Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Let's try something new.

I was driving on I-90 the other day, right through the heart of downtown San Antonio. I saw a road sign which gave me pause. Not literally, because I was driving. You get the idea. I've done my best to recreate it using my rudimentary graphic artistry skills, shameful as they are.

I realize this is a poorly done, embarrassing rendition of a road sign. You'll have to forgive me. I operate at a level only slightly more advanced than a basic knowledge of MS Paint.

Littering is illegal. It has been for a long long time, and(hopefully) always will be. The fact is that it's just plain bad to throw trash on the ground. Bad for us, bad for the animals, bad for the planet. Bad all around. Most places you pay a fine if you get caught doing it, sometimes a hefty one at that.

I don't know if you've been outside lately but there's still a lot of trash lying around. People are still throwing paper cups and cigarette butts out of their car windows on the highway. Construction workers still leave cans and bottles lying around on work sites. Nobody is really all that concerned about littering. Even the people who don't litter don't really seem all that worried about it, save the folks you see every once in awhile on the side of the highway. Sure, there will always be environmentalists, but the majority of the population doesn't seem to give a flying damn where their candy wrappers end up. I know I don't.

This is a problem, because littering has the proven ability to damage the environment, and we just don't care.

So these fine people, the Texas road authority or whoever, decided to try something new. Instead of yet one more sign that says, “No littering” they innovated. They played with the font size and came up with a thing that, maybe, next time you go to drop something on the ground, you'll remember. They did something memorable.

Christianity is doing a fine job of not being memorable. We recycle the same old words and phrases and methods in our church services, our music, our way of living. A lot of these tried and true formulae are good and sincere and probably make God smile.

But I think a lot more of them make him shake his head and sigh. When did Christian music become this rehashed, recycled, reused mathematical utilitarian recipe with no originality or inspiration to it? When did our church services become predictable and bland? And why the hell aren't we doing anything about it?

Of course plenty of people have already realized or said the same thing. Take Rob Bell, whom you may or may not have heard of. His Nooma video series is both relevant and innovative, combining story telling and visual metaphors with sincere spirituality, tackling tough issues and core concerns relevant to today's society. He presents himself in a way that is interesting and innovative. He doesn't just write another book or give another sermon saying, “This is the way I think it should be.”

God gave us the ability to create and imagine and innovate. I think we slap him in the face when we fail, even refuse to exercise it. How sad it is when anti-littering propaganda makes more of an impression on me than any number of recent church services. A glimpse at a road sign, lasting perhaps half a second, is more inspiring than an hour long sermon. Wake up, Church. You're asleep at the wheel.


jsmith2585 said...


Ryan said...

good boy....good boy...

Terri G said...

THANK YOU! I can't tell you how many times I've caught my mind wandering during recent services, or sighed and though, "How many times are we going to sing this song?" Some innovation would do the Church good.

sensitive-knees said...

I love your writing.
And. I hate littering.
I am part of the minority of people who stil doesnt litter. I will spit gum on the ground. So maybe I'm a liar. But I hate when people just drop stuff on the ground. GAH

Aaronus Prime said...

I'm not sure gum counts as littering. I mean ants eat it, right? I don't know. And thank you.

Captain Nigel said...

it doesn't damage the environment; it simply changes it. the environment is the environment regardless of whether it's a lush and thriving jungle or a post-apocalyptic nuclear fallout zone.
more to the point though, i think certain aspects of our old church started drifting off to sleep a while ago, and by now are crushed at the bottom of the grand canyon. let's just hope the rest doesn't get dragged down with it