Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dead Insects and the Virgin Mary

It’s not too hard to believe that another Virgin Mary has appeared in Texas. Amazingly enough, however, this is the second Virgin-Mary image that I know of created from an attempt to eradicate unwanted visitors. ‘Tis true dear reader, the same as the Milford Mary emerged on a window screen after laundry spray took the life of a bug, this Mary in Del Rio emerged on the wall of John and Tina Zapata’s house, after John “sprinkled poison on the back wall of his home to kill some ants,” according to this KVUE report.

South Texas media glommed onto this story a few days ago and hundreds of people(from as far away as Minnesota) have come to see the manifestation, which Tina actually recognized as the Virgin of Guadalupe. Along with the requisite visitors eager to photograph the image and pray in its presence, the “Blessing of the Back Yard” has inspired the Matlachines, a mask and cape wearing group of Matachines. This Del Rio News Herald article reports that the “traditional religious dance group who typically performs during the Christmas holidays,” has come out to celebrate this event.

There seems to be some real potential for metaphors here: a holy figure formed by the desire to quash life. What can this say about the contemporary state of faith? It may mean that people are desperate for a stain of hope, no matter how it came about. It also may mean that people are more than happy to let their faith be bolstered in the company of others. I’d imagine that most of the people whom have paid their respects to this icon would say the latter.

What do you think? Is this hopeless hope? Is this yet another opportunity to be reminded of something greater? Is it the naysayer pessimist in me that questions how displays of faith can come out of taking life? Are, or were, they just ants? Can it be ignored that the Bible examines the value of sacrifice: Abraham and Isaac, God and Christ?

I can answer all of these questions at once, with another question: If so many heady issues can be extracted from this happening, doesn't that make it culturally valid?

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