Saturday, February 2, 2008

Blog: Crummy Church Signs

I have recently been laughing to the point of tears (because it is both uproariously funny and quite sad) over the blog Crummy Church Signs. Joel, proprietor of this unique blog, takes submitted photographs of weird writings on church signs and adds wry commentary.

It's an observable fact that when you try to take a religion or a moral precept and distill it into a bumper sticker and try to make it clever, bad things often result. A church sign isn't much longer than a bumper sticker, so when it contains anything other than the schedule of services, Sunday schools, and Bible studies, and maybe a Bible verse, it can be wince-inducing. Church signs just aren't a good place for polemics or cutesy proverbs.

At least one sign posted on Crummy Church Signs was controversial enough to become a news item, and you can see it here. It reads, "Lying in bed shouting oh God does not constitute going to church."

It's easy to see how that sign could offend people. Look at the way it misuses the word constitute! Other than that, I see nothing objectionable; obviously, the sign is referring to Psalm 149.5, "Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds." The sign is just reminding us that the saints should get up and go to church afterwards.

Joel isn't Catholic (though The Ironic Catholic is a frequent contributor of sign photos), but he likes comic books, so I feel justified in anointing him a Sci Fi Christian (I've been working with my bishop to design an appropriate ritual for that, but so far he is cold to the idea).

Joel is doing something I've seen a lot of Catholics do, something that makes me cringe even as it makes me laugh--taking photographs of some absurd Christian practice, posting it on the Internet, and criticizing it. Traditionalists are fond of doing this with liturgical abuses or ugly icons. Sometimes, this kind of thing may be necessary to get people's attention, to point out real problems, and to get the problems solved. Other times, however, it crosses the line into mere mockery. Whether Crummy Church Signs crosses that line or not is something I'll let you decide.* Mockery or not, it sure is funny.

*The same churches seem to show up over and over again at Crummy Church Signs. Would somebody please contact these churches and tell them they're inadvertently offering chuckles to hundreds on the Internet?
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