Church Sign #3

27 March, 2008

One of the churches downtown has a rather interesting sign out front (actually, almost all have signs out front, but often what’s on the sign isn’t all that interesting).  It reads:

As a tree gives fruit, healing words give life, but dishonest words crush the spirit.
                 –Proverbs 15:4

My wife and I read it, and immediately began wondering.

First, which tree?  Are they saying that the Tree of Knowledge (or the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil) gives fruit which can be equated to the life-giving magic of healing words?  Or are they talking about just your average fruit tree, say, figs?  Also, I thought that Christian churches aren’t too wild about ‘fruits.’

Second, how can healing words give life?  Is this some sort of magic?  I thought Christians didn’t approve of magic (or is it that they don’t approve of certain magic?).  I thought that fucking gave life.  Maybe they mean that certain words give eternal life?

Third, the part about dishonest words crushing the spirit strikes me as odd in multiple ways.  Is the church saying that using dishonest words is wrong?  Then please, someone, explain to me why Christian groups such as Focus on the Family continuously lie — they say atheism is taught in schools (listen up, idiots, evolution and atheism are two completely different things), they try to link breast cancer and abortions (despite multiple studies finding either little or no statistical link), they insist (despite massive evidence to the contrary) that abstinence-only sex education works.  The Christian right insists that America was founded as a Christian nation by either cherry-picking quotes or outright making up quotes.  The Christian right lies about ‘wars on Christmas’ and other imaginary ‘anti-Christian discrimination.’ 

So if dishonest words crush the spirit, whose spirit are they trying to crush?  Are they lying in order to convince atheists and incorrect theists that their form of Christianity is the only right way by crushing their spirits?  Or are they lying in order to crush the spirit of their believers?  I think the second one makes more sense:  people with crushed spirits need either a good anti-depressent or some really, really good stories to make them feel good.  Crushing the spirit of the sheeple might make them more fervent believers, or at the least, more controlable.

The tough part is, I actually think this proverb is a damn good one (if I look at it the right way).  Healing words can help to restore one’s spirit, whether through an apology or psychotherapy.  Healing words can be food for the mind (think of your favourite history or mystery book).  Healing words can (especially with small children) help to erase pain.  So the healing words part is good.  The second part, about lies crushing the spirit of people, I agree there, too.  Lies got us into Iraq, and the lies are crushing America and Iraq.  Dishonest language has given us tax breaks for the richest Americans and squat for the poorest.  Dishonest lawyers and judges subverted American democracy in 2000.

Yeah, I know, that’s an awful lot to read into fifteen words.  Words, however, have consequences.  My hope is that more theists will approach honesty and dishonesty with a little more candor.  Christians claim to respect (and try to obey) the Ten Commandments (they’ve been trying to force them into every building in America for years).  One of them is Thou Shall Not Lie (or some permutation of the same). 

Christians reading this blog:  consider Proverbs 15:4.  Consider the Ten Commandments (whichever version you prefer).  Stop lying to try to get your way.  Stop lying to crush the spirits of people.



  1. First, I admit to being Christian. I too find the bumper sticker theology we see on many church signs to be less than a complete thought or doctrine. Admitedly, some are funny though. Thanks for your candor.

  2. bshelley: Welcome to my blog. I still haven’t figured out (be it bumper sticker or church sign or T-shirt slogan) whether the saying is to convince others or reassure the displayer. Thank you for your thoughts.

  3. Well I’d say the church is based on the premise that dishonest words crush the spirit ONLY if they’re found to be dishonest, otherwise, dole them out like pats of butter on muffins and watch the flock smile with glee. When they are found to be dishonest, well, remind people about faith, heaven and hell, and through in some Pascal’s wager. 😉

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