So there’s this Christian kid from north Texas named Junior Garcia. Junior decided, as many Christians do, that the world is a vile, steaming cesspit of moral decay, and the best thing to do about that would be to go to Home Depot, buy some lumber, fashion it into a big cross, and drag it (on wheels, because it’s not like he’s doing this to suffer for our sins or anything) from Texas to Washington, D.C.
You may wonder what he hoped to accomplish by this feat. I mean, it’s impressive, in the way that being the guy with the world record for hot dog eating is impressive. But in the end, I can’t think of anything to say about it other than it’s clearly a stunt for its own sake. I’m not sure what Junior expected when he made it to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Obama might have been too busy running the country and trolling Mitt Romney for the lulz to schedule a meeting. And it’s not as if everyone just stopped sinning at all once, everywhere, as if all humanity was, in a flash, transformed into pious, prayerful pod people.
Nor were any cancer patients miraculously healed, wars stopped, severed limbs regrown, abused children delivered from pain. The clouds did not part as in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, so that God could peer out and give this young man a divine fist-bump for a job well done. After all, as Eddie Izzard has pointed out, God had a prime opportunity to do that with the moon landing, and passed.
I’m being a bit facetious. I don’t, of course, really think even Junior expected any of that to happen. But he still must have thought that dragging a cross thousands of miles would have contributed positively, in some meaningful and direct way, to people’s lives and awaken them to America’s “moral decline,” whatever that is this week. Christians, naturally, are falling over themselves with praise for this inspiring young man and his impressive “accomplishment,” which, apparently, makes him a role model up to whom all young people should look. (Hah! You can’t catch me, grammar police!) Facebook, naturally, has brought the inanity in a big way. I have to say, whatever it is these people are so bowled over by is escaping me.
I have often wondered why people are so impressed by the shallowest expressions of what is supposedly a devoutly held belief, like little yellow magnets on the backs of their trucks to “support the troops,” as long as they don’t have to hear the names of the ones who died today on the news.
Don’t get me wrong. I have no doubt that this was physically an impressive feat.* But what material good does it do anyone? What is it other than a big act of religious showboating, allowing the young man to bask in the approval of his fellow churchgoers and other Christians who hear about him in the news? And why do so many Christians find it so impressive when you’d think they could, if nothing else, find a faith-based charity or something that’s actually doing things to have some positive impact (like this one I found at random) and heap their praise upon them?
I don’t mean to fall into any binary thinking here. I’m sure most of the people praising this young man would also have praise for real acts of charity, depending on just how much “poor people suck” messaging from right-wing media they’ve allowed themselves to absorb. There are so many ways a person could make a public statement about his beliefs that would positively impact the lives of others, and many many believers and atheists alike have done such things all down the years. But I guess this kind of public performance art — and not feeding the homeless or helping underprivileged kids with their educations, or spending years and years of study and research looking for scientific cures for the ills that plague us — is what gets your face in the media, eh?
* Or, not so much. Some readers have discovered that the cross weighed a mere 15 pounds, meaning Junior could have carried it in one hand while walking, and a good portion of the “walk” was done in a car. Now that’s inspirational!