Okay, let’s just throw this one out there because I’m not sure how I feel about the subject and there are legitimate arguments on either side.
What do you think when you see someone wearing a cross pendant?
There are lots of other religious-y accoutrements we could substitute (Jesus fish on the car for instance) but let’s just stick with the cross for now.
I was in a retail hardware store the other day and the guy behind the check-out was wearing a fairly good sized, very prominent cross around his neck. He was also apparently having a bad day. He wasn’t out-and-out mean or angry, but more like a little superior, condescending and aloof. Still, not a great attitude within the wild jungles of customer service. My first thought upon leaving the counter was, “Not the best display of Christian attitudes, my friend. ‘Bout time to take off that cross there, buddy.”
But then I thought, “How do I know he’s a Christian? By his jewelry? Maybe he just thought it looked good. Maybe he just liked the detail and design, and it had nothing to do with any display of belief or faith.”
Has the cross become nothing more than another “team” logo, like a ‘Niners jersey, or Yankee hat? Does everyone that wears Denver colors really root for the Broncos every Sunday? Or do they just like the color combination? (Although, blue and orange? Really??)
On the other hand, is it right for us to judge every Seahawk fan by the prevailing attitude of one wearer of their retail attire? (Okay, bad example . . . how about . . . oh, never mind!)
Can a religious symbol like a cross (or Star of David, or crescent & star, or Aum) be considered merely “retail attire”?
Well . . . sure.
And that’s one of the things that makes being called a “Christian”, a “Muslim”, a “Jew” difficult. Along with the religious symbology comes an inherent list of standards that we (pick your label) are judged from by the outside world, and/or by people of other faiths. Wear a cross, and instantly you’re a Christian; and if you’re not acting like how the world, and your own Book, says you should be acting, you’re a hypocrite. Have a menorah in your house you instantly inherit a money hoarding attitude and a bad Jersey/Hebraic accent. Be seen reading the Quran and you’re automatically a terrorist.
But what if you’re simply interested in what a particular book says? What if you simply like the way a particularly designed candlestick looks on your mantle? Or a particularly designed piece of jewelry looks around your neck?
Let me make clear:
- I am not saying that each religion doesn’t have its particular set of standards, codes, ethics, etc. I’m merely making the suggestion that the world, regardless of whether or not they know these particular codes or principles, will hold you to what it perceives is their interpretation of those standards. Call it prejudice if you want . . .
- I am also not saying that each religion doesn’t call itself to be “set apart”. I just don’t believe that “set apart”, whether by our own opinions or by the judgment of the world, means being placed on a pedestal, or a shooting gallery target.
I mean, by outward adornment alone, should you automatically be held to the seldom attainable, often undesirable worldly standards those symbols inherently represent? If you actually do follow those faiths, do you want to be?
Don’t look at me . . . I don’t have an answer for you on this one. I’m simply thinking out loud here; or at least thinking on screen.
I myself don’t wear a cross, or a religious tattoo, etc. I’m very aware of the standard that represents and how miserably I often fail at trying to attain/maintain it. I also don’t want to be a “stumbling block” for fellow believers, especially by my sometimes less-than-Christian attitude. I know myself well enough to laugh at the notion that wearing such symbology would, in its way, unconsciously raise my commitment to those standards. It simply raises the world’s expectations of me: for good or bad. And, I’m sorry, but I’m not trying to please the world. And I refuse to be a stumbling block for my neighbor . . . be he a believer or not. Personally, I wish they wouldn’t sell religious jewelry, or wall art, or book covers, ad nauseum (of any faith). But there you go. We don’t live in Kentopia (cue melancholic sigh).
So wear away my retail hardware brother, and be oft hypercritically and unfairly judged by it: which included an unfair opinion from yours truly.
I apologize. But, that’s the price you pay for wearing the team colors.