Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Another Rock

I’ve pulled rocks and stones out of various bodies of water. It is a very summer activity, a good way to avoid heat and swarming skeeters. Last week we learned about the Elvis rock collected in Colorado, and now this week, from Lexington County in South Carolina, news of a Virgin Mary rock. According to WLTX in Columbia, South Carolina, Linda Owens found this rock during her vacation. According to the report, Owens spotted a face and it was other gawkers that saw Mary. Owens claims that “the USC archeology department says it's not painted on, it's just nature.” A transcendentalist would be proud!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Rock 'N Elvis

That woman in mid-leap is LaDell Alexander, at her summer home in Estes Park, Colorado. She’s jumping for joy because the stone in the foreground of the photograph bears the likeness of Elvis Presley’s face. The famous face revealed itself to Alexander as she rinsed off this 23-pound piece of granite after her and her husband Lynn had hauled it out of a river and to their house. As reported by the Rocky Mountain News, “Scrubbing away at the grime covering one of the rocks, she found something that left her all shook up.”

The stone’s shading certainly delineates a dark patch that resembles Elvis’s legendary head of hair, and while seven out of ten people see The King, others have spotted George Washington, or “a French aristocrat with sideburns, like Louis XV.”

The Alexanders are banking on some deep-pocketed eBay bidder to see Elvis, however, as the stone will be put up for auction on August 10, six days prior to the 30th anniversary of Elvis’s death.

The Alexanders hope their igneous rock can fetch a sum somewhere in the ballpark of Diana Duyser's Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese. While there certainly are some zealous Elvis fans out there, I wonder how many of them would fork over $28,000? The good news is, we’ll know soon enough, and no matter how much the rock sells for, the money will go to one of Presley’s charities.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

These Stories Have History

Reported on July 1, by The Brownsville Herald, this story about a Virgin Mary tree in Brownsville, Texas, dates back many decades. Charlie Davidson, 89-years-old, owns the house where the town’s most famous tree stands. I guess the house has been in the family for a while, because Davidson remembers his brothers planting the seedling “years ago, under the watchful eye of their mother.”

Neighbors discovered the Virgin Mary likeness in the tree over ten years ago, and the discovery attracted huge crowds (though today only a few people a week stop to pray in front of the tree). Back in May, however, Davidson returned home to discover the fire department, and the smoldering tree. According to the article, someone had used a San Alejo candle, which was inside of the tree, to light a firework, and then ignite material stuffed in one of the tree's holes. A small fire started. To everyone’s delight, the tree suffered little damage, but it has left Davidson to face a difficult decision.

He had recently put his house up for sale, but because of the fire he has put his plans on hold. The gawkers used to bother him, but over the years, Davidson has come to appreciate the devotion of the people who take the time to visit the tree. He’s concerned that the home’s new owners may not bestow the same degree of reverence upon the tree that he and the community have over the years. While it is not clear from the article why Davidson has thought about moving, he does attribute his longevity to his “religious convictions.” Sounds to me like he and the house still have some years together.

Since embarking on this project, the stories in Madonna of the Toast have impressed me because of their lasting power, but this story outlasts them all: from a seedling to a “huge tree” to a religious phenomenon.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Church is a Form of Theater, Right?

The Church of the Divine Spirit in Texas, has been preparing to close its doors because the owner, George, is moving to Mexico. According to Archbishop Tom Andrews, however, the face of Jesus appeared suddenly on the altar. As reported by KGBT 4, after a service, a parishioner insisted on showing something to Andrews, this face (indecipherable as it may be). Andrews knows that the face has not been present for long, so he takes it as a sign not to close the church.

In other Jesus-face news, I read this blurb about Luke Yankee’s play “The Jesus Hickey.” Yup, pareidolia has gone to the theater. Or is it theatre? This play has won the first ever Joel and Phyllis Ehrlich Award for portraying “the comic religious frenzy that transpires when a young woman is seen with a hickey on her neck evoking the face of Jesus.”

Maybe Yankee can stage a performance of his play at the Church of the Divine Spirit and keep the doors open and the pews full . . .