Sometimes, the subhead on a headline, or a quotation in an article, strikes a definite chord with me. That happened when I was reading about the recent destruction of some mysterious granite markers, the Georgia Guidestones (sometimes referred to as America’s Stonehenge). As several recent articles reported, those stones are “no longer casting a shadow in rural Elbert County, Georgia.” Early on July 5th, one of the six slabs of granite comprising the display was destroyed by what the Georgia Bureau of Investigation reports was an intentional explosive.
The quotation that caught my eye was that of a local pastor and historian, who said that the stones would probably have survived a nuclear war, “but they could not survive Southern culture.”
“Southern culture” in this context is a euphemism for deeply-rooted superstition abetted by a generous dollop of ignorance.
The linked article gives the background: In 1979, the president of a local granite company was asked to create the monument by someone identifying himself as Robert Christian (later R.C. Christian–probably a pseudonym), who claimed to represent a group of concerned Americans. Christian obtained funding for the massive project, and the granite company proceeded to create it.
The stone structure was revealed to the public on the spring equinox in 1980. Together the 951 cubic feet of granite weighed 237,746 pounds. The center slab was surrounded by four standing stones of similar height, and the entire structure was capped by a sixth stone 6 ½ feet wide, 10 feet long and 7 inches thick.
The impressive size of the structure was only part of its allure. Carved on each of the four outer slabs were 10 precepts — a message to humanity — repeated in English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Mandarin Chinese, Hebrew, Russian and Arabic. Translators from the United Nations assisted Christian with the translations.
Inscribed in the capstone was the phrase “Let these be guidestones to an Age of Reason,” written in ancient Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Sanskrit and Babylonian cuneiform.
The center slab and capstone also acted as an astrological calendar, with carefully cut holes for observance of the moon, sun and North Star. Astronomers from the University of Georgia assisted in refining this part of the project.
While Christian’s identity is still a mystery, his purpose is not.
An “Age of Reason.” If only…
At the time, there was widespread fear of a global nuclear war, and the stones were intended to be a beacon of sorts for those who would survive–a prescription for a more peaceful world.
Criticism of this project could certainly be mounted on many grounds: a vanity project, a waste of money, an ineffective indulgence…But of course, none of those reasonable quibbles prompted the fierce opposition to–and fear of– this monument.
Nearly immediately, local pastors decried the stones as satanic. “We don’t think Mr. Christian is a Christian,” said the Rev. James Traffensted of the Elberton Church of God after the 1980 ceremony. “Look what it says about the unity of the world. That’s where the Antichrist will unite the governments of the world.”
I didn’t realize that world unity and peace was a sign of the Antichrist, but given the behavior of so many so-called “Christians,” perhaps I should have.
Since there is no conspiracy theory or bizarre “religious” belief that today’s Republicans won’t embrace, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised by the following passages from the report.
Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Kandiss Taylor made demolishing the stones part of her 2022 campaign. On May 2, she tweeted: “Elect me Governor of Georgia, and I will bring the Satanic Regime to its knees— and DEMOLISH the Georgia Guidestones.”
After the stones were destroyed Wednesday, she tweeted, “God is God all by Himself. He can do ANYTHING He wants to do. That includes striking down Satanic Guidestones.”…
The bombing was not the first time the monument was targeted. In 2008, a masked man calling himself an “American patriot” defaced the monument as a warning to the “global elite.” He tied the Guidestones to a coming new world order, a conspiracy theory perpetuated by QAnon followers and expressed by personalities such as InfoWars founder Alex Jones.
Conversations on this blog often include efforts to describe Americans’ current divides: Red versus Blue, urban versus rural, educated versus uneducated…The steady growth of incidents like this one suggest a more accurate division might be: reasonably sane versus bat-shit-crazy.
If humanity actually survives this period–increasingly characterized by the rejection of logic, science and empirical evidence– historians will probably describe these times as “the age of insanity.”