Sam Maverick’s bell is still there. Melt more guns.


Don’t know why I have been so worried. But every time I pedaled by St. Mark’s Episcopal Church while it was undergoing renovation, I fretted the bell would disappear when the scaffolding was removed. The bell and an old image of the church inspired me to make “Peace be with you” in 2005.

Hanging in an arch on Jefferson Street, the bell’s past was not peaceful. Legend says it saw service during the Battle of the Alamo. According to the church’s website:

The church bell was cast from a bronze cannon found buried near the Alamo on the grounds of the home of founding members Samuel and Mary A. Maverick.

Abe Levy writes in the San Antonio Express-News the completion of work on the sanctuary will be celebrated on February 3:

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church has had a storied past with the likes of Robert E. Lee among its flock, and Lyndon Johnson marrying Lady Bird inside its native limestone walls.

Among the city’s oldest Protestant churches, it is a downtown landmark with a rich history, especially for generations of Episcopalians.

After 15 years of studying plans and raising money for a campus-wide  restoration, St. Mark’s is celebrating its $15 million overhaul. Its most recent phase is a $2.6 million facelift of its sanctuary, originally completed in 1875….

Established in 1858, St. Mark’s is considered the flagship congregation of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, producing many bishops through the years and lending the most financial support to diocesan operations among the diocese’s 90 congregations in South Central Texas….

Led by architecture firm Ford, Powell & Carson, renovation work included repositioning the altar to face the congregation. Care was taken to use original colors in plastering and paint, said Father Mike  Chalk, rector.

“We took our history very seriously,” he said. “We went back to early pictures of the building, and as we did the restoration, we noticed some colors associated with the original colors of the building…. We’re really trying to  reclaim the beauty of the building.”

The entire project was aimed to enhance the original architecture by the celebrated Richard Upjohn, who designed Trinity Church on Wall Street. St. Mark’s is a rare example of Upjohn’s work west of  the Mississippi River and is believed to be his only design in San Antonio.

From my print:

They say Sam Maverick forged the bell for St. Mark’s from a cannon used during the Battle of the Alamo.

If only the concept proved contagious….

That bell means a lot to me.

As I pedal by, often with the melody of some ancient hymn echoing in my mind from the carillon at St. John’s Lutheran Church, I wonder how all those semiautomatic assault rifles would sound ringing in church towers throughout the country.

Certainly a lot better than the sound of parents crying.

Note: Apologies for such a low-resolution image. Many of my print images temporarily are trapped in my old computer. My website is also in transition and in somewhat of a state of decomposition, but “peace” is there, albeit in equally low resolution.

Does god really need a billboard?

Someone seriously expects us to believe god loves billboards, particularly one lording over the river?

Time for an intercession?

According to one website, the patron saint of advertising, Saint Bernadine of Sienna:

…was accustomed to preach holding a board on which were the first three letters of the Savior’s name in its Greek form–‘IHS’–surrounded by rays, and he persuaded people to copy these plaques and erect them over their dwellings and public buildings.

Oh, Saint Bernadine, what did you unleash?

Maybe we need an intervention by Panchito instead?

Note: Read about the St. Catherine of Bologna-pleasing bridge railing by George Schroeder here.

Update on June 15, 2012: Seeking a poem by Yeats I cannot remember, I came across an assemblage of tree quotations at garden digest containing the most obvious one to have included with this post:

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.

Ogden Nash, Song of the Open Road, 1933

And then this by extension:

No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself.

John Muir

Lest you think this was an attack on religion, war has broken out in San Antonio. Atheists have launched a counter-attack, mounting their own billboards along major arteries. Claiming nonbelievers are ostracized in San Antonio, the billboards invite them to “join the club.”

Two wrongs definitely do not make a right; they just make more wrong things.

Wish Lady Bird Johnson would fly up out of her grave and haunt them all.

Update on February 2, 2013: Oh, no. They are multiplying. Billboards “showing the way to God” are so abundant, they qualify for Clear Channel’s “volume discount,” according to the San Antonio Express-News.

“Upsize your life,” reads one.

Like fast-food burgers and fries, signs are among things that shouldn’t be upsized.