So it’s no secret the south is a pretty religious part of the country; they don’t call it the Bible belt for nothing! So Texas was probably as good a place as any to find religion. I am not talking about finding God (He’s been a part of my life for a lot of years). I am talking about finding religion. I wanted to be a voyeur and see how people brought God to the masses and I discovered it was through early air conditioning. #Truestory
I have talked about my endless drive through Texas…more than a few times I think :) You already know about my adventure in discovering the US Stonehenge, which was far cooler than I was actually thinking it would be. But the main reason for my circuit through the second largest state in the country was to see the San Antonio Missions National Park. There are missions all over the west and Southwest, but there seems to be a particularly large concentration of them in San Antonio Texas. So here I went.
Most people think it was the army that first explored this continent, but it was actually the very brave priests and missionaries that went into the wilds of the west, armed with Bible and cross, to settle this place. They were really the first explorers of this planet and in a lot of ways they still are. So the main premise was to bring Jesus to the heathens, in this case Native Americans, but a lot of the time they brought disease and abuse as well. A topic for another day maybe…
It also was one of the very first races to space. With so many countries owning a piece of America, one of the best ways to lay claim to a larger piece was to settle it. So in that spirit the Spanish took up the cross (so to speak) and built missions, thereby creating Spanish colonies. The first mission was built in 1690, the Alamo. So once again having another moment of not being smarter than a 5th grader. I didn’t realize the Alamo was a mission. I only ever knew it as the place where the early Americans wrangled Texas from the hands of Mexico. So I skipped it, thinking it was just a military outpost. Doh!!! (SMH) And I started with Mission Concepcion.
Built in 1755, and by all accounts it very much looks like it did at the time of its dedication. It is the oldest unrestored church in America. At one point the church was covered inside and out with colorful frescos and geometric paintings. When traveling I sometimes try to imagine what the people of the time must have thought; was this just a weird curiosity of the white settlers or did it draw people into it’s doors to see what else was inside? I know if it was me I would have went in to explore, but I am curious like that…
I have a theory: If this fresco is a representation of what the other frescos in the mission looked like, the Spanish missionaries showed a little bit of brilliant insight. Many native populations were worshippers of the sun, so what better way to attract them into the door than by painting representation of their god on the walls? Also it shows that when you are trying to change someone or something in a given situation you are just as likely to end up being changed by the experience.
A Final Word – I owe a huge thanks to the amazing AJR who fixed my laptop! The ONLY reason I have pictures for this post (and several more that I will write in the coming weeks), is because he is a guru. My laptop wouldn’t even boot up and somehow he fixed it, salvaged my pics, and he doesn’t know it, but also restored the sound (which hasn’t worked in over a year). It’s great to be back blogging. THANK YOU!!!