Misappropriating Quotes

"When somebody misappropriates a famous quote, it can either be amusing or sad.  To misappropriate a quote is to apply the saying of somebody in a manner which the original speaker did not intend.

An example of an amusing misappropriation has often been found in church nurseries:

We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.

The original source for the quote is the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthian church.  It is a statement about the reality of the final resurrection.  The church nursery implications about babies is pretty cute.

Recently, First Baptist Church of Dallas announced a $130 million building project in downtown Dallas.  Watching the video presentation is impressive.  However, I am a little uneasy with appropriating to the project this Bible verse:

Let us go up to the house of the Lord.

I’m not sure that the Psalmist intended this to apply to escalators that lead to a worship center built above the ground floor of a church complex.  The problem with this is that for “a people of the book” it justifies an expensive action wrongly based on the text.

I saw another example of this type of thing when driving around Nashville this week.  On a sidewalk bench, an advertisement donned the back of the bench.  On the ad was the words from the end of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech.

Free at last.

My interest wondered what product or service was being promoted using this amazing statement.  How about a bail bondsman???

I’m not sure that MLK had this in mind.  Get arrested.  Call the bail bondsman.  Get free.

We need to be careful when we use a quote to apply to something other than what the person quoted intended.  Obvious humor or making a pun is fine.  Think twice before misappropriating a quote for a serious matter.