Monday, March 30, 2009

BBQ Mary

If there’s one thing people take as seriously as religion, it’s barbeque, especially in Texas if these articles from Texas Monthly and The New Yorker serve as indicators. So there is synchronicity to this Virgin Mary image discovered in Odessa on the lid of a grill.

Employees at Reliable Transport Auto Shop first noticed the form a few weeks ago, and since then a shrine has been erected and regular Sunday services have occurred. No word on what these folks had been grilling to create this Mary shape but according to this News West 9 story the employees believe it to be a divine visual manifestation. But they also “say it's up to individuals to judge for themselves.”

Monsignor James Bridges suggests, however, that it is not “authentic,” seeming to care very little about what others think. He asks: “What does it lead people to . . . Does it lead people to be better people? Does it lead people to be deeper in their faith? If all of these things lead to what I would call the agenda of Christ, that would put them in a position of being more believable.”

The word “agenda” always puts me off, and for a priest to use the word in the context of Jesus strikes me as rather absurd. To answer Bridges’s question, it does seem that this image has led "people to be deeper in faith,” hence the weekly services, the candles, rosaries, prayers and hymns.

Madonna of the Toast
stories whip people into action, from the media to the faithful to dissenters. As I write in the book: “Whether on the level of sacrosanct devotion or pop culture kitsch, these forms become as relevant as the world’s finest art because they compel people to react; the objects in this book, emblazoned with faces and symbols recognized the world over, have been appraised at stunningly high sums, been toured around the globe and have inspired people to travel, pray and steal.”

What say you, Monsignor?

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