We always thought that Rio de Janeiro Christ the Redeemer statue was a gigantic slab of concrete. It turns out that its face is covered in tiles of mortared soapstone. (It was designed by a sculptor, but built by engineers). And every once in a while somebody’s got to go up there and maintain those tiles, along with the lightning rods that prevent God from doing what Muslim iconoclasts would to this one of the 7 wonders of the world. And this is what that looks like:
We don’t believe there’s any SF guy (or SEAL, Ranger, Marine, SAS, GSG-9, you name it) fellow who’s ever looked at Christ the Redeemer without thinking about how very cool it would be to climb, or rappel off.
Considering we’re descended from arboreal apes, there’s something terribly human about the way any of us can walk a 2-foot-wide path completely unthinkingly (indeed, while talking on the phone and sipping a drink), until that path is a hundred feet in the air.
If Christ the Redeemer was in, say, Reno instead of Rio, for one thing the view would blow, and for another, swarms of lawyers from the Atheist Criminal Lovers’ Union would be trying to tear it down. (Has a lawyer ever, in all recorded history, put something up? Or are they simply the termites of civilization?)
Or their goal would be, if not tear it down utterly, to put some saint of their religion, like Martin Luther King, or Chairman Mao (or both at once, as in the statue in DC) in His place. One suspects that the Brazilian atheists are typically laid-back in carioca style, unlike ours who have all the proselytizing and judgmental power of their forebears, Cotton Mather and Elmer Gantry.
Fun fact for Vietnam vets: there’s a similar sized, albeit differently designed, Christ the Redeemer statue in Vung Tau (formerly Cap St. Jacques), in the nominally atheistic land of Vietnam — an Australian base and R&R destination during the war.