Thursday, September 25, 2008

And Colombia Makes 17

That’s 17 countries where Madonna of the Toast-related stories have originated, a figure that says quite a bit about the human fascination with the image. In the US, 26 states have hosted various visual manifestations of religious and secular icons. From Jesus and the Virgin Mary showing up on an smorgasbord of substrates to the Arabic for Allah in gristle, the Star of David in oatmeal and Elvis and Yogi Bear in all sorts of places, people see forms they want to recognize all over the world for a host of reasons.

I’ve been meaning to tally all of this geographic data for a while, but news of this Colombian Jesus spotting on the shriveled leaf of a plant that needs watering has spurred me into action, and allowed me to rationalize not having a great image to show you, though you can watch a broadcast in Spanish here, which does have footage of the plant in question. This Jesus image hails from the northern city of Riohacha and has apparently brought the faithful out in droves. Local church officials have yet to confirm the sighting but the owner of the plant is convinced it is divine by virtue of how many people have witnessed Jesus on this leaf.

And that’s what so many of these occurrences are about, really: seeing is believing. Some may believe what they see is utter rubbish, delusional. But others see shapes and shadings that they find inspirational, poignant and life-affirming.

No matter where you stand on the issue, it cannot be denied that these events reveal humanity’s intimate connection with the image, which is perhaps the greatest lesson to take away from these stories. Just ask the folks in England, Wales, Poland, Canada, Argentina, Germany, Scotland, India, Italy, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine and, of course, the US (where California, Texas and Florida rule the roost for the greatest number of these stories). These phenomena are inescapable!

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