Flaming Jesus

Strange things are afoot in Monroe, Ohio, where a massive Jesus statue was hit by lightning and went up in roaring flames.  Here is Jesus before the Zeus shot:

And here is Jesus auto de fe (a photo that brings to mind The Inquisition and the many thousands of “heretics” torched in his name):

The USA Today article matter of factly asserts that “the fire is not suspicious.”  The good people of Dayton are not so sure.  As reported in the Dayton Daily News, “Some Say There is Meaning Behind Destruction of Giant Jesus Statue“:

Said 41-year-old Oxford resident Kimberly McAllister: “When I heard about it, my first thought was ‘How am I going to find Monroe now?’ ”

Others had more dire reactions about lightning striking the statue.

“I think it’s a sign of the end of the world,” said Paul Wright, 21, of Oxford. “If lightning is going to strike God, then there’s no hope.”

There you have it: with Jesus now in ashes, one person is lost and the other is doomed.

With no apparent sense of irony, the Washington Post ponders other possible meanings and concludes there is no meaning:

Believer or not, we can always count on lightning to energize the what-does-it-mean lobes of our brain.

To find some modern-day meaning in [the burning 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 strike.

So, we turned to science. Religious structures, especially church steeples, are regularly zapped because they are often the highest point in a given area, according to John Jensenius, lightning safety specialist for the National Weather Service. But the same goes for towering secular symbols.

When Pat Robertson declines an opportunity to discern meaning in such an event, it surely is an ominous sign.  Lennox from Shakespeare’s Macbeth will have to do:

The night has been unruly: where we lay,

Our chimneys were blown down; and, as they say,

Lamentings heard i’ the air; strange screams of death,

And prophesying with accents terrible

Of dire combustion and confused events

New hatch’d to the woeful time: the obscure bird

Clamour’d the livelong night: some say, the earth

Was feverous and did shake.

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