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Plastic Jesus: religious signs, symbols and refuges on the road
Old 10-14-2011   #1
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Plastic Jesus: religious signs, symbols and refuges on the road

Chris Crawford's wonderful recent post "Jesus Christ Truck Stop" convinced me that we should have a thread dedicated to the peculiarly American version of the religious roadside attraction.

Visit Chris's thread:

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...d.php?t=111695

The image from which I hope he'll add here.

My contribution to get us started on this road trip....

http://hemi-sphericalaberration.blog...jesus-bus.html

This has been posted here before, a few years back, but what the heck.



And, if that hasn't put you in the mood, maybe Paul Newman singing "Plastic Jesus" in Cool Hand Luke will do the trick...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHf7TD4qwjk
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Old 10-14-2011   #2
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Old 10-14-2011   #3
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Subway Protestant preacher-hellfire & damnation by wrs111445, on Flickr


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Hallelujah church next door to a "no-tell" motel.



Myeong-dong-strange juxtaposition convenience store below a religious statue dealer by wrs111445, on Flickr
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Old 10-14-2011   #4
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Old 10-14-2011   #5
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Love the bus, I'm jealous, I've seen photos of busses like that, but never seen one in person!
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Old 10-14-2011   #6
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I'm truly fascinated by this phenomenon ... keep them coming!
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Old 10-14-2011   #7
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Old 10-14-2011   #8
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Old 10-14-2011   #9
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Hi hope this person did not die of where exactly the property line is....


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Old 10-15-2011   #10
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Old 10-15-2011   #11
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Old 10-15-2011   #12
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Old 10-15-2011   #13
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Old 10-15-2011   #14
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Old 10-15-2011   #15
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Old 10-15-2011   #16
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the phenomenon is hardly confined to the u.s. as already has been shown; it stretches across the americas and around the world ...
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Old 10-15-2011   #17
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Old 10-15-2011   #18
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Somewhere west of Roswell, New Mexico, 2009: (I had a Leica M6 along, but this picture was taken with a Canon P&S.)

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Old 10-15-2011   #19
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Old 10-15-2011   #20
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Old 10-15-2011   #21
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Paul, very, very true.

What I was aiming for here is the often odd junction that we form here in the US (and certainly in other places, too) with visual imagery combining religious symbolism with decidedly non-religious things. It creates some ironic, funny, weird juxtapositions. Consider the notion from the song "Plastic Jesus" that having a little statuette on one's dashboard would keep you safe when driving too fast.

One must admit that we have a special ability sometimes to add tackiness to our roadside religious displays (actually, too almost any kind of roadside display). somehow a "Jesus Christ" gas pump just doesn't match up with a finely wrought statue or simple cross. I think there's something peculiarly, though not uniquely American, about how we -- some of, not all of us -- don't think twice about odd mixes of commerce and religion. A Jesus gas pump strikes me as just plain weird. It neither treats the figure of Christ (the historical or theological Christ) with proper reverence (remember that I am the nonbeliever here), nor does it pump any extra octane into that Ethyl. (Or does it???)

And, we Americans do seem to have a very special relationship with the road. I think it must have an awful lot do with being such a young country that grew up, coming into its maturity, by building superhighways and endless strip malls. Somehow, that all got stirred up with intense religious fervor that Americans embrace in the public sphere.

In some parts of the world and in some religions, putting the name or image of a prophet or messianic figure on something related to profit would get one into a heap of trouble and be considered blasphemous. Here, we seem to be okay with it.

Anyway, I'm no sociologist, historian, theologian, etc. Just an arm's length observe with poor eyesight.

I thought the "Jesus Bus" to be a wonderful depiction of the intensity of one man's fervor for his beliefs. The bus is a rolling version of the bottle of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. If you're not familiar with these, check out a link. The bottles are quite remarkable. Bronner's family, German Jews, have been in the soap business for 150 years. Emanuel (Emil) Heilbronner used his soap bottles as metaphorical soapboxes from which he preached his philosophy. If you haven't seen a label, it's a must read. Very ecumenical. The soaps are actually not bad. Here's a link to a label:

http://www.drbronner.com/pdf/drbronner_32oz_Pep.pdf

I see the rolling 18-wheel chapel as a really practical solution to a challenge for the worshipful itinerant who drive for a living (though my own read on this is that the truly, intensely faithful can live their faith anywhere, not needing a special space to do it). I mean no value judgments in any of this.

We are obviously not the only place in the world or culture that takes our religion to the streets. I think humans the world over have more things in common than we realize; we simply act them out in different ways.

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the phenomenon is hardly confined to the u.s. as already has been shown; it stretches across the americas and around the world ...
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Old 10-15-2011   #22
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Here in Canada, there are roadside memorials set up at locations of fatal car accidents, by family members and friends. A project for next summer may be to record those that I see.

In the rolling stones album "Some Girls" there is a song about a girl with far away eyes:

I was driving home early Sunday morning through Bakersfield
Listening to gospel music on the ****** radio station
And the preacher said, "You know you always have the
Lord by your side"

And I was so pleased to be informed of this that I ran
Twenty red lights in his honor
Thank you Jesus, thank you lord
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Old 10-15-2011   #23
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two of my favorite pop-culture jesus songs! plastic jesus and far away eyes.
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Old 10-15-2011   #24
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There is an amazing example of one man's religious devotion just up the road from me, in West Bend, Iowa, The Grotto of the Redemption. I really need to make a visit there with my camera soon.

For travelers in this area, another attraction with religious underpinnings is a little further north, the Algona Nativity Scene, which was made by German POWs during Worl War II, in a story that is worthy of a cinematic retelling, in my opinion.
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Old 10-15-2011   #25
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pardon the border


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Old 10-15-2011   #26
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Old 10-15-2011   #27
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Old 10-15-2011   #28
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Old 10-15-2011   #29
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Old 10-15-2011   #30
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I suppose it's a shrine, but it looks like a holy mailbox to me. (Is that "letter box" in the U.K.?)
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Old 10-15-2011   #31
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Old 10-15-2011   #32
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Old 10-15-2011   #33
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I suppose it's a shrine, but it looks like a holy mailbox to me. (Is that "letter box" in the U.K.?)
It's in Greece, not sure of the function, the Greek orthodox church is the most original of the christian churches I believe
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Old 10-15-2011   #34
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Old 10-15-2011   #35
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Old 10-15-2011   #36
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Old 10-16-2011   #37
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Old 10-16-2011   #38
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Old 10-17-2011   #39
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I collect images of roadside attractions and folk-mythology in a gallery I call Life, Death Myth. In honor of Chris's New Mexico travel, here is a roadside memory between Taos and Santa Fe. My favorites in my collection are a pair of roadside shrines from the Argentine Pampas, "Gauchito Gil" and Dorotea Correa. Gauchito Gil gets beer and Dorotea gets water bottles, due to the mythology around these icons. You can google them.

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Old 10-17-2011   #40
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Lovely photo. I have no doubt that the deities love a little spice.
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