Monday, August 31, 2015

Richmond, Virginia

Canine Grave Guardians:  Grave guardians have been at work since before the Sphinx was born at Giza. In that role today, dogs are popular, and this Newfoundland guards one of the most popular places to visit in Hollywood Cemetery, not because of the child's grave it marks but because everybody loves dogs. Artists, practicing alchemy, come to turn cast iron into charcoal, often for an art class. Hollywood Cemetery. [2012]

Friday, August 28, 2015

Richmond, Virginia

Focus on Hollywood Cemetery:  Adaptive reuse is appreciated now, but in the 1960s and 1970s, historical landscapes were being demolished to make room for modernity. James Millard Glavé resisted the trend and began re-imagining old urban spaces and making them feel new. He was recognized in his time as the Dean of Richmond architects. One of his early projects was Shockoe Slip. [2012 and 2015]

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Richmond, Virginia

Focus on Hollywood Cemetery:  Matthew Fontaine Maury's stature in his home state guaranteed him a place of honor in Richmond's cemetery of record. See how close he was buried to President Monroe? Maury was probably the most well-known American geographer of the nineteenth century. He was known as "pathfinder of the seas," and his research gave rise to the discipline of oceanography, but in his day he was classified as a geographer. In fact, his seminal work on the oceans was called The Physical Geography of the Sea. [2015]

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Richmond, Virginia

Focus on Hollywood Cemetery:  Three Presidents are buried in old "Harvie's Woods," but only two were U.S. Presidents. The third was the one and only president of the Confederate States of America: Jefferson Davis. John Tyler got a bust positioned over his grave and James Monroe got no effigy at all. But President Davis got a full body caricature. Please read every line of the panel underneath the statue. Martyr to principle? Persecuted for righteousness sake? It only makes sense when you see who wrote those words as a tribute to America's rebel leader. [2015]

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Richmond, Virginia

Focus on Hollywood Cemetery:  On a hill overlooking the James River in Hollywood Cemetery is the final resting place of two U.S. Presidents. Here lie the remains of the 10th:  John Tyler. Hollywood Cemetery was a first-generation "rural cemetery" made necessary by the expansive growth of the city and the limitations of churchyards in town. It was laid out on the hilly land west of Richmond and became the final resting place of Virginia's elite. [2015]

Monday, August 24, 2015

Richmond, Virginia

Focus on Hollywood Cemetery:  On a hill overlooking the James River in Hollywood Cemetery is the final resting place of two U.S. Presidents. Here lie the remains of the 5th:  James Monroe. His grave is the focal point of President's Circle, but his body had to be brought here from New York in 1858. Hollywood Cemetery didn't even exist in 1831 when he died. [2015]

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ault, Colorado

The Ichthus Plus:  Jesus was born a Jew, lived as a Jew, and died a Jew. Yet, his followers applied his messianic name to their movement and became known as Christians. Christianity and Judaism diverged and became two different religions. Among the earliest Christians, however, were Jews, so the emergence of Messianic Judaism in the 20th century was just one more braid in Judeo-Christian history.  Today Messianic Jews may be buried with the "messianic seal of Judaism" engraved on their memorial. Can you identify the symbols? Do you see the fish? Do you see both flowers and stones? Ault Cemetery. [2013]

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Kirkwood, Pennsylvania

The Ichthus:  The two most well known stories about Jesus and the fish (icthys) are about the fishermen who became his disciples and the multiplication of loaves and fishes. Both narratives are reflected in the waters by this covered bridge. The fishing rod is what the first disciples gave up (rod = net) to become fishers of men. The one fish pulled out of the creek here has been multiplied by two thanks to a shadow. Union Presbyterian Church Cemetery. [2014]

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Culpeper, Virginia

The Ichthus:  Why wasn't the cross enough for the Christian brother buried here? Take a look at his last name. The cross became the most common symbol of Christianity beginning in the 4th century AD, but the fish may have been an even earlier symbol. For centuries though, the two-arc fish, disappeared from Christian symbology, only to be resurrected in the 1960s. [2014]

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Decatur, Illinois

The Ichthus:  Just in case you don't recognize the cross as a symbol of Christianity, this headstone adds a fish to clinch the association. Looks like the Greek letter α (alpha) doesn't it? Even more amazing: The Greek word for fish in Greek is ΙΧΘΥΣ (icthys). Those letters are recognized as standing for Jesus (I) Christ (X) God's (Θ) Son (Υ) Savior (Σ): Iesous Xristos Theou Yios Sotare. Boiling Springs Cemetery. [2015]

Monday, August 17, 2015

Slaughter Neck, Delaware

The Ichthus:  Icthus is Greek for fish. Fish is code for Christian. "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men," said Jesus to his disciplines. And, later, he performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. For early Christians, the cross took some getting used to (think about it!), so the followers of Jesus used an easily drawn fish to identify themselves to each other and hide their identity from Roman authorities. <>< Slaughter Neck United Methodist Church Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, August 14, 2015

San Diego, California

The Next World Elephant Day is August 12, 2016:  Here is an elephant in motion, hoping to make it to next year's World Elephant Day. If current trends continue, however, we won't have any elephants left in the wild by the end of the century (and that goes for so many other species as well). Please don't buy ivory or anything made with non-fair trade palm oil. Greenwood Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Prattville, Alabama

World Elephant Day is Today: There are a mere 600,000 African elephants left in the wild, and only 40,000 Asian elephants. By the end of the 21st century, they may be only a memory. We aren't the only species who have a right to live on this planet. Please don't buy ivory or anything made with non-fair trade palm oil. Memory Gardens. [2013]

Monday, August 10, 2015

Tampa, Florida

World Elephant Day is Coming Up:  While their numbers diminish, their images multiply: Even cemeteries have their share of elephant-themed headstones. Let's hope that the cemetery isn't the only place where kids and parents of the future can go to see what elephants look like. Please don't buy ivory or anything made with non-fair trade palm oil. Centro Asturiano Cemetery. [2014]

Friday, August 7, 2015

San Diego, California

Crux Ansata: The ankh is a cross with a handle. It was the hierglyphic character the Egyptians used to represent life, and it may have been the first symbol of eternal life. To Christians, however, it is considered pagan because Egyptian gods are often portrayed carrying an ankh or two. It became extremely popular in the 1960s as a sign of free thought, and almost an antidote for hard-line Christianity. Read the verse that is on this headstone and ask yourself whether it makes sense as a companion to the ankh: "My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant amazement." El Camino Memorial Park. [2013]

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Thibodaux, Louisiana

Crux Immissae:  Simple crosses of the same size and proportions give an egalitarian aura to this Roman Catholic cemetery. Even the above-ground mausoleums have crosses that are no bigger than those on the burial plots. Every cross on this landscape is elevated as if it is standing atop Mount Calvary, the place where Jesus was crucified. Just think how unlikely it is that the cross, a symbol of death, has come to symbolize a religion that promises eternal life. St. Joseph Cemetery. [2009]

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Cynthiana, Kentucky

Crux Immissae: Jesus is the great "I am." He was there with Noah when the ark came to rest in the mountains of Ararat. And, perhaps it was his spirit that animated the dove who brought a sign of new life back to the arc after forty days and forty nights of rain and flood. At this grave, new life is further symbolized by the Asiatic lilies that have been planted by the headstone. (Guess there must not be rabbits nearby!) Battle Grove Cemetery. [2015]

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Crux Immissae:  Although the empty cross is known as the Protestant cross, its simplicity makes it popular among Roman Catholics, too, as it seems to be here in the desert outside Albuquerque. These crosses are examples of crux immissae: upright posts crossed by horizontal beams. Wooden crosses were used by the Romans for execution, and it was on Mount Calvary outside the city walls of Jerusalem where Jesus was executed, along with two common criminals. Do you see Mount Calvary below? San Jose Cemetery. [2013]

Monday, August 3, 2015

Menomonie, Wisconsin

Crux Immissae:  The one symbol that unites all Christians (Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses excepted) is the cross. It is probably the most common religious icon in cemeteries all over the Christian world. Although, it comes in hundreds of styles, the simplest is called the Latin Cross or the Protestant Cross. It is empty because "He is risen." To Christians, the cross is a reminder that Jesus gave his followers the power to overcome death, and that's a good lesson to take to the grave with you. Evergreen Cemetery. [2012]