Thursday, March 8, 2012

Texas: The Religion

My first real visit to Texas (short stops in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport don't count) was revealing: Texans love Texas. Perhaps they even worship Texas. It is unlike anything I've ever seen anywhere else. When we checked into our hotel in San Antonio, the sign in our room said, "Welcome to Texas." Not, "Welcome to San Antonio." Can you  imagine going to a hotel in Los Angeles and finding a sign, "Welcome to California"? The pro football team in Houston is nicknamed the "Texans." It is not "go Houston," but "go Texans."
As we were driving toward Austin I saw a billboard for the "Capital of Texas Zoo." 
For crying out loud, wouldn't it be easier to call it the Austin Zoo? The triathlon held in Austin is called the Capital of Texas Triathlon. Does Austin have an inferiority complex? I don't think so, I think they just worship Texas. Texas is a religion. Evidence for this came when we visited the Alamo. As we walked in we encountered a sign saying the Alamo was a shrine, so no photography, no loud talking, just whispers. I expected them to pass around a plate. Yes, we were experiencing the story of origin, the birth of the religion, the birth of Texas. What made this more ironic was that we had just come from San Fernando Cathedral, the oldest church in Texas, the home of the archdiocese of San Antonio. A baptismal service was going on, and we with cameras in hand, were invited in while the service was going on. It was noisier in the cathedral than it was in the Alamo, and we could take pictures! But San Fernando was not to be outdone. There near the entrance were the remains of the men who gave their lives for the other religion: Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie. 
Through their death was the birth of Texas. Christianity has the cross and Texas has the star, 
the "lone star." 
There are stars everywhere. 
I will never again look at the Texaco logo in the same way. 
Look at the Dallas Cowboys logo. 
Even the Houston Texans logo. 
We found manhole covers with stars on them. Gates.
Stars on freeway overpass concrete pillars. Bathroom walls. I started to wonder if maybe Texas laid claim to the birth of Jesus? After all, Jesus was born under a lone star. 
Then I saw that there was a Bethlehem, Texas. Could it really be? 


  1. Love this post, and I love how Texans love Texas. Looking for and finding Texas stars everywhere, including on the pink cowboy hats we bought for our granddaughters, made the trip that much more fun.

  2. haha, my dad Russ Cannon sent me this post because we moved to Austin last year. I grew up in Las Vegas where there is very little city or state pride so it was a bit of a culture shock. I still spend a great deal of time laughing and rolling my eyes, especially the first week my kids came home from school reciting the "Pledge of Allegiance to the Texas Flag". No joke, they really do that every morning, start 'em young. And football's almost as serious a religion as Texas here, longhorns and orange everywhere. Even high school football's a big deal and have huge stadiums. By the way there is an Austin Zoo which is a better zoo than the Capital of Texas Zoo. But my Texas sister-in-law has told me many times that the Texas capitol building is the only capitol building taller than the US capitol, so gotta refer to the Texas capitol as much as possible. Thanks for the laugh!

    1. Hi Gina, love your dad. We stopped at the UT football stadium and tried to drive around Austin a little bit, but the traffic was as bad or worse than LA. I'd always heard that Texans love Texas, but I was still taken back by how much. Lots to see and do there. I think I could live in Austin or San Antonio and enjoy it.