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  Jesus, and What He Would Drive
by Brian S. Wise
November 2002

"What Would Jesus Drive?" is an intellectually sticky question, and irrelevant in the face of supply and demand.

Let it never be said that men of uncommon motivations cannot find something over which to agree, and eventually threaten the country at large. On the matter of the sports utility vehicle, the Evangelical Environmental Network has linked arms with other lesser Republicans and environmentalists in direct opposition to the SUV, making their point with an ad campaign simply called “What Would Jesus Drive?” to begin airing soon in Detroit, Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina and the author’s home State of Indiana. Reverend Jim Ball, who is directly involved with the campaign, explained himself thus: “We take seriously the question ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ ‘What Would Jesus Drive?’ is just a more specific version. What would he want me to do as a Christian? Would he want me to use public transportation?” The Savior couldn’t be reached for comment, so there’s no immediate word as to whether or not He would just simply allow grown adults to exercise the free will they’ve been given, kind of like … what they do right now, actually.

Think your life sucks? Try squeezing 750 words out of this intellectual turd, without 500 of them being how the Bible states He and the apostles were all in one Accord, about how it’s obvious He would drive a Crown Victoria, and so forth. Asking yourself what Jesus would do in a given situation is a sticky enough proposition on its face because it puts one in the position of trying to think as He would think; how He would spend $25,000 – assuming He would choose to have $25,000 to start with – is stickier still, because it puts Jesus in the role of, you’ll forgive the expression, a common consumer, as if He would have nothing better to do upon returning to the world than shopping for something to drive. (“Lo, though I return to … Holy Cow, look at that Expedition!”)

When this story broke, my first thought as a non-Christian was, “Now wait a minute. If every sperm is supposed to be sacred, how else are people expected to haul all of their kids around if not large, and in some cases fuel inefficient, vehicles?” Would Reverend Ball prefer good Christians haul their families around in wooden wagons behind their small to mid-sized cars? Of course not. One guesses he would prefer the auto makers dedicate themselves to better fuel efficiency standards without federal prodding, which I would also prefer, which I believe most reasonable people would prefer.

But only the feds can force manufacturers into higher standards, and President Bush seems reluctant to stand for it. So absent that, what else should be said? How about that when one buys a SUV, he’s deliberately choosing a vehicle that uses more gasoline, and is therefore playing directly into the exact same Arab hands that are plotting against us, both to our faces and behind our backs. True enough, and once again, every right minded person would agree that if Man can be talked into going to the Moon based on a mandate no greater than That Old Womanizer’s inauguration speech, we can certainly dedicate the next decade to developing alternative fuels.

But again, you cannot force the feds into pumping money into alternative fuels. So absent that, what else can be said? How about that sometimes when one takes to the road in a vehicle that large, he often comes to have certain feelings of invincibility, which can lead to reckless driving, car accidents and perhaps deaths? Good point, so communities can expand or strengthen penalties for such idiotic and childish behavior, perhaps to the point of jail time.

But you cannot force people to be responsible adults. So absent that, what else can be said? This: Shut up. Whatever arguments can be offered against the SUV (and large trucks), there is at least one that trumps them all, the market. The market provides for those who want large vehicles, with which people can haul around their families, or tow boats and / or watercraft, or move heavy product to and from job sites, and many other of the often necessary things you simply cannot do with the underwhelming force a Yugo provides. Should there come a day when the SUV goes the way of the Studebaker, that would be a proper exercise of the market, as well. As one executive said, “If [the consumers] wanted cars with fins, we’d be making cars with fins.” But they don’t. They want SUV’s, and should have them. Whatever advances toward the ends of independence from anti-American oil producing countries should be a priority, but not forced down the throats of the consumers.

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