“In the beginning was the Word.” – John 1:1
Here’s a middle-aged complaint: a bumper sticker offends me. It isn’t “Vehicle Insured by Smith and Wesson” (I don’t like that one either, but given the forum, it probably goes without saying).
It says “COEXIST.” The “C” is a crescent moon, symbolizing Islam. The “x” is the Star of David representing Judaism, and the “t” is a cross representing Christianity.
When I see the cross I see my faith in an ordered universe shot to hell. The world I thought I lived in, and the God I thought I lived with are exposed as an illusion. We live in a senseless, treacherous world. That’s what the cross says.
And then I blink and I see the cross again and it says Easter; it sings God’s victory over all despair, including my own. And then I blink again and I see the Word through which all that is came into being.
That’s what I see when I see the cross. I don’t see a consonant letter.
I assume Muslims and Jews have similarly wonderful feelings when they behold the symbols of their religions.
Of course we ought to coexist, but employing the symbols of different religions to spell out a bland appeal for tolerance does damage to the religions themselves. You can’t subsume the funky particularities of different faiths into a larger whole without silencing them. I wish I could fit this onto a bumper sticker: “Stop playing with the cross. Stop assuming you can get on top of all these different religions. Quit moralizing from the sidelines. Either get in the game or get out.”
Dear God, give me patience. Amen.
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL.