Thursday, September 27, 2007

Jesus has annexed my town

"Nashua belongs to Jesus Christ."

That's the slogan on the bumper sticker of a car in the parking lot of my apartment complex in Nashua, New Hampshire. I've seen it several times over the last few weeks. It's either a campaign of some sort, or else I keep noticing the same two or three cars. I'd ask somebody, but the cars are always either empty or moving.

To me it sounds like a threat, like non-Christians should get out of town or something. Is that paranoid? Maybe the people who drive these cars are just clueless and don't realize that it sounds that way.

What do the rest of you think? Have you run into this in your town? What's it supposed to mean?

21 comments:

Boy in the Bands (Scott Wells) said...

I think it is a localization of the doctrine of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, done in a rather insensitive fashion.

I'd call this church -- http://www.ctknashua.org/index.htm -- and see if they're the source.

Lizard Eater said...

Bizarre. But I couldn't help the cheeky thought -- "Good! So let him pay the property taxes."

Robin Edgar said...

A free and responsible search for the truth and meaning of the phrase "Nashua belongs to Jesus Christ" on Almighty Google found this blog entry. Apparently it might be a title to a song.

:It's either a campaign of some sort,

Possibly the first Nashua marketing campaign for SexyPunkRock in fifty years. . . ;-)

:or else I keep noticing the same two or three cars. I'd ask somebody, but the cars are always either empty or moving.

Well the lyrics to the song could be characterized as both empty and moving too.

:To me it sounds like a threat, like non-Christians should get out of town or something.

There is no overt threat in the phrase, slogan or indeed song title "Nashua belongs to Jesus Christ". I am not sure it even qualifies as a veiled threat. From a Christian perspective the whole world, to say nothing of the whole universe. . . "belongs to Jesus Christ". There is nothing in it suggesting that you should get out of town, out of the world or out of the universe.

:Is that paranoid?

I am sorry to have to say that in that you clearly perceive the phrase as a threat you are coming across as at least somewhat insecure and possibly paranoid, to say nothing of "Christophobic" Doug.

:Maybe the people who drive these cars are just clueless and don't realize that it sounds that way.

Is the onus upon the creator of the phrase, slogan or song title to guess how it might sound to someone who is somewhat insecure or outright paranoid Doug?

(Speaking hypothetically here. Please don't take it *too* personally. You are very much in my good books so far.)

For example some months ago, I wrote the following words in an email to Rev. Diane Rollert of the Unitarian Church of Montreal -

"When it became clear to me that Montreal Unitarians had chosen to ignore my clear warning that I would continue my protest activities into the term of the next settled minister if they refused to hold Rev. Ray Drennan accountable for his intolerant and abusive clergy misconduct I decided to hold in reserve some actions that I could have taken earlier. I will be moving forward with those actions that I chose to hold in reserve in the coming weeks and months."

It should be clear from the context of the paragraph that I was speaking about protest actions, although "those actions" could have been more broadly interpreted as meaning some other actions, including "legal action". Was I supposed to guess that Rev. Rollert would perceive (or falsely characterize. . .) these words as a serious threat against her physical safety and wellbeing? Was the onus on me to have some psychic foreknowledge that Rev. Diane Rollert would seek a restraining order against me on the basis of those words? I would hope not.

:What do the rest of you think?

Indeed what do the rest of U*Us think?

:Have you run into this in your town?

Not at all Doug. I have never seen any such bumper sticker in Montreal. I have however been the victim of genuine intolerance and bigotry, and various forms of threats and intimidation, including what a 911 dispatcher characterized as "death threats" and some minor physical assults, perpetrated by U*Us that were clearly intended to send the message "get out of town" (as it were).

:What's it supposed to mean?

Presumably it is supposed to that God/Jesus is everywehere, including Nashua, New Hampshire Doug. One can extrapolate the meaning beyond that, but one might indeed be just a tad paranoid if one's gut reaction is to perceive it as a "threat" suggesting that "non-Christians should get out of town or something."

Of course, if you don't like it you could just "get out of town" Doug. After all that is pretty much the advice that U*Us are so inclined to give to people who find fault with U*U "churches".

Robin Edgar said...

Just to be clear that parting shot is also yours truly speaking hypothetically in order to make a point. I would not expect Doug Muder, or anyone else, to have to "get out of town" or get out of the church they belong to on the basis of threats and intimidiation or even just insensitive words and behaviour. That should be obvious from my own response to U*Us telling me and other people, "If you don't like it, why don't you leave?" or very similarly insensitive words.

Joel Monka said...

Robin, you may be underestimating the genuine Christian supremacy that can occur in some small towns, and doing Doug a disservice in writing his nervousness off as Christophobia. I don't think Canada has the same level of confrontational Christianity we have down here in the lower 48; you may not have experienced it.

Right here in my home town, just last year, a judge wrote into the divorce decree of a Wiccan couple that they must raise their child as a Christian. Yes, it was overturned, but absent the ACLU they could never have afforded to legal fees, and not all small towns have a chapter of the ACLU. Religious based job discrimination is rampant, and a company can lose accounts if those customers suspect they tolerate employees of the wrong religion. Some of our smaller towns are so fundamental that Catholics are considered Pagan; Rome is "The Whore of Babylon", seducing Christians away from true Christianity. It's not mere phobia to raise an eyebrow at such bumper stickers down here.

Robin Edgar said...

Down where Joel?

The last time I checked, Doug Muder and/or Nashua were in that bastion of liberalism known as New Hampshire. You know, the state that has the motto "Live Free Or Die" on its licence plates. . .

Joel Monka said...

By "down here", I merely meant south of Canada. As to New Hampshire being a bastion of liberalism, that is not automatically a defense against Christian supremacy. The issue is more complex than that.

Doug Muder said...

I suppose I ought to clarify: By using the word "threat," I didn't mean that I live in fear of the threat being carried out. I don't picture a sectarian cleansing happening in Nashua.

But that doesn't mean that the people pushing this slogan aren't Christian supremacists. I believe there are a lot of such folks in New Hampshire. We tend to run in different circles, though, so my belief that there are a lot of such folks is flimsy. I can't name a bunch of them for you, so I could be imagining them.

That said, I think Robin is writing off the we-own-this-town implication a little too easily. I doubt the Christians here would be so sanguine if suddenly all the Muslims were driving around with "Nashua belongs to Allah" on their bumpers.

Robin Edgar said...

Well it might be kind of fun if Nashua U*Us made some *bumper* stickers that said,

"Nashua Belongs To U*Us". . .

Sorry Doug. I just couldn't resist that one. ;-)

:That said, I think Robin is writing off the we-own-this-town implication a little too easily.

Perhaps, perhaps not, Doug. Obviously I think that you are writing *about* the we-own-this-town implication a little too easily. . .

If the bumper sticker said -

"Jesus Has Nashua In His Hands"

Would you respond in the same way?

I generally like to give people the benefit of teh doubt until such a time as doubt is eliminated. . . The bumber sticker seems comparatively innocent to me and it is not out of the question that it *is* the Nashua marketing campaign for SexyPunkRock.

Speaking of which, you might get a chuckle out of this recent Emerson Avenger tribute to The Ramones. ;-)

Rev. Jack Ditch said...

I wonder if maybe we're missing the point in asking if we should take such a slogan as a threat, the implication of the question being that we would be justified in rejecting the message. Rather, I look at such a message, even if presented threateningly, as an invitation for me to invoke one of the most widely recognized symbols of forgiveness and acceptance.

So, if someone says, "The USA belongs to Jesus, and if you don't like it, get out!", instead of responding with mutual mistrust and rejection, I'd respond with, "The USA belongs to Jesus, so let's forgive those who trespass against as, as Jesus forgives those who trespass against him!"

The only shame would be if we let this opportunity to evangelize Unitarian Universalism in Christian language, and squandered it on our own fear and rejection of Christian language.

Matthew said...

Reminds me of Siloam Springs, Arkansas ... there's a sign outside town that reads, "Siloam Springs, where Jesus is Lord."

That always makes me giggle a little bit.

Doug Muder said...

Rev. Jack Ditch's take on this seems a lot more creative and resourceful than mine.

Doug Muder said...

I think I solved the mystery: There's a Hispanic storefront church two blocks from me. They've got a couple of the bumperstickers in their window, and yesterday when I saw the sticker on a van on the highway, I noticed as I passed that the driver looked Hispanic.

I'd still like to ask them what it means, but just finding out this much defused the situation for me. I'll bet Hispanics in New Hampshire never suspected that someone might think they were planning to take over.

Anonymous said...

I saw this today and I was so stunned I wasn't sure what to do. I tried to catch up with the car to make sure she knew I was Jewish and ask for a quick recommendation on where I should move. Couldn't catch her! This makes me want to quickly call my Jewish friends and work together to buy Wilton NH, so we all have a place to go. Rick

Lyle said...

Doug,

I have been seeing this sticker more and more lately. It bothers me. I don't appreciate it and it aggravates me.

Doug Muder said...

Lyle,

What town have you seen it in? I've been wondering if this is just a local Nashua thing or part of something bigger.

Anonymous said...

nashua...nashuabelongstojesus.com :)

Richard Schwartz said...

I'm thinking about printing up a few custom stickers that say "Nashua Belongs To Everyone". If you're interested, let me know. rhsatrhs at gmail.com.

Gary McGath said...

I just came across this. It's been quite a while since I've seen those stickers, but used to see them pretty often.

To me they don't say that non-Christians should get out of town, but rather that Nashua should be run according to religious law (no abortions, no same-sex marriage, etc.). But I'm just guessing.

Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ owned/owns nothing and did not "force" people to believe.
The idea that any city belongs to Him is absurd - even Vatican City! The Lord was clear that the earth belongs to humans along with our other responsibilities.
Theology reform-school is recommended for those who would claim otherwise.

clevergirlsusan said...

I feel as if this is all part of something I see a lot... the Fox News syndrome I call it. People have always wanted to connect and now they can. Even if they are someone who might have been marginalized in the past, now they can find a whole group of people like them...or to whom they can relate at least. What's more, everyone has found their voice for crowing about what they believe. They are empowered by knowing there are others like them, but also by having the means to advertise thanks to the Internet which gives them not only a channel, but also access to tools like sites that let them design and print their own bumper stickers for cheap for example. Problem is, communications is complicated...say the wrong thing to the wrong people and you could get unexpected results. At least stuff is out in the open though...where it can be discussed...once again with great ease thanks to the Internet. I don't think it is bad to feel that you have a special "in" with JC, I just think in announcing it, you might shake some people up...who perhaps thought it was them who JC loved the best. :-)