West Virginia radio listeners have essentially two options - and if one is not a fan of contemporary country stations (Mr. Tiny is not), one had better be a fan of gospel music. On one of our adventure days we tuned into WMLJ 90.5FM's "Gospel Hour;" I feel like a higher power was involved in the choosing of that particular station because we were treated to an old-timey broadcast that included twin-sister accordion players, a trio of girls singing about the devil jumping with glee when they forgot to say their prayers, and the story of Baa Baa, the pet sheep of a "backward" young boy, Dave, who taught his father that every sheep is important when one is "looking with the eye of love." Dave's father (who treated poor Davy with total disdain) learned a valuable lesson after Dave stayed out in the rain to rescue the injured and lost Baa Baa. He said, "Now I can understand what a good shepherd really is, one who will leave the ninety-and-nine and will look for the one who has been lost from the fold." Christian kitsch - why don't we have more stuff like this in California???
|Many years ago, a wealthy, West Virginia businessman was taken ill;|
upon his recovery, he made a promise to God that he would use his fortune
to spread the good news. Now, trios of crosses (built by the businessman)
dot the countryside all along the highway in over twenty nine states (source).
We grew up in a strongly religious household but I guess living in California made us comparatively-casual observers when judged against the fervent piety displayed throughout the American South. West Virginia is about as far north as one can get before becoming Yankee-fied, but based on the signs we were seeing, it was clear that it was time to tighten our "Bible Belt." Much attention has already been given to the clever messages churches create on their marquees, but we just don't have anything like that in our neighborhood. In fact, our neighborhood (small by California standards) dwarfs the population of West Virginia's capitol city and yet there are more churches per capita in a tiny West Virginia town than any city in California. Therefore, I was utterly captivated by the signs and the sentiments.
Some signs are simple and straight forward.
|"A change in behavior begins with Jesus changing our heart."|
It's like a Christian fortune cookie.
|"The presence of the Lord is here."|
Should've brought a better host gift.
|"Jesus and Justice are coming; ready yourselves."|
Is Justice a sidekick, like Robin to Batman? Tonto to The Lone Ranger?
Some signs are trying...but not quite hard enough.
|"The older I get, the smarter my Father seems to get."|
Father knows best, as they say.
|"We're to[sic] blessed to be so stressed."|
Too busy to find too many "O's."
|"It's HELL to die without Christ."|
I hope I don't see you there...
Our favorites, of course, are of the more clever variety
|"Forbidden fruit creates many jams."|
I wonder what it's like spread on toast.
|"Get right or get left."|
This reminds of those Left Behind books (I never read them);
I always imagine piles of clothes and pairs of sneakers empty
except for trails of vapor.
|"Do not wait for the hearse to take you to church."|
Well, it's hard to get another type of ride when you're dead;
you could wait for the bus all day but it won't pick you up.
|"Son block prevents sin burn."|
|"Isn't it time to accept God's friend request?"|
I didn't even know He was on Facebook.
I'll be sure to get on it!!!
|"Are U wrinkled with burden? See God for a faith lift."|
I was only going in for a nose Job. See what I did there?!
Then there are the signs that are so "clever" that the message is totally obscured.
|"The banana that gets away from the bunch gets peeled and eaten."|
Say what?! The only thing that makes sense about this one is
the trio of crosses echoed from the full-size highway examples.
Even when its tongue is in its cheek (I hope it turns the other cheek after reading this post), it is clear to me that West Virginia takes its Christianity VERY seriously; the signs and the intentional year-round Christmas decorations (seriously, wreaths, garlands, and fully-lit Christmas trees) make it a wacky tacky miracle to behold.
|Nothing about snake handling on the sign, but how could I be sure???|
Inspired by the religious zeal, my sister wanted me to go to a tent revival at one of those Pentecostal churches and write a blog about snake handling and speaking in tongues...but I was too scared.
|Instead I went by the EconoLodge; seeing the success|
of the churches, even motels are trying to horn in on the act!
"Open Up Your Heart and Let The Sunshine In"
Oh my gosh...that trio was The McGuire Sisters!!!!
Well, don't forget to "Let The Sunshine In." See ya in church!