Living in the buckle of the Bible Belt, we have a number of churches in the area, and, concequently a number of very, very bad church signs. A particular apostolic church down the street is notorious for their attempts to be clever or coy. They usually fail, inviting more laughter than visitors. Their latest is an excellent example:
EVEN A FISH STAYS
OUT OF TROUBLE
IF IT KEEPS ITS
There are a number of problems immediately visible in this message, from the basic biology of craniata to the suppression of critical thought. Let’s review!
- A fish requires the movements of its mouth to breathe. “Fish exchange gases by pulling oxygen-rich water through their mouths and pumping it over their gills.” Perhaps the sender of the message would have us believe it is better to die of asphyxiation than to risk getting into trouble.
- A fish requires an open mouth to eat. That’s kind of what the mouth is for in nearly all creatures that have one. Once again, the message sender values preservation from “trouble” above life.
- “Trouble” is not defined. If it were not for the above two necessary functions of an open mouth, I would have assumed it was something to avoid. However, because I value life, I assume trouble is something we should get into, according to this message.
Granted, I’m being snarky and sarcastic in my response here. I’m sure what the sender is (poorly) attempting to say is that talking gets one into trouble, and that trouble is something bad. It is exceptionally vague, however, what kind of talk that is supposed to be. It could mean back talking, arguing, speaking one’s mind, or raising questions.
- Fish don’t talk. Therefore, they cannot talk back, speak their minds, or raise a question. When a fish opens its mouth, it’s not looking for trouble or conversing. (Although, the argument could be made that “kissing” fish are arguing—they are fighting, often for territorial rights. In this case, however, it’s the fish that backs off that experiences more stress and is more likely to suffer and even have a shortened life compared to the bully.)
- In the analogy, the evil arises from the fisherman taking advantage of the natural need (for food) of the fish. This makes the fisherman more manipulative and vile than the fish gullible. Did not Jesus command his apostles to be “fishers of men”? Hrm…
What other issues do you see in the inferences of this sign?