I am continually fascinated by this sort of Roadside Religion, this blaring Bible-thumping. My mother, St. Patsy, and I had a chat about it once when she accompanied me.
Nance: These God signs are ridiculous. Who puts a bigass sign full of religion in their yard?
St. Patsy: I know.
Nance: It's pretty lazy evangelizing, if you ask me. What if other people, like doctors, did their jobs like that? What if a doctor merely put up a sign in front of his office that said, "Take two aspirin and lie down" and that was it? What if I, as an English teacher, had simply put up a sign in my yard that said, "Apostrophes don't make plurals and go read the classics"? Those God Warriors are just taking the easy way out.
St. Patsy: (laughs; shakes head) Oh, Nance. Just ignore it.
My mother's stock answer for most things that annoyed me throughout my life has always been to Ignore It, from my siblings' torments to the sometimes hurtful retorts from my children to runs in my pantyhose to the random pimples on my chin. But I think it's pretty hard to ignore this:
And here's the other side of it, shot from the road parallel, the only place I could grab a decent photo:
As you can see, this is one bigass, preachy sign, the wording of which still escapes me. Exactly how does one Believe ON something/someone, anyway? (St. Patsy assures me that this is Old Timey, Bible wording that she recalls from her Pre-Catholic Days.) This sign is along a residential driveway, bordered by evergreens, and when I drove into said driveway to get the shot, it was peaceful and parklike, even eerily so. The other side's sentiment, stating that only Grace/Faith saves you, not Works, is a very Puritan sentiment. It goes all the way back to Predestination, that confusing doctrine that said your Final Destination (Heaven or Hell) was already decided at your birth, so no matter what you did, it didn't really matter. I still don't know why any Puritan bothered to behave at all. I'd have sinned myself ragged. (Of course, many did but the social and real costs were high.)
Lest you think that sign is the only one, let me present Exhibit B:
And its reverse:
This sign is much more subtle, of course, but is again in a rather nice and tranquil setting (the dead Easter plants notwithstanding). Across the street (where I parked to get out and get the shot) is a junky used car lot, and nearby is a railroad track. It is about two miles away from the bigass sign. And yes, that comma is killing me there.
This enormous and rather scary sign appeared over Easter. The bloody red paint presents a rather interesting and ironic contrast to its message:
Unfortunately, you cannot clearly see the small, also hand-lettered sign next to the bigass one. It reads "Do Not Come To The House." (Something the newspaper delivery person clearly took to heart, as you can tell by the newspaper lying in the grass.) This presents a wonderful paradox for me. JESUS LOVES YOU, but DO NOT COME TO THE HOUSE. Hey, they are into Jesus, but not so much what He was into.
The lakehouse is smack-dab in the middle of a large Amish enclave. Right at the entrance to the lake community is an Amish farmhouse, and across the road is another one. Several more are down the street. They are easy to spot; they have no electric lines running to their homes, and their buggies and horses are often in view. Once a week, their familiar black and deep blue clothing flutters on clotheslines next to white aprons and caps.
But the one thing you never see is overt signs of their devotion to their God. They are quietly devout, silently living their Christian ideology. Their farmstands are shuttered on Sundays.
I'm a recovering Catholic; I am not religious, so I don't understand evangelical religions. One thing I do understand, however, is that I don't like being preached to about pretty much anything, especially passive-aggressively.
A long time ago, someone passed this along about religion--I forget who--but I think it's a great analogy, however crude: Religion is like a penis. It’s fine to have one, it’s fine to be proud of it, but please don’t whip it out in public and start waving it around...and don’t try to shove it down my throat.