Bullet holes and breast augs

There is a van that sometimes parks in front of our house. It is your typical ghetto minivan, and I say typical for two reasons. One is that, in the back window, there is a large sticker proclaiming: “Jesus es Dios. Lea la biblia” (this is a bumper sticker campaign from one of the largest, most influential Hispanic churches here in L.A.). These stickers are EVERYWHERE in L.A., especially in immigrant communities like ours. The second reason is that, on the side of the van that faces our house (it always parks Northbound), there are these little decals that are grossly popular around here as well: a series of “bullet holes” that can be affixed to your car. From a distance, it honestly looks like the vehicle has been shot up.

I am confounded by the combination of these two decorations, and the identities they are seeking to represent. They are to me an absurd juxtaposition. I wonder if one is from a previous owner and the current owner has just not had the time or ability to remove them? But I also wonder if both have been placed there purposefully and if the owner sees no conflict in their marriage.

I find myself quick to judge this. How could an apparently committed follower of Jesus “decorate” themselves with symbols of death and sin? Why would they choose to mark themselves with something that seeks to give them some kind of perverse credibility or status?

As I walked past this van on my way to church recently I was struck, though, by the inconsistencies in my own attitude toward this van and its owner. Just because their cultural “markers” are so foreign to me, I am quick to call them out as hypocritical and offensive. But if I were to drive up to any number of churches here in L.A. on a Sunday morning, I would see “apparently committed followers of Jesus” who have likewise plastered themselves with icons smelling of death: the difference being that theirs are glittery, shiny, or silicone.

Many sermons have been preached on the “false gods” and idols of our age. Isn’t it true that it is so much easier to see them when they are being worshipped by someone else?


  1. I like your observation and willingness to not accept the ‘symbols’ of our culture that we are surrounded with passively. How the two are married is beyond me as well. It probably speaks to the compartmentalization or privitization of faith that is so prevelant. People are caught up, it seems, in a faith that serves to ease anxiety about the afterlife while providing feelings of happiness and goodness in this life. The secular grip, on the otherhand is public and the two do not intertwine. In otherwords, it is possible that people can incorporate symbols (ant-kingdom) into their lives without being aware of their contradicory natures. It is totaly common for church goers to listen to sermons and then tu-pac and think it’s fine…


  2. The issues you raise about compartmentalization and privitization are crucial ones. I wonder how the church can do a better job at helping people live integrated lives? I suppose this is the same issue Israel faced, and the reason why the prophets were so necessary for them and why we still need their voice so desparately today.

  3. I think it’s a question of formation and helping believers understand the definitive values that currently shape in subversive ways. the bullett holes for example may be a manifestation of a life that is ‘lived on the run’ a ‘gangsta’ life which is commonly praised and admired. This flies into the face of what the bumper sticker says. it indicated a confusion of identity.

    The church I think needs to engage in dialogue about bumperstickers and bullet holes, for example, and call out the formative values that are there. The reality is that there is plenty of which we are not aware and we need to begin asking questions about the world around us and then juxtapose it with scripture. It’s the whole idea of cultural analysis that I think is a critical practice on the formation of missional communities….we pay too little attention to this.


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