Jesus saves! Christians hang on for a draw . . .Enjoyable piece in the Guardian a couple of days ago featuring photos of the billboard slogans that appear outside many churches and chapels in the American Deep South (and, increasingly, also in this country). A few of the more striking lines included:
TO BE ALMOST SAVED IS TO BE TOTALLY LOST
YOU'RE ON HEAVEN'S MOST WANTED LIST
WALMART ISN'T THE ONLY SAVING PLACE IN TOWN
YOU MAY PARTY IN HELL BUT YOU WILL BE THE BARBEQUE
DON'T GIVE UP! MOSES WAS ONCE A BASKET CASE!
IF GOD HAD A REFRIGERATOR, YOUR PICTURE WOULD BE ON IT
I wonder how effective these communications are? I suppose that, realistically, they are not aimed at persuading pagans like me to pop in and pray. Their main purpose, I'd say, is clearly to prevent back-sliding, and to boost Sunday attendance figures by pulling in a few lapsed users, as we say in the business. And perhaps, if that is the goal, the better ones may do a decent job.
Incidentally, for me, the last line quoted above is by some distance the best. As it happens, I find the idea of a personal god, who watches over me and helps me achieve worldly success if I pray hard enough, bizarre and distasteful. But, if the intended reader is a believer who knows he hasn't been a good boy lately, I think the image of god as a loving parent, saddened perhaps by his offspring's misdemeanours but ready to forgive, is a powerful one.