A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from February 20, 2010
“What Would Jesus Do?” (WWJD); “What Would Reagan Do?” (WWRD)

"What would Jesus do?” (often abbreviated “WWJD") has been in use since at least the 1820s. By 1880, “What Would Jesus Do” had become an illuminated wall motto. Book titles include: What would Jesus do, or, The text upon the wall (1889), Marjory; or, what would Jesus do? (1893), and In His steps: “What would Jesus do?” (1897). The phrase was revived in the 1990s, especially on “WWJD” bracelets.

“What Would Reagan Do?” (or “WWRD?"), referring to the conservative principles of U.S. President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), has been used since at least 1999.

Humorous culinary variations of “WWJD”—such as “Who Wants Jacks Daniel’s?” and “Who Wants Jelly Donuts?” and “What Would Julia (Child) Do?”—have been cited in print since at least 1997. “What Would Jesus Brew?” (WWJB) has been cited in print since at least 2004.

Wikipedia: What would Jesus do?”
The phrase “What would Jesus do?” (often abbreviated to WWJD) became popular in the United States in the 1890s and again in 1990s as a personal motto for thousands of Christians who used the phrase as a reminder of their belief that Jesus is the example to be followed in daily life, and to act in a manner of which Jesus would approve. The initialism WWJD has the alternative meaning “Walk with Jesus daily”.

Though variations of this phrase have been used by Christians for centuries as a form of imitatio dei, the imitation of God, it gained much greater currency following Charles Sheldon’s 1896 book, In His Steps, which was subtitled “What Would Jesus Do?”. Sheldon’s novel grew out of a series of sermons he delivered in his Congregationalist church in Topeka, Kansas. Unlike the previous nuances mentioned above, Sheldon’s theology was shaped by a commitment to Christian Socialism. The ethos of Sheldon’s approach to the Christian life was expressed in this phrase “What Would Jesus Do”, with Jesus being a moral example rather than a Saviour figure. Sheldon’s ideas coalesced with those that formed into the Social Gospel espoused by Walter Rauschenbusch. Indeed Rauschenbusch acknowledged that his Social Gospel owed its inspiration directly to Sheldon’s novel, and Sheldon himself identified his own theology with the Social Gospel.

In this popular novel (it had been translated into 21 languages by 1935), Rev. Henry Maxwell encounters a homeless man who challenges him to take seriously the imitation of Christ. The homeless man has difficulty understanding why, in his view, so many Christians ignore the poor:

“I heard some people singing at a church prayer meeting the other night,
‘All for Jesus, all for Jesus,
All my being’s ransomed powers,
All my thoughts, and all my doings,
All my days, and all my hours.’
“and I kept wondering as I sat on the steps outside just what they meant by it. It seems to me there’s an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn’t exist if all the people who sing such songs went and lived them out. I suppose I don’t understand. But what would Jesus do? Is that what you mean by following His steps? It seems to me sometimes as if the people in the big churches had good clothes and nice houses to live in, and money to spend for luxuries, and could go away on summer vacations and all that, while the people outside the churches, thousands of them, I mean, die in tenements, and walk the streets for jobs, and never have a piano or a picture in the house, and grow up in misery and drunkenness and sin.”

This leads to many of the novel’s characters asking, “What would Jesus do?” when faced with decisions of some importance. This has the effect of making the characters embrace more seriously Christianity and to focus on what they see as its core—the life of Christ.

In the novel men and women respond in different ways: in contrast to the men who vow never to act without asking what Jesus would do, the women’s task is self sacrificial, for example a singer gives up her voice, both in the sense of yielding her singing to the cause and in the sense of silencing the individual expression of her personality.

In 2005, Garry Wills wrote “What Jesus Meant,” in which he examined “What Would Jesus Really Do” (also a book review in Esquire Magazine). The expression has become a snowclone, often for humorous effect. For example, What Would Jesus Buy?, What Would Jesus Listen To? , What Would Brian Boitano Do?, “What Would Shinoda Do?” Written By The Members of the Silver League (Referring to Mike Shinoda) or “What Would Johnny Cash Do?”

A grassroots phenomenon organized by Dan Seaborn in Holland, Michigan spread nationwide in the 1990’s among Christian youth groups studying it or wearing bracelets bearing the initials.

Wikipedia: What would Reagan do?
What would Reagan do? (sometimes abbreviated WWRD) is a phrase that has become popular primarily among conservatives and Republicans in the United States. Its usage reflects a belief in former United States President Ronald Reagan as a model conservative leader whose philosophy and policies provide guidance and a good example for modern politicians.

The phrase derives by analogy from the earlier phrase What would Jesus do? and its related initialism WWJD, coined in the 1890s and repopularized during the 1990s.

While the phrase “What would Reagan do?” has existed since at least the early 2000s, it attained greater prominence during the 2008 Republican party presidential primary, and in particular at a debate held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

The phrase has also been promoted by the Heritage Foundation, in partnership with radio talk show hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, aimed at promoting policy in line with Ronald Reagan’s, as well as preserving Reagan’s legacy. The organization maintains a website named for the phrase, featuring video and audio archives, transcripts of Reagan’s speeches and other resources.

In recent years it has been used as a title or lead question in columns by numerous conservative writers, including Rebecca Hagelin, Edwin Meese, Kate O’Beirne and James Pethokoukis.

The phrase on occasion has been used by iconoclastic conservatives to claim the mantle of Reagan as they criticize mainline conservatives, by some liberal commentators as a way of chastising Republicans whom also they believe fall short of Reagan’s ideals and also by non-partisan public policy organizations that seek to emulate aspects of Reagan’s leadership.

The Heritage Foundation’s 35th Anniversary (2008)
Heritage has made great strides for the conservative movement during our 35-year history. We will build on that progress in the years to come. In an effort to do so, this year marked the beginning of our Leadership for America campaign. As part of that effort, Heritage partnered with Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham to launch an educational campaign about conservative principles called “What Would Reagan Do?”

Google Books
The North American Review
v. 208 - 1821
Pg. 477:
True followers of the Nazarene are less concerned in “What Jesus Did “ than they are in “What Would Jesus Do?”

6 October 1858, Farmer’s Cabinet (Amherst, NH), pg. 1:
How shall I Honor Jesus to-day.
Or, if at a loss what to do at any time, we should ask, “What would Jesus do? How would Jesus act in this case? What would Jesus do under these circumstances? What would Jesus say? What temper would Jesus display?

Google Books
The Christian’s Penny Magazine
London: John Snow
Pg. 112:
When you are tempted to speak cross words, or to do unkind things, ask yourself the question, What would Jesus do, or say, if He were in my situation?

Google Books
Home Words for Heart and Hearth
By Rev. Charles Bullock
London: “hand and Heart” Publishing Office
Pg. 177:
Wayside Chimes.
(The other day I saw the above words, “What Would Jesus Do?” hanging as an illuminated motto on the walls of an orphanage. I thought them most helpful, and promised the orphans that I would try and turn their favourite watchword into verse for them. Dr. Dyke’s tune “St. Bee” suits the hymn.)

Google Books
The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit:
Sermons prached and revised

By C. H. Spurgeon
London: Passmore & Alabaster
Pg. 149:
A very beautiful motto is hung up in our infant class-room at the Stockwell Orphanage, “What would Jesus do?”

OCLC WorldCat record
What would Jesus do, or, The text upon the wall
Author: I R Vernon
Publisher: New York, J.E. Jewett, 1889.
Edition/Format: Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Marjory; or, what would Jesus do? : By Laura A. Barter
Author: Laura Anna (Barter) Snow
Publisher: London : S.W. Partridge & Co., 9 Paternoster Row, [1893]
Edition/Format: Book : Microfilm : Master microform : English

OCLC WorldCat record
In His steps : “What would Jesus do?” / Charles M. Sheldon
Author: Charles Monroe 1857-1946 Sheldon
Publisher: 1897 Chicago : Advance Pub. Co.
Edition/Format: Internet resource : English
Database: OAIster

Sonoma County (CA) Independent
From the June 11-17, 1998 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.
Plastic Jesus
A cryptic code is showing up on bracelets, T-shirts, and coffee mugs around the world. Now radical theologians, authors, and thinkers ponder the powerful—and trendy—question “What would Jesus do?”

By David Templeton
“WWJD certainly was intended as a way to introduce Jesus to others,” affirms Kenn Freestone of Lesco Co., the Michigan-based manufacturer—specializing in promotional items such as golf balls and T-shirts with company logos--that first began distributing WWJD bracelets in 1989.
Alternate meanings for the enigmatic initials are often given by those wearing the doodads: We Want James Dean. We Want Jelly Donuts. Why Waste Jack Daniels?

Google Groups: rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc
Newsgroups: rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc
From: The Midnight Rambler
Date: 1999/01/22

Forget all this nonsense, the only question is, what would Reagan do?

Google Groups: rec.fan.karl-malden.nose
Newsgroups: rec.arts.prose, alt.flame, alt.fan.karl-malden.nose
From: (Average Bob)
Date: 1999/02/02
Subject: Re: Ugly Reappearance of Parasite Jeroen van Kessel

What Would Reagan Do?

Google Groups: alt.impeach.clinton
Newsgroups: alt.current-events.clinton.whitewater, alt.impeach.clinton, alt.politics.bush, alt.politics.clinton, alt.politics.democrats.d, alt.politics.liberalism, alt.politics.usa.republican, alt.society.liberalism
From: “Dana”
Date: 2000/05/07
Subject: What we’ve learned from Bill Clinton:

What should we do for Elian?
What Would Reagan Do?
-Joel Fuhrmann

Google Groups: alt.fan.rush-limbaugh
Newsgroups: alt.fan.rush-limbaugh
Date: Sat, 07 Apr 2001 09:47:27 -0700
Local: Sat, Apr 7 2001 10:47 am
Subject: What Would Reagan Do?

Google Groups: alt.politics.democrats.d
Newsgroups: alt.politics.democrats.d, alt.politics.usa.republican, alt.rush-limbaugh, alt.fan.rush-limbaugh, alt.fan.ronald-reagan
From: Stupendous Man
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2001 22:01:45 -0400
Local: Mon, Sep 24 2001 8:01 pm
Subject: Re: What would Reagan do?

Google Groups: seattle.politics
Newsgroups: seattle.politics
From: Edmund E. Freeman
Date: Sat, 07 Sep 2002 03:13:06 GMT
Local: Fri, Sep 6 2002 9:13 pm
Subject: Re: What Would Reagan Do?

What would Reagan do?
Not attack a country that might have a chance of fighting back.  Like he did with Libya, he would toss in a few cruise missiles and then change the subject.

Google Groups: alt.politics.republican
Newsgroups: alt.politics.republican
From: (Tom Snyder)
Date: 16 Jun 2004 19:02:58 -0700
Local: Wed, Jun 16 2004 8:02 pm
Subject: WWRD—What Would Reagan Do?

Was Reagan the 1st neoconservative?
By Pat Buchanan

History Channel
Ann Coulter: What would Reagan do?
Sep 22, 2005 11:48 AM
by Ann Coulter
September 21, 2005
Perhaps President Bush has inadvertently nominated a true conservative to the court with this Roberts fellow.

Kate O’Beirne - National Review Online
June 2, 2006 4:00 P.M.
What Would Reagan Do?
Not what some Republicans in Congress are poised to do with air-traffic controllers.

When President Ronald Reagan fired those striking air-traffic controllers in 1981, he refused to let union members impose unreasonable demands on the federal government. In that case, 13,000 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) had illegally walked off the job. Next week, however, in stark contrast to Reagan, Congress is poised to surrender to PATCO’s successor union, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), by refusing to let a final employment-terms offer from the Federal Aviation Administration take effect.

Goods and Services IC 014. US 002 027 028 050. G & S: jewelry, namely bracelets made of non-precious metal. FIRST USE: 19970820. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19970820
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 75389389
Filing Date November 13, 1997
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1B
Published for Opposition July 8, 2003
Registration Number 2768501
Registration Date September 30, 2003
Owner (REGISTRANT) What Would Jesus Do? L.L.C. LIMITED LIABILITY CORPORATION INDIANA 1058 Country Lane Greenfield INDIANA 46140
Attorney of Record JAMES A COLES
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

Goods and Services (ABANDONED) IC 025. US 022 039. G & S: Mens T-shirts, Womens T-shirts, Hats, Towels, Polo shirts, Bracelets and necklaces, Sweat shirts. FIRST USE: 20040610. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20040901
Standard Characters Claimed
Serial Number 78449580
Filing Date July 13, 2004
Current Filing Basis 1A;1B
Original Filing Basis 1A;1B
Owner (APPLICANT) Ballesteros, Joseph A. Ballesteros, Joseph A. U.S. Citizen LIMITED PARTNERSHIP CALIFORNIA 809 E. Yanonali St. Santa Barbara CALIFORNIA 93103
(APPLICANT) Stanton, Brien J. Stanton, Brien J. U.S. Citizen LIMITED PARTNERSHIP CALIFORNIA 1918 Red Rose Way Santa Barbara CALIFORNIA 93109
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Abandonment Date August 29, 2005

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Military/Religion /Health • Saturday, February 20, 2010 • Permalink