Sunday, November 25, 2007

The "Coexist" Bumper Sticker's Meaning, Symbolism Gets Deeper

The blogger Capper helps show us the origins of the now-infamous "coexist" bumper sticker, which helps put the uproar associated with the 'parody' version into a brighter light.

My thanks.

Turns out a unique Israeli museum dedicated to peace and reconciliation helped to create it.

The Museum of the Seam says this is its goal:

"Museum on the Seam is a unique museum in Israel, displaying contemporary art that deals with different aspects of the socio-political reality.

"Through the works of artists from Israel and abroad, who respond to the stress and tension between and within groups, the museum invites the visitors to examine the degree of influence of the social environment on the individual and vice versa.

"Between the local and the universal, between pluralism and extreme ideologies, the message of The Museum calls for listening and discussion, for accepting the other and those different from us and respect for our fellow man and his liberty.'
So the right-wing bloggers who have twisted "coexist"into something ugly by adding a Swastika to the design are tampering even more deeply than their other intention - - to redirect the design against Muslims.

You can enter the issue as it has unfolded in Milwaukee and on the Internet with this posting.

And grasp why the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee would get involved to open Journal Communications' eyes to the damage its resources are causing to the community's spirit and potential for growth.

From its website, here is the Interfaith mission statement:
"The Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee is the interfaith agency established by the religious community to address the social issues affecting the quality of life in the Greater Milwaukee area.

"The mission of the Conference is based on the religious values of the dignity of every person and the solidarity of the human community.

"The Conference enables individuals, congregations, and the religious leadership to participate as an interfaith presence in the dialogue and action that impact on this dignity and solidarity."
So...we have bloggers and talk show hosts in Milwaukee throwing stones at the work or mission of groups like Interfaith, or the Israeli museum.

One ill-informed blogging professor at the Catholic, Jesuit-run Marquette University even called Interfaith a "leftist" group, "a bunch of liberal bureaucrat/activists."

That's some some impressive name-calling.

Here, from the Interfaith website, are the denominations that provide members to Interfaith board, and represent 500 congregations in the region.

What a leftist, liberal bureaucratic cabal!
American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin
Church of God in Christ, Wisconsin First Jurisdiction
Episcopal Church, Diocese of Milwaukee
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Greater Milwaukee Synod
Islamic Society of Milwaukee
Milwaukee Jewish Council for Community Relations
Milwaukee Jewish Federation
Presbyterian Church (USA), Presbytery of Milwaukee
Religious Society of Friends, The Milwaukee Meeting
Roman Catholic Church, Milwaukee Archdiocese
United Church of Christ, Southeast Wisconsin Association
United Methodist Church, Metro North and South Districts
Unitarian Universalist Churches, Southeast Wisconsin Association
Wisconsin Council of Rabbis
Wisconsin General Baptist State Convention

The Marquette University blogger professor John McAdams had to back down (check his comment responses) when he found out that Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan, spiritual leader of 675,000 Catholics in southeastern Wisconsin, sat on the Interfaith board!

D'oh!

So what will be the outcome as we all get enlightened about Interfaith, and "coexist," and how they are supposed to work together in an environment of intellectual and spiritual honesty?

This nasty little Internet and media outburst in Milwaukee could lead to something genuinely useful, even uplifting: a productive moment in the community's history - - if powerful media owners and personalities that have decided, for now, to side with intolerance can make the break and shift towards dialogue, and then genuine community-building in Milwaukee

That will require some reflection, maybe even some humility- - both of which are supposed to be in large supply at this generous time of year.

I'd say we're at a crossroads moment.

Which way do we go, as a community, is the question?

To tolerance or divisiveness?

Inclusion or exclusion?

Coexistence or isolation, and the corrosive ignorance that will be perpetuated, if we make the wrong choice?

25 comments:

John McAdams said...

Tell the truth please!

I didn't "back down" about the Interfaith Council being a leftist activist group.

Its agenda is clear. Dolan may be on the board, but the standard liberal/left clerical bureaucrats run the operation.

James Rowen said...

To Prof. McAdams:

The backing-down reference is in the graf about the Archbishop. Here is material taken from the comment section of your blog where you are called on the matter of the Archbishop by Seth Zlotocha, and you back-peddle away from it:

Seth Zlotocha said...
Out of curiosity, would you consider Archbishop Timothy Dolan to be just a liberal leftist? I only ask because he's on the Board of Directors for the Interfaith Conference.

9:39 AM
John McAdams said...
He's not a liberal leftist, but the vast majority of the other board members are.

And the agenda of the organization is liberal/leftist.

If you disagree, kindly give me an example of a case where they complained about liberal bias toward conservative Christians.

3:32 PM

Rick Esenberg said...

I throw down.

Geremia said...

The "Coexist" bumper sticker is atheistic. It assumes the gods of the religions whose symbols it depicts do not exist in reality because if they all did exist, and because there are contradictions between the gods of different religions, there would be a contradiction in reality. Consequently, there would not be one truth but chaos, contradicting half-truths, and irrationality, which result from syncretism. Reality, however, is sensible and rational; modern science can attest to this. If there is no absolute truth or one single God governing the universe, then all religions' gods are only figments of their individual adherents' imaginations. That gods are whatever one wants them to be is Luther's Protestant idea that everyone is his own authority or even his own god, i.e., sola fide or "faith only" in any god(s) is all that matters. Since syncretism is contradictory, a parody of the "Coexist" bumper sticker could be

COEXIS†

because there can be only one absolute truth, one true religion worshipping one real God, or

☪☮✡♀U♂✝☯N

and

☪☮✡♂R♀☭IC✝I☯N

since confusion and contradiction are the results of amalgamating contradictory beliefs.

Brooke said...

As a Christian young woman, I am so sorry to read some of the comments posted by fellow "Christians." the coexist symbolism is not to convert people to other religions or even to lift one higher than the other. It is saying that we all need to accept each other, be tolerant, stop the hate. Any real Christian would know that Jesus was about acceptance.... so why would you go and bash other religions?


Good job, COEXIST founders. I'm placing an order for a bumper sticker RIGHT NOW! :)

Pinna said...

Bumper stickers can't make religions "coexist" any more than they will turn my other car into an actual Porsche...

http://www.balloongoesbang.com/2009/07/so-you-want-to-change-world.html

Jeff said...

On January 14, 2009, "Brooke" said that any "real" Christian "would know that Jesus was about acceptance." Clearly Brooke hasn't really studied Jesus' life or His message. He was not at all about "acceptance" of false teachings. He was not at all about "acceptance" of doctrines that strayed from the Word of God. Throughout the four Gospels, he gets into arguments and confrontations with the scribes and Pharisees. He warns His disciples not to follow after them. In Matthew chapter 23, He specifically pronounces seven CURSES against the scribes and Pharisees. Brooke, like so many post-modern "Christians" has been blindly led astray by wolves masquarading as followers of Christ. To put it simply, she has "taken their word for it." These wolves begin with a simple truth: "God loves everyone." From their, they stray from biblical teaching and begin to ascribe humanistic attributes to God. For example, their next postulate would be "Because God loves everyone, He would never really be so 'mean' as to send someone to hell over a little thing like lying." Then they stray further: "Because God loves everyone including homosexuals, He must have made homosexuals 'that way'; for surely no human being would CHOOSE to live a stigmatized lifestyle." Then they mistakenly presume "If God loves Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists and Jains and atheists, then there may be more than one way to salvation." Ultimately, they conclude "We're all okay. To each his own. As long as it isn't hurting anyone else, it's alright." The truth of the matter is that we should never settle for "coexisting" with false religions. False religion sends people to a very real hell. Being ooey-gooey, lovey-dovey best friends with a Muslim or atheist (or whatever) and merely being "tolerant" of his/her opposing belief system will do nothing to offer any help to that person after they die. Warning them of the falseness of the path they are on and the fact that they are lost and bound for hell without Jesus Christ as savior is the TRUE act of love and kindness and compassion. Being agreeable and avoiding conflict with false religious teachings was never what Jesus "was about." Can you show me anywhere in the Bible where Christ interacted with a sinner and endorsed wrong-living? Though He acted with compassion toward sinners, He told them to "Go and sin no more." He never said, "That's alright; we can coexist. You live your way, I'll live mine; and I'll see you in heaven." But note, He NEVER acted with compassion toward the collective body of the scribes and Pharisees. He cursed them, called them several names, etc. He did not "accept" them. I would recommend that in addition to actually opening her Bible and reading it that Brooke read John MacArthur's "The Jesus You Can't Ignore." In that book, He shows convincingly that Jesus wasn't just all kisses, hugs, and compassion.

L. Stone said...

Easy Jeff....your presumptions make me want a Coexist sticker.

jason said...

Coexist does promote liberal pluralism. We should share the planet and love each other...not each other's religion. God doesn't like any of our religions...He deserves our worship. We simply CANNOT do this together. We must worship according to our own convictions since some of us CLEARLY don't read the Bible; some of us think Jesus was a prophet; some of us think Jesus was not the Messiah...HELLO!!! Need more?

Geremia said...

Jesus wasn't just all kisses, hugs, and compassion.

That's for sure. He mentioned hell numerous times.

Easy Jeff....your presumptions make me want a Coexist sticker.

Are you sure they're presumptions?

Coexist does promote liberal pluralism. We should share the planet and love each other...not each other's religion. God doesn't like any of our religions...He deserves our worship. We simply CANNOT do this together. We must worship according to our own convictions since some of us CLEARLY don't read the Bible; some of us think Jesus was a prophet; some of us think Jesus was not the Messiah...HELLO!!! Need more?

Your religion of "liberal pluralism"—which I assume you would think God hates, too, because you think He hates all religions—is self-contradictory and bound to failure. If we "must worship according to our own convictions," and there are people whose convictions are to kill infidels, as they define them, then how can we "share the planet and love each other?" There is only one universal religion and church, and it is not the "church of religious pluralism;" it is the Roman Catholic Church. ("Catholic" comes from the Greek katholikos ‘universal,’ from kata ‘with respect to’ + holos ‘whole.’)

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is how many of those with religious faith can't see the simple reality. All bibles or religious texts were written by a human being. The only thing that keeps them going is your belief in them and their 'truth' as you call it. Thus defining several different belief systems around the world with every religious text.

Humanizing 'God' as you like to call the universal presence surrounding us and within us is the worst possible presumption there is. This creates a separatist view within humans as if 'God' is better than everyone else and that some humans are better than others due to how they live their lives or what beliefs they choose. The idea of something being 'better' than something else is a judgment. We all know that judgment is the ego in action and no good has ever come from the ego.

The simple idea of Interfaith or Coexistence is, as previously mentioned, tolerance for humankind. Jeff you seem to think that only Muslims want to destroy "infidels", but you are forgetting the Roman Catholic and Christian history of rampant murder of those with the 'wrong' faith. You also forget that several mainstream religious groups like Christians, Mormons and Muslims, to name a few, believe the same thing that you do in regards to your faith; every good _______ (fill in the blank with one of the above) must spread the word of their religion and save them from eternal damnation. Hence the entire idea goes back to one person believing that one belief system is better than the other.

Tolerance has never started a war or genocide; only fear has. Fear stems from the ego. It is the ego's way of keeping you from your true self and the beauty that each of us possess. Fear that tolerance will lead to less control of those in your religion. It all stems from humans needing control of the unknown. We all want control of the unknown so that we may sleep better at night and feel there is less chaos in our lives. It also helps us believe that we are hear for a reason; it gives us a purpose in life. Fear of the unknown is the most powerful idea in the world. Science was born out of this fear. When the Catholic church could no longer give the answers to the people (meaning they lost control of their followers), science began to emerge to fill that gap. People wanted hard evidence of why and how events happened.

However, in the end, who really cares if someone else wants to believe in something else. Have a civilized discussion with them about both of your belief systems, respect each other for them and move on.

Geremia said...

What I don't understand is how many of those with religious faith can't see the simple reality. All bibles or religious texts were written by a human being.

By whose authority do you judge the Bible to be manmade?

The only thing that keeps them going is your belief in them and their 'truth' as you call it.

So humans invent truth? Viz., there is not an objective reality independent of humans' beliefs to which the intellect must conform for the thing understood to be true? If there were no objective reality, then how could we communicate with each other and agree on things? How could we have society and nations without an acknowledgement of the reality independent of our beliefs? Does not pluralism lead to the suicidal, solipsistic ("the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist" —NOAD) philosophy of nihilism, "extreme skepticism maintaining that nothing in the world has a real existence" (NOAD)?

Thus defining several different belief systems around the world with every religious text.

Only one of these is true—i.e., most correctly describes reality—because there is only one objective reality.

Humanizing 'God' as you like to call the universal presence surrounding us and within us is the worst possible presumption there is.

God would still exist even if we did not. His being is not a presumption; it is a reality. Of course you are free to deny that reality, but what does it profit anyone to do that?

This creates a separatist view within humans as if 'God' is better than everyone else

Of course He is! He is more perfect, more powerful, stronger, more wise, more charitable, more just, and more forgiving than any finite human being could ever be; in fact He is infinitely perfect and simple. To say otherwise is, I think, very presumptuous. Who would call themselves better than their Creator or Father? We did not create ourselves; therefore, we lack a perfection that only God has.

and that some humans are better than others due to how they live their lives or what beliefs they choose.

All humans have equal value, for we are created in God's image. Certain humans are more Christ-like than others which is why end up in heaven (union with God) or purgatory (place of purification and preparation for heaven) and others end up in hell (eternal separation from God).

The idea of something being 'better' than something else is a judgment.

Yes, we humans, unlike brute animals, are gifted with an intellect that is capable of judging (albeit imperfectly due to original sin), but that does not mean we should never judge. What an unjust world it would be if humans neglected that which makes us truly human: our intellects!

We all know that judgment is the ego in action and no good has ever come from the ego.

So the porn industry is right? So Marx was right? We are just animals, not humans free from the slavery of our fallen nature's proclivity to, e.g., licentiousness, promiscuity, adultery, homosexuality, to name a few? God gives us the grace or ability, if one so chooses to accept it, to be truly human and rise above being merely a brute animal.

Geremia said...

The simple idea of Interfaith or Coexistence is, as previously mentioned, tolerance for humankind. Jeff you seem to think that only Muslims want to destroy "infidels", but you are forgetting the Roman Catholic and Christian history of rampant murder of those with the 'wrong' faith. You also forget that several mainstream religious groups like Christians, Mormons and Muslims, to name a few, believe the same thing that you do in regards to your faith; every good _______ (fill in the blank with one of the above) must spread the word of their religion and save them from eternal damnation. Hence the entire idea goes back to one person believing that one belief system is better than the other.

Tolerance has never started a war or genocide;


I disagree. Take for example elective abortion. Many people tolerate this saying: "I cannot infringe upon the privacy of another women." "It is her body and her choice." "She can choose to kill her unborn child if she wants." "Even if I believe abortion is murder, I must tolerate that she does not think it is not." Etc. Yet, over 50 million have died from abortion since Roe v. Wade in the United States. Abortion is the worst war and the biggest genocide in human history and a major factor in the current failing of the worldwide economy. Can you not see that tolerance is very dangerous?

only fear has. Fear stems from the ego. It is the ego's way of keeping you from your true self and the beauty that each of us possess. Fear that tolerance will lead to less control of those in your religion.

I agree that fear is unhealthy and unnecessary, but reason is not fear.

It all stems from humans needing control of the unknown. We all want control of the unknown so that we may sleep better at night and feel there is less chaos in our lives. It also helps us believe that we are hear for a reason; it gives us a purpose in life.

Yes, when one lacks faith one has fear (cf. Matt. 14:29-31).

Fear of the unknown is the most powerful idea in the world. Science was born out of this fear. When the Catholic church could no longer give the answers to the people (meaning they lost control of their followers), science began to emerge to fill that gap.

That the Church and science are at war is a 19th century myth. Modern science has its origins in the Church (see, e.g., the "History of Physics").

People wanted hard evidence of why and how events happened.

Wanted? We still do!

However, in the end, who really cares if someone else wants to believe in something else.

That is equivalent to saying, "Who cares if others are left in the dark." Ignorance is not bliss.

Have a civilized discussion with them about both of your belief systems, respect each other for them and move on.

Yes, forced conversions are pointless.

Anonymous said...

when we shift our awareness from self-consciousness ...where fear, impossibility or feelings of separation reside...to cosmic consciousness, which is in total harmony with the universe and where none of those feelings exist, then anything is possible.

if we are to have harmony between ourselves, inner selves, and the external world we live in, we must unite these apparently separate things and realize we are connected to everything in the universe...

--buddy

blakef said...

in response to "geremia"
the 'coexist' sticker does not assume that the gods of any religion either exist or not. The sticker simply reflects and symbolizes the desire for an ideal social environment where politics do not come before love, morals, acceptance, and tolerance. While one may believe in a different god or religion from another, their religious beliefs should not affect the way they treat and COEXIST with each other. As every religion promotes, love and kindness shall be shared by all people, no matter their age, sex, race, religion, etc.. This symbol does not promote any such religion or god, nor all of them. While one must not always agree with another's religious beliefs or concepts, it is simply asked that you respect them for their right to whichever belief they desire, as fought for by the founders of our country and protected in the 1st amendment to the Constitution

Geremia said...

As every religion promotes, love and kindness shall be shared by all people, no matter their age, sex, race, religion, etc..

Not all religions are based on charity. This is precisely why tolerance of them is not possible.

This symbol does not promote any such religion or god, nor all of them.

So it promotes a lack of gods, viz., atheism?

While one must not always agree with another's religious beliefs or concepts, it is simply asked that you respect them for their right to whichever belief they desire

I should respect, e.g., a murdering religion's right to believe they can sacrifice innocent people to strange gods? Again, not all religions are based on charity. Satanism, e.g., is not.

Anonymous said...

Ah. I forgot Christianity has never led to the death of innocent people. Thanks for reminding me. And if you all want to throw out books to back up the credibility of the Bible and its characters, read Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman.

Geremia said...

Ah. I forgot Christianity has never led to the death of innocent people.

Are you referring to the Crusades? The early crusades were a just, defensive war. I agree, though, that the later crusades were unjust. But nothing compares to the millions murdered yearly by elective abortion, at least 50 million since Roe v. Wade (1973) in the U.S. alone.

And if you all want to throw out books to back up the credibility of the Bible and its characters, read Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman.

One does not need any other authority than God Himself and the Catholic Church He established for interpreting Scripture.

Anonymous said...

heh.

God is omnipresent and omnicient. I don't pretend to know what form he takes or what he knows.

I know Jesus Christ is my savior.

While Jesus said he is the only way to salvation, he never said be cruel to those who believe differently. He simply said don't follow them.

I choose to let God decides what he wishes to do with those who do not believe in Jesus Christ. It's not my place. Jesus also said "Judge not, lest ye be Judged."

He also spoke in parables, and the only way to understand the Bible is through the help of the Holy Spirit (Catholics should know that), so taking it at is literal word on everything, is, well, not how it should be.

Jesus instructed us to follow our governments. He also never told us to persecute those of other religions. So, while liberal, Coexist is also not anti-christian, or atheist.

interesting how many comments this thing has considering it was posted in 2k7.

1389 said...

The "mainstream" Protestant denominations are losing members because they are too busy being leftist to bother with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Conversely, that is why Orthodox Christianity is growing rapidly.

THIS is what is wrong with those Coexist bumper stickers!

Anonymous said...

The Crusades are not the only time innocent people were killed for the name of Catholocism...how about the Inquisition? I'm Catholic but I don't believe in eliminating the idea that the Church is run by humans and is not exempt from original sin or forgetting mistakes that have been made in the past.

I also believe Jesus never killed or justified killing in the name of Catholicism, which he never intended to start. Jesus was a Jew, practiced Judaism, believed in what Jews believe in, followed Kosher law. The gospels tend to try to hide this fact, and in some cases actually condemned Judaism--of which Jesus was a part, therefore condemning Jesus with it. How can one say the gospels have no error? Still there are moral take-aways from the books regardless of their imperfection.

Also, the Roman Tradition is not the only recognized Catholic tradition, and therefore the "Catholic" argument about there being only one real religion and only one way to practice it is false.

Alan Aversa said...

@Anonymous: how about the Inquisition?

The Inquisition passed heretics over to civil authorities for them to do with them whatever they wanted. The civil authorities performed the executions or other forms of punishment. As far as I know, and please find a counterexample if I am wrong, but all the leading Fathers of the Church opposed capital punishment for heretics because they would rather the Church show them mercy and allow them to repent of their heresies than to kill them.

I don't believe in eliminating the idea that the Church is run by humans and is not exempt from original sin or forgetting mistakes that have been made in the past

The Church, although comprised of sinning humans, is still holy and divinely instituted because of the authority Christ gives it. Even atheists rightly recognize this authority by their desire to restore justice to victims abused by "Catholic," homosexual, pedophile priests. Atheists rightly set the bar higher for Catholic priests than for non-clerics, e.g., public school teachers who unfortunately abuse children at a higher rate.

Jesus never killed or justified killing in the name of Catholicism, which he never intended to start

True, St. Matthew 26:52: "Jesus saith to [St. Peter]: Put up again thy sword into its place: for all that take the sword shall perish with the sword."

Jesus was a Jew, practiced Judaism, believed in what Jews believe in, followed Kosher law. The gospels tend to try to hide this fact, and in some cases actually condemned Judaism

Jesus condemned members of specific sects like the Pharisees. To which other condemnations do you refer?

How can one say the gospels have no error?

Regarding religious indifferentism, which is what this "Coexist" bumper sticker promotes, St. Paul's letter to the Phillipians 2:10-11, e.g., is pretty clear: "in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, [...] every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father."

the Roman Tradition is not the only recognized Catholic tradition

When I say Catholic, I mean Roman Catholic or all those who recognize apostolic succession, the current Pope Benedict XVI, and are united under him as the Church's visible representivie of Christ on earth.

Anonymous said...

The coexist movement has nothing to with religion. It is a Liberal movement to have the western societies become subservient to the lesser people of the world. It is a movement of socialism and Marxist ideals masquerading behind a religious cloak

theraineyview said...

The reason the sticker is annoying is that it is generally worn by people and the cars of people who also sport anti-Christian sloganwear, and is obviously in general use as a swipe at Christians, whether it was designed that way or not. No one I know has parodied it in a spirit of intolerance. The parodies are a way of reminding some wearers of the original slogan that a) we are not the ones who have trouble coexisting; worldwide, most fear for our lives or freedom or live in prison because of our faith, and b) discussing the areas of contradiction between rival truth claims is called reasoning, and is necessary. Mentioning contradictions is part of sorting ideas out, an essential part of public discourse, yet some are trying to silence it out of an incomprehensible idea that it causes intolerance. Actually, the most intolerant people are the ones who never take part in such analytical discussions: radical Islamist jihadists worldwide. Yet it is politically incorrect to criticize them. Why?

Alan Aversa said...

@Anonymous: Yes, what you say is true. The push for religious syncretism is the goal of the Freemasonic New World Order, thus it only uses religion for its political ends.

@theraineyview: Here's a Christian parody of the Coexist bumper sticker.