The faithful of Ohio were left contemplating a message from above this week after a bolt of lightning hit a 60 foot high statue of Jesus, reducing it to a smouldering steel skeleton.
The King of Kings statue at the Solid Rock Church had previously stood 64 foot high, and 40 foot wide, making it something of a landmark for the town of Monroe.
The statue was not solid rock itself, however, but rather a mix of plastic foam and fibreglass over the steel frame. Thus the bolt from above quickly had it up in smoke. The damage has been estimated at $700,000, presumably giving some generous benefactor the opportunity to push a metaphorical camel through the eye of a needle.
The flameout has inevitably prompted wailing and gnashing of teeth as locals ponder why a bolt of electricity would choose to light on a six-storey high structure with a steel skeleton standing in a predominantly flat area.
“I think it’s a sign of the end of the world,” Paul Wright, told the Dayton Daily News “If lightning is going to strike God, then there’s no hope.”
Cassie Browning, 27, was less apocalyptic. “It meant so much to so many people. The statue can be destroyed and gone, but Jesus can’t be.”
Others took a more worldly view with Kimberly McAllister saying, “When I heard about it, my first thought was ‘How am I going to find Monroe now?’" (Strait is the gate and narrow the way, we'd suggest.)
However, the statue's fiery demise has not dissuaded pilgrims, or depending on your point of view, gawkers. State troopers are apparently busily handing out tickets to motorists on Interstate 75 who are unwise enough to stop their cars to take photos of the smoking remains.
You can catch your own view of the apocalypse right here:
The Washington Post has a full run-down on similar smitings here®