Picture This – The Gospel According to Groom

20 Mar

While driving through the panhandle of Texas on Interstate 40, you tend to lose your sense of space. The land is flat and bare, and, for those of us from the land of hills and trees, it takes a bit to adjust to the sight lines and the distance of the horizon. Eventually, you get your bearings and understand that the storm to the right is further away than you realize; the car up ahead is a few miles away; and that giant cross you are bearing down upon is still…wait, a giant cross?

At the exit for Groom, Texas, a 190 foot tall aluminum cross stands next to the interstate. Erected in 1995, it has become a landmark in that part of the country and attracts 1,000 visitors each day. I must admit that it is almost impossible not to stop. This thing draws you in from the time you first see it 20 miles away. At first, you see a tower in the horizon that could be a grain silo. However, the closer you get the more you realize what it is. I wasn’t going to include a shot of the cross because the photo above is my favorite spot at the site. Now that I have mentioned it, I suppose I should break the “Picture This” rules and show you the behemoth.

Anyway, there it is. Now, I will continue with my story. The cross is the centerpiece of an entire complex that seems to be under perpetual construction. The gift shop is finished (naturally), but everything else is filled in when the donations arrive.

The twelve stations of the cross surround the big cross. These are supposed to represent the twelve defining moments of Christ’s trip to the crucifixion. I am not sure of the denomination of the people who created this, but I believe the stations are part of the Catholic tradition. So, if it was built by Protestants that would be kind of funny. Another funny thing is the Roman soldier depicted here. I always think it is a Native American warrior in a headdress. Not only did we screw the Indians, but we also think they killed Jesus.

The picture that I meant to talk about is their sculpture representative of the last supper. Characters are slowly being added as money becomes available, and each time I visit the cross someone else has appeared. I think it’s interesting that Judas was one of the first ones put up. I suppose they put him up early to provide an example of what happens to those who choose the wrong path. I wanted to use a photo of me having a drink with Jesus, but I can’t find it. Last time, I noticed that they took the cup away. Maybe other people had a drink with Jesus, too. Why would they worry? It’s only water. It’s not like it can be turned into wine. Oh, that’s right.

As you may be able to tell, the crucifixion is displayed behind the last supper. That may be the best trick of all. Jesus is hosting a party while he is simultaneously hanging on the cross. His empty tomb is also under the little hill that they have built.

As you can probably tell, I don’t think much of the big cross and all of its trappings. I believe that people are free to practice their faith or lack thereof, but I also believe that things like this do nothing to help the world. In my mind, a true Christian would use the money for this site to help people in need. The big cross isn’t feeding or sheltering anyone. It is not saving souls, either. It is only a beacon to say, “Look at us and how good Christians we are.”

Unfortunately, the mayor of the town next to mine (which also sits on Interstate 40) has announced that he wants a big cross, too. The paper said that he wants to show the world that good people live there. I guess Jews, Muslims, Hindus and any other religious (or nonreligious) people you can think of are not good people.

I will finish with a short story. On my first visit to the cross, a bunch of us were walking around and looking at the statues. Suddenly, we saw activity on the side of the interstate. A bunch of police cars had a guy pulled over. We watched as they got his out of the car and handcuffed him. He sat in the ditch while they searched his vehicle. Then, we realized that we were witnessing a drug bust at the foot of the cross. I don’t think that’s what the builders thought would be happening there.

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3 Responses to “Picture This – The Gospel According to Groom”

  1. leslinalicia March 20, 2012 at 05:36 #

    I have a picture of your feet by Judas…

    • surroundedbyimbeciles March 20, 2012 at 14:11 #

      Ha. That should be a good picture of me.

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  1. Family Time in New Mexico | Surrounded By Imbeciles - May 30, 2013

    […] we stopped at the big cross in Groom, Texas and sat in on a famous […]

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