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Regarding the "Jesus in the Clouds" images Davis Caperton ( writes:

Maybe this image was taken from a plane, as the submitters John y Jason claim -- a plane flying into Rio, but not Tampa! To me it looks a lot like that huge statue of Christ standing on a mountain top overlooking Rio in Brazil.

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From reading what other posters have commented, it sounds as though this is a very old claim, maybe a very old hoax or maybe a legitimate story, that got circulated around from church to church in the American Christian commmunity when the posters were young, maybe back in the '60s or '70s (I could not make out the date on the top photo). It could be true, I suppose, but I imagine it's just another urban myth -- as some have speculated, this is probably a famous published photo (probably of the mountaintop statue in Rio covered in clouds, though I'm just guessing -- art experts could research that), and people clipped it, cropped it, photocopied it, and started circulating it to churches along with the story about the woman on the airplane coming back from Rome who blindly took the photo of a storm out her window just to finish off the reel. Then that story evolved and mutated as it was passed from person to person along with the copies of the photos, with the storm turning into a tornado and in some strains the woman on the plane being dropped from the story altogether.

This is how myths generate, one generation passing along its stories to the next and this oral history mutating every generation, adapting itself to the needs and imagination of both the storytellers and those who hear it, until the original meaning of the story is lost or so wrapped in layers of lies and fancy it's near-impossible to discern. There may have been some truth to the original story -- perhaps 3 different photos were taken by some old lady of an apparition (or of what she thought was an apparition) in the clouds around the beautiful Brazillian statue, surrounded in myst, from her airplane window (returning from Rome to Rio) on a particulary picturesque morning (or night), or maybe she just thought the statue would make a pretty picture and after she died the photos fell into the hands of her descendent in the US who didn't recognize it for what it was -- but who could ever know what the true story is now, after all the layers of myth and individual imaginings have been added? I mean, look at what I just wrote -- I made it all up in my mind and presented it as fact, when I have no Earthly idea how the photos came into being. But it sounded good, didn't it?

I remember when I was a kid 20 years ago, there were two things I learned which may be relevent to understanding this urban myth phenomenon: one was a game we played in class, where the teacher whispered a story to one student and then had that student whisper it to another and so on, until the last student who heard the story had to relay it to the entire class. The story he relayed was substantially different than the story most of the students before him had heard, and almost entirely different than the story the teacher had actually told the first student. Try it with a group of your friends at a party sometime. It's fun, and enlightening. It demonstrates the unreliability of oral history -- but of course, in the study of ancient history, oral traditions are often all we have to work with (we just have to be really careful, and work really hard to uncover the truth in those ancient stories).

The other thing I recall learning as a kid which might relate to this: on the Phil Donohue Show, he had a guest on talking about an urban myth that was circulating in the churches via photocopies of a paper claiming that the company which makes Crest toothpaste and so many other products is evil (maybe that's why they put rat poison aka flouride in their product) and the proof of this is the Satanic symbol of the company which can be found on all its products (a partial moon with thirteen stars or some purmutation of 666 or something, if I remember correctly. Actually, I'm not remembering correctly and that is exactly the problem with oral histories such as the one I'm telling you now -- although technically it's not oral as I'm typing it down from my memory ;). Donohue's guest said the company had to spend a lot of money fighting this myth which threatened to ruin its reputation and its business. They claimed the symbol dated from the Revolutionary War or something and symbolized the thirteen Colonies? And they weren't about to remove it. I don't know if it's still on their products or if they finally stopped trying to fight it and just got rid of it for the sake of putting the controversy behind them.

(However, the warning on the back of floridated toothpaste that if your child swallows the crap call poison control immediately is still there, and that's based on hard scientific fact not on urban legends).

Religious communities circulate a lot of nonesense mixed in with a lot of wisdom, so it's hard to tell what from what. This is exactly what happened in the first few centuries of the Christian Church, with a lot of different religious texts and Gospels circulating amongst the churches from anonymous authors and some being claimed to have been written by people who actually had nothing to do with it. When the Romans made a state religion out of these various sects and cults, its scholars had a dickens of a time sorting thru all this apocryphal material to determine canon, and of course Roman politics played a large role in what they finally determined to be genuine and what they discarded as heretical. In the following several centuries, a lot of artifacts made their way to Europe and circulated among the faithful, with claims that they were bits of the cross of Christ, his burial shroud, his cup at his last supper, bits of his garments, bits of wood from Noah's Ark carried down from Mt. Ararat (or other supposed resting sites for the boat), etc. (Actually, I just made up the "bits of his garments" bit, though I imagine those as well as his "crown of thorns" made the rounds. But just to be as accurate as I can be to avoid urban myths springing up from this, I'm only imagining the crown of thorns and bits of his garments circulating in the early Church. Whether those joined the other holy relics that I do know of, I don't really know. See how easy it is for inaccuracies from a faded memory to creep in to history? Monks and shaman spent their entire lives carefully transcribing and memorizing their written and oral histories, and still inaccuracies slip in).

What's real and what's not -- it's always so difficult to know. But it's awfully fun to guess. That's why we all love a mystery! Thanks, Keith, for presenting us all with this opportunity to explore the possibilities and perhaps become a little wiser about discerning obvious frauds from the not-so-obvious. I guess it's possible Jason Van Cleave did photograph an almost identical apparation from his seat on a plane as did some elderly woman from a different plane decades earlier, or perhaps different folks in different seats on the same plane shot the same image from different windows, or different folks from different planes photographed the same phenonenon in the same storm, and maybe others have captured strikingly similar phenomenon on film over the years in different storms and tornados and such -- but it seems more likely that Jason was just putting his own spin on an old legend that's been circulating for over 30 years, the latest of many spins and permutations of the legend.

If you're being genuine, Jason, then I apologize. I have an open mind, but not so open my brains fall out as Art would say. Sorry, but until I see more proof, I'll remain skeptical of this one.