I am reminded of a summer afternoon several years back.
I was working as a designer in the offices of a magazine located some miles north of Fort Worth. It was a slow day, just past lunch-time, when someone burst in excitedly to tell us that there was a guy walking down the freeway, bearing a cross.
“You mean like a little cross, or…,”
“No, like it’s a full sized cross! Like ACTUAL size.”
There was a moment then, when we all kind of looked at each other and a silent communication passed around the circle, “well, it’s not like we have anything better to do.” And so we piled into a couple cars and went to go see the guy with the cross.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, of course.
In a perfect world we might have found Trigun’s Nicholas Wolfwood wandering in from No Man’s Land.
What we got instead was a bit more like this.
Not this guy exactly. I didn’t have a camera on me at the time (these events transpired in that misty age before the smartphone). But it was a guy very much like the one pictured above. There are, apparently, a lot of them out there, wandering the roadways of America.
Certainly the cross was the same.
When we caught up with him, he talked with us about the message he was hoping to give folks as they passed him on the freeway. He told us how he hoped that his sacrifice would remind them of the one which Jesus made for them on the cross.
“My sacrifice,” he said.
I remember looking at the apparatus he carried on his shoulder. The padding where the planks of wood intersected, the wheel…,
His cross had a wheel!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it was heavy. Long before the gig at the magazine, I worked in construction. I’ve spent long days hauling lumber around in the hot sun, and I remember how it makes you feel at the end of the day.
Now I think about it, might have been less work for us all, if the lumber had come with wheels.
So, as I continue to hear more and more about Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to gay couples…, as I see people who I otherwise respect crying out over her jailing for contempt of court, and calling her a modern martyr in the ongoing War on Christians…, in my minds eye I see that silly little wheel rolling through weeds and gravel along the side of a busy highway.
And I think to myself, “what a strange kind a sacrifice.”
And I wonder, “is this what you think martyrdom looks like, in the 21st Century?”
Because there are places in the world where Christians really are persecuted for their faith, but the United States of America is not one of them. But if you need a reminder of what martyrdom looks like, I’d have you think back to the events of a certain painful morning, some 14-years ago this week.
We have seen innocents sacrificed by religious fundamentalists who believe that our secular culture, with its hedonism and moral relativism, is degenerate and cursed in the eyes of God.
These folks seem so harmless, just pulling their little wheeled crosses around the highways and byways…, stage a protest here, fiddle with a textbook there, milk the 15-minutes of fame you get for refusing to do your job…,
It would be all too easy to ignore them, and even the gods must know just how very tired I am of talking about these people.
If only their rhetoric were not so chillingly familiar.