Peace Signs and Other Cornie-copia

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Peace Signs and Other Cornie-copia

Copyright © July 1, 2011 Douglas W. Jerving.
All Rights Reserved.

I may be too old to rock n' roll, even though I still love the stuff. But as a former avid follower of rock music, I grew up in a time just prior to the popularization of the hand gesture using the first and fifth finger thrust upwards like a set of horns. It wasn't a part of our nonverbal vocabulary back in the seventies, even though that's where it started. So I find it hard to understand that gesture's popularization. I do still occasionally use the peace sign, and of course still believe in peace!

The peace sign is obviously associated with several ideas good and bad, positive and negative. Some say the gesture is equivalent to the graphic symbol of a circle with an inverted broken cross. It just meant peace for us, not any sort of anti-Christian message. The gesture also meant victory over the dark forces of fascism during the WWII era, especially in Europe.

I think the use of the first and fifth finger gesture, (the Corna), by many people in our times has a similarly insignificant relationship to its former meanings. Nevertheless it still inspires a negative reaction in me, especially when I see professing Christians using it. It's just something people "do" and means little more than "Rock On", party on, or enjoy life. Still, like the peace sign, it harbors darker meanings for many of us oldsters when we encounter it. I don't condemn it as Satanic so much as see it as a formerly dark symbol, like the peace sign, transposed into a more positive image as our cultural symbology has evolved through the last three decades.

Still, I have a somewhat schizophrenic or ambivalent attitude regarding it. I have a problem with a disciple of Jesus Christ using it, and I could never and have never used it. Still, I know lots of young people even in Christian circles use it and feel no prick of conscience regarding it, any more than I feel bad about using the peace sign. In a certain sense these symbols have been absorbed and then transfigured by Christian use into a positive force. In another sense, it is hard for me to justify their uses because I know their histories.

I think as Christians we tend to wink at the ignorance of these cultural assimilations. We forgive and forget the past so that we may transform the world that we absorb. We break down and destroy the cultural and social failures of paganism and renew the soil of this earth even while appropriating the things that once were darkness. If you don't agree with me, then please stop celebrating Christmas and Easter! And by all means, drop Halloween from your calender! I do not personally celebrate any of these holidays, but I realize that for many Christians, celebration of them implies triumph over and mockery of their pagan origins. It implies that the cross of Christ has prevailed over the superstitions of Gentile demon worship.

The Corna gesture is historically defined in an article at
where we read the following (all in italics):

The “Corna”
Consisting of a clenched fist with the second and fifth fingers straightened out, the corna (‘horns’) hand gesture has most recently been adopted by fans of rock and heavy metal music, first used by Black Sabbath vocalist Ronnie James Dio. The gesture carries only a vague meaning, implying the presence of Satan, malevolence and loud guitar music, and is used in much the same way as headbanging. The gesture was actually popularised as a Satanic salute during the 1960s, appearing in many editions of the Satanic Bible. Nowadays many Americans use the gesture simply to mean “rock on”, or in support of the University of Texas in Austin (known as the “Hook ‘em Horns”).

Occasionally used by baseball players to indicate “two outs”, the corna is actually a positive hand gesture in Buddhism and Hinduism, known as the Karana Mudra in such circles, and is used to dispel evil – an interestingly opposite meaning to its contemporary significance. Historically, however, the symbol basically means “cuckold” (or rather, “your wife is cheating on you”), and its origins are Mediterranean, possibly dating back to Ancient Greece. The corna is still popular in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Colombia, Brazil, Albania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and seems to be used most often to disagree with football referees - perhaps their wives are taking advantage of their husband’s occupation to score with hunky football players - though only when the referee make an incorrect decision, of course…

The article quotations above say enough about the history of the Corna gesture that has become commonplace even in Christian circles. It makes me cringe, and I think any follower of Jesus would do the same in light of these facts. I find it hard to apply the same sort of consideration to this symbol as I do to the peace sign because I see it as a challenge to Biblical ethics.

Peace is an ethic far closer to the Biblical ideal in that it requires us to pass over the ignorance of those outside of Christ, believing in the real possibility of their redemption. Corna implies a "do what thou wilt" attitude to life that is wholly in line with the ancient Epicurean philosophy of serving one's own pleasures first so long as it hurts no one else. There is in it no concept of redemption; only the concept of self-fulfillment.

So now I think I understand why I have this conflict with the Corna gesture when I see Christians using it. The concept of peace is universal, and Christians fully understand that true lasting peace comes from a relationship with Christ Who has forgiven our sins and made us acceptable to God by His (Jesus’) death and resurrection. Corna on the other hand, implies no change of life in conformity to the will of God, and yet allows a life that is lived to the fullest extent in the pursuit of one's own happiness.

Corna signifies the fulfillment of the self-life. It is the Satanic "Do what thou wilt so long as it makes you happy". The corna gesture in the Christian church is a symbol of man as a life unto himself. It separates men from corporate life in Christ as their Savior and makes salvation a personal attainment of what ever makes one happy even if that is outside of Christ Who is our Life.

Corna is not the same as the peace sign. Its symbolism goes far beyond an ideal found in both Christian and pagan culture. It is in fact the symbol of all self-serving and demonic religion. It is no less than the anti-Christ religion of Greek Epicureanism. So Rock On, Party On, Enjoy this life, because after this, you die. And death without Christ is eternal.


Doug Jerving is the publisher of the You may contact him at


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