Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Cross Controversy

The Cross erected today by
The Coming King Foundation
Years ago (in December 2007) I wrote a column about the 77'7" cross the Coming King Foundation proposed erecting just north of Kerrville.  This was when only (Mr.) James Avery and I were the only ones speaking out against this construction. Today that cross was pulled to the sky by a giant crane.  While my opinion of the project has not changed since then, I thought providing a little perspective might help.  What follows is the column I wrote for the Kerrville Daily Times about the prospect of this giant symbol on the outskirts of Kerrville:

Building a Giant Cross is a bad idea. 

I have no agenda, nor am I “mad at God,” but I think the proposed erection of an oversized cross near the intersection of IH10 and SH16 is an idea that needs to be reconsidered.
It will be taken as heresy by many in our community, but you can actually think the project is tacky and still believe that Christ was exactly who He said He was. You can be a Christian and oppose the scheme being foisted upon our community.
If I understand what a number of Sunday School teachers have been trying to teach me since I was but a wee sinner, the greatest monuments of faith are not built of steel and concrete, carved from marble or cast in bronze. The true monuments of faith cannot be seen at all.
Seeing the drawing of the grounds (which was published on page one of Friday’s edition of this newspaper), of a ‘sculpture garden’ surrounded by parking lots and casual dining restaurants confirmed my worst fears. As envisioned in the drawing, you’d have a serene garden encircled by restaurants, an island of spirituality surrounded by brightly-lit temples of food. (And acres of parking.)
The published schematic makes you wonder if the organizers of the garden have chosen the wrong symbol to emblazon upon the green hills of our valley – looking at the drawing, with all of its commercial emphasis, one could imagine a giant dollar sign instead of a giant cross being erected on the location. Or at least a giant fork or table spoon.
I suppose it’s only a historical accident a giant cross would be considered appropriate. The cross, for those who might’ve missed a sermon or two, was a crude and excruciating form of execution favored by the Roman Empire at the time Christ was sacrificed for our sins.
Had the Romans been fond of killing prisoners with a noose or a fusillade of arrows, I suppose the organizers of this particular scheme would be contemplating the building of a giant noose or enormous arrow. Had Pilate ordered Christ poisoned, millions of people might be wearing a tiny hemlock leaf around their necks today.
And though this horrible instrument of suffering has been a favorite of the faithful for two millennia, aren’t there better symbols of Christianity? How about a stone (as in either rock upon which the Church was built, or as in the stone which was rolled away from the entrance to an empty tomb)? Or a dove (as descended from heaven when Christ was baptized)? Even the Ichthus, that two-stroke shibboleth meant to be scratched in the dust, a symbol born of oppression, would be better than perpetuating Rome’s efficient killing system with a giant gaudy cross erected a great cost in our community.
Having said all of this, I still believe the owners of that property, as long as they comply with all applicable laws, can erect whatever they care to erect on that property. It’s a free country, and people are free to do what they want, thank God.
But in the words of the great philosopher Shrek, who, upon observing the giant tower built by Lord Farquaad, wondered aloud if Farquaad was “compensating for something,” I wonder what motivates people to contemplate the building of a giant Roman cross, especially a giant Roman cross surrounded by chain restaurants.
A rough wooden cross was enough to separate Christ’s earthly body from His spirit, and during His suffering I’m fairly certain He didn’t look out over a field of parking lots and a plethora of neon signs. There wasn’t a museum or gift shop on that lonely hill of death that Passover weekend, just the Son of God and two others, nailed to wooden beams, dying at the hands of an Empire using a method both cruel and cheap. Lord only knows what those who built that particular cross two-thousand years ago would have thought of the proposed giant replica, but one would guess they’d find the idea one filled with gallows humor.
I’m related to a couple who own some property just down the Interstate from the proposed site of the giant cross. Perhaps I can persuade them to erect a giant Question Mark. Or Star and Crescent. Or Dollar Sign.
Nah, I doubt they’d go for that scheme: too costly and too silly.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native whose personal faith is really none of your business. You can connect with Joe on Facebook at www.facebook.com/joeherring or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/joeherringjr


  1. ooohhh. I think it is awful. That particular stretch of interstate holds some good and some truly bad memories for me. But the commercialization of that cross is obscene. I wonder why some folks seem compelled to scream their Christianity. Or foist it.
    Do you remember roller coaster hill, where high school kids (back when we were in high school) would go to drink beer? Is it somewhere near there? Or closer to 16?

  2. This article is amazing, so true in every way. You don't need a cross to feel close to Christ. Touch the earth for God gave it to us, cover your heart for Christ gave us our lives by giving up his. Why bear or display a cross when you are the living reminder of his sacrifice and love.

  3. I know this is kind of "after the fact".....
    Joe, you do make some very good "commercial" points against the large cross, but let me state one bit of an idea the Cross is to me...
    a BRIDGE....a bridge of hope, a bridge of connection, a bridge of understanding, a bridge of sacrifice, a bridge of remembrance.
    Yes, "the cross" is probably the most commercialized piece of Christianity, but ...o.k.
    Whatever way we remember what Christ has done for humanity the Cross reminds us of the hope, of how Christ suspended on the cross and built the "bridge" to connect us with God as never before, of understanding daily how we all must pick up our crosses, a supreme sacrifice for all humanity to understand the complete love God has for us and finally, each time anyone sees a Cross it is a symbol of remembrance for all of us who are followers of Christ and hopefully a continual calling for those to ask Jesus into their hearts and everlasting life.
    Commercial maybe, but Jesus himself said
    "spread the Gospel to all the world" Mark 16:15-16....that sounds like a bit of marketing to me. :)


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