Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Let Your License Plate Speak...

Sitting at the lone traffic light on my way to the freeway this morning (ah, the joy of country life), I could see a car coming up the road on my right pause, wondering if she could turn right on red before the light changed for me. I motioned her through and then the light went green for me. Immediately the yahoo behind me honked -- upset, I guess, that somebody got in front of us for our last 1/2 mile to the Interstate. She moved right along, not holding anybody up, but this guy in his Mercedes sat on my bumper the whole way. As we moved onto the ramp, I sped up ... 50 ... 55... 60... it's not like I'm known for driving slow... 65 ... 70... C230 right on my bumper. Then he pulled out on the right, zoomed past me, and entered the freeway a car ahead of me. As he flew by, I noticed his shiny new Indiana specialty plate -- "In God We Trust."

You'd better trust God, I thought, because the way you're driving, to quote an old Harry Chapin song,"He's the only one who can you now."

Uncharitable, I know.

It's not that I have anything against specialty plates. I have one myself, touting protecting the environment. For the rest of the trip in I pondered what bugged me about this guy and his vanity plate. And it's just this ... it's me. Besides being a Quaker type who eschews outward symbols of faith, I'm adverse to "In God We Trust" plates, fish decals or chromed symbols, clergy badges on my car because I know I wouldn't live up to the advertisements. My license plate would proclaim my trust in God, but my driving would, at times, reflect less than Christian values implicit in such a claim of trust. Just like Mr. Mercedes did this morning.

There's a Quaker saying that we are to let our lives speak. I have hard enough time making sure that my life is saying something positive -- I don't need to add my license plate into the mix.



K-Oh said...

Isn't "In God We Trust" on our money? (I should probably know this) Maybe Mercedes Man had that in mind.

Brent Bill said...

Yep, you're right. It's on our money. And I admitted I was being uncharitable... This is more about me, than Mercedes Man. Just my ususal frustration with our general stance as 'Merican society that is happy to say we trust in God but really don't expect that we need to live up to any sort of standard that would indicate we actually believe in any sort of God.

Just wait til you see my rant on chocolate crosses!

Nancy A said...

Might the problem with the license plates be the non-too-subtle overlap between patriotism and Christianity? There are many people who can't tell these apart, and they believe any act by their government is ordained by God.

When religion is on the license plates, then the church-state division is becoming too blurred.

Brent Bill said...

Nancy A has hit the proverbial nail on the head, in my opinion. The "In God We Trust" on the license plate is a sort of "In your face with my God --the God of American civil religion -- we trust." Which is a god (small "g") that I don't trust at all. The god of the lowest possible denominator.

And while I did just finish reading a draft of David Yount's marvelous new book "How the Quakers Invented America" (due out in August -- watch for it!), I don't think "Anonymous" is correct in saying the Founding Fathers wanted the new United States to be one big Quaker meeting. Many of them, Adams and the other New Englanders, thought the Quakers were a bunch of kooks and royalists who were dangerously tied to England.

And I also disagree that the Inner Light is another word for Happiness. Certainly Fox, Nayler, and Quakers today have found the Light a source of peace and joy and troublesome all at the same time. The Light illuminating our shortcomings is far from happy!