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In Austin, Texas — A Check-Cashing Jesus and a Laundromat Mary

In Austin, Texas — A Check-Cashing Jesus and a Laundromat Mary February 23, 2016

The face of Jesus painted on a cross on the door of a control box next to a pay phone at a check cashing establishment in Austin TX. Photo by bf newhall
A crucified Jesus appears on what seems to be a fuse box outside a check cashing establishment in East Austin. To the right of the pay phone, the Virgin of Guadalupe. Around to the left, Gandhi. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Gandhi overlooking a parking lot, a front yard Virgin Mary, Jesus on a fuse box. Where am I?

Austin has the reputation of being not your typical Texas town: it’s more liberal and more secular than the rest of this Bible Belt state. Perceptions notwithstanding, there’s plenty of religion going on in Austin. You can see it everywhere, from the street.

Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists, Mormons, Evangelicals — Austin has them all. Here’s what I spotted with my trusty point and shoot, sometimes without even getting out of the car:

The face of Mahatma Gandhi reproduced with pieces of mirror on the wall of a check cashing establishment reflects a blue sky in East Austin, TX. Photo by BF Newhall
Whoever loved Guadalupe and Jesus enough to piece together their images on the front of this building seems to have a thing for Mahatma Gandhi as well. Notice the roses, a symbol of Mary. Photo by Barbara Newhall
Colorful bas relief Image of Radha Krishna  -- in both male and female form -- at the Rahha Madhav Dham temple in Austin TX. PHoto by bf newhall
Outside Austin’s Hindu temple at Radha Madhav Dham, the Godhead expresses itself in the form of Radha Krishna. Devotees say Krishna, left, and Radha, right, are one and the same deity, but appear in two forms in order to pass on bliss through their playful interaction. Photo by Barbara Newhall
An elaborate mural of the Virgin of Guadalupe is painted on the side of the Kleen Wash laundramat in East Austin, TX. the mural includes an image of an airplane crashing into the Twin Towers on 9/11. Photo by BF Newhall.
Guadalupe at the Kleen Wash laundromat. The parking lot mural includes an airplane crashing into the Twin Towers on 9/11. And, yes, that’s my trusty point-and-shoot in the side mirror. Photo by Barbara Newhall
Detail of a grren, white and red mural depicting the Virgin of Guadalupe on the outer wall of a laundramat  in East Austin , TX. Photo by BF Newhall.
The Kleen Wash Virgin’s tearful gaze . . . Photo by Barbara Newhall
Detail of a mural on outside wall of the Kleen Wash laundromat in austin, tx, showing plane crashing into twin towers on 9/11. photo by bf newhall
. . . falls on this 9/11 scene. Photo by Barbara Newhall
A sun-faded image of the virgin of guadalupe stands in an austin, tx, front yard next to a plaque honoring a soldier son who died in the Korean War. Photo by BF Newhall
A sun-faded Guadalupe with a front yard cross and plaque honoring a soldier who died in the Korean War. Photo by Barbara Newhall
A small statue of the Virgin Mary stands amidst flowers and trees in an Austin, TX, front yard. Photo by BF Newhall
Another front yard Virgin Mary. One of many in East Austin. Photo by Barbara Newhall
The worship space of the First Evangelical Free Church of Austin with upholstered chairs in row, a simple cross at the front of the room and audio equipment set up for praise worship. Photo by bf newhall
This vast unadorned sanctuary is the main worship space at the new campus of the First Evangelical Free Church of Austin. Plenty of audio-visual equipment for praise music is scattered about. But the room itself doesn’t go in for architectural detail, imagery, art or even color. Some people like their religion this austere. As for me, I prefer the Kleen Wash parking lot . . . Photo by Barbara Newhall
An image of the feet of the deity Rahda Krishna at the Radha Madhav Dham Hindu temple complex, austin, texas.
. . . and the feet of Radha Krishna. Photo by Barbara Newhall

A version of this post first appeared on BarbaraFalconerNewhall.com, where Barbara writes about life, books, family and her rocky spiritual journey. If you enjoyed this post, you might like “Barbara Brown Taylor — How to Pray? I Wish I Knew.”  For more Austin stories go to “Quirky, Lovable Austin.” 

Barbara’s book, “Wrestling with God: Stories of Doubt and Faith,”  is available from Patheos Press.

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