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Pictures of silly, everywhere

OK, right off the bat let me apologize for the “Pictures of silly” headline. I don’t mean to make light of other people’s experiences, but I couldn’t think of anything else, and it gives me an excuse to throw in obscure references to the greatest band in rock ‘n’ roll history.

Those who didn’t get the first reference needn’t worry; I’ll explain. There’s a song called “Pictures of Lily,” wherein a pubescent young man’s life is made wonderful by photographs that his dad gave him. He falls in love with the girl in the pictures, only to learn that she’s been dead since 1929.

With that in mind, I feel like there’s been an uptick in the number of times Jesus and Mary have been seen in odd places recently, like sandwiches and Cheetos. And I always find it intriguing to see people’s reactions and over-reactions when they witness these images.

There are a lot of people, call them seekers, who are searching low and high for comfort in an increasingly cruel, meaningless world. These are the folks who are always on the lookout for Jesus and Mary. They know they won’t get to get what they’re after ’til the day they die, so they’re constantly in search of signs that reassure them there’s an afterlife.

How else could you explain the case recently where a man saw Jesus’ face in the back of a moth on an RV in East Texas? If you’re staring at a moth on an RV long enough to notice that it looks like Jesus, you’re either looking for him anyway, anyhow anywhere; you’ve made one too many visits to the acid queen; or you’re the most bored person on the planet.

I can’t explain how great it is that people can find meaning in things as random as a moth. Too often we only hear negative things about religion and nothing about its good points. I was reminded, though, of the upside of faith recently by my mother. She pointed out that when adversity strikes, as it seems to do with increasing frequency these days, it helps immensely to have something larger than yourself to turn to for solace.

With all the crazy things going on in the world today, I suppose it’s only natural that people are seeing more and more of Jesus and Mary. But are people just looking harder than they used to, or are Jesus and Mary making themselves more visible at a time when folks need them most?

In the case of the moth I think it’s a little bit of both, because I have to admit the little critter really did bear a striking resemblance to Jesus. Not so obvious, however, was another recent Jesus sighting at a weight loss clinic in Arkansas City, Kan. This time the messiah appeared in a ceiling tile that had been discolored by a leaky pipe.

The brown stains in one corner of the tile formed the outline of what could be considered a head and a shoulder, but it was so vague that it could have been anybody. The fact that people saw Jesus — in Kansas? What are the odds? — is proof that some folks can always see the real me, and it will always be Jesus.

The owners of the weight loss clinic had been planning on replacing the discolored tile, but when it was pointed out to them that it was Jesus, they decided that maybe they’d sell it on eBay. That’s a wise decision considering that in 2004 a grilled cheese sandwich with an image of the Virgin Mary sold for $28,000 on the site. I call that a bargain.

The latest incarnation of a divine figure stretches the boundaries of plausibility, however. On Tuesday morning, someone spotted the Virgin Mary in a hospital window in Springfield, Mass. A video of the scene, shot on Wednesday, shows hundreds of the faithful milling about, with many of them praying and some openly weeping.

Then the video shows the window.

Let me reiterate that I think it’s nice that people have faith, but in this instance they had collectively taken leave of their senses. They were weeping over a smudge in the window of a vacant office. Literally. It was the kind of image I get on my windows when I clean them with surface cleaner instead of Windex.

As I said, faith is wonderful, but if you saw Mary in that window, there’s a different name for your faith: desperation.

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Todd Hartley

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10 2008

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