Mixed Messages (Church Signs #7)

31 May, 2008

The history of early Christianity is endlessly fascinating.  The arguments regarding the essence of Christ’s being led to almost 250 years of argument:  was he human and adopted by God?  was he pure spirit and just pretending to be human?  did he go both ways?  did he actually suffer? did he pretend to suffer?  did he fool a mortal into being crucified in his place?  All of these were put forward by early Christian groups.  From about 100 until the promulgation of the Nicene Creed the arguments were hot and heavy, and very, very serious.  After all, according the teachings of virtually every single Christian sect, from the earliest days of Christianity down through today, each sect has laid claim to having the one true way to be saved by the ‘love’ of Jesus and God.  Thus intolerance is built into Christianity.  Which brings me to today’s church sign sighting. 

I took a drive from Scranton to Carbondale as part of my job.  I was photographing cultural and historic sites visible from the track.  Along the way I passed an elementary school which had this sign on the marquee out front:

Negotiation stops fights.

Not bad.  Of course, to a neoconservative, negotiation is appeasement and appeasement is what Chamberlain did when he talked to Hitler and even though Nixon talked with Mao and Reagan talked with Gorbachev its still something that traitors do if they are Democrats and McCain would never negotiate because nothing says let’s be friends like ‘bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran . . .’  Sorry.  Every time I try to think like a Bushite I forget how to write.  On a personal level, I tend to agree with this.  Even in elementary school, I never started a physical confrontation (though I did finish a couple).  There are times when violence is necessary, but negotiation should (in my mind) always be attempted first, second, third.  Violence is truly a last resort.

But, keeping in mind that first paragraph, what is the religious view?  Not even 100 metres up the road was a Baptist church with this sign:

Never Negotiate:  God’s Way Is The Only Way.

Keep in mind, this was close to the school and (I suspect) right along the route taken by a number of children.  If the school says that negotiation is good, and a church says negotiating is bad, who do you suppose the kids will believe?

Will they believe the teachers and administrators at a public school who can punish them with extra work, or suspension?  Or will they believe the preacher who claims that he (or rather his perverted version of a ‘loving’ God) can punish the child with an eternity of the worst pain possible with bad smells, bad food, and bad company?

The ‘my way or the hellway’ mentality of mainstream and conservative Christianity scares me.  Apparently, negotiating with someone with whom you disagree is negotiating with evil.  After all, if someone from ‘outside’ disagrees with a church member in good standing, who is right with God, that person is disagreeing with God himself.  Thus, negotiating is anathema.

It explains quite a bit about conservative politics at the same time.  Modern conservatives (like most authoritarians) view compromise as surrender.  Thus the threats of the ‘nuclear option’ in the sentate, the refusal to negotiate with Iran (preferring threats to dialogue), the blocking of almost all legislation in congress, the refusal to even have a substantive discussion about Iraq with the Democratic leadership.

Strange how the (possibly (probably) coincidental) placement of two signs can get the mind working.  And I was listening to country music at the time (ironic, eh?).



  1. Notwithstanding the deleterious, and quite likely, irreversible, effects of country music on one’s thinking and writing abilities, you managed to pull together a pretty good post. 😉

    That Baptist sign is certainly in-your-face, isn’t it? Of course, it need not be said that they are the blessed ones who certainly know what God’s way is.

  2. Ha, never negotiate. I guess that church hasn’t had any construction needs recently 🙂

  3. Frankly, I’m surprised the Christians spelled “negotiate” correctly.

  4. Chappie: The country is only about 5% of my listening pleasure; the rest is taken up by opera, classical, baroque, Gregorian chants, classic folk, modern folk, jazz, big-band, New Orleans jazz, classic rock and 70s rock (NO DISCO (well, maybe a little Village People for a laugh)) and a whole lot of Paul Simon and Bob Dylan. And of course they are the only ones wtih the correct answer. And it is also nice to know that I am not the only one who sometimes shows up with my avatar, and sometimes shows up as a quilt square. Yours is prettier, thought (this time).

    Sabrina: I don’t think a professional has worked on the building in at least 30 years.

    Ex: I’m not sure if they did.

  5. That’s just the thing with fundies, regardless of their particular religion. If you believe with every fiber of your being that God forbids A and requires B, then there is no room for negotiation.

    That is why many Muslims reject the UN Declaration on Human Rights, because a number of its provisions are in contradiction with Islamic law.

  6. Where are the pictures? You should have posted them for all to see.

  7. Michael: Welcome. Unfortunately, the camera I had was a work camera, so it would not have been an appropriate use of a government digital imaging device.

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