I can’t imagine anyone of any taste or refinement choosing Branson, Missouri as their vacation hotspot. But it’s about to get even more tasteful, with the planned construction of a 20-story cross on a mountain nearby. Obviously, it would have been a complete waste of effort to put the millions it will cost to build this thing into improving schools or feeding the homeless.
Okay, so it’s a free country and all that, but good grief. In this scintillating video, the partially embalmed Pastor Dean Brown explains his vision, often helpfully gesturing to the green screen behind him when he worries his viewers might need a little help understanding what he’s talking about. The country, it would seem, is being overrun by pain-in-the-ass malcontents like us, who insist that that darn church/state separation thing mentioned in the Constitution actually be respected, and that the Pledge of Allegiance, if we really have to have one, should revert to its original language rather than the revised version that privileges theists and makes everyone else second-class Americans.
The persecution complex is strong with this one. Why, his beliefs simply aren’t being validated everywhere he goes, every day, by everyone he meets! So clearly, the answer to this cultural crisis is a “spiritual monument,” which Brown, in a glorious display of delusion of grandeur, likens unto the Statue of Liberty and Washington Monument, only more Jesusy. I really don’t see why he doesn’t seal the deal by offering tourists photo ops with Pat Boone or Kirk Cameron.
Scratch the surface, peer beneath, and what you see here is fear. That’s all. The fundamentalist old guard realizes, deep down inside, that it’s old and in the way. The values they hold dear are being relegated to history’s dustbin, as new values of inclusion, tolerance, diversity, education, and humanism supplant those of conformity, dogma, superstition and self-obsessed piety. The cross isn’t so much a monument for the people, as it is a retreat, a sanctuary, a wagon-circling way to convince themselves that their beliefs still matter and have a place in a future that is already leaving them behind. By peering up into the sky to see their ancient Roman torture device silhouetted against the horizon, they can briefly forget about those monsters under their beds: the gays and lesbians, the scientists who want to (shudder) educate their kids, the minorities and the peacenik liberals. It’s a sad last gasp that recalls Shelley’s memorable Ozymandias.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.