Yesterday I went to Salvation Mountain.
This was my sixth or seventh trip to Salvation Mountain since 1993, but I was always alone, so I never exited the car and walked around.
I did not feel safe.
Yesterday I was with a group of seventeen photographers…. There’s power in numbers.
I felt safe.
Not completely safe.
But safe enough to get out of my car and take pictures.
Is it odd that I don’t feel safe in the midst of Bible Thumpers, especially those spouting “God Is Love?” On the surface, yes, I think it is odd. The underlying reality, I believe—
—and as my wise old grandmother told me,
“You can’t argue with someone’s beliefs
because their beliefs are not always based in reality.”—
—is that these people will do just about anything to protect their beliefs, and they often are not sane, sober, or interested in other beliefs, not to mention opinions, facts, science, truth….
Salvation Mountain is a “hillside visionary environment” created by Leonard Knight (1931–2014) in the California Desert area of Imperial County. Knight started it in 1984 when he was 53. Although there are many Bible verses painted on Salvation Mountain, its main philosophy is the Sinner’s Prayer. Knight’s version of the Sinner’s Prayer seemed to be the following because it was everywhere!
Jesus, I’m a sinner.
Please come upon my body
and into my heart.
What little research I could tolerate doing this morning on the Sinner’s Prayer indicates that it’s just another of those beliefs. In this case, even the Bible does not contain any reference to the Sinner’s Prayer. It’s all made up gobbledygook even beyond the fairy tales in the Bible.
Salvation Mountain is the “showpiece” of Slab City. Other parts of Slab City include the “neighborhoods” of East Jesus and West Satan. I’m pretty sure I would be living in West Satan.
We didn’t make it to West Satan yesterday. Seems the West Satan folks and the East Jesus folks weren’t getting along…. Where’s God’s love?
All residents of Slab City are “squatters” and seem to be paranoid about government, technology, and science. However, if you want to donate to their paranoia, they have an email address and they do take PayPal. They also have a Facebook page. Am I the only one who sees the irony here?
I do find it interesting that for a “city” propounding God’s love, there was a lot of non-love exhibited throughout Salvation Mountain, Slab City, and East Jesus.
More irony (my belief)
In 2000, The Folk Art Society of America declared Salvation Mountain
a folk art site worthy of preservation and protection.
In an address to the United States Congress on May 15, 2002, California Senator Barbara Boxer described Salvation Mountain
as a unique and visionary sculpture… a national treasure… profoundly strange and beautifully accessible, and worthy of the international acclaim it receives.
In December 2011, the 80-year-old Knight, suffering from dementia,
was placed in a long-term care facility in El Cajon, California (where I live!).
He died there February 10, 2014.
In 2012, a public charity, Salvation Mountain, Inc., was established to support and maintain Salvation Mountain.
I found the question mark in this little section of Salvation Mountain to be quite interesting:
I’m not worried about whether or not Bible Jesus loves me. I’m worried about the followers of Bible Jesus….