The Holy War Has Begun, and It Is Being Waged with Giant Crosses

There amid the regiment of high-tension, high-voltage power lines that line the South Beltway, Sagemont Church's brand-new 170-foot cross does not look as impressive as it might if it were situated in more glorious isolation. (The mountaintop Jesus of Rio Janeiro is 45 feet shorter but much more striking.)

Driving up on the Sagemont mega-cross from the west, you don't even see it until you pass Blackhawk Blvd., and then, there it is, if not exactly lording it over all it surveys in its white as ivory splendor, then certainly standing head and most of its shoulders above the power lines.

It is the first of what promises to be three suburban mega-crosses. Last year, Grace Community Church senior pastor Steve Riggle announced plans for 200-footers at each campus of his church - one on the Gulf Freeway in Clear Lake and the other on the North Freeway in The Woodlands.

Grace's would be no mere symbols - each is planned to sport a ground-level, orb-like "prayer center" where the faithful can kneel and beseech the Lord for the well-being of our sinful city.

Riggle says these colossal symbols would "mark" Houston as Jesus territory, which makes it sound like He is a pooch and we are his Holy Fire Hydrant.

Sadly for Grace, the Federal Aviation Administration sent the southside scheme back to the drawing board as the church lies in Ellington Field's flight path.

While Grace was licking its wounds, Team Sagemont beat them to the punch, hastily erecting the tall but FAA-approved cross that stands there the weekend before last.

"They came in with a crane and it was in three pieces, and it just went right up," says Dennis "The Hippie" Ierges. The Hippie and his buddy James Spiller - both homeless -- spend a lot of their time in a tiny city park in the very shadows of the Sagemont cross. "I think it might be the biggest cross in the world." (Not quite: there is a 216-footer in Skopje, Macedonia.)

Grace remains undaunted, and they still have plans for both crosses to go up. South Campus pastor Garrett Booth recently told Channel 2 News that even their diminished cross "would be perfect for Houstonians," especially "with all these billboards and adult entertainment places out here."

Yeah, but if this outbreak of outsized crosses keeps up, Houston is going to look like a cemetery for deceased veterans of the Cyclops Wars.

And shouldn't these churches be helping the less fortunate in ways more tangible than these flamboyant displays of faith?

Not if you ask The Hippie. He says his son was baptized at Sagemont and that he attends services there. As for the cross?

"I think it's the Eighth Wonder of the World."

Hair Balls thought we already had one of those.

- John Nova Lomax

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