Bumper Sticker Beliefs

I've always been intrigued and fascinated by bumper stickers. Whether it’s our politics, our religion, our cause or our allegiance to a particular team, we want it short enough to stick on the back of our vehicle.

Jesus is the answer
I’m Pro Life, and I Vote
Follow me to First Church of the Holy Word
Every Tree Needs a Hug
God Said It, I Believe It, That Settles It
One man + One woman = God’s design
My son and my money go to State College
Live Long and Prosper

I think bumper stickers speak to our desire to keep things basic and quick—a single phrase that’s easy to understand, and easier to communicate. The attempt is to encapsulate complex subjects into a single statement...like microwaved, fast-food concepts. These days, the bumper-sticker mentality has translated to social media—Twitter for sure, and Facebook to a lesser degree. (We can say much more on Facebook)

We want…uncomplicated.
Problem is: things—particularly important  things—are rarely uncomplicated.

Those who know me are aware of my politics. (Over the years, I might have posted a few political pictures and comments on my Facebook page.) However, I admit that it’s not as simple as saying “I’m a Democrat.” I share affinity with the Green Party and also appreciate some of the precepts of the Libertarians. 

At one time, I was a Republican, and I still hold to a few of the foundational principles of the party. (Most of which the Republicans have now abandoned in favor of Tea Party principles, and I would certainly not support any GOP candidate today!) 

My faith, even more so than my politics, cannot fit on a bumper sticker. It is deep and personal, as much a part of me as the scars on my body—real and ingrained.

At one time, my faith was black and white. This is right and that is wrong. (Or, I am right and you are wrong!) But these day, it’s more multi-hued and vibrant, with an array of varied shades.

There are beliefs that I hold strongly, and those probably will not change. But I am not intimidated when what I believe doesn’t match what someone else believes; it is not built on agreement.

And there are times when what I think/believe is gray. Not right or wrong, just…not sure. Or uninterested.

Author’s Note: When I was a Pastor, I always had church members who wanted me to answer questions about “the end times” and discuss all the “signs” that pointed to the imminent Second Coming of Jesus. But Eschatology was not a subject that interested me, and one that never took up much of my research time. (To the annoyance of those who obsessed about it.) I was always more interested in the here-and-now, practical aspects of our faith. I wanted to focus on the things we were commanded to do here on earth rather than speculate on when Jesus might return.

We like to put bumper stickers on our cars that tell something about us. What we support and what we oppose. But we are NOT the sum total of the statements of our bumper stickers, and we would be offended if people judged us as such. We can’t be defined by the simple stickers on our bumpers.

In the same way, I've noticed that we also like to have these basic definitions of those around us. Instead of bumper stickers, we attach mental labels. It’s easy…and uncomplicated…to form our opinions of someone based on knowing a single thing about them.

“He’s a Democrat, so he believes…”
“She’s pro-choice, so she…”
He’s gay, so he is….”
“She’s an atheist, so she is…”

When I was in my 20s, I remember pulling up behind a car at a traffic light. On the back was the then-popular bumper sticker, telling me to “Honk if you Love Jesus”

I loved Jesus, so I took the request as a literal invitation, and I did a couple of “toots” on my horn. A woman in the car stuck her head out the window and screamed at me: “The goddamed light is red, asshole.”
(Yes, that is a true story!)

It was a good lesson to me that a pithy bumper sticker is not always an accurate representation of the whole person.

The same could be said of the labels we assign to others.