Some time ago I took my family and went hiking. Nothing better than bonding in the wilderness, breathing fresh, clean air and sleeping under the tent.
Sleeping in the tent has its own advantages as well as disadvantages. For me – advantages win. Long story short – we went to Czech Republic to see the Adršpach-Teplice Rocks. It is a region in northern Czech Republic, in which a specific mountain range is located. You wander among huge sandstone rocks, often 70 meters high, admiring the force of the receding ocean. Once you realize you are walking on the ocean floor from before millions of years and you clearly see the traces of that fact – mind blown.
No wonder those rocks draw in hordes of rock climbers. There is a story of a rock that was said to be unconquered and when finally someone got to the top – they saw a fish bone wrapped in the gazette paper lying in the stone crack. No idea how much truth is there in that ‘legend’, but the fact is the area was an attraction since at least 18th century.
When you go down the route starting in Adršpach, you pass through a small flat area just before a steep stairs leading to a gallery which you can see the whole labyrinth from. If you choose to go a bit off the track while on that flat area, you get to see a small chapel.
The chapel supposedly commemorates all the ‘victims of the mountains’, i.e. people who died in those mountains for various reasons. Mostly while climbing sandstone rocks.
Each black table stands for one person.
It’s quite understandable that in a region that was immersed in Christian culture (for better or worse) for almost two millennia there are chapels in various places, even so unreachable as sandstone labyrinth rocks in the Sudetes. The nature reserve and protected landscape area are state institutions though so unless the chapel is a historical monument (which would still be disputable) I find commemorating dead people by a dead body nailed to a wood somewhat appalling and disgusting. And I deeply think this (among other things) should be of a concern for Czech atheists.
Then again, Czech republic is a very atheistic country to begin with so if they are fine with that then who am I to tell them what to do? It’s just I find religious monuments and items placed on a public, state-owned area a blasphemy to a church-state separation and reason.
There is also the issue of symbol. I have no problem with a candle or something of the kind as it is quite ubiquitous and widely accepted as neutral. A dead body nailed to a wood is only accepted because it was force-fed to us since we were children and we were told to respect that. Imagine an image of ANYONE other than Jesus nailed to a cross and posted in a public space and you get a recipe for a local turmoil. Why do we make an exception for that one particular person? Is this a good reason to do so? I highly doubt that.