Tammy Faye, Chernobyl, & the Lens of Ruin

Last year, I posted a link to a haunting photo-tour through the now-uninhabited Ukrainian town of Chernobyl. The large, abandoned buildings evoke an unearthly eeriness that underscores the preceding tragedy.

Thermonuclear reactors aren’t the only things that can have catastrophic meltdowns. While it is nowhere near the magnitude of the Chernobyl incident, the meltdown of televangelist Jim Bakker’s PTL empire landed him behind bars and his ministry in shambles. Tammy Faye got away and took her make-up with her. Heritage U.S.A., the theme park which was instrumental in Bakker’s theft from thousands of unwitting loyal supporters, went unfinished.

The anonymous “Illicit Ohio” website has a photo tour from 2004 of the abandoned site of Heritage U.S.A., which in its dilapidated state bears an uncanny resemblance to Chernobyl. Broken glass, immense structures, and overgrown streets have made Heritage U.S.A. just as much of a ghost town as Chernobyl. Through the lens of ruin, we see something that was once considered the pinnacle of success to be in fact just another whitewashed tomb.

That God would grant us eyes to see our own idolatry before we come to ruin should be the prayer of every believer. Left to our own devices, be they heavenly amusement parks or eclectic blogs with foreign verities in the title, we will only meet ruin as our destination. May we not be found without his grace that restores us from ruin.

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