Nashville, TN—The original plan for today was to visit my friends Shaun and Leslie in Chattanooga, but, before I could even contact them, their sixth sense had already told them to leave town at the exact time I would be arriving. So I needed to change my route between DC and New Orleans and find something else to do. When I told my hosts in DC I had chosen Kentucky as my next stop, they assumed I would be attending the Kentucky Derby, wherein one can drink mint juleps while watching little men ride around on horses. This was a tantalizing prospect, to be sure, but I wanted my entrance into the Bible Belt to be a bit more biblical.
The Creation Museum
A multi-million dollar stronghold for people who believe every syllable of the Bible to be absolute fact, the Creation Museum opened its doors less than a year ago. It has since welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors, and with good reason–it is an eye-popping spectacle. Complete with a planetarium, animatronic dinosaurs, painstakingly crafted dioramas, dozens of videos, and the kind of seat-buzzing, water-spritzing interactive special effects shows that would make William Castle proud, this may be the most expensive self-contained propaganda project the private sector has ever seen.
What I found most fascinating about the museum was its positioning. There can be little doubt that this place was designed to preach to the choir. Its fairly obscure location is densely populated with its own demographic, its messaging is far too didactic and creepy to convert a nonbeliever, and for that matter, any nonbeliever that would go to the trouble of visiting would be doing so for the same reason I did: morbid, smirking curiosity.
This mentality of reinforcing the local status quo, in conjunction with the Battlezone Bible I saw in the museum’s gift shop, got me thinking about the similarities between the red/blue state dichotomy from the 2004 election and that of the pre-Civil War slave/free states. Makes a fella wonder if the creationists would consider secession in the face of failure to influence education legislation. Man, three days on the road and I’m already coming up with conspiracy theories.
On to Nashville
After more than five hours in a faith-based museum where I found only one kindred heathen spirit (my awesome new friend Karan), I needed to wash the god off, so I decided to listen to nothing but Slayer for the rest of the day. In the four and a half hour drive to Nashville, I got through seven of the band’s nine albums, and was in high spirits when I finally pulled up to the home of my wonderful hosts, Trey Piepmeier and his lovely wife Megan. (Their landlord is Dolly Parton’s banjo player!) A gathering in progress allowed me to fill my belly and catch up with friends old and new. Day Three = Success.