Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Get Jesus... or else!

From the train I spotted a van parked on the street where on the back doors appeared a message suggesting that the period of 2010 – 2017 was the Tribulation, and asking in the now hackneyed take on the milk commercials if the reader "Got Jesus?" The inference I drew was the message suggested we were bearing down on the end times and thus it was a veiled threat to the readers who had not accepted the Christian savior; they'd better hurry up and at least go through the motions of baptism and attending weekly services or else face some true misery over the next six years.

However, conceivably those who aren't churchgoers may not grasp what the Tribulation is supposed to entail, and by specifying the range of years it did seem to imply there wasn't a terrible urgency yet, as we weren't even out of the first year yet, and thus the power of the message seemed undercut.

Of course, I'm probably deconstructing this more than those who came up with the message were expecting would be done; presumably the idea was that this would be viewed by speeding motorists on the highway, and as such they needed to keep it succinct and appealing to the spiritually insecure. Or I should say, the undecided spiritually insecure. In short, they figure they might be able to scare some butts into the seats, and at least ostensibly save some souls.

Ah, the classics.

Now, I'm not a Biblical scholar by any stretch, but I am led to believe that it states that no one would actually know when the end is coming—it does seem to make it a bit too convenient for last-minute repentance if those who have been outside the flock can narrow the deadline they need to meet.

The God in which I believe is a bit smarter than to fall for that, but that's just me. My God also gave me this overly analytical mind, so it's unlikely that the one the church this van "advertised" believes in the same one I do.

However, if we learned anything from political ads during the campaign it's that, although going negative is technically effective, it's only good for forcing people to choose the lesser of two bad options. If they wished to tout the marvelous afterlife that is promised by devotion to Christ, it seems at best way too vague; this strikes me more as saying: Things are going to get really shitty, but if you join us it will be a tiny bit less shitty. That may be a realistic take on the plight of the living and the comfort offered by faith, but it fails to play up the real draw—namely, how wicked awesome Heaven is supposed to be.

This is merely my take, and as we've already established it's pretty clear I'm not the intended audience for the message. It's entirely likely in their minds it implies the benefit of eternity in paradise rather than merely making the intervening time more tolerable.

But I suppose when it comes to matters of the soul it's better to devote more time than it takes to read the back of a moving vehicle.

1 comment:

  1. There was a crazy barefoot man who roamed Ohio decades ago, asking people if he could speak with them about their personal relationship with God. I saw him often, but when he finally approached me and asked me the same question, I said, "No thanks, I have a direct line." He left without a word.


So, what do you think?