What would Jesus drive?

Everyone knows that just a few decades ago, American people loved (and drove) big cars. The famous T-bird and various Lincoln models are just a few examples. With the oil crisis in 1973 and the subsequent increase in gas price, but also due to the agressive invasion of the American market by Japanese car manufacturers, those 7 liter - 8 cylinder models that tended to rust away within a few years, disappeared from the streets.

Gas prices today are still high, but much lower in the US than in say Europe. At the time of writing this, regular gasoline sells for roughly $1.40 per gallon (about 3.8 liters), so about 37 cents per liter or about a third of a mid European price per liter. The gas price is therefore not much of a concern, at least not compared to other regions of the world.

The cheap gas might explain to an extent the recent popularity of another type of big cars, so-called SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles). An SUV is a car that is perfectly suited to be driven off-road and is typically used in bumper-to-bumper traffic in cities and on highways. The "Hummer" is the largest excess I have seen so far (and I have actually seen that model several times within the last week). Recent sales statistics show that more than 20 percent of all newly registered cars in the US are SUVs.

"A standard Vortec 6000 V8 and new heavy-duty 4L65-E four-speed automatic overdrive transmission with best-in-class power and performance. The Vortec 6000 generates an estimated 325 hp and 385 lb.-ft. of torque." (www.suv.com)

Hummer H2

(without words)

A search using the popular Internet search engine yahoo.com returned 1,220,000 hits on December 29, 2002, amongst them www.suv.com.

But now back to the initial question, "what would Jesus drive?" The discussion was initiated by the Evangelical Environmental Network and Creation Care Magazine claiming that transportation is a moral issue. The whole campaign is meant to be very serious and has a righteous claim, the use of SUVs that don't do much good to the environment due to their enormous fuel consumption. The web site is http://whatwouldjesusdrive.org/.

No matter how serious the topic is, a TV talk show can always render it ridiculous. And sure enough, one of the prime candidates is "Talk Back Live", the CNN talk show (yes, the one where I sat in the audience a year ago in Atlanta).

On Dec 25, while I was running on a treadmill in our fitness center, I could enjoy the entire discussion. The transcript was available for download from cnn.com, and if you are interested in the full discussion, read the local download from CNN.

Says Jacob Sullum, a senior editor at Reason magazine, who has already been on the crusade with articles like "For Your Own Good: The Anti-Smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health":

I do want to weigh in on this issue of "What would Jesus drive?" I think, since Jesus was a carpenter, he probably would be driving a pickup truck to haul around his lumber and his tools. And that actually falls into the same category, in terms of emissions and mileage, as the SUVs do, which raises the question that your other guests raised, which is, "What do you mean when you say that you should drive the most fuel-efficient car that truly meets your needs?" which is what one of the leaders of this campaign is urging us to do.
So this guy says in front of a couple of hundred people that Jesus was a carpenter and would therefore be driving a pick-up. He says it and keeps a straight face, and the hundreds of people in the audience including the talk show host do not show any indication of bursting out into laughter and continue to discuss.
I guess I just don't get it.

Finally here is the bumper sticker.
Another less serious but somewhat amusing contribution to the topic can be found at
the WWJD Web Site that I downloaded from http://www.highrock.com/personal/WWJD/.

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