The Thought Process Amazes Me

So, do you remember the church I talked about before I pass every day on the way to work that always has such wonderful sayings? I'm thinking this could be a regular spot, every time they change the readerboard.

Today's message:

"Benevolent Religions Fail"

That's it. No elaboration, nothing. Um, what? Are they saying religions should not be benevolent? Do they know what benevolent means? I do, because I have the internets to read. Courtesy of Merriam-Webster online:

Function: adjective

Etymology: Middle English, from Latin benevolent-, benevolens, from bene + volent-, volens, present participle of velle to wish — more at will

Date: 15th century

1 a : marked by or disposed to doing good b : organized for the purpose of doing good

2 : marked by or suggestive of goodwill
So, my interpretation of the readerboard's statement is this particular church is claiming religions that are marked by good will or disposed to doing good things, fail.

I will admit, I am not a churchgoing person - but at the same time my limited experience has taught me that on the surface religious ideologies usually are meant to be helpful. Emphasis on "meant." Obviously things like suicide bombings and The Crusades and any other acts of violence supposedly in the name of religion do not qualify.

So what exactly is the message this church is trying to convey? Is it saying a religion can only succeed when it punishes its worshippers? Sounds like fun times. As I said, I don't do church, but if I were the hell and brimstone types were ones I would avoid like the plague.

Sometimes I think I want to know the thought process behind posting these kinds of messages for thousands to see every day and what they expect the reaction to said postings to be. I can't imagine my reaction is even on their spectrum of possible results - though maybe it is and in their eyes I am already damned. If I were to stop there and talk to someone, would we even be able to have a conversation? Would we speak the same language?

I'm not talking literally the language - I expect we'd likely both be speaking English (or pidgin Japanese if they chose, I guess), but the levels of perception and expectation just may be so vastly different no common ground could be found.

Or are the signs simply for shock value? One of these days, I just might stop and ask. Simply say: "What exactly does that sign mean?"

For now, I'm not so sure I want to know the answer.


  1. I saw that yesterday, too. I kept thinking, "what the hell are they driving at?" I even wondered if it were a prank; perhaps some kids re-arranged what was there. Do they normally have such bizarre messages? I hadn't been by there in some time. -R

  2. I saw that same sign this morning. I googled it just now to see what was going on and came across your blog. I also wondered if it might be a prank -- I know churches are teaching non-tolerance these days but to be anti-benevolence is so outrageous it can't be serious.

  3. maybe they meant malevolent and got confused and not being close to the internet didn't know the difference? OK I'm reaching here. I'm thinking prank myself...it is close to all hallow's eve

  4. You know, I would think prank...but their messages usually have an off feel to me, like they are a little extreme. I don't think it's a prank...it's just harsher than normal.

  5. Just a quick followup - the sign hasn't changed on the next day. If it was a prank, I would think someone would have noticed and fixed it by now...

  6. ok that is ONE chruch I do NOT want to visit.