Today's Daily Jesus is a double-header of divine apparitions that comes to us from the city of Porterville, a community of about 55,000 people in Southern California's Tulare County. It all started with an angel that appeared in the window of a Color Tile store at night. When the owner of the Xpress Gas and Mini Mart across the street turned off his lights to demonstrate to the traffic-blocking crowd of several hundred that gathered that the "angel" was just a reflection, they did the only thing they could. They saw Jesus hanging in a palm tree.
People seeing new image — Jesus on the crossIt's hard to argue that the reasoning of Robert Sanchez could possibly be invalid. If I tell you that I own a Lamborghini and that I keep the Hope Diamond in the glove box, clearly it must be true. I couldn't be lying twice in a row.
By ESTHER AVILA
An image of what appeared to look like an angel on the window of a local store is gone but a sea of people longing to catch a glimpse of the heavenly creature flocked to the site tonight hoping to see not only the angel but also something new — an image of Jesus Christ hanging on the cross on a nearby palm tree.
"I went looking for the angel and it was gone," Robert Sanchez said today. "Then someone said Christ was there and I looked up and I saw him. Christ was on the cross, arms out, head down, his beard, his eyes — down to the last detail. You can see his ribs and his stance with his knees up and arms hanging to the side. I was thrilled. To have two sightings in the same place — it confirms that the image on the window was not fake..."
Crowds of people could be seen on both sides of Olive Avenue. Some people parked east of the highway and walked to the 1000 block of West Olive Avenue...Great, people are looking for hope and you give them an Iron Age torture implement. Ah well, anywhere the rubes gather is a good place to seek out marks.
The Rev. Steve Benton, pastor from Hope Restoration Ministries in Poplar, placed a cross at the base of the palm tree.
"My wife and I were here to share our faith with the people who are drawn to this image in the window," Benton said. "I have been out here for two nights and never saw it myself but these people are looking for something to fill the vacuum in their lives. That is why I put up the cross, because it is an image that is really clear. People are looking for something. People are looking for hope..."
Porterville resident Trina Leon said her heart felt heavy when she saw the people.So close! Trina almost had it there. The reflection in the window is every bit as valid a reason to hope for anything as is believing in the mythology behind it in the first place. If they didn't already believe in gods and angels, the reflection and the light-play in the palm tree wouldn't have been interpreted in the way they are in the first place. These things exist in a smear of light on some smudged glass as they do in any given church.
"My heart just sank. People want to believe," Leon said. "I said 'People, this is not of God.' It was an illusion. I call it mass hysteria. People want to have hope but that hope needs to lie in God. Instead of turning to a palm tree or a window, they need to look for God..."
The angel in the window turned out to be nothing more than reflections of light from the mini mart across the street. But people who have been gathering at the site are not convinced.Joudi gets it! Look at that... some rationality amidst the gawking crowd of turkeys in a thunderstorm. While these people are standing around and gawking at nothing, Joudi is trying to run a business and they're not letting him. The poor guy has to deal with a crowd of credulous true-believers who won't even believe that the "angel" is nothing but their own ignorance manifesting itself when he makes it disappear by flicking a light switch to the "off" position.
"People will see whatever they want to see. That's imagination," Adel Joudi, owner of Xpress Gas and Minit Mart, said. "The angel has been there since I opened the store two years ago. It was a light reflection. If I turn on the light, it is there. If the light is off, it is gone."
Nearly 400 people arrived Monday night to see the angel, he said.
"I had to call the police," Joudi said. "They couldn't control the crowd. I had to shut my store down for two hours while they got all the cars out of here..."
"But people wouldn't believe it. They wouldn't leave. They hung around the area until 1 a.m. to see if the angel would return," Joudi said. "I just want them to go away. I want them to know that the angel will not return. I have a business. I just want people to respect my business..."Sorry, Joudi, but a lot of people in Porterville believe they have the right to take money out of your pocket because God is sending them signs. Now, would you kindly turn the lights back on so that there will be something to do at night for the terminally gullible?
There are pictures, of course. First, here's the Angel of the Mini Mart:
And second, here's the Jesus of the Palm Tree Outside the Mini Mart:
Color me convinced! That second photo looks particularly like Jesus, doesn't it? That was contributed by Porterville resident Shonna Uram who shares with us the following "thought":
I am the one who submitted this photo, my daughter took this picture last night, and if you were truly there last night, like we were, then tell me why do you think over 300 people were standing there looking at this and taking pictures of it, if nothing was there? We know what we saw and all the others that were there saw and the photo is the proof... Laugh all you want to I will pray for you...I mean, what more can you possibly demand as proof that angels and Jesus are visiting Porterville, California? Nearly 300 people think they are and, as Robert Sanchez has reminded us, they saw two different things. That should be enough proof for anyone. Three hundred turkeys staring open-beaked at the clouds while the rain comes down just couldn't be wrong.