I had to explain to several people who hated her for it, that she hadn’t said anything, it was her fans that were driving the hype.

Now, it’s Black Panther.  I just watched a video about how the hype is dampening excitement for some.  I think the creator of the video does a pretty fair job of not blaming Marvel or the cast and crew for the issues.  It falls onto the fans, followers, supporters, whatever the term is for them.

We need to properly advocate for what we think is best, and I think being over-zealous, becomes a massive turn off for most, and ends up having the opposite result intended.  Jesus said things that can be appreciated whether you’re Jewish, or Buddhist, or Atheist, but we really don’t see that in modern society.  Christianity doesn’t seem to mean following Christ’s ideas any more, and is in many cases a status symbol, and a necklace you wear, while you attack others and use him as the excuse.  The Patriots play football well, whether you love them or hate them, they’re pretty good at the game, and for the most part the really obnoxious team members get weeded out, and they’re probably a bunch of otherwise average guys, but we think of the fans crying when they lose, or being assholes when they win (btw, the reaction I saw on Facebook after their Super Bowl loss was better than any other experience I’ve ever had with their fans).

So, try not to judge someone (or something) by it’s fans, but by its content.  At the same time, fans, try not to be obnoxious.  Ok?

Roadtrips, USA

This past weekend, my wife, son and I drove from where we live in the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina, to Nashville Tennessee.  We had both been wanting to go since we moved down here last year, and neither of us had even been to Tennessee, and so we decided to go.

One of the things, that we’ve both noticed when driving around the country on various road trips, is the difference in culture is sometimes observable from the highway.  It’s apparent in what you can see immediately off of the highway, as well as the billboards that line the high way north and south, east and west.

In Massachusetts, where I’m from originally, the billboards are kind of boring.  You might see an ad for the local radio station, or depending on where you are, you may see one for a celebrity doing a show at Mohegan Sun Casino.  There isn’t much beyond that.

Down south however, there are three very distinct categories of billboards, and sometimes they’re very close to each other.  The three categories are strip club/porn shop billboards, gun billboards, and Jesus billboards.  The reason these are funny isn’t that they’re particularly funny topics in general, but the way they’re done.

First there are the strip club/porn shop billboards.  These are funny, because often times they’re trying to allude to more than they seem to be allowed to say.  We passed a sign that literally said “Sexy Stuff, Exit 390” (I don’t know the real exit number).  We also saw one that said “lingerie, adult DVDs, and vibes.”  I’ll be honest, neither of us would have guessed that if they couldn’t put the word ‘vibrator,’ that they could put the word ‘vibe.’  Would have been great to see “lingerie, adult DVDs and dilds,” but I’m guessing that there is some kind of weird double standard on that.  Or perhaps it would be that not enough letters or syllables were removed.

The second category are the gun billboards, and typically these I don’t notice as much, but my wife pointed out a few really interesting ones, including one claiming to have “machine gun rentals,” which I think regardless of your stance on the right to own guns, this is some weird wording.

Lastly are the Jesus billboards, some of these are really simple and reasonable “Jesus is the answer” types billboards, which honestly, you may disagree with the premise, but I still think it’s inoffensive by itself.  But there are other billboards which seem to be much more odd.  Lots of ones that seem like answers to questions unasked, like “…And you think God doesn’t work in mysterious ways!” Along with a small evolutionary chart with a red circle and slash through it.  WTF?

Anyway, the big thing that I find interesting about these billboards, isn’t them as standalone signs, but their proximity to each other.  If you were an alien, driving through a highway in the south, you would think that Jesus must have been obsessed with strippers, porn, and guns.  There are numerous spots in which your visual landscape, while sitting still, consists of all three elements, and it’s bizarre.  Especially when you see signs from miles away, off in the woods, elevated above the treeline, declaring that Pilots, or Loves, or any other big soft-fonted truck stop company has “Unleaded $2.49/Diesel $2.94.”

Last thing that I want to mention, and that is that one of the “Adult Stores” (because they don’t call themselves porn shops.  That’s like the ‘gentleman’s club’ of porn shops.) that we passed, was a drive-thru.  I must say, I’m really intrigued to how it that works.  “Um, yes.  I’ll have a number four, and a tube of the warming gel.  —*whispers* What do you want honey?— Oh, and a number twelve with a can of whipped cream.  And um… Super size it.”  Notice I didn’t make the obvious joke of one of the menu items being sixty nine, because I have standards, and honestly how big would their menu have to be outside the building to have that many items?

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you all about what I saw along the highway all weekend.  What’s the craziest billboard you’ve ever seen? Tell me in the comments.