Friday, June 03, 2005

Roadside Religion

Listening to NPR this morning, I was thrilled to hear them mention Frostburg, Maryland. I grew up in Cumberland, Maryland, about 10 miles away and went to college at Frostburg State University. It's a fairly rural area and so it's always a surprise to find evidence that the rest of the world knows it's there.

The NPR story was an interview with author Timothy Beal about his new book, Roadside Religion: In Search of the Sacred, the Strange, and the Substance of Faith. He said that he got the idea for the book when he and his family were driving along Interstate 68 in Maryland when he saw a sign that said "Noah's Ark Being Rebuilt Here" and he just had to stop and see it. That sign is in Frostburg.

From the time I got my driver's license until I moved to Oregon, I drove on 68 nearly every day, and during college I drove past the "Noah's Ark Being Rebuilt Here" sign nearly every day. I never once stopped to see it.

The sign was kind of a joke in the area. I can't remember when the sign was put up, but it was years before any part of the ark was visible. We never thought they'd really do it. Then one day these red girders showed up.

It's a very odd enterprise. People there still wonder about it. The last time I went by it was still nothing but girders. It's been more than 30 years since Pastor Richard Greene had the dream that led him to undertake this project, but he's patient, persistent, faithful.

Faith is indeed a strange thing.


Andy said...

As few points of trivia...

Jack Fisher, who gave up Roger Maris' 60th home run in 1961 is from Frostburg.

Hall of Famer Lefty Grove, whom The Sporting News once named the greatest left-handed pitcher of all time, is from nearby Lonaconing.

Frostburg is an anagram of frog burst.

Long ago, I was the sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Frostburg.

Actor Eddie Deezen, perhaps best known for his role as Eugene in Grease and now the voice of Mandark on "Dexter's Laboratory", is from my hometown of Cumberland.

It has been claimed that Frostburg has "more bars and churches per capita than any town in America."

LutheranChik said...

I thought I was pretty well acquainted with American colleges and universities, but I must admit that I've never heard of Frostburg State University. On the other hand, you've probably never heard of Grand Valley State University and Saginaw Valley State University here in MI.

"Frostburg is an anagram of frog burst." That's just wrong. ROFL

LutheranChik said...

While on the subject of unusual "faith-based" roadside attractions: On my way down M-20 to the annual Wheatland Music Festival in Remus, MI, I drive past some sort of "biblical garden" that includes a bunch of big fiberglass dinosaurs placed out in the field...I haven't quite figured this out yet; someday I might have to stop in there.