Monaghan proposes world's largest crucifix
25-story religious icon to anchor Ave Maria campus
By Michael H. Hodges / The Detroit News
ANN ARBOR TOWNSHIP -- Domino's Pizza founder and head of the Ave Maria Foundation, Tom Monaghan, has submitted plans to build what could be the tallest free-standing crucifix in the Western Hemisphere, and perhaps the world.
The proposed 25-story crucifix, to be built outside Ann Arbor, would be taller than the old General Motors Building, taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and just 51 feet short of the Statue of Liberty's torch.
The "icon," as people connected to the project all seem to call it, would be at Domino's Farms near the heavily traveled intersection of U.S. 23 and M-14. It would form the centerpiece of Ave Maria University, which Monaghan hopes to locate at the office park.
Plans for the proposed campus were filed with Ann Arbor Township in July, and include a rendering of the 250-foot monument, about half of which would be a tapering tower with a crucifix rising atop that. Christ's body would measure 40 feet. The entire structure would be just 20 feet short of Ann Arbor's tallest building.
"Wow -- big cross!" said Diocese of Lansing spokesman Michael Diebold. "It certainly would be a visible sign of the presence of Christ."
Indeed, the crucifix would be one of the most striking features on the Ann Arbor skyline, and it's the icon's prominence that has stirred enthusiasm and hostility among the few people who've heard of the project.
Monaghan, the pizza mogul known for his staunchly conservative Catholic views, declined requests for an interview.
The proposed crucifix "is really just conjectural at this time," said foundation spokesman William Koshelnyk, "and mostly in Mr. Monaghan's head."
"It's outrageous!" said Patricia Blom, whose house is about a half-mile from Domino's Farms in the largely rural township. "I'm a Methodist, but this will offend people in this multireligious area."
Blom and her husband have fought Monaghan's plans in the past, including a shelved proposal for an angled 35-story convention center widely known as the "Leaning Tower of Pizza."
But not everyone agrees with Blom. Former Ann Arborite Joshua Raymond, a Roman Catholic who attends Royal Oak's National Shrine of the Little Flower, argued "we should be proud to display our faith." The crucifix, he noted, "would remind people driving to work of the important things in life.
"If this were a nonreligious building, people wouldn't give two thoughts to it. But being religious, it's controversial."
In October, the township's planning commission held a public hearing on the campus plan, crucifix included. The complete proposal for Ave Maria University would require a zoning change from office park to one for public institutions. The planning commission could decide its recommendation in the next couple months, said trustee Michael Moran. That decision would then have to be voted on by the entire board.
Moran declined to speculate on the zoning change's chances for passage.
In addition, he said, the crucifix would require a variance from the township's 35-foot height restriction, though such waivers have been granted to at least one Domino's Farms structure, the chapel, in the past.
Any structure 250-feet high "generally" would have to be marked with some sort of warning light, said Federal Aviation Association's Great Lakes office spokesman Elizabeth Isham Corey.
In terms of religious art, the crucifix would be twice as high as the Christ the Redeemer statue that towers over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It would also outstrip three monuments that claim to be the tallest of their type in the world -- a 190-foot cross in Groom, Texas, a 60-foot abstract crucifix in Bardstown, Ky., and the 55-foot Cross in the Woods in Indian River, Mich.
"Leave it to the guy with the bucks," said Fr. Donard Paulus, one of the Franciscans who runs Cross in the Woods, which last attracted some 300,000 visitors.
"As far as I know, this would be the largest" crucifix in the world, said Diane Apostolos-Cappadon, a Georgetown University expert in religious art.
The crucifix's size gives some people pause, and leads John Given, who teaches Latin and Greek at the University of Michigan, to wonder whether it's meant to be "antagonistic to Ann Arbor."
Given, a Roman Catholic who attends St. Mary's parish near U-M, finds "most of what Monaghan does and what Ave Maria University stands for distasteful. But," he adds, "I wouldn't want to infringe on his right to put up something that could be seen far and wide."
For her part, Margaret Parker, an Ann Arbor artist with a keen interest in public-art projects, thinks any monument "should take into account its scale to the landscape." But she's not entirely opposed to the concept. "Monaghan has an urge to build a beautiful thing," she said, reminding everyone that "that was the impetus behind the great cathedrals and the Statue of Liberty."
Domino's neighbor Karen Mendelson, who lives in a farmhouse about half a mile away, thinks there are more disturbing features to the campus plan -- notably the introduction of up to 1,500 students in the sparsely settled township.
"The religious aspect (of the crucifix) doesn't really bother me," she said, "and I'm Jewish. But I just don't like things sticking up in the air. And at 25 stories, it's going to be absurd looking."
Of all the holy symbols that could be used, I still don't understand why anyone would choose the crucifix. It's so depressing. Look at it like this. If you were the (supposed) son of god and had been killed like that, and then one day came back to earth, is THAT what you would want to see everywhere?! A constant reminder of how you died?! Oh well, Catholics are fucked up as it is. This just drives the point home.
Christ went to the cross like the bridegroom to the bride. Xstianity from the mythic perspective can be quite beautiful, and the crucifixion is only a negative symbol if you think of it as an execution. It was the breaking up of the One into many, and evidence of the zeal of the Infinite for incarnation in Time and Space. One of the problems with our perspective on modern Xstianity is our insistence on the historical Fact of that mythology's origins and the concretization of the symbols. When you take the view that this is an execution of God you are putting out the same misconception that a lot of Xstians have about their mythology. It is a metaphor. You wouldn't think the sculpture of Mithras slaying the Bull was symbolizing cruelty to animals, would you? What I hear when I read these arguments is the individual reactions to personal experiences with the church. That's valid, but very subjective. The great mass of religious people have good experiences with their Faith, or they wouldn't stick with it. I don't see this edifice as someone shoving their belief down my throat. I just see it as an unattractive addition to a skyline. But hey, it's a free country.
Having said all that, I think the sculpture looks kitchy as all get out. Still, I lived right down the road from Bob Tilton's "Jesus Is Lord" grain elevator with the big purple stripes on it.
When the taliban destroyed two buddhas, there was a massive outcry for some reason.
It's his money, he can do whatever he likes with it, although it seems odd to me.
VKL, the crucifixion is what christianity is about, dying to save everyone and then coming back again (what mugtoe said about it was true too). Although Bill Hicks did make a good joke along the lines of what you were talking about there.
quote:Originally posted by VKL Of all the holy symbols that could be used, I still don't understand why anyone would choose the crucifix. It's so depressing. Look at it like this. If you were the (supposed) son of god and had been killed like that, and then one day came back to earth, is THAT what you would want to see everywhere?! A constant reminder of how you died?! Oh well, Catholics are fucked up as it is. This just drives the point home.
Remember "Catholics donot celebrate the faith, they mourn it."- Dogma
I've already donated $1.00 to some retard-thing and $12.00 to the VFW. I gave until I couldn't give anymore.
I wasn't really telling you what to do with your money, although if you don't ask, you rarely get.
I would think that the main incentive that people have for becoming rich is not to have lots of money but to have lots of money with which to do whatever they want.
Your posterboy Bill Gates gives generously to charity, they say (even compared to his enormous wealth).
Although I agree with you that it is a strange thing to do with your cash, as I am not sure that you really need a 250 foot crucifix, but I guess that it is up to him. I remember thinking the same thing about that New York Firefighter's Statue; presumably the people paying for it (private landlords I believe) can spend their money on whatever they wish to?