Because eyes are too subtle as virtue conveyances, it can be said that bumper stickers have become the windows to a liberal soul. I always make an effort of reading the latest adhesive graffiti splayed across the rear of Volvos and Priuses. After all, the owners of those vehicles have taken pains to advertise their hyper conformity. So it would be heartless of me to not even be slightly impressed.
Yesterday I saw a sticker that advised as follows: Real Christians Love Their Enemies
Ok, I understand. Real Shakers don’t have sex. Real People’s Templists go to Guyana. And real dodo birds don’t take flight. All of these things are true, though still not particularly compelling. Real Christians may very well love their enemies. And people who love their enemies with enough conviction eventually find their entire group loving from the clouds.
However this isn’t a contradiction of his thesis, but simply an ancillary effect of it. So even though the liberal Christian and his sticker may (or may not) be correct, they are both largely irrelevant. Because no one ever worries about following Shaker doctrine these days—even when it’s articulated accurately and precisely. Which leads me to conclude that the realest thing a group can do is remain populous and relevant enough that people keep printing bumper stickers about you. But I’m sure this truism is already pealing from the pulpits.
More interestingly from the perspective of the sticker monger was a concept I’m certain he did not intend to emphasize: you have enemies. It’s quite amusing to think this liberal Christian would recoil in rage and ridicule if you simply repeated the premise of his message. I would have loved to ask the car’s owner:
You assert that Christians have enemies. Do you mean this as individuals or as a group? Most groups do have enemies—or more mildly, “opposition”—presumably Christians are no different. Given their longevity, Christians may have ancient enemies, perhaps even mortal ones. So what groups are the enemies of Christians?
I presume the answer would be something along the lines of You crazy sectarian xenophobe, no one is trying to harm Christians, as he scraped at the sticker behind his leg with a fingernail. But if you’re exhorting love for your enemies, then you are conceding to having them. And acknowledging we have enemies could trigger an explosive twitter defecation. Thus a poor guy just trying to publicly display his pristine liberal plumage is suddenly being called Goebbels by his peers. A suboptimal outcome to be sure.
But who knows? Maybe he would mimic Russell Moore and say alt-right “supremacists” are the enemy of Christians. To which antifa would ask in astonishment: and you drive around preaching love for them?
Though the larger issue isn’t liberal slogans being snagged on logical hooks. The point of that bumper sticker wasn’t to promulgate the word of God. I hardly think Leviticus 18:22 is bound for his car’s backside. The only intention was to preen. Or in even less flattering terms, to conspicuously align with what he anticipates will be the dominant faction.
The lesson for the right is that I have never seen a bumper sticker reminding motorists that Real Americans Keep the Carried Interest Deduction. Political and cultural messages are best digested by the gut when they are brief, emotional, and provide a halo of self-righteousness. People are most motivated when they are most certain of their moral superiority. If no one wants to spray spittle while screaming your slogan in the face of their antagonists, then the message has been clumsily conceived.
And no Real American would argue that.