Much fuss over at the Telegraph. The Major came tearing over The Green to tell me all about it. Apparently a vicar in Cambridgeshire has the bumper sticker, wtfwjd?
“Where’s the frog what just died?” I asked The Major. Obviously well done to the vicar for expanding her ministry to amphibians – might keep us out of the red in these Wonga-infested times.
But no. Turns out that it was a common, theologically-flawed saying, combined with a common, mildly-obscene expression meaning ‘what on earth”.
So as to what the Revd Goodman may or may not have done wrong. If the cowardly letter-writer really quoted the Bible verse the Telegraph says….
The Bible says: ‘But above all do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation’
…then she has nothing to answer for. For it is obvious to the meanest intelligence (and there is a sense of meanness, if not intelligence, about the complaint) that this is nothing to do with obscenities. The good vicar is more likely to have contravened this particular Dominical commandment at her ordination or, if an Oxonian, at her graduation. Or possibly if she were ever a witness at Law, or if, according to the new laws, she ever becomes an MP. Because it’s about binding oneself with an oath – not about using rude words in a language that hadn’t even been invented in Jesus’s day.
The complaint, pure and simple, seems to be that the bumper sticker has brought together a swear word and the initial for our Lord’s name in the same acronym. Which begs the question – is the expression that rude? It’s a word that has lost any power to shock a long time ago, unless you’re the sort of person who is professionally offended. As an exclamation responding to the sort of person who would use the acronym “wwjd” at all – it probably expresses the sort of frustration they cause me, with their simplistic assumption that the actions of Jesus in 1st Century Judea and Galillee can be mapped directly onto our lives today.
After all, an accurate answer to the question “What would Jesus do?” would be; “piss off the establishment, smash up what he could reach of their corrupt institutions, share some secrets of the Kingdom, get nailed to a cross and come back from the dead.” I’m not sure I’m up to that.
But when you consider the things that have been done in the wonderful, angel-given, holy name of Jesus – the massacre of heretics, the witch trials, the torture and murder of Catholic priests, the persecution on dodgy grounds of people whose sexuality don’t fit, large chunks of the Crudades, the sack of Constantinople and the vileness of the Westboro Baptists – not to mention the psychological control certain pastors have used his name to exert – do you know what, I don’t think this is the worst example of using the Name this Friday.
That bumper sticker was a bit flip, a bit knowing, and mildly irreverent. I wouldn’t have displayed it myself, but we hardly need the Spanish Inquisition. After all, look what they did in his Name. A swear word is nothing in comparison.