You know those fish shapes that people put on their cars? They started out simple. Just an outline of a fish. Sometimes there’s the fish with the cross somewhere inside the shape. Then the atheists got involved and came up with contrarian designs. I think the first was the word “Darwin” in the shape of a fish. And then “Truth”.
Then the believers fought back. There was the big fish eating the little Darwin. And the word “Truth” in the shape of a fish eating the Darwin fish.
But the atheists have been prolific in the religious fish wars. Now there is Darwin fish eating the fish with the cross. And on and on.
Before the fish wars, when a fish was still an unambiguous Christian symbol, I bought a used Mazda that had a fish on the back end. Lynn, my girlfriend from 1992 to 1995, and I bought the Mazda for our move to Boston for graduate school. We both were a little uncomfortable with the fish because neither of us was religious. I was an atheist. I never really knew Lynn’s beliefs, but assumed that she was not religious. Wouldn’t she have told me of her Christian views sometime during our four years together?
Lynn and I talked about removing the fish from the back of the car on a couple of occasions, but we decided to leave it there. I think we both thought that it couldn’t hurt to leave it right where it was, not because of any fear of being struck by a thunderbolt if we removed it, but because people might treat us better when they saw the fish.
And on several occasions, total strangers mentioned the fish–at gasoline stops, etc.–giving us an approving expression or comment. “It’s nice that you’re Christian,” they might say. We never contradicted them because that was the whole point of keeping the fish, to get the nice comments and create rapport with strangers!
Lynn eventually dumped me. It’s complicated, and I won’t go into it here, except to say that she wanted children and I couldn’t give her children. There’s probably a religious connection there which I’ll explore later.
Before she left, I sold her the Mazda with the fish. I didn’t need a car in Boston.
Years later I had occasion to communicate with Lynn. She had become a born-again Christian. How could that have happened? What crisis had struck her? Was she always a Christian and I just didn’t know it? Had my atheism had anything to do with her conversion? I’d love to ask her these questions and more, but she won’t talk to me. Our brief communication was in the form of a thank you card which she sent me. In it she said that I was in her daily prayers. Even though I don’t understand the efficacy of prayer, the fact that she prayed for me made me feel good.
I had allowed a Christian fish symbol to remain on my automobile. A militant atheist would have removed it, but I was no longer militant. I allowed the fish to attract Christians into my life. Maybe the fish had had something to do with Lynn’s conversion. I’ll never know.