No disrespect to anyone out there, but there is nothing I find scarier than organized religion. It’s probably because I went to Catholic School and still have occasional nightmares of endless masses and reenactments of crucifixions and Sister Kay telling my mom I was the devil’s child because I wrote notes on my hand. Hey, I was bored and it was difficult to remember all those Bible assignments.
If Sister Kathy, the nun who played religious songs and bellowed at students all in the same breath, hadn’t scared me enough, well, the Cross Garden might just do it. Considering Alabama is one of the country’s most religious states, it should surprise no one to learn there are a number of Christian-related tourist attractions there. First of all, I wouldn’t be driving down a country road in Alabama, but if I was and noticed a bunch of wooden crosses next to a trailer park, I probably wouldn’t stop. But hey, don’t follow my example. If one day you happen to be in Prattville (other claim to fame – the birthplace of Wilson Pickett) and you want to see signs proclaiming “You will DIE” and “HELL IS HOT HOT HOT” and you’re brave enough to get out of the car, then you’re guaranteed a spot in heaven. Oh, and by heaven, I mean this music video. W.C. Rice built this garden over twenty years as a warning to people who hadn’t found Jesus. I didn’t know Jesus was missing. I mean, he was a Jew so maybe there’s a “Where Are They Now?” file in the Judaism religion no one talks about. Back to the garden. Hundreds of home-made crosses, from telephone poles to pieces of clay, sit next to couches and discarded washing machines, the typical landscape of the Deep South. Probably my favorite of the crosses is what I like to call the “Hypocrite Sex Pit”. Mr. Rice died over seven years ago, and his family still believes in his message, although a bit lazily. It’s less a garden, and more like an overgrown yard of abandoned hatred.