Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jesus has been Smote?

Check out this news clip:

MONROE, Ohio - A six-story-tall statue of Jesus Christ with his arms raised along a highway was struck by lightning in a thunderstorm Monday night and burned to the ground, police said.

The "King of Kings" statue, one of southwest Ohio's most familiar landmarks, had stood since 2004 at the evangelical Solid Rock Church along Interstate 75 in Monroe, just north of Cincinnati.

The sculpture, 62 feet (nearly 19 metres) tall and 40 feet (12 metres) wide at the base, showed Jesus from the torso up and was nicknamed Touchdown Jesus because of the way the arms were raised, similar to a referee signalling a touchdown in a game of football.

It was made of plastic foam and fiberglass over a steel frame, which is all that remained early Tuesday.

The fire spread from the statue to an adjacent amphitheatre but was confined to the attic area, and no one was injured, police Chief Mark Neu said.

Travellers on Interstate 75 often were startled to come upon the huge statue by the roadside, but many said America needs more symbols like it. So many people stopped at the church campus that church officials had to build a walkway to accommodate them.

The 4,000-member, nondenominational church was founded by former horse trader Lawrence Bishop and his wife. Bishop said in 2004 he was trying to help people, not impress them, with the statue. He said his wife proposed the Jesus figure as a beacon of hope and salvation and they spent about $250,000 to finance it.

(end of article)

Wow. Jesus has been smote. And not just broken, but struck by lightning. Wasn't that God's way of punishing people or symbolic of some sort of bad omen of things to come? It's ironic that not only did this statue break, but that it was broken in this way. Perhaps a football-loving Jesus wasn't exactly the image that God wanted for his only son?

Leaving aside all of the possible plague implications and the fact that it's unclear what Jesus could have done to deserve to be smote in such a fashion, the note about the statue's origins are also interesting. What kind of nondenominational church workships Jesus? And is Bishop really this guy's name? It doesn't sound religion neutral to have a guy named Bishop from a church create and finance a large lifelike statue of Jesus.

It is admirable in some ways that this couple took it upon themselves to create a symbol to inspire and give hope to people. And it's a shame that their symbol's broken now. At the very least, the presence of their statue probably did get a lot of people talking and thinking about Jesus, maybe more as a figure of what we should try to be like rather than a religious sign. It's got to be better than all the cigarette billboards that you see on the interstate in the U.S. We should all think more and smoke less.

This statue will probably be repaired and reinstated in its place of honour, since it was touched a lot of people and the U.S. likes their Jesus. Hopefully, it will all be done in time for the next Superbowl Sunday.

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