I Wish There Was a Chocolate Jesus

7:46 pm · category: Uncategorized

Today my proposal for an Independent Study Project for seminary was approved. The title is “Give Me That Roadside Religion: Curbside Christian Culture in the American South.” I plan to travel the South and visit roadside attractions of a religious nature, photographing the sites, collecting their pamphlets and other literature, and interviewing the owners/administrators. The focus is on the theological impetus and significance of the attractions. Then I’ll compile everything into… something. I guess it’ll be like a Zagat’s Guide for wacky Christian adventurists.

When I say “roadside attractions,” I don’t just mean the huge sites everybody already knows about like the several Holy Land replicas throughout the country and the Christ of the Ozarks with the giant cement Jesus where they show the Passion Play in Arkansas or that enormous Ten Commandments replica in North Carolina. Nope, I mean all that obscure, weird stuff — from Alabama’s Ave Maria Grotto to Kentucky’s huge crucifix to Tennessee’s Christus Gardens, where the eyes of the Jesus statue seem to follow visitors. (What’s the deal with Pigeon Forge, anyway? Is it some kind of kitsch capital? Because half the stuff I’ve found is located there… which is kind of scary.)

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