Saturday, October 29, 2011

Screaming Stones

"I tell you that, if [My disciples] should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out!"--Luke 19:40

In recent years Halloween has evolved from a 1-night candy giveaway into a month-long house-decorating festival in many parts of America. Instead of simply carved pumpkins bearing candles, a typical layout now includes extensive orange twinkle-lights, faux spider webs, inflatable characters, spooky sound-effects, dangling ghosts, & fake gravestones, which usually bear comedic inscriptions such as "Forget the dog, beware of me!"

About every other property in my neighborhood gets decorated to some extent. The most spectacular one I've seen is about a couple blocks from me, over on Pinckard Ave, 2 doors up from a nationally famous house built for the ABC TV series, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (Season 4, Episode 9, Aired 12/10/2006) as a community gift to Officer Kristina Ripatti, shot & critically injured, narrowly escaping (by the grace of God) an untimely death in her courageous line of duty as a Los Angeles police officer.

Here's an overall view including the south half of the graveyard:

A close-up of the balcony creatures:

Ghosts dangling in the wind from a network of nearly invisible guide-wires suspended over the yard:

And the north half of their faux cemetery:

The message in nearly all these Halloween decorations is one that pokes fun at death & murder (eerily ironic, being juxtaposed near the Ripatti house), & encourages imaginations to run wild (not unlike the arguments of certain anti-Jesus religious groups). The message it sends to impressionable children misleads them, & that bothers me. Since moving to this neighborhood several years ago, I've wanted to use my own property in a way that steers the community, kids & adults, in a positive direction. If so many other people express their interpretation of Halloween based largely on what's sold at stores for this special day of the year, I feel obligated to join the crowd in my own way.

So I went to a few department & specialty stores, bought 5 styrofoam gravestones, searched the Scriptures, & added some artistic flair (in the form of flat-black paint). Altogether I found 10 passages that I thought might be appropriate, but narrowed it down to 5 based on several considerations (size, visibility, existing markings on the gravestones, yardlights). Behold (because of the shadows & obstructions in these nighttime photos, I'm including the full text below each picture):

I will
them from
the power
of the

By the way, I can't resist mentioning that the anti-Jesus Artscroll English Tanach (March 2011 first edition, first impression) renders this as "From the clutches of the grave I would have ransomed them." Under what circumstances would God have ransomed them? Do righteous people need to be ransomed?

risen from
Mat. 28:7

By the way, due to the angle between this gravestone & yardlight, the shadow cast on my wall is amazingly similar to the typical LMLK 2-winged icon. I did not even notice this as I was positioning the gravestone, or while taking the photo! You can imagine my shock & delight as I was reviewing/cropping the photos for publication.

The dead
rise first
1The. 4:16

This is the only one I made a spacing mistake on, running out of room on the last line. No room to make a full upper-cross on the "T; no room for an exclamation mark.

He is
He is

Again, I didn't realize how similar the icon under the skull looked like a 2-winged icon until I was reviewing these photos. Even while painting, my mind remained focused on the layout.

Be thou
unto death
and I will
give thee a
crown of
life! Rev. 2:10

"So you children of the world
Listen to what I say
If you want a better place to live in
Spread the words today
Show the world that love is still alive
You must be brave
Or you children of today are
Children of the Grave!
--Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward

G.M. Grena


Todd Bolen said...

George - very creative and wise. I hope that lots of people will slow down and read the words and ponder them.

The Lowery's said...

If you don't like my house DONT TAKE PHOTOS AND BASH IT ON YOUR BLOG!! We get over 1000 kids on our block for Halloween and they all love the decorations on our block. We love HALLOWEEN it is a fun holiday for many neighborhood kids.. It has nothing to do with religion..

G.M. Grena said...

Dear "The Lowery's", thanks for sharing your thoughts. I did not say that I didn't like your house. I actually find it to be architecturally impressive with or without the religious decor. I would have to disagree though, with your philosophy about the moral value of something based on whether kids like it.