Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Of a Flag and Belief

Not too long ago, I blogged about a Jesus stick that had washed up along the California shoreline. The woman who found it interpreted it as an auspicious omen for her husband’s safe return from Iraq. This was the first instance in my reporting these appearances, much to my surprise, that the war had been mentioned.

Now, while today’s post is not about the war in Iraq, it is very much about war and patriotism, as least if you listen to the story painter John Gromosiak and police officer Gene Czaplinski share. The above painting, painted by Gromosiak, depicts a photograph of the Japanese attack on Wheeler Field at Pearl Harbor. Gromosiak sold it recently to Czaplinski via eBay. Here is where the interesting part of the story begins.

Upon receipt of the print, according to WISH-TV in Indianapolis, Indiana, Czaplinski took some photographs with his digital camera and loaded them onto his computer at work. Upon doing so, he noticed the red and white stripes of the American flag in the upper left-hand corner of the painting. The stripes are just barely visible, and both men insist that their appearance is a result of happenstance, not Photoshop doctoring; in the words of the reporter describing Czaplinski, “He is not a computer whiz, in fact he is a police officer.”

As with all of these stories, your mileage may vary, but ultimately it comes down to the power of association that inspires people to spot these visual manifestations. I’d say it is a safe bet to assume that both Gromosiak and Czaplinski consider themselves patriots, but they are quick to point out that they have no real explanation for the flag’s appearance, other than it just showed up, or “Only God knows.”

It is from the same human source of faith or belief that these visions are borne. While one person’s religious faith may result in seeing the Virgin Mary or Jesus in a tree, another person’s national faith, their patriotism, may result in spotting the American flag unexpectedly.

I wonder what convictions cause people to spot Elvis on a rock or Lenin on a shower curtain. I get into it a bit in Madonna of the Toast. Perhaps in the marketplace of icons, all belief exists on the same level as the icons have been converted into commodities, all of which must answer to the economy.

Thoughts? Questions? Comments? I’m always game to hear them!

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