Believe it or not, a cross used to be something other than a polished wood “hood ornament” for churches or a piece of jewelry worn by everyone from your little old grandma to a “G” straight out of Compton.
Yes indeed my friend, crosses used to look more like a capital “T” than a lower-case “t”, and the Roman Empire (and others before them) used to hang people from them so that they’d slowly suffocate to death!
Crosses were symbols of murder and oppression by the occupying Roman force in the Near East, meant to act as a deterrent to those who might challenge the authority of Rome. Crosses were re-used, of course, because wood was more scarce than the humans that needed oppressing and murdering.
Thankfully you don’t see crosses being used for their original purpose too often these days, but because of that blessing the symbol of the Cross has probably lost some of its potency. I mean, Christians choosing the Cross as their identifying symbol is akin to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s family acquiring the gun that killed him and mounting it above the mantle.
To bring back the sense of oppression, strife, and suffering alongside their fellow human beings that the Cross was initially meant to induce, I’d like to suggest the following five replacement symbols:
Police Weapons: Whether your local law enforcement officer carries a Glock semi-automatic, a Smith and Wesson revolver, or an automatic weapon of some sort, there’s no doubt armed police forces and occupying armies have been misusing their power to repress humans since the invention of the club and spear. Imagine getting a tattoo that has the verse “John 3:16” twining around the letters “H&K”. South Carolina knows what I’m talking about.
Electric Chair/Lethal Injection Table/Hangman’s Noose: Does anyone else find it odd that some Christians are vehemently opposed to abortion but in favor of capital punishment? I guess they missed the verse about God causing His sun to shine and rain to fall on the good and evil alike….Oh well! No biggie! Innocent men may get murdered once in a while, you argue? That’s alright, as long as we keep the peace…After all, as Pontius Pilate might say, you’ve got to break a few eggs to make an omelet!
The Almighty Dollar: In case it’s been a few years since you’ve dusted off your King James Version, you might be interested to learn that the only group to earn more scorn and dressings-down from Jesus than the religious leadership of His time was the rich! What with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, the Dollar becomes just another tool for those with money to oppress those without it. Zig Ziglar once said, “Money isn’t everything, but it’s right up there with breathing.” Well, there’s a whole lot of poor people in the world who are suffocating to death, just like Jesus did on His cross.
The Cross: Ok, ok, I admit it’s a bit odd, suggesting the replacement of the cross with another cross. Maybe this cross is a picture of a guy wearing a cross…I haven’t quite nailed this one down (get it?)…but let’s face it: For a group of people who are supposed to love their enemies and lay down their lives, people who wear crosses to signify their system of belonging don’t have a great track record of following the guy they claim is God. Religious oppression, while not always violent in this country, is extremely oppressive and has hurt millions of people. So maybe we call a spade a spade and replace our churches’ wooden crosses with gold or silver ones to get the point across.
Have you got a suggestion I haven’t thought of? Please let me know! I’d love to read your thoughts. What other symbols of ruling-class-induced suffering and oppression could we use in place of the cross?