In a time when America can find so little to agree upon, it’s refreshing to know that most of us can get behind one basic sentiment: We despise frauds, con-artists and liars.
Despite this, Christian County would apparently like to be known as the place that celebrates its frauds, con-artists and liars. Why?
Let’s rip this band-aid off by telling a couple basic truths.
Edgar Cayce was a fraud. His alleged psychic powers are bunk, products of hearsay, folksy wisdom and outright nonsense. His ridiculous beliefs include the existence of Atlantis, polygenism (the idea that five races were created separately at the same time at different places on Earth), “soul-entities” that bonded with animals to create 12-foot giants, giant solar crystals and a host of other absolute silliness.
Similarly, no aliens have ever done battle with farmers in Kelly. The alleged encounter has so little evidence supporting it that it is used by psychologists to help students distinguish truth from fiction. Believe it or not, it doesn’t make the residents of this county seem too intelligent if they are incapable of distinguishing what were likely owls from sentient goblins from another solar system.
Despite this knowledge, Cayce and goblins are among the things we most project about our identity to the world at large. The “psychic” has a cell-phone tour, a museum exhibit and a seminar. It feels like half the events in Hoptown (including the solar eclipse) have Cayce-themed elements.
Out in Kelly, they’re cashing in with an annual festival complete with reproduction alien spacecraft where you can buy arts and crafts, books and all the homegrown farmers market fare you desire – but don’t forget the $20 T-shirt.
Meanwhile, on the real history front, the final resting place of several Native American chieftains who died during their forced migration west now has a disc golf course. So I guess there’s that.
The point of this column is not to deride the people who work long hours to make these events possible. It’s not their fault that the quackery they celebrate and make money off of is famous.
But Christian County has history, real history it could celebrate with that level of enthusiasm. The aforementioned stop on the Trail of Tears is just one example, but it’s a fitting one. The trail is a parking lot away from the primary offices of the Kentucky New Era Media Group. Aside from Pokemon players, people who use the trail to get in their exercise and now apparently disc golfers, that lot sits empty the vast majority of the year.
Until the Pokemon game came out (listen, I played it for that one summer like everyone else), I didn’t even know there were statues of Native Americans there, and I’ve lived in Christian County for 28 of my 29 years on this planet.
I’m not saying that it has been ignored, there’s a powwow there every year, but it’s not given the same level of significance. The same can be said of the Black Patch Tobacco Wars. My dad and I used to hitch a hay ride every year for that downtown-wide play to commemorate it when I was a kid. I didn’t learn much, but I got to see people get fake shot and the actors would give me spent cartridges that I’d try to collect and lose a week later.
Oh, that hay ride, by the way? Not happening anymore. Some sort of historic remembrance will probably occur next year.
I could keep going. A vice president was born in the county; he’s not really celebrated. Speaking of things I didn’t learn here, an important U.S. Supreme Court decision happened because of a local murder. I read that on Wikipedia 10 minutes ago. If we’re going for the “wow” factor that psychics and aliens can bring, the old courthouse was burned to the ground by the Confederates during the Civil War.
This isn’t a complete list. It’s a shame that we spend the effort we do commemorating lies when so much of it doesn’t get a backward glance.
In a sense, we are what we project to the world. This county is a beautiful one, filled with good people (as we saw during the solar eclipse madness) that has a tremendous history. That’s what the world should see. For my two cents, let’s tone down the quackery in favor of the real thing. We’ve got so much to show the world, and most of it is as real and interesting as it gets – and that’s this week’s small victory.
(JESSE JONES is the editor of The Eagle Post, a member of the Kentucky New Era Media Group. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to tell him there’s no way Edgar Cayce, who correctly predicted California would sink into the sea in the 1960s and Armageddon would come in 1999, is a fraud.)