IVP - Strangely Dim - Beer Shirts and Bumper Stickers

September 7, 2006

Beer Shirts and Bumper Stickers

Once upon a time Christians wore hair shirts. Nowadays I'm considering wearing a beer shirt.

A few weeks ago a DJ answered my e-mail on the air. Yesterday I received my reward: a radio station t-shirt and bumper stickers, a CD, and a Miller Genuine Draft summer survival kit. In case you expect to be stranded on a desert island next summer, don't count on the MGD kit to help you survive: it contains no first aid materials, no food--no beer, even. It does, however, contain a bottle opener and a beer shirt. So, I suppose, if you found yourself stranded on a desert island next summer you'd be able to open a bottle and tear off a portion of your beer shirt to write a message. BYO bottle and pen.

This isn't the only shirt I've been given recently. On my vacation I answered a trivia question correctly and had thrown at me a shirt that says something to the effect of "I Heart Gambling." I'm quickly assembling an entire closet of vice; all I need for the hat trick is a shirt that shouts "Legalize It!"

I'm faced with a dilemma: what do I do with my new wardrobe? I work for a Christian company, as does my wife, and I fully expect that at least some of the people around us would be scandalized by such shirts. So to wear one or the other of them would be to invite trouble on myself. But I won them fair and square! And let's be honest: I've been known to enjoy a beer or two in my lifetime, so to wear the beer shirt at least would be somewhat authentic. (For the record, I categorically don't heart gambling.)

Ancient monks wore hair shirts to remind themselves that they were sinners, and to compel themselves to sin less. I wonder if such a shirt as this would serve a similar purpose: to remind myself (and others around me) that I'm not as cool or as purified and pious or as ascetic as I sometimes purport to be. Maybe it would compel me to live more consistently in the truth.

That, after all, is the value I see in those fish bumper stickers. I doubt that too many people are throwing themselves on the mercy of God because there's a fish crossing the road in front of them. But for me at least, the prospect of driving around with an "I Heart Jesus" bumper sticker causes me to consider just how responsible, deferential and respectful a driver I am. How we adorn ourselves, I think, has some impact on how we conduct ourselves.

Or, maybe it's just a stupid, gaudy t-shirt and I should stop thinking about it and just hand it over to the beer-based Bible study ("the Brew Crew") my friend is running. Summer's almost over, after all, and so far I've survived nicely without it.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at September 7, 2006 8:04 AM Bookmark and Share


A Guinness or Red Hook shirt I can see.
MGD would be way scandalous!
As would any american lager.

Comment by: alpha at September 13, 2006 10:44 AM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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