Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Two observations on religion from the national parks

I saw two conspicuous examples of religion in national parks while on vacation, both disconcerting, but for different reasons.

Both were in California’s redwoods country.

The first, in a coastal section of Redwoods National Park, was a cross about 6 feet high, made out of two pieces of steel I-beam. The cross appears to have no historical significance itself, nor does it commemorate a historically significant site; no marker, plaque or other object is at the site.

The second, at the adjacent Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, was a string of Tibetan prayer flags wrapped around a redwood fern. New Ageism (assuming an Ager and not a Tibetan lama left the string of flags) no more should be commemorated in national parks than orthodox Christianity. Plus, leaving prayer flags like that is, by legal definition, littering.

New Agers have been angering American Indians by doing this at places like Sedona for years. Stop it.

Besides, it’s metaphysically illogical. If you’re really into “detachment” as a metaphysical principal, it’s illogical to consider one place “sacred” over another; in so doing, you “attach” to that place.

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