Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Prefer Big Butter Jesus

It is by now a national headline thanks to Matt Drudge - but in case you live locally around the greater Cincinnati area and somehow missed the biggest news story of the last 24 hours here's your newsflash..."Touchdown Jesus" was struck by lightning (an "act of God" I believe would be the insurance term) and burned to the ground - all except for the steel frame reaching heavenward - as if pleading, "Why?" It looks more like "Stick-man Jesus" now. You may be the only one around if you don't know the statue I'm writing about. But anyone who has ever traveled up or down I-75 through Monroe has seen this statue at some point. Surely. You may not know it, but behind the statue, there's a church (in case you missed it for the statue) - The Solid Rock Church. Pastor's Lawrence and Darlene Bishop of Middletown built the statue (and the church), which the church calls the "King of Kings" statue. All that said, I prefer the other well-known moniker for the six story tall former statue of Jesus - "Big Butter Jesus". Perhaps that's because the real "Touchdown Jesus" resides in South Bend and, as of this posting, was unscathed and doing quite well. Hopefully the football team can do the same this year. Go Irish.

But over the last six years (the statue was built in 2004) I have actually given a lot of thought to that statue. At times, it's made me laugh (thanks to the Big Butter Jesus song by Heywood Banks). At times I've scratched my head and shrugged. I mean, what do you make of THAT? And at times I've been, I don't know, frustrated at the site of this statue. Why? I guess because it cost a quarter of a million dollars to build, plus many expensive repairs over the years. Numerically that looks like $250,000. The estimated damage from the fire for the statue is $300,000 (the amphitheater behind the statue sustained heavy damage as well at $400,000). The early word is that the husband and wife co-pastor's are going to rebuild it - this time with "fireproof" materials. Years ago, Pastor Lawrence Bishop said he was trying to help people, not impress them, with the statue. He said his wife proposed the Jesus figure as a beacon of hope and salvation. To be fair, so many people have stopped to visit the statue - either because of inspiration or intrigue - that the church had to pave a wide walkway to and around the statue. It became a monument of sorts that gained the national spotlight. I don't want to diminish the fact that someone out there may have been affected by seeing this statue in some sort of spiritual way, but I still can't get over how much money was given to erect that statue. I know the pastor said they were trying to help, not impress, people. But how much help can a statue that looks like a slowly melting Jesus made out of butter really offer? Now, spending that quarter of a million dollars on real human needs - especially those needs that exist in third world countries - where people either do not have the Gospel or suffer for it - that's help. Spending it on people who do not have proper nourishment, or drinkable water, or available health care - now that...THAT could and would have been real help AND impressive. Certainly inspirational. And definitely not odd - especially for the Christian. That type of help causes the world to take notice. I doubt Heywood Banks would write a humorous song about that type of ministry of compassion. Oh well, the statue was insured. It will be rebuilt. It will continue to be a joke to most, and, perhaps, a momentary help to others. But tell me what good that statue will be to a starving child - hungry for rice and the Bread of Life? I would rather see a modest monument listing all of the names of people from around the world who had been helped instead with that money. I can't help but find it a bit ironic that lightning burnt this statue to the ground. Some would call that signs and wonders. Me, I just can't help but wonder about it all.


  1. follow up story about this in todays enquirer -


  2. yet another follow up story from todays enquirer -


  3. the story that will not die - fight breaks out during church service amidst discussions to rebuild -