Last weekend we bought my wife a new (used) car. Her old(er) one was getting a bit small for our growing boys, and was quickly approaching 100,000 miles (at which point it would become more difficult to sell), so we bit the bullet and took the plunge.
Now we have a 12 year-old, 99k-mile car to get off our hands. It’s in excellent shape, by the way. New timing belt and everything, if you happen to be in the market.
On Sunday evening I posted a for-sale ad on Craigslist. Wanting to separate myself from the herd, I spent some time crafting what I thought was some pretty funny and eye-catching copy. I’ll let you decide for yourself:
Super-clean, super-classy, super-boss 2001 Lexus RX300 offered for sale by a priest. You’ll be rollin’ pimp-tight in this all-wheel-drive leather&wood-swathed beast. 99,500 miles. NEW TIMING BELT so your engine won’t explode. Features too numerous to enumerate, but I’ll try:
-Heated Seats (for those chilly Houston nights)
-Power Everything (cuz yer lazy!)
-Memory Seats (to free up your brain)
-Trailer Hitch (for your jet skis)
-Moonroof (buh-by tanning salon)
-Cargo Cover (to conceal your wares)
-Luggage Rack (for when you go on safari)
-CD Changer (awwww-yayuh!)
And on and on and on… A/C ice cold, all electrics flawless, affectionately maintained, Lexus comfort and reliability. Much love to this ride, but my family needs something a bit bigger. Pentagon Federal Credit Union (penfed.org) offers 1.99% financing for up to 60 months on used cars with under 100,000 miles, so you can even finance this piece for $175/month! Waddya got to lose?
Email, call or text now: Ninety-one seventy-two 94 seven-thousand eight-hundred and twenty-five.
Not bad, right? My wife thought it was funny, as did Mbird’s own award-winning cartoonist Matthew Schneider and about 50 other people who saw it on Facebook before it got taken down. Apparently Craigslist was not so amused. My ad was flagged and removed by early Monday morning. What gives?
After submitting a few questions on the Craigslist user forums, I learned that the CL community has almost no tolerance for humor, especially when mixed with any kind of religion. What a bummer. Among the numerous apologies I wrote, I included the somewhat self-justifying thought that Jesus probably didn’t mind, to which I received the very wise (and embarassingly obvious) response: “Jesus isn’t as judgmental as your local audience”(ht Darlin1111)! To be fair, I wasn’t aware that I had “hookerized” my phone number, or that hookerized was even a word. My bad.
So what’s the upshot? Well, even being an Episcopal minister (or maybe especially because I am one?), I still harbor the misconception that the world “out there” is a friendlier and more forgiving place than the world “in here,” i.e. in the church, and that idea was blown apart by this little incident. Not only was Craigslist merciless, but all of my Christian friends (even a few old ladies at my church who had, to my horror, saw the ad on FB) were unconditionally affirming. They thought it was hilarious, and couldn’t understand how anyone else would think anything different.
Francis Spufford, critiquing the so-called “New Atheists” in his BRILLIANT book Unapologetic, squarely debunks the myth that religion is the problem, that if God would just go away everyone would be a lot nicer, but somehow I still harbor that delusion, that prejudice against my own people. To be sure, there are many, many judgmental and humorless Christians (as there are people of all types), but at least in this instance, Christianity was a much more fun and liberating place to be than the secular world. “I have come to bring life…”
And let me know if you’ve got any interest in procuring a dope whip from a cleric. $9995.