Saturday, November 06, 2004

Friday evening from a bloody cold flat

This week I discovered what the initials 'WWJD?' stand for. On Wednesday I was sat at one of the tables downstairs, as opposed to being sat at the bar itself, and there was a sign on the table. It was a homemade, handwritten sign that said something like, "?MORALS? WAR VIOLENCE GREED REVENGE INTOLERANCE HATRED ?WWJD?" (there were a few other words, but I don't remember what they were). My first thought when I saw the sign was why didn't they use an inverted question mark, like they do in Spanish. My second thought was what the bugger does 'WWJD?' mean. I was thinking along the lines of WMD, and couldn't quite work out what the middle letters could stand for.

Anyhow, being as someone had gone to the time and effort to cut out a piece of card and scrawl upon it, I felt compelled to keep the sign propped up on display. This was the cause of several conversations throughout the evening. During the first, or second, of these I was informed that 'WWJD?' stands for "What Would Jesus Do?". Now, I'm not sure that I have the time, patience or vocabulary to fully discuss the utter inanity of this statement. If pressed, I would say my best guess would be that he would get thoroughly confused by the magic of television, automobiles and automatic rifles and that he wouldn't add much to his 30-odd years. But apparently some people believe that we should stop and think about what the 2000 year old, kitchen table inventor (according to that crazy man, Mr Gibson) would do when we make decisions. Fair enough, if it gets you to stop and think that is probably a bonus. But can't you stop and think: is it a good idea? Will it make the world a better place? How many peoples lives is this going to fuck up? Or anything? By all means follow the man's teachings, if you wish, but do try and make decisions on your own.

In other news, I printed out a copy of the Daily Mirror's front page from Thursday, and taped it in the window of my front door. This is the front door I share with my Bush supporting neighbours. It's now sitting where their Bush/Cheney 04 sticker was, prior to the election (no, I didn't take it down). Hopefully when they see the poster they will take it in the good humour in which it was placed, I did think it was a rather amusing front page. I particularly liked the (soon to be trademarked) vacant look on Bush's face and the "U.S. Election Disaster Pages 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 11" caption.

For the record, I usually dislike the Daily Mirror. There's the usual criticism of all of the UK tabloids: sensationalism, over-simplification and dubious journalistic habits. Then there is also some more specific criticism, former editor Piers Morgan is a fairly noxious individual and of course there were their fake Iraq abuse photos. But I still find Thursday's front page amusing.


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

By all means follow the man's teachings, if you wish, but do try and make decisions on your own.

I think that's the point, really. There are a significant number of people that profess to be Christians, but act in an un-Christian manner, and see no contradiction in this. So the aim of WWJD is to encourage you, as a Christian, to stop and think what your role model would do in the circumstances, and what God would want you to do, rather than just blindly following what your friends, political leaders or whoever say.

In a sense, it is asking you to think "Is it a good idea? Will it make the world a better place? How many people's lives will this fuck up?" whilst reminding you that, as a Christian, you have an infallible guide to guide you and help you come to the right decision.

Ryan said...

I understand that the principle behind 'WWJD?' is a good one and that those people who employ it are, by and large, well meaning, but as an agnostic/atheist/unsure-ist/something-ist I find it a little jarring. If I throw caution to the wind and say that Jesus was/is the son of God, then it seems terribly presumputous for me, a mere mortal, to pretend I understand what he would do in a particular situation. On the other hand if I say that Jesus is just some long dead carpenter that made a few good speeches, then asking what he would do seems both futile and a little crazy.

I suppose it all comes down to the fact that I don't appreciate how people claim to have a relationship with Jesus/God. So inevitably I can't fully understand those people that do, and how it affects their actions. Therefore I find questions like "WWJD?", to be somewhat unnerving,

Anonymous said...

I suppose it all comes down to the fact that I don't appreciate how people claim to have a relationship with Jesus/God. So inevitably I can't fully understand those people that do, and how it affects their actions. Therefore I find questions like "WWJD?", to be somewhat unnerving,

That's OK - if nothing about God was unnerving, he wouldn't be God. And you're right - it's often hard to get close to what you think Jesus would do in a particular set of circumstances. You're also right that if Jesus was just a dead rabble-rousing carpenter, asking what he'd do would be pointless. If Jesus is dead, it doesn't matter what he would have done.

If, however, the claims of the gospels are true, and Jesus is alive, and is God, then it's probably worth asking what he'd want you to do. And no, it's not always obvious, but we do have some clues. We can consult scripture, and find out what Jesus did. It's a fair bet that he'd do something similar in a similar situation. We can use common sense, and talk to other Christians. It's unlikely (but not totally impossible) that God would be calling you to do something that appeared completely irrational, or to do something that all the other Christians thought was wrong.

And then of course there's the bits that are really hard to understand - you can feel the Holy Spirit guiding you in a particular direction, or see signs, uncanny coincidences if you like, that seem to point you in the same direction.

But it's clearly not always easy to discern the will of God. If you needed any proof of that, you need look no further than the current ructions in the Anglican churches over homosexuality.

Ryan said...

So to summarise you're interpretation of WWJD is to read an old book, talk to other Christians, wait for the Holy Spirit to guide you or look for uncanny coincidences. I have a horrible suspicion that this is not a million miles away from what our Great and Fearless Leader George does when has to make an important decision. Except in George's case the reading might be a bit problematic, fortunately he does have those nice Christians, Dick and Donald, to help him, then if say he makes a decision and he and daddy get richer that there would be an uncanny coincidence. I must admit I'm a bit stumped as to how he's using the holy spirit (I was going to make some cheap ex-alcoholic joke, but I'll refrain).

The point is surely that it's pretty much impossible to discern the will of God, in fact it's probably impossible by definition (c.f. all the bloody religions we have, or even how many different varieties of Christianity we have). So maybe we shouldn't all waste our time trying to work out what God wants us to do, and just try and do the thing we think is best.

Although, credit where credits due, I can't fault any religion that relies on common sense. Sadly not only can I not fault them, I can't find them either. If only everyone would follow the way of Ryan, I'm sure we'd have far fewer wars, and everything would be shiny and happy. Hell, maybe I should start my own religion... the anti-religion religion. You never know it could catch on.

Anonymous said...

So to summarise you're interpretation of WWJD is to read an old book, talk to other Christians, wait for the Holy Spirit to guide you or look for uncanny coincidences.

That's pretty much it, I think, although those are "ands" rather than "ors".

So maybe we shouldn't all waste our time trying to work out what God wants us to do, and just try and do the thing we think is best.

But the point is that maybe the thing that the "we" in this context think best is to work out what God wants.

Suppose your Mom was super-smart, and posessed of more common sense than, say, the state of California (not that that would be too hard...) and we'll take it as read that she loves you and wants what's best for you. Now suppose that you have a difficult decision to make. Are you going to: 1. Stubbornly work it out by yourself? 2. Pick up the phone, call your Mom, and discuss it with her? 3. Give it all up and move back home with Mommy?

Although I think I'd have a tendency to chose 1, I'd like to think I was smart enough to chose 2. The problem now resolves to the question: Does your Mom exist, and do I have her phone number?