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31 March 2011

Of Zippers and Christians

If it were invented in today's culture of highly-paid marketing firms and creatives (one of my least-favorite repurposed English words, now often meaning "people who do creative stuff"), of metrics analysis and segmentation strategies and other buzzwords, what would they call the zipper? I highly doubt that it would be called "zipper."
(Fade to imaginary modern-day scenario...) Whitcomb Judson has had a successful day in the new product lab and excitedly runs over to the next room to tell his buddy, business executive Lewis Walker, about it: "Hey, Lew. Check this thing out! I just made it. See...? It's got a bunch of little metal teeth, and you pull this little metal piece up between the two halves (pausing to demonstrate), and it holds two pieces of material together. It's a clasp, but gosh, a really neat one!"
Walker gives a blank stare and cautiously says, "Well, that's pretty cool, but I hate to say that Elias Howe made that, like, 160 years ago." Judson fires back, "Yeah, but he obviously didn't have our marketing moxy."
Walker agrees and the two begin brainstorming, coming up with all the clasp-related, tooth-related, metal-related words they can think of, but make little progress. Over the next hour or two as they talk and think, Judson keeps fiddling with his little clasp invention (he's got A.D.H.D.). Lewis Walker, as he's mumbling something about "separable fasteners," finally gets annoyed and bursts out, "Dude, would you STOP that?! You're just sitting there, 'Zip! Zip! Zip! with that stupid... ZIPPER thing!"
Both men's eyes get as bug as saucers. In that moment history is made. A revolution in clothes-ology: the zipper.
I guess they named it "zipper" because it goes, "Zip." Assuming this is correct, the name is based on one of the most obvious characteristics of the product while it's in use.
"Yes, and what does this have to do with Jesus?" you may ask.
If we didn't have all the history of Christianity; if everyone in the world knew who Jesus was, what He did, and what He stood for, but there hadn't been masses of people who followed Him (both genuinely and ostensibly) over the past 2,000 years, and they got to watch you for a month, or maybe a week, or even a single day, what would be the best way they could describe you?
Would they say, "Will you please STOP helping people and loving everybody, talking about God, and being patient?! And for Pete's sake, stop hanging around with sinners, and PLEASE stop trying to stomp out hypocrisy in the Church! You're acting just like Jesus Christ, you... CHRISTIAN!
I'm just asking if "Christian" would be the best word to describe you. Would it be the best word to describe me?
(By the way, the history of the zipper is utterly fascinating! Okay, maybe not utterly so, but you can read it by clicking this link.)


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