A couple of weeks ago I was at Best Buy with my son. I don't remember if we were there to purchase anything in particular, just walking around checking out the merchandise. Best Buy is possibly my favorite store for window shopping.
Anyway, I'm headed toward the televisions when I noticed a lady in a green shirt that sported the recognizable Mountain Dew logo. My son has one just like it. At least I thought so until I looked a little closer and saw that it didn't saw "Mountain Dew" at all. I could have sworn that the shirt said "Meant to Die".
"What in the world is that all about?" I thought. "Meant to die???" Lime green is not exactly a "goth" color, so I figured it probably wasn't some suicidal message. Besides, she couldn't have been any younger than 45. She certainly didn't look like your typical Smiths fan. I doubt she'd even heard of the Cure. So what was this "Meant to Die" business?
I decided my eyes had failed me so I sent my son to investigate. He came back with the affirmation, indeed the shirt read "Meant to Die". That's all we could read of it, but I knew at that point, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that there had to be more words on it. Furthermore I knew that there was a very good chance that those words were either a.) part of a Bible verse or b.) a pithy slogan that would identify the wearer as a Christian. Most likely a variation on the product's own tag line.
Sure enough, a Google search turned up a similar garment on eBay which confirmed not one, but both of my suspicions. "Jesus MEANT TO DIE for you!" accompanied with the text of John 15:13 ("Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends"...I have no idea what translation it's from. Probably "The Message").
I've seen these shirts. I guess everyone has by now, but I've actually shopped in a Mardel so I've seen a LOT of them. And every single one is as hoaky and corny as it gets. I'm sorry if I offend anyone with my opinion of them but I cannot for the life of me understand why ANYONE, Christian or otherwise, would want to wear them. Okay, it's parody. Parody can be very funny so there's always the chance that people who buy them do so because they think they're humorous. I can even understand why folks would want to display a Bible verse or something important to them. But the verses are always associated with something really dumb.
For instance, there is a shirt that looks exactly like swag from the movie "Twilight", only it reads "theLight" with John 8:12 attached. How about the Subway deli logo mutated to read "HisWay" with the "slogan" beneath, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life". Or perhaps you'd rather have the shirt that sports the Allstate Insurance logo altered to read "Allfaith. You're in good hands. Providing the best life insurance since the birth of Jesus Christ". How can it get much more inane than "King of Kings" placed between the familiar buns on the Burger King logo. And this isn't even the tip of the iceberg.Though it's not a product rip-off, one of my favorites simply reads "Get STONED like Paul! Acts 14:19-20. Stand your ground for CHRIST!" I include it because it's such a fine example of just how stupid these things can get.
It was actually kind of difficult to track down a photo of the "Meant to Die" shirt. It was there in the links but when I clicked them it was apparent they had been removed. I can only assume that the good people at Mountain Dew were a little miffed at the theft of their intellectual property and took measures to save their brand from ridicule. It's a real wonder that more companies and corporations don't follow that lead. Then again, I suppose even a reminder of their ad campaigns and logos to the general public is worth a few cringes.
What makes a person want to wear one of these things? Do they think it's some kind of witness to the lost who just might happen to see it and be curious? Surely not. I cannot for the life of me imagine any non-believer stopping and asking about someone's t-shirt... Besides, you're supposed to reach out to them, not hope they come to you. If I, as a Christian, see these things for the kitsch they are, how much more so an atheist? People aren't laughing at the shirts. At least not in the way they might if the designs were actually funny. They're laughing at how pathetic they are.
Keith Green, whose ministry was defined by integrity and straight-forwardness, called the shirts and the other trinkets that go with them "Jesus Junk". And this was in the early 80s, can you imagine what he would think if he saw the pervasiveness of this trash now?
It IS junk, and it's a waste of money. It's an embarrassment to Christendom and a sad, sad testimony to just how irreverent Christians have become. Maybe I sound like Judas chastising Jesus for allowing the woman to pour expensive perfume on his feet...he was upset that money was being wasted, money that could be better used to feed the poor and help the needy. Jesus called Judas' bluff on that one, but I don't think there's a lot in common between anointing from adoration and spending twenty-five bucks on a Hane's XXL Beefy-T ruined by a ridiculous design that actually gives the impression that the wearer is only trying to "fit in". Yes, I do believe that is a motivator for people who get this crap. Everyone wants to be a part of something, and when they are it is only natural to want everyone to know about it. But come on! This is the church we're talking about!
$25 ain't much, but you'd do better to give it to a panhandler than the guy who owns the Christian bookstore in the mall (though I guess he has to eat, too...that's a whole different post). Let's all get together and agree to put an end to this cultural enigma. Let's get serious.
Okay...I've said some really, really harsh things about goofy Christian t-shirts. And I'm 100% sincere that they are a negative thing to the church. In that Google search I spoke of earlier I was led to an atheist blog where the blog owner and the majority of people leaving comments were saying basically the same thing (though not quite as civilly). It was clear that they disapproved, but I was surprised at the level of hostility the topic seemed to stir in many of them. Almost as if it were an affront, a personal insult to them that someone would wear a shirt proclaiming and/or associated with a religion. I wasn't surprised at all, because these militant atheists seem to be very touchy about the subject. In fact, I have noticed, in my travels through cyberspace, that there is a lot of hatred directed at religion and the people who don't share their worldview (funny, but it seems like the majority of these "attacks" are directed at Christians and Christianity in general). So it's only natural that atheist scorn for something as wacky as Jesus Ts would be expected.
The word "hypocrisy" began running through my mind. No doubt anybody would have figured it out, so it was strange that they didn't see it.
Let's do another Google search, shall we? And this time we'll enter "atheist t-shirts" in the search field. Or just go straight to "a theists online" (or don't, if you're easily offended). Here you'll find t-shirts, mugs, trinkets and other crap sporting these nice designs (warning: these are in extreme bad taste):
```The universally recognized yellow diamond that usually reads "Baby On Board", only here it's suspended above the Lord on the cross and says "Christ on Boards".
```"WWJD" = We Won, Jesus Died
```"Haven't you forgotten about Jesus? Isn't it about time you did?"
```"I Heart Roman Lions"
```"There's a sucker BORN AGAIN every minute!" (beneath a drawing of Jesus laughing condescendingly).
```"Silly Christian, Myths are for Kids"
Okay, that's enough. More than enough, actually. My point is obvious and surely it has been made. It's true that these things are not all derivative of company logos, but that's neither here. These are not meant to promote atheism so much as to offend theists. Is that what atheism is about, I have to wonder? Nothing better to do than try to bully people who don't happen to agree with you? See who can wear the most offensive clothing?
Friends, that is HATE, pure and simple. I don't put all atheists in that box, just like I know that most Christians aren't wasting money on useless garbage. But it is interesting to compare the stuff some Christians would wear on their chests as opposed to their unbelieving neighbors.
I'll take goofy over mean any day.