Friday, June 1, 2012

What Is the Meaning of This?

I'm hoping one of my readers can help me solve a little mystery that I've seen frequenting the roads around the Twin Cities. It's this little white window sticker with letters:
I know that the picture is a bit fuzzy but that's what happens when all of a sudden you look at the car ahead of you and there's that window sticker again. Sort of looks like the shape of Ohio (a stretch I know) with an "e, l or b, and a c". Is this a hockey thing? Some educational group or school logo? Is it an image that I'm not seeing? Or a bizarre new cult with these stickers attached to their cars, driving around the north Metro St. Paul recruiting new members. If anyone has any insights, please share!

This all started back in the days of living in the Washington, DC suburbs when this sticker started appearing on cars in the snarled Northern Virginia traffic. OBX. At first I thought it meant "obnoxious" because it seemed that everyone with this particular sticker was a completely obnoxious driver. Then I figured out it stands for the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which is a traditional escape from the DC area. 

This whole deciphering bumper stickers game is now transferring to the next generation. My daughter, who is learning to drive, has taken a new interest decrypting bumper stickers. Her most recent perplexing one is "Coexist".




Coexist is pretty easy if you can identify all of the symbols involved: Islamic star, the star of David, the peace symbol, the Christian cross, and those other Eastern religions. What's the message these drivers are trying to send? Peace, end war, love your neighbor, lets all just get along. That's all great, until the guy with the Coexist sticker won't let you merge in front of him. Where's the love in that? If you're bold enough to display peace on your bumper sticker, shouldn't you live it?

Perhaps it's due to all of the tedious hours I spend driving around that decoding bumper stickers takes on new meaning. It's amusing and always makes me wonder what sort of person would actually put that particular bumper sticker on their car. Having been nearly run off of the road for a particular political bumper sticker by someone obviously in disagreement with me, no political persuasion stickers for my back bumper. I guess I could put Romney on the right and Obama on the left to Coexist with all of those other OBX drivers out there! 

Now if someone could just decipher the "ebc" mystery for me.



29 comments:

Anonymous said...

I believe it is "Eagle Brook Church."

Christianna said...

Mystery solved . . . I knew that one of my beloved readers was smarter than me!

That makes complete sense now that I look at it.
Thank you Anonymous for clueing me in!

Christianna

Tim said...

You were close with the "cult" part, anyway.

Christianna said...

I've never been out to Eagle Brook but they certainly have a successful bumper sticker campaign going!

Anonymous said...

I TOTALLY AGREE WITH THE CULT THING - how scary to be part of a church which is so large!!! I was invited once and will never go again. I am sure there is a large number of people at Eagle Brook who are very hypocritical - did I spell that correctly

Anonymous said...

That's what I thought at first, too! That is the Eagle Brook Church thing. Some of our neighbors have one, and I asked my mom, who was with me at the time, and she said "No, I think it's probably just something that people with daycares have." Then, I started to doubt that it was the church, just because there are so man of them.

Anonymous said...

That's too bad you all think it's a cult. My daugther goes there and really loves it and loves going to church every Sunday. You can't say that about some of the non-cult churches in the area!

Christianna said...

Having never attended services at Eagle Brook, I am a bit curious about it all. Before it gets labeled a "cult" perhaps someone could chime in and enlighten us about the culture of Eagle Brook. All I really know about it is hearsay, meaning it's all rumors. Does anyone out there even attend?

Nathan said...

I have attended for about 12 years.
Eagle Brook Church is definitely not a cult. Before you start throwing around the word "cult", consider what constitutes one. A cult has 3 main characteristics (taken from my university social psycology course textbook, I am a psychology major). These three are guru worship, systematic indoctrination, and heavy exploitation from the guru. Also, there must be a drive to isolate the cult from "evil" contemporary culture, which Eagle Brook certainly isn't as it is striving to establish a more contemporary, relevant church in a time when many denominations and their traditions have lost the ability to relate to today's society. So essentially, Eagle Brook Church would have to be worshiping our pastor, Bob Merritt, systematically indoctrinating all attenders, and heavily exploiting members of the church some way (sexually, financially, etc.) all of which are simply not true. Also, when evaluating a potential cult, there are three main criteria to hold a group/church/organization to according to my secular, non-biased social psychology textbook. These would be 1.)Are alternatives being taken away? 2.)Is one's access to new and different information being taken away? And 3.) Is the individual's personal responsibility and control being usurped by the group or leader? And, as you might have assumed, Eagle Brook Church is not doing any of these things, and if they were, there would most likely be criminal charges and a court case ensuing. So from a completely non-biased set of criteria, you can rule out the fact that Eagle Brook Church would be a cult. It isn't my opinion that you are relying on.

Nathan said...

Eagle Brook Church actually originated as the First Baptist Church of White Bear Lake (very traditional, very mainstream Christianity). Originally, it had about 300 members. Bob Merritt became the pastor in 1991 and changed the name of the church from First Baptist Church to Eagle Brook Church in 1997, mainly in order to avoid deterring people from other denominations from attending the church simply because of its name if they were of a different denomination of Christianity (Lutheran, Presbyterian, Catholic, Methodist, etc.) I actually grew up attending a Methodist church in White Bear Lake. The point being, Bob Merritt wanted to make a church which was more accepting of individuals from a variety of backgrounds and put less of a focus on the fine points that individuals from different denominations argue over, many of which aren't central to the Christian faith or even discussed in the bible. Instead, he pushed the church in the direction of focusing on core beliefs almost all denominations of the Christian faith can agree on and view as fundamental to salvation. This is in large part the explanation for why the number of people who attend Eagle Brook has increased so much in the last 20 years, from 300 to roughly 13,000 across 5 different campuses around the twin cities. It's a more accepting and less legalistic church that doesn't take any certain denomination as its guiding authority, but rather focuses on the authority of the bible. As for there being "a large number of people at Eagle Brook who are highly hypocritical", I don't think anyone could really say, especially when it comes to matters of faith and the heart. And believe me, I understand where someone may initially feel that way. Overly religious people tend to be all talk and no walk. But I'd have to say that out of all the churches I've ever been to, Pastor Bob is a very humble person, walks the talk, and never acts like he's high-and-mighty. He's a very real, very genuine person, and never fails to admit his own shortcomings and failures. And as far as members of the church go, I'd have to say that because so many of them are everyday people and they are a part of a church which is so large, there is far less opportunity for them to become self-centered or seek attention and power because, frankly, there is no real hierarchy or opportunity to stand out, which coming from a small church originally, was very refreshing. At Eagle Brook it just seems to me like most people aren't putting up a facade or just to look good, because no one is keeping track of whether or not you put money in the offering plate, and no one is even going to notice if you show up that week or not. More than anything, I think people tend to feel like from a Christian perspective Eagle Brook is genuinely invested in helping Christians grow in their faith, leads by example, keeps open doors and open minds, and accepts anyone from any background, even if they're just checking the place out and never come again, while it still holds to the foundations of Christian faith.

Nathan said...

I guess, more than anything, people seem to go there because they actually feel like it is relevant to their lives, they are growing in their faith as a Christian, or at least are beginning to understand Christianity more if they are not believers, and overall enjoy going, as there is no obligation to be there if you dont.

Christianna said...

Thanks for your comments Nathan and explaining the reality behind all of the Eagle Brook hype. Given the rapid growth of this church they certainly are doing something right and have tapped into a large number of souls out there searching. That cannot be a bad thing.

Jeri said...

Nathan summed up Eagle Brook perfectly. Now I know why I love going there even though I hated the smaller, hypocritical/radical churches of my youth. EBC allows you to feel ok about having doubts about God and faith. The farthest you can get from a cult atmosphere, in my opinion. The bottom line is that EBC is changing lives and changing a community in such a positive way. No one can deny that as a community we need to focus on treating other better and committing to our families.

Christianna said...

Absolutely Jeri!

Anonymous said...

Other churches use the stickers as well with a label of enlightened by christ.

Anonymous said...

Nathan... TL;DR.

Christianna said...

Another mystery to me! What does Nathan's comment mean? Anyone?

Anonymous said...

TL;DR means "too long; didn't read!"

Christianna said...

Maybe you should consider reading it. Spurring lots of comments and much shorter than other "religious" themed blog posts. Give it a try :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for clearing this up. I too found it annoying that every 5th car in shoreview has this sticker but it doesn't say what it is!

Anonymous said...

Those stickers are promoting Eagle Brook Church in MN. It is a large multisite church with five church's so far and an ambitious campaign to expand to as many as five more. They are Christian but are sometimes referred to as a semi-cult because of their love of money and star status. They are a business first and a church second.

Todd said...

We went to Eagle Brook for a number of years. Met some great people and grew in faith primarily due to our small group that we attended. Sadly, it became more & more evident that the focus was much more on providing a good show and growing the size of the church vs. lifting up Jesus Christ. I certainly understand that it is a good thing to draw more people to the church, but to me these stickers sum up the focus at Eagle Brook which I perceive to be: Come to Eagle Brook when it should be Come to Jesus. Many good people there to be sure and some certainly have a heart for God. Bob Merritt is a very gifted speaker but I have very little respect for him after some things he has said and the direction he has led the church. I'm not promoting any other particular church, but for those out there searching, Jesus can change your life! Bottom line: I don't like the stickers because it promotes the church instead of Jesus. Hope you all have a blessed Christmas.

LoveEBC said...

That is very sad that you feel that way Todd. I have attended Eagle Brook for over 10 years, volunteer on a regular basis and am part of a small group. I have been a Christian since childhood, grew up in the Catholic faith and I have never felt closer to Christ than I do now and at it is due to Eagle Brook and their teaching style. The purpose of the EBC stickers is to provide awareness of the church and get people talking, which it obviously has. The goal of Eagle brook is NOT "come to Eagle Brook" so we can grow our church -- Bob has said time and time again that he never wanted a huge church -- this is definitely God's plan; the goal is to get people to Eagle Brook so that they ultimately come to Christ. They are obviously doing something right since we continue to grow. Can you say that about the Catholic Churches around the Twin Cities? Our mission statement is "Empowered by God to reach others for Christ" and that is exactly what we are doing. If it seems "showy" to some, so be it. it is working! i am proud to be a part of such a loving church that is changing lives!

Anonymous said...

Booooooooo Jesus!

Anonymous said...

Yes, my church, Eagle Brook Church

Anonymous said...

It means Empowered by Christ.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely correct..More of a money making business than a church. The stickers are self promoting. No other church feels the need for such advertising. Strange indeed.

Anonymous said...

I attended there for about five years. They are not really a cult. Some good messages come out of there. It`s just that they have become too big for their own good. It went from being personal and warm, to programmed and mundane. And due to the huge growth they experienced, they have a need to campaign for money all the time, which is necessary, and yet sad because it really puts the pastors on the spot because they no longer minister as much as they are forced to beg for money. My whole family attended durin a few good years and enjoyed volunteering and working with others. But it changed, not for the better, so we were forced to move on, as I`m sure many others have done as well. I miss the good old days.

Christianna said...

The last two comments are interesting and a sad reflection on growth without a plan. Begging for funds is not a ministry. But that explains the ubiquitous car stickers. Thanks for your comments.