They'll know we are Christians by Our Cars

When I wore a younger man's clothes and had a long black pony tail, I used to teach semi-subversive songs with titles like "They'll Know We are Christians By Our Cars," and "Don't Let Them Burn the Flag" to young, impressionable teenagers who came to work at the Habitat for Humanity work projects I used to run.

So it warmed my heart to see this site, They Will Know Us By Our T-shirts -- thanks to Durblog for finding it--with some thoughtful commentary on the theological implications of Christian retailing:
I tend to believe that Christian bookstores provide a place for Christians to hide from the real world. We have created this infrastructure of marginally well-produced literature, music, film and “art” that seems to sustain us. We have no need to engage with the greater culture, unless we’re picketing to stop gay marriage or to let teenage girls seeking abortions know they’re going to burn in hell with Hitler, Osama and Clinton.

I wonder if I dismissed the idea of Christian bookstores because the vast majority of them are exactly what I described: a safe haven for Christians who forget the parts of the Bible that call us to be active participants in the world around us. Maybe there is hope for a Christian bookstore that seeks to be countercultural instead of anti-culture?

Then there's this take from So the Fish Said about her Christian neighbors who have a Lexus:

Now, this makes me really jealous. Apparently, Jesus gave these people a Lexus and all he ever gave me was some teenage guilt and confusion. Maybe if Jesus would have given me a car I would have stuck with that whole church thing rather than skipping merrily down the path of heathen bliss which certainly leads straight to hell.

So I would like to hereby officially offer to give the religion thing another shot, provided that Jesus provides me with a new car. I think I would like a Mercedes, but if all he has is a Lexus I will take it.

I'm not pointing any fingers, but there are some people who might just promise that God wants to give you a Lexus if you make a big enough pledge. On credit cards.

I can't recall any of the words to They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Cars. I am, however, teaching my children the subversive verses to This Land is Your Land, which Woody Guthrie orginally titled "God Bless America for Me."

In case your grade school music teacher left them out (as mine did) here are verses three and four.

As I went walking, I saw a sign there
And that sign there said "No Trespassing"
But on the other side
It didn't say nothing
That side was made for you and me

On a bright shiny morning
In the shadow of a steeple
by the relief office
I saw my people
As they stood there hungry
I sat there wondering
Did God Bless America for me

For the really curious, here's what I can remember of "Don't let them Burn the Flag." It's from 1991 or so, which explains the broccoli line--and the whole flag burning idea. For those who weren't alive or paying attention back then, this was when the Exxon Valdez had crashed, billion dollar B1 bombers were being taken out by wild geese, the hole in the ozone layer was getting bigger by the minute--and the Congress was fighting about that number one national priority, a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning.

(The verses were followed by a chorus of "Don't let them burn the flag, don't let them burn the flag, we got people living in a paper bag but don't let them burn the flag.)

There's an oil spill on the shore, won't you let them spill some more
Gonna let them ruin the environment but you can't burn the flag

Got big planes they don't fly, they're falling out of the sky
Won't you let the Pentagon rob you blind but don't let them burn the flag


Got kids flunking out of school, mediocrity's the rule
You can let your chilren be illiterate but don't let them burn the flag

Got a President named Bush, who sits round on his tush
Saying I won't eat my broccoli


Who cares about freedom of speech
your rights are out of reach
they'd string up old Thomas Jefferson
if he tried to burn the flag

The world is getting hot
The atmosphere is shot
cause you can burn hazardous chemicals
but you can't burn the flag

It's time to stand and fight
Time to do what's right
time to straighten out this country
and stop hiding behind the flag.


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