Yesterday we were caught behind a red-rust colored Camino, the rear of which was covered with celebratory messages of bloody salvation. Covered in the Blood of the Lamb read one such bumper sticker; Blood red is the color of Redemption read another. Ice and snow obscured the complete text of several other stickers, yet I was able to see that blood figured into the narrative of each one.
Today, while browsing the shelves at the library, I saw two middle age men hovering round a computer, discussing quietly to themselves the message on the screen. Eaves-dropping, I was able to pick up the disappointed tenor of their conversation. It seems that the web-site they were considering proclaimed the body count of the pending Biblical Apocalypse has been over-estimated. These two were discussing the relevance of Biblical citations to projected fatalities, and I thought I saw one of them doing a summary tally on his fingers as if to recheck figures against his shattered expectations.
Imagine the poor guy who owns the Camino; he may have to downshift the tone of his bumper stickers to something less ghastly, and seek a message of life rather than one of death from his chosen tradition.
That such alternative messages are inherent in Christianity is, of course, available. My seminarian wife tells me that up until the 10th or 11th Century, life affirming images of Jesus were more representational of the faith. These images depicted fountains and rivers as representational of what IT was all about. Of course, the ascension of the cross as the dominant symbol of Christianity began with Constantine and gathered momentum with the "conversion at the point of the sword" theology of Rome. In our day and age such gore becomes the fodder for Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, the violence therein pornographic in its appeal.
I offer these observations not to create controversy and not as a believer, but to offer a reminder that, starting next week, more light will be coming into the world, the days reaching however feebly at first toward Spring. And that process, that hope, is more easily glimpsed when we wipe the blood from our eyes.