Monday, October 31, 2005

Road Rage Part the Second

Happy Halloween!!!

This weekend I drove from my apartment in Iowa City to my parents’ house in southern Illinois. There’s a good 3.5 hour stretch in that drive through central Illinois where all the radio stations only play gospel or country and there’s no cell phone reception.

When people think Illinois, they think Chicago, and blue state. Well there’s a whole different state south of Chicago and it’s called it’s called Illi-Jesus. There be some serious Jesus-lovin’ going on south of Quincy. A few years ago when my parents were driving me home from college for winter break THIS had popped up by Effingham, about 30 minutes outside of my hometown:

It’s a big ass cross, 20 stories high, in the middle of nowhere. (At nighttime there’s a bunch of white lights shining up at it from the ground, almost like glow-in-the-dark. It’s particularly eerie at night because the lights add this sense of motion to the cross, as though it will uproot itself and smash me with the stipe for not being Christian.)

It’s kind of a menacing figure. I usually try to fill up in Centralia so I don’t have to stop at any of the little gas stations in central Illinois (some of those places are straight out of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and everytime I see the cross my initial reaction is Run away, brownie!!

I mean, it has all the subtlety of an avalanche. Why stop with a giant glowing white cross? Why not add plywood flames? Or better yet a red and black banner saying THIS BE THE KKK, BEE-YOTCH.

Matthew Hale is from central Illinois, he went to college in Peoria then law school at Southern Illinois University and passed the Illinois bar exam too. (I think he’s banned from the bar though?) I remember he came to Northwestern during my freshman year to organize a chapter for his World Church of the Creator or whatever. (This was a few months after a follower of his church murdered NU’s former basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong.) The administration seemed to deal with him by just ignoring him, which is probably the best way to handle media-whores, and now he’s in jail for conspirary to commit murder.

Anyway, I’m not sure what all this has to do with the big white cross, but I hate the cross anyway. This time when I drove by there was a big sign at the bottom advertising its website, So when I got home I visited the website and it’s actually not too hateful:

The Cross Foundation is dedicated to building both faith and family on an ecumenical basis. The Cross Foundation has completed a 198 foot Cross at the intersection of Interstates 57 & 70 in Effingham, Illinois. This site is intended to serve as a beacon of hope to the 50,000 travelers estimated to pass the site each day. In addition, the Cross Foundation will promote the values of faith and family through other programs.

I scoured the website for any signs of white supremacy and I couldn’t find anything. Ok. So I guess it’s not that bad. The cross still creeps the hell out of me though! (On a completely unrelated note I was nervous to surf the website lest it actually be some sort of KKK propaganda, because doesn’t the government redlist some sites, and tag the ISPs of visitors? Like that time my friend and I were debating whether the “North American Man-Boy Love Association” (NAMBLA!) was for real and we surfed around to find it. It is REAL, ya’ll. Real and nasty. My other friend whose computer we used was pissed because she said now her ISP would be tagged. Is that true?)

Nilay says I’m probably the first and only person to feel oppressed by the cross. You have to SEE this behemoth. It is LARGE. LARGE and IN CHARGE. This thing could oppress Jesus. Couldn’t they find a secular image to be a beacon of hope and promote family? Seriously, if I had a $1,000,000 with which to improve the world, erecting a gynormous cross by the side of the highway in rural downstate Illinois would be like #800,502 on my list of ways to spend the money.

Currently listening to: Top 50 Country Countdown!! No. 27 is “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.” When I first heard this song, I was like, WHAT?!? But the song isn’t creepy, it’s just about getting drunk on tequila and leaving your shit all over the place. (I had a night like that back in May, courtesy of Jose Cuervo. I was puking for the next 3 days.)

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