13 November 2008

Religious Billboards


I am informed of this fact by a stark billboard somewhere north of Indiana. The letters are large, bold, chalk-white, and stand out on a black field. My daughter, face buried in the magnificent Wolverine: Enemy of the State, misses the news. I don't bother to inform her. The sign though does get me to wondering, what exactly is it the people paying for these billboards hope to accomplish with these signs. No, that isn't right, it is painfully obvious what they hope to accomplish. What isn't so obvious is how much thought, if any, they have given to the enterprise.

"Got Jesus?" (Milk adverts anyone?) "Hell is Real!" "We need to talk -God" or my personal fav, "Jesus" can be seen in large print on billboards across the country. I am sure they start conversations, but do they foster any conversions? These things aren't cheap so maybe these prosylitizers ought to attempt a bit of market research. When my friends and I see them we generally make a few jokes and that is that. When believers see them...what? Do they nod an affirmation? Sometimes these billboards run upwards of a thousand dollars a month to rent. Are they getting a return on this investment?

Anyone who knows me probably also knows that I think these signs are artless nonsense. Aside from their occasional humor value they contain very little that could possibly cause any deep thought. A huge sign barren of anything but the gigantic word Jesus is anything but an argument for the case implied by the name. Or take "Hell is Real" Lets assume the billboard is correct, is that any reason to believe in the god of Abraham? Should we give such a being our allegience? I certainly don't think it is, or that we should. Would hell's existence even imply that particular deity, after all several religions have such a place or similar places. Fear is an excellent tactic to use when you have no arguments, or evidence, but once you peel that layer away, what have you got? Not much.

Though driving across the country I see alot of these damn things, so in case you missed them.....

Christopher Hitchens said it best when he said, "Doesn't this say both too much and too little?"

These two fall into the cute category I guess.

Can you really just decide what to believe? I cannot for instance impel myself to believe in Odin, Thor however interesting I find their mythologies. Belief requires some kind of convincing it isn't the kind of thing you can decide. Believers often make this kind of mistake though. Sure I could go through the motions but that wouldn't be belief now would it?

Here is a crazy one....

I probably did it though....crucified him again I mean.