Shuck and Jive

Friday, December 15, 2006

Jesus is Lord (part deux)

This sign and trio of crosses is on the hill that overlooks Elizabethton, Tennessee. It is on private property.

What does it mean? Not just the phrase, but what does it mean to have that sign over the town?

Positive, negative, neutral. What is (or would be) your reaction?


  1. I think the sign is just a sign - it makes me wonder about the dude behind the sign and what he thinks the sign is doing? My 2 immediate guesses would be (1) protection for the city and (2) evangelizing

    I think there could be better words on a sign - with more to think about - for example: 'treat others like you want to be treated' - kind of like a reminder of something good to do. 'Jesus is Lord' is just a statement with very little connotation (except to claim Jesus is the Lord/Master/God). I'd be better suited with a sign with some direction in it. And the crosses, unfortunately, kind of remind me of a graveyard.

    Intention missed by me, I think so, but I also offer a better way of putting up signs - with some delightful reminder to any reader.

  2. It's an eyesore that achieves nothing.

  3. Of all the possible meanings of "Jesus is Lord," I view the following as not helpful:

    1) Jesus is omnipotent.
    2) Christianity is the correct religion.
    3) Jesus alone is the revelation of God.
    4) Jesus is God.
    5) Jesus will return to save the righteous and damn the unrighteous.

    I don't think the historical Jesus ever meant any of that. What does it mean for me to say, "Jesus is Lord?"

    1) As a spoof on lordship (like a homeless guy referred to as the mayor, or a in a crowd of Ivy League intellectuals, a woman without any schooling proudly declares that she is a graduate of the school of hard knocks). Caesar is lord. What kind of lord is this nobody without land, armies, or ambition? Exactly the point. What kind of "lord" is he?

    2) Jesus represents an alternative way to live in the world, and his way is the way the world would work if we followed the law of love. To say "Jesus is Lord" is to trust in his vision, as told in his parables and aphorisms, and, as enacted in his dining practices. To say, "Jesus is Lord" for me means that it is worth it to try to live out his vision even when there seems to be little hope or practical gain in doing so.

    However, since "Jesus is Lord" usually refers to the first five things I mentioned, I find the trope less than helpful much of the time. American Christianity has turned Jesus into Caesar and has lost the irony.

    As far as the sign overlooking Elizabethton, I now find it amusing. This is the Bible Belt. You find signs like that everywhere! All it means to me is that it is a reminder of where I live.

    It is a good place to be. I like it here, and I like pastoring a liberal church on the Bible Belt's buckle. There is a place for us and there is a place for the "Jesus is Lord" sign guy. These folks are harmless and sincere evangelicals. The big shots with earthly power who claim Jesus is Lord are the ones to watch out for. They call their lord Jesus, but it is really Caesar.

  4. Hi John
    The big shots with earthly power who claim Jesus is Lord are the ones to watch out for. They call their lord Jesus, but it is really Caesar.

    Amen to that! We do agree on something.

    If you find #s 1 through 5 not helpful, I believe it is because you have not found the right words to describe them yet. What do you think?

    society hit it dead on.
    'Jesus is Lord' is just a statement with very little connotation .
    Yes, what does this sign say to the nonbeliever. Nothing! Us Christians must never forget the "delightful reminder to any reader" that the truth of Christ holds for us. We need to stand in the meaning of Christ which is Christ, such as "God is Love", "Fatherhood of God, Brotherhood of Man", and the Golden Rule.
    If our signs can be interpreted in a partisan way [as in the innuendo "screw you liberals"], they are wasted, or worse, propaganda against us.

  5. I know it's in fashion to think that these symbols have no meaning until we grant it (per Dale Martin and the "myth of textual agency") or that we actually create a temporary meaning (reader-response criticism). But since the guy is right there in town, why not take the trouble of asking him what he means by it? It's a matter of public record who owns that property.

    Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I think that the person that says something should be the first consulted if your not clear about what is meant. (In Biblical studies, we used to call this "authorial intent.")