Three Crosses, Three Vultures

I saw an odd thing this afternoon. There’s a small baptist church a few miles from my house with a large sanctuary added on. In lieu of a steeple they have a doorframe shaped tower with three crosses on top to represent the crosses of Calvary.
There was a vulture atop of each cross as I drove past. All three faced the same direction (more or less East).
I found this pretty creepy in spite of the fact that I’m an atheist who tends to suppress his superstitious upwellings.

After the initial uneasiness passed, I started wondering why I, who don’t subscribe to this religion and reject superstition, would be so affected. First, I reasoned, I was raised in a Christian family and attended a Christian high school, and therefore I’ve been innoculated with the significance of Christian symbolism. I’m also raised a semi-rural Southerner, so I have heuristical assumptions about the meaning behind certain animal behaviors (folk wisdom, you might say). I also have preconceived ideas about some animals, such as crows, opossums, squirrels, hawks and cattle. And vultures, who do not carry a nice connotation. So, mix two diametrically opposed symbols and get a pretty creepy scene.
Is there more to it? Is there some gestalt need in the human psyche to attribute meaning to such a sight? Or is it merely the confluence of two different ideas, mere happenstance? I see such a thing and how it affects me, a skeptic (or, more accurately, a cynic) and suddenly I think I can understand how ancient peoples could look upon such things as bad omens. Where my eyes see three birds resting on top of metal perches, something else sees carrion-eaters hunched over a powerful symbol of eternal life.
And if I didn’t know what a Christian cross stood for, I probably wouldn’t have noticed.

This means there is death near the church, however you might wish to take it.

It sounds like an image from the start of a horror movie. If I saw that I would be creeped out and I would be preparing for Zombie onslaught.

When Mr. SCL was in the Army and had to go to “readiness training” exercises in LA, he told me they could always find the mess tent by the vultures circling it.

It would have been an incredible once-in-a-lifetime photo.

Totally. I wish I’d had a camera on me, that was my third or fourth thought.