Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Musings: Jesus and the cars he would drive

Hi folks -- this Easter, as we think of Jesus an God, my thoughts go back to the What would Jesus Drive question that emerged during 2002 as a response to the question of SUVs and the environment. Years ago I wrote an essay on Christianity and automobiles, and in revised form that can be found in Chapter 5 of my book "The Automobile and American Life."

On another website, T.J. Nelson had this to say back in 2002:

This week, an organization called the "National Religious Partnership for the Environment" has started a national campaign to make people feel guilty for driving SUVs. The centerpiece of this campaign is the slogan, "What would Jesus drive?". This, of course, has driven people into paroxysms of laughter, with jokes like "A Christ-ler" and comments that, being a carpenter, He would have needed a van with a ladder rack on top. White, of course. With a statue of his mother on the dashboard.

Guaranteed Overnight Delivery truck One person suggested that Jesus, the ultimate eternal surfer, would most likely drive "a cherry 1940s flathead V-8 Ford woody with surfboards on the roof".


However, in all seriousness, this question can be answered authoritatively. One need only turn to the Bible to find what cars were driven in those days.

In the beginning, God himself made mention of His favorite car, when He described to Jeremiah His plans for the Israelites.

  Jer 32:37
Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have
driven them in my Anger, and in my Fury, and in great wrath; and I
will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell
Clearly, God was driving, not a bus, but a Plymouth Fury and a car called an "Anger", which is no longer being produced. Later, however, the Lord was seen driving people around in a Valiant:
  Jer 46:15
Why are thy Valiant men swept away? they stood not, because the LORD
did drive them.
The Lord frequently drove people out to important occasions, if they didn't have their own car:
  Judg 1:19
And the LORD was with Judah; and he drove out the inhabitants of the
mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley,
because they had chariots of iron.

Station wagons were also popular in early times. God saw that they were good, as they could not only carry an assembly of people, but would shield them in a crash.

  Ezek 23:24
And they shall come against thee with chariots, wagons, and wheels,
and with an assembly of people, which shall set against thee buckler
and shield and helmet round about: and I will set judgment before
them, and they shall judge thee according to their judgments.
Unfortunately, his followers, being generous in the ways of the Lord, tended to give them away:
  Num 7:6
And Moses took the wagons and the oxen, and gave them unto the

Fords, then as now, were popular, but not universally so, often being left behind in emergencies.

  Gen 32:22
And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two
womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the Ford Jabbok.
Ford dealerships were commonly used as gathering points for women.
  Isa 16:2
For it shall be, that, as a wandering bird cast out of the nest, so
the daughters of Moab shall be at the Fords of Arnon.
The Israelites also drove customized automobiles. There was a distinct preference for brass and molten parts, which are rarely used today because of the difficulty in handling them.
  1Kgs 7:30
And every base had four brazen wheels, and plates of brass: and the
four corners thereof had undersetters: under the laver were
undersetters molten, at the side of every addition.

1Kgs 7:33
And the work of the wheels was like the work of a chariot wheel:
their axletrees, and their naves, and their felloes, and their
spokes, were all molten.
The ancient Israelites took great pride in their wheels. Often they were of unusual design, with wheels inside other wheels instead of at the four corners like today's cars. This may have been done to facilitate performing stunts such as "wheelies".
  Ezek 1:16
The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the color
of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and
their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.

Ezek 1:20
Whithersoever the Spirit was to go, they went, thither was their
Spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for
the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.
Clearly, the Israelites considered the wheel to be the most important part of the car. But they were also fond of powerful engines:
  Ezek 26:10
By reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee:
thy walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen, and of the
wheels, and of the chariots, when he shall enter into thy gates, as
men enter into a city wherein is made a breach.

Of course, God, with an infinite expense account, could afford to occasionally drive a Rolls Royce.

  Ezra 6:1
Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house
of the Rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon.

Dodge is one of the oldest car companies, selling the Triumph, Avenger, Colt, and Charger in Biblical times.

  2Sam 1:20
Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest
the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the
uncircumcised Triumph.
Of course, in modern times, circumcision is no longer performed on automobiles.

They were popular gifts.

  Mark 6:28
And brought his head in a Charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the
damsel gave it to her mother.
The Dodge Ram was greatly admired, and frequently customized with aftermarket accessories such as custom leather seats and extra horns of different pitch.
  Dan 8:3
Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before
the river a Ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but
one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.
Collisions, however, were frequent.
  Dan 8:6
And he came to the Ram that had two horns, which I had there seen
standing before the river, and ran unto him in the Fury of his power.
Here we see one of the earliest documented cases of road rage.
  Dan 8:7
And I saw him come close unto the Ram, and he was moved with choler
against him, and smote the Ram, and broke his two horns: and there
was no power in the Ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to
the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could
deliver the Ram out of his hand.
There are also very few Japanese cars in the Bible. The Honda Accord is mentioned several times, although one might question the driving skills of the ancient Israelites.
  Acts 5:12
And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought
among the people; and they were all with one Accord in Solomon's

Acts 19:29
And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius
and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they
rushed with one Accord into the theatre.
However, the AMC Spirit was unquestionably the most popular car of Biblical times. They were so highly prized that they were sometimes even described as "holy", and unlike the Spirits of today, had powerful engines, probably V-6 or V-8 turbines with fuel injection and dual overhead cams. Often people were said to be driving around "in an excellent Spirit". The Lord Himself even reputedly owned one, undoubtedly because of their reputation for reliability. They would go wherever you wanted them to.
  Ezek 1:20
Whithersoever the Spirit was to go, they went, thither was their
Spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for
the Spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.

1 comment:

  1. Dear John,

    you forgot one important car, the very first one in history, which was produced on the Lord's special order:

    Gen 1:3
    dixitque Deus fiat lux et facta est lux

    - but I think this was only a design-study by the well known italian producers and never went into mass production.

    greetings from Germany,