Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jesus Rifles

When I was a kid, learning how to be religious, I made myself a cute little bracelet out of wooden beads. On some of the beads, I painted flowers, while others were festooned with religious symbols of a distinctly Protestant nature. To finish it off, every third bead was oh-so-carefully emblazoned with a Bible reference. I wore my bracelet with pride, imagining myself an incredible witness for Christ, sure that everyone would notice the beads and want to talk about them, and expecting that the references would remind me to be a better person.

After a day or two, I learned a hard truth.

Obscure abbreviations coupled with numbers separated by a colon mean nothing.

Sure, many people recognize John 3:16, even if they don't know the verse or why so many people care about it. People on both sides of the Prop 8 debate know that there's a book called Leviticus, and every apocalypse theory buff loves (or hates) Revelation. No, not RevelationS. (Just like it's not "SafewayS," but that's another issue.).

But there's nothing magical about a few letters and numbers, be they on a wooden bracelet created by a kid figuring out her religious identity, printed on the bottom of a cup that happens to contain one of the greatest fast-food shakes in America, or engraved as part of a serial number on a rifle scope.

Yeah, people actually do that. The verses in question reference light, which apparently has something to do with how the scopes work, although I'm not sure how shooting people has anything to do with following Christ.

Now, many religions recognize that objects can be blessed, set aside for a purpose, imbued with something extra. Sometime in the near future, my priest will come to my home and pray and fling water about the place, and will somehow extend the grace of God into our home.

Ancient rituals and prayers can convey grace. I'm pretty sure that other actions or objects can bless something, as well, but Scripture references? I don't think they do any more to rifle scopes than they did to my soon-forgotten beads.

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