By Bobby Neal Winters
In Río de Janeiro, Christ the Redeemer is everywhere. He's on t-shirts; he's in souvenir stands; he's in sand sculptures on the beach. But these are just little Christs, copies of the famous statue. The statue itself is atop Corcovado, a mountain that stands high above the city.
For us the trip to see the Christ was in stages. We hired a driver from our hotel who drove us to a ticket office. From there we took a van a bit higher. Then we climbed stairs on our journey to Christ.
We went earlyish in the morning before it got too warm. By virtue of that fact, we were privileged to see a process. The humidity that had settled on the city in the tropical night rose first as haze, then as light fog, and finally as clouds that obscured much of the city below. One could stand the by the Christ with the warm breeze and the clouds below and believe for seconds at a time that this was heaven.
It is a very profound and attractive feeling even if it only lasts for fleeting seconds.
While you are there, you do as the tourists do...the rest of the tourist. You stand with your arms outstretched in imitation of the Redeemer.
And you have a friend take your picture with the Christ behind you.
Then you return to Río and beaches.
Yes, the beaches.
The artists on the beaches take great pleasure in juxtaposing the Redeemer with images of healthy young women in thong bikinis. Without belaboring it too much, let me just say the artists clearly are not strangers to the female anatomy, picturing it in clinical detail.
It would be easy--nay obvious--to moralize at this point. I will leave that to others. For my part, I will stick to what I can see. What I see is women who are expecting, couples who are pushing around baby carriages. Regardless of what happens on the beaches, seen and unseen, there are still those who've not forgotten we are creatures of nature and the purpose of what begins at the beach.
We can't linger long with the world blocked and the illusion of heaven on earth. We need a Redeemer, one who can bridge where we are to where we ought to be.