The Journal of American Rocket Science is conducting research on the recent devastation of a giant Jesus statue on Ohio, attempting to divine any theological implications of the event. The following two news items shed a little light on what has happened:
Heaven-bound: Giant Jesus Statue
From: RoadsideAmerica.com: Your Online Guide to Offbeat Tourist Attractions
NEWSFLASH!! During a storm on June 14, 2010, the giant “King of Kings” styrofoam and fiberglass Jesus statue was struck by lightning and burst into flames. The statue was reported to have been completely destroyed.
Before that meteorological portent, this was our visit story:
Jesus has risen near the interstate north of Cincinnati. A 62-ft. high sculpture of Christ appears to explode from the dirt behind the amphitheater at Monroe’s Solid Rock Church. From the waist down, he’s underground….
Enormous flea markets on both sides of highways at this exit make for large weekend traffic jams. Traders World is right next door. But Jesus faces west towards I-75 — highly visible — and you’d be crazy not to get off at the first off-ramp to worship and snap a photo.
The Big J. is a symbol of devotion for the congregation of 3,000 at Solid Rock, a nondenominational mega-church. Pastor Lawrence Bishop presides; his wife Darlene also founded the church and she evangelizes with her own tidy set of ministries. You can buy Darlene’s new book, “Your Life Follows Your Words,” or hear the Fire Choir “Worship on Fire” to get a sense of what you’re missing inside.
Outside, artist James Lynch was commissioned to render a fiberglass and styrofoam over metal frame depiction of Christ after the Resurrection looming over the Baptismal Pool. The figure was completed in September 2004.
Lynch has created other larger-than-life sculpture in places such as Las Vegas (Caesar’s big Neptune) and Disney World. Church leaders believe it is the World’s Largest Christ (or at least the W.L. half-buried Messiah) and have submitted it for consideration for a Guinness World Record.
The pose of the statue as generated plenty of discussion. The upraised arms familiar to “praise” service attendees conjures different images for locals, who refer to the big Savior as “Touchdown Jesus,” or “Drowning Jesus.”
Soon after the statue’s completion, tipster Lori Baker wrote us: “I found it interesting that a poll taken of locals concerning the statue of Jesus in Monroe had the following results: 25% feel that it is a ‘Godsend, good for Monroe,’ while 75% found that it was an ‘Eyesore, bad for Monroe.’”
October 2006: The statue continues to accumulate nicknames, and is the subject of a novelty song by comedian Heywood Banks, “Big Butter Jesus.” The song reminds all to “Spread the word.”
April 2005: The pond has been filled, and the landscaping completed, making the giant Jesus appear as if rising from the waters. This is a dramatic spot for Solid Rock baptisms, visible from the highway.
Ohio’s Jesus Statue Is Latest Religious Statue to Be Struck By Lightning
By Monica Hesse and Dan Zak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
It appears God has sacrificed his only son. Again.
A bolt struck a 62-foot-tall statue of Jesus Christ on Monday outside a church in Monroe, Ohio, and the statue erupted in flames. All that remains is a charred steel skeleton, its spindly arms stretched toward heaven, a gesture that once earned it the nickname “Touchdown Jesus.”
Darlene Bishop, co-pastor of Solid Rock Church, says she’s simply relieved that the lightning hit Jesus and not the home for at-risk women next door.
“I told them, ‘It looks like Jesus took a hit for you last night,’ ” she says.
Act of God? Act of nature?
In 2008, lightning singed the fingers and eyebrows of Christ the Redeemer, the 130-foot Jesus statue that stands over Rio de Janeiro. In 2007, a bolt blasted the 33-foot Jesus statue at Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden, Colo. One of Jesus’s arms fell off.
The saints and angels are not safe either. The Notre Dame de Chicago’s Virgin Mary burst into flames from her perch atop the church’s dome in 1978; the Engineering News Record covered the construction of a new, lightning-resistant statue with the headline: “Burned once, dome reMaryed.”
A bolt that struck St. Joan of Arc’s statue in New Orleans sliced her brandished staff in half. Statues of the Angel Moroni, which frequently top Mormon churches, have been hit by lightning with such frequency — Moroni’s horn is particularly susceptible — that the Salt Lake Tribune once fretted over their safety in a front-page story.
(Side note: Actor James Caviezel was struck by lightning in 2003 while filming Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” He was playing Jesus.)
Believer or not, we can always count on lightning to energize the what-does-it-mean lobes of our brain.
Ancient Romans equated statues being struck by lightning with bad omens, such as chickens beginning to talk and blood raining from the sky. Presumably, the latter two were less-frequent events.
To find some modern-day meaning in Touchdown Jesus, we turned to Pat Robertson, host of “The 700 Club,” who has divined meaning from Hurricane Katrina (abortionists?) and the Haitian earthquake (historic pact with the Devil?). Alas, he declined through a publicist to interpret the significance of the lightning.