Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Divine on a Spring

Molly Ivins used to say that some days it was like going down to the kitchen and finding Fidel Castro in your refrigerator - hard to know what to think, really.

I found myself in a parking lot the other day. This is not an unusual occurrence in the modern midwest. Nobody walks out here on the flatlands - there aren't even sidewalks in half the city - and since the lands are, in fact, flat, it is easy to spread out and provide plenty of parking for all. It's a gift.

My mother still laughs at the time when she came to visit me in Iowa and the city parking garage charged us forty cents an hour to park there. In Philadelphia, even fifteen years ago, that might have been enough to cover actually driving into the garage though not stopping, turning, or pulling into an actual parking spot.

The midwest: home of available parking.

So there I was, wending my way from my car to wherever I was supposed to be. I always sneak peeks into other people's cars when I do that, because I am nosy that way. Americans spend significant chunks of their lives in cars, and we tend to personalize them much as we do our homes. This can be both good and bad, depending on what your home looks like.

About halfway to my destination I passed by a car with a bobble-head Jesus on the dashboard.

I am not sure what I am supposed to get out of that.

Is this a sincere, if tacky, expression of faith? One Christian's kitschy commentary on an ever-present Savior who need not be an august majesty to have a place in one's life?

Or is it a more sarcastic commentary on the artificiality of religion? On the commodification of the divine that seems equally ever-present in a country where politicians wear their religion on their sleeves and self-appointed arbiters of morality claim jurisdiction over my personal life while selling trinkets to their followers to support their media habits?

You can't tell from the outside.

I'm not used to seeing bobble-heads outside of the context of stadiums. I checked, though, and Jesus was not holding a baseball bat. You can never be too careful around bobble-heads, that is my motto.

Well, one of them.

Hard to know what to think some days.

1 comment:

KimK said...

If you ever find a bobble-headed Jesus wielding a baseball bat, recruit him to the Phillies or Brewers, will ya?