I got an invitation to a demonstration last week that included this request: “Bring your most prophetic sign!”
I figured what the organizers meant was bring a sign that is hopeful, that affirms Blue Team values, and is a defiant message of “we shall overcome” hope in the midst of these political horrors.
But when I saw “prophetic” my mind went to, well, prophets.
Most people of a certain age remember Rollen Stewart, the guy in the rainbow Afro wig who was always popping up on camera at football games and other public events with his big JOHN 3:16 sign.
I thought it was a tacky kind of evangelism, but it did work. Millions of people learned what a bible citation looked like for the first time, some of them may have looked up the verse in question or asked someone what it meant, and who knows, maybe someone actually did find some faith comfort from it.
Before the John 3:16 guy I don’t remember seeing people carrying signs with bible citations on them anywhere else, but after that it became a thing for a while for conservatives to carry signs like that at demonstrations. It was an in-crowd/out crowd thing. If you had to ask what the citation was, you were insufficiently familiar with scripture and therefore some kind of infidel or something.
But the assumption that conservatives are the only people who know scripture is false on more than one level. First, lots of liberals read the bible and know it well. Secondly, most of the conservatives I encounter do not actually read the bible themselves, all they know about scripture is what conservative authority figures tell them, which is, to be charitable, not the only way certain passages can be interpreted.
Still, the assumption that bible=conservative is out there in the culture.
I want to do something about that.
I have told the story before about a GHWB visit to Boston during his presidency. Word spread that he was speaking at the Park Plaza downtown and a spontaneous demonstration started outside the hotel (this was harder in the pre-Twitter/pre-internet days kiddos).
I was working near there so I went over there on a break with a sign I had made that read
I gambled that the people protecting the president would see that I had a sign with scripture on it and assume I was harmless and maybe even a GHWB supporter, and that they would let me get closer to him or closer to the front of the crowd, and I was right. It was like the Red Sea parting. Unfortunately I didn’t get on television, but members of the press were there.
But apparently no one recognized or looked up the cite I was quoting, because the text reads:
“You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.”
Yes, it was a sign with a scripture quote on it, but IT WAS A PROTEST SIGN.
When GHWB arrived I screamed and waved my sign. I’m not sure he saw me. At one point I thought I saw someone monitoring the crowd from a hotel window thumbing through a book and I hoped that person was looking up my cite.
I had a great time though. Felt I was putting something over on them, challenging their assumptions.
Among the other things I hope to do in my new effort to step out as a voice for the Christian left, I would like to do my part to encourage the use of biblical quotes on protest signs.
I saw lots of good signs during the Women’s March and the #NoMuslimBan demonstrations, mostly quoting the great hospitality passages about welcoming the stranger and being kind to foreigners living among you (the way ancient people would have referred to immigrants).
But I never saw anyone with the quote above, and I am just waiting for DJT to come anywhere in my area where I can wave that sign in his face. Everything he does betrays the ideals of our nation. I want to protest him in language that will challenge the assumptions his faux-Christian supporters have about liberals, and about him.
Isaiah 10:1-3 (which means the 10th chapter of Isaiah, verses 1 through 3), reads as follows:
Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees
to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless.
What will you do on the day of reckoning
when disaster comes from afar?
To whom will you run for help?
Where will you leave your riches?
I want the Deplorables to know they are not the only ones who read the Bible.
And regardless of what people say in secular political circles, I honestly believe that the people who use scripture as a club to beat people with are actually the minority. They have a bigger megaphone than progressive Christians do, and they have been successful up until now in persuading the media that they speak for everyone, but it is just as false as the claim by RW talk radio hosts that they represent the majority of voters.
If the progressive faith signs I have been seeing at recent demonstrations are any indication, if the popularity of John Fugelsang and John Pavlovitz keeps growing, if Rev. Barber keeps appearing on news shows talking about “repairers of the breach” (that line was in the readings today), then the Christian Left is about to finally get the recognition we have been struggling for since the Moral Majority and similar organizations started denying our existence in the 1980s (a mere 20 years after progressive people of many different faiths worked alongside freethinkers to lead the Civil Rights/Voting Rights movement).
Accuse me of self-serving myopia if you like, but I continue to believe that the majority of Christians are kind-hearted open-minded people, and no one reading scripture with an open mind can deny Jesus (and scripture in general) is more in line with loving, welcoming, inclusive liberal views than hateful, closed-minded, selfish, conservative views.
If the Christian Left can get heard, we may be able to reach some people on ground that they find familiar. But one way or another the compassionate Christian Left will take Jesus back from the hate-filled hypocrites because we outnumber them.
Previous TRUE BLUE REPORT diaries
Feb 4: Blue Ribbon Winners: Temple B’Nai Israel, Judge Robart, CNN, Senate Phone Callers
Feb 3: Not rich, not smart, not a good businessman, not a winner—DJT is NOTHING he claims to be
Feb 2: Thursday action—Encouragement, thanks, and apologies (pick one or more)
Feb 1: July 7, 2009 to August 25, 2009 and September 25, 2009 to February 4, 2010
Jan 31: If you’re on overload that’s part of their plan—there’s more than one way to #resist
Jan 30: Interview Skills 101 for reporters attempting to interview KAC and other Rcons
Jan 29: Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness
Jan 28: Blue Ribbon Winners: Women's March participants and #NoMuslimBan demonstrators and...
Jan 27: I wish Steve Bannon would tell me to keep my mouth shut
Jan 26: Thursday Action—Have you ever written a letter to the editor? Here’s how to start
Jan 25: The Asch Conformity Study, inauguration crowds, and the importance of speaking out
Jan 24: #ResistTrumpTuesday—good news day or another paying dues day?
Jan 23: Spy the Lie 101: How to enjoy watching Rcon spokesbot interviews, even KAC!
Jan 22: Why I prayed for the President* today
Jan 21: The only silver lining in the midst of these clouds
Inaugural (!) diary: Stop expecting Republicons to make sense