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Concealed Lightning Rods for Churches

A handy hypocricy-avoider.
  (+7, -3)
(+7, -3)
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Why would God permit lightning to strike a church? Yet it happens all the time. But with beleaguered churches already defending themselves against philosophical contradictions and inaccuracies, scandals, etc., they can't afford such obvious symbols of self-doubt. The answer? Lightning rods cleverly disguised as giant statues of Jesus, angels, and all those other guys. Sort of a Macy's Day Parade approach. People would never guess. I mean, if new gas stations can put big King Kongs and Michelin Tire Men on their roofs, why not?
Ander, Nov 14 2000


       I once heard a comedian describe a town where all the churches were on the same street. "But you could always tell the Unitarian church", he said, "because it was the only one with a lightning rod."   

       On hearing this, the person sitting next to me said "Whoa, harsh!" This reaction surprised me. You know why? Because I was raised Unitarian, and I knew full well that the description was accurate: Unitarian churches *do* typically have lightning rods. To one with Unitarian sensibilities, this is simply common sense. The only reason that so many churches deny that they need any protection other than prayer is that they place faith above common sense.   

       So to me, the comedian seemed to be saying "Unlike other churches, Unitarians value common sense above faith", to which I could mentally reply "Yes, and what's more we're proud of it." It actually took me a minute to realize that he probably meant it as "Unlike other churches, Unitarians feel that they are likely to incur God's wrath", and I probably wouldn't have caught that meaning at all if it hadn't been for the "Whoa, harsh".   

       So anyway, to me, putting a disguise on your lightning rod seems far worse than just being honest about it and finding a way to reconcile it with your faith. Any church that implements this plan is declaring by its actions that common sense is something to be ashamed of.
baf, Nov 14 2000

       After all, churches have roofs, rather than calling on God to steer the raindrops away. Lightning is no different, just less frequent.
egnor, Nov 14 2000

       Maybe the Unitarian church was significantly taller than the churches next to it.   

       (baf, what kind of comedian was he and what kind of audience member was the person sitting next to you?)
centauri, Nov 14 2000

       Soon after Ben Franklin invented the lightening rod some religious persons condemned there use, because lightening rods circumvented the will of God.;}
gcsj48, Nov 15 2000

       Peter, that seems to be an issue more of perception: If the congregation loses interest and drifts, how is one to know that it wasn't self-inflicted, willful (albeit maybe unknowing), catch-22 communal dissipation as opposed to a more subtle AoG? heh. 'course, then, it could be attributed to an AoG, because that result would seem to be an effect of the way that humans were put together in the first place... which was an AoG... my mental is sweating... =P   

       anyway, common sense is rarely to be abondoned in the name of faith, but it isn't the highest order, either...
absterge, Nov 15 2000

       If G really wanted to get to thought criminals he/she/it/they would make them all speak the truth 100% of the time.
gcsj48, Nov 16 2000

       If I was a religous person, which I'm not, I'd want my church to have the biggest, baddest lightning conductor in town (I'm talking Castle Frankenstein here). When the lightning comes calling you'd get a fantastic light show (attributable entirely to God of course) and guaranteed crowds (at a safe distance). Midnight Mass, or whatever, would never be the same again.
DrBob, Nov 16 2000

       Asteroid impacts would be amusing(briefly).
gcsj48, Nov 16 2000

       People have argued against vaccination on the grounds that it thwarts the will of God, too. If you ask me, we should think twice about worshipping any god whose will can be thwarted so easily.
baf, Nov 19 2000

       Europeans used to talk about 'Turkish fatalism' -- the idea, current in the middle East of the time, that trying to protect people against epidemics and the like amounted to defiance of God (and Islam = Sumission). This because theocrats and clerics in the Islamic world were uninterested in taking measures against disease at a time when, in Europe, there were at least civil authorities who were determined to have a crack at reducing disease mortality, even if it meant antagonizing the church -- which was likelier to crowd flea-infested Christians together to venerate a saint (Mary or Sebastian) in plague-time than to respect concerns about contagion. It's interesting that the Catholic church wasn't opposed to trying _something_, though -- this is one of those areas in which Muslims paid for being theologically consistent and Catholics benefited by their commitment to a self-contradicting mishmash of thinly veiled paganism and nonsensical religious dogma.   

       It would be interesting to know whether Mosques have lightning rods or not, and whether practices differ among protestant sects. Most protestants, of course, don't care in the slightest about theology and are likely to take a pragmatic line.
Monkfish, Nov 19 2000, last modified Nov 20 2000

       >>is it against the law to carry a concealed lightening ro?<< A:depends where you put it.
gcsj48, Nov 23 2000

       This reminds me of a debate some friends and I had recently: If you and your wife, for example, decide to make love at a time when she could conceivably conceive, then change your minds, is that almost as bad, sin-wise, as having an abortion (or using this many commas in a sentence)?
Ander, Dec 29 2000

       Actually, the Bible is pretty clear that churches (inasmuch as they represent the practice of faith) are for sinners -- anyone free from the wrath of God need not apply. So if you believe that God "zaps" sinners (I do not) then you'd want the lightning rods (lots of them) _inside_ the church, not on the roof or steeple.
beauxeault, Dec 29 2000

       DrBob: A lightning rod doesn't actually attract lightning strikes. A ligtning rod works by discharging the electrical potential between the ground and the atmosphere slowly (ie, not a lightning strike) and continuously.
mwburden, Dec 29 2000

       In Tampa, Florida, USA that claims to be the 'lightning capital of the world' <I make no claims, just what the meat puppets say> I've seen it happen as well, lightning strikes hitting the pointy rods on top of buildings.   

       They aren't very pointy after that, but the glow is cool...
StarChaser, Dec 30 2000

       Antoni Gaudi, the great architect, most famous for his still-under-construction church in Barcelona, didn't approve of lightning rods atop _any_ building. He once said they "are like the bald lady with just one hair in the middle."
beauxeault, Feb 07 2001

       Not long after my annotation about Gaudi, above, I happened to see a picture of the top of some of the towers in his church (the "Sagrada Familia"). Guess what's on top of each tower.   

       The towers are so tall, and the lightning rods are so small, that I think they can't be seen from the ground. And from the picture, it seems that they are not simple metal rods, but are shaped like a man.
beauxeault, Feb 16 2001

       I've changed my mind. How can one claim to worship God whilst attempting to deter Her (presumably justified) wrath? If lightning rods are to be used, the only way to avoid hypocracy is to connect them to each member of the congregation. Sort of a Dodgem-car-pew effect, without the insulation.
Ander, Nov 08 2002

       [Rods] - what are you doing hiding on top of churches?
PeterSilly, Nov 08 2002

       why would the rod have been invented if it really interfered w/ God's will? It's silly to condemn something that protects you. Like egnor said, the other churches have roofs. What's the difference? There is faith and then there's common sense. If yoy jumped off of a building because you had faith that God would catch you, and he didn't, would it be because your faith wasn't strong enough? not.
wonderjello, Jun 09 2003

       what Silly said. +1 for the idea - food for thought indeed.
po, Jun 09 2003

       [baf] good explanation of Unitarianism as it "should be" (the ideal), although a little cynical (?) about the 2nd thought. Current personal experience in my own U.U. "fellowship" is common sense is less valued than a professional degree.
thecat, Jun 10 2003

       Hey [Ander], do you also defy "Gods will" by taking medicine or going to the doctor when you are sick?   

       Love the idea, only because someone is sure to find out what is in the statues and then we Unitarians can snicker from behind our proudly exposed rods... err...
James Newton, Jun 26 2006

       I don't know about other parts of the world, but here in England churches usually do have lightning rods because they are the tallest buildings in a village. I would imagine this was pretty normal.
On the subject of rain, it's said that once when Canterbury Cathedral lost its roof due to a fire, it didn't rain in the cathedral precincts for the entire time the building was roofless. Also, during WWII bombing, although the bombs were aimed at the cathedral, they flattened much of the area around it but only damaged the library. Seems a bit tough on the people around it though.
nineteenthly, Jun 26 2006


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