As I was driving to church this morning, I looked over and saw this behemoth of a gold Lexus SUV in the next lane over with the oh-so precious bumper sticker, “Don’t let the car fool you. My treasure is in heaven.” If there is a mass produced bumper sticker saying this, we can be fairly sure that our Lexus driver is not alone out there. Since I was in the western suburbs of Chicago near Glen Ellyn, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that this person was probably your plain-vanilla Christian conservative.
Now goodness knows I wouldn’t want to be sanctimonious, but it seems to me that if you have to have a bumper sticker that explicitly acknowledges the wide divergence between the absolutely unnecessary indulgence of a Lexus SUV that also tries to make light of it (while affirming, perhaps even sanctimoniously, one’s own religious credentials) there is probably something amiss somewhere. What’s more, I suspect the owner of that Lexus SUV knew there was something amiss, but was not going to make the necessary changes that even he felt were probably needed. Why not make a change? Because he’s got a right. I can already hear the chorus: “Freedom! Markets! First they came for the SUVs…” As Peter Viereck said (I am paraphrasing), freedom can only endure so much of this sort of “freedom.” But, after all, a Lexus SUV is nothing to sneeze at. The refueling costs alone must stagger some small countries.
But maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe owners of Lexus SUVs feel so deeply anxious about their material riches and are doing their very best to alleviate themselves of this burden by spending all their money on fuel for their ridiculous behemoth vehicles. After all, thanks to the redoubtable critics of crunchy conservatism, we now know that there are no professing Christians so caught up in the web of materialist consumption. What a relief.
Still, it’s a long way from the Lexus dealership to contemptus mundi.