Repent Sinner!

For about the last year or so, I’ve seen a recurring message around Vancouver wherever I look. It’s been on bus shelters, on pieces of paper strewn throughout the city, even on duct tape stuck to walls and billboards. The form of the message is always the same, written in the same familiar cursive handwriting, one half of the message in red Jiffy marker, the other half in black Jiffy marker.

The message is simple:

Repent Sinner

Is it some kind of art project? In some ways the message reminds me of the Obey Giant guerilla art phenomenon started by Shepard Fairey. But there seems to be some deeper meaning to this message than just an experiment in pop art or counter-counter media. The word on the street is that the message is distributed by a (supposedly crazy) elderly homeless man, though part of me wonders if that’s a cover story. It might just be some religious nut on a mission. After all, there’s enough of them around Vancouver.

Take the Friday-night Granville Street preachers, for example. Every time we visited Vancouver for a summer vacation, we’d inevitably go out to see a movie on Granville Street. It’d be a Friday night, and just like the wallpaper in the Capitol 6 Cinema bathroom (silver with sillouettes of classic film stars), the entertainment on the opposite side of the street never changed. Fours geezers, three guitars, two bibles, and The Truth. Handing out pamphlets and singing hymns, these guys were earning their way into Heaven the hard way (unlike some other people in the Catholic church we could name).

Could the “repent sinner” messages be another face of the same group? Some kind of subliminal depth charge hidden in a sea of media noise waiting for its next victim? That has to be it…it’s a meme, a contagious idea that only exists in the minds of those exposed to it, waiting to be spread.

Congratulations. You’ve just been infected.