Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bumper Sticker Theology

A while back I came across an F-Minus comic strip picturing two guys leaning back against a car trunk. The one is saying, "Of course I believe in stuff. I just don't bumper sticker believe in anything."

At WalMart today, I parked my "Pastr D" licensed truck next to a beat up car with Quebec plates. It was the bumper stickers that really captured my attention.

"Happy Atheist" and "Your imaginary friend is a dead Jewish carpenter."

He didn't seem so happy to me. Sounded more hostile than happy. When I came out to my truck with my purchases, the happy atheist came out to his car too. He didn't LOOK happy.

I seriously considered asking him what it is that makes him so happy.
  • Is it that he doesn't need to be concerned about answering to his Creator?
  • Is it that he likes the idea of having no consequences for his actions?
  • Is it that he has no questions about eternal destiny?
Certainly he can't be happy about some aspects of his atheism.
  • What is happy about a meaningless existence?
  • What is happy about having no purpose for living?
  • What is happy about having no hope for life beyond this broken world?
I suspect that he is not so much a happy atheist as an irritated atheist. He is probably "bumper sticking" in reaction to all the Christian bumper stickers he sees. It is his attempt to irritate the people who irritate him.

I was tempted to talk to him there in the parking lot, and I'm a bit sorry that I didn't. But I also suspect that talking to him there might have been just the kind of thing that he is reacting against. Nevertheless, I did try to look happy and smile at him.

People like that happy atheist need a good Christian friend who can live out the gospel in their relationship rather than just post (irritating) slogans on their bumpers.

There truly IS a difference between believing something and "bumper sticker believing."


Anonymous said...

I'm an atheist and I agree with your article for the most part (I don't think life is meaningless, though - I'm giving it meaning myself). People like that seem to be angry at God, which seems futile and contradictory for an atheist. Perhaps he shows a stronger believe in God - as object of his frustrations - than many believers do! But above all it's an anti-social and hateful stance.

Personally, I feel like I got rid of most of the childish feelings of superiority I experienced shortly after my deconversion. Maybe the fact that I have many sensible, honest, or - as you call it - 'good' Christian friends helped a bit.

Now I want to build constructive relationships with all kinds of people, regardless of their beliefs. Does that make me a happy atheist? Maybe, because I wouldn't call myself a sad one. But at least I hope it makes me a nicer and more loving atheist!

Pastor D said...

Thanks for your comments.