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PALM LATITUDES

State Of Mind

February 16, 1992|Kathleen Moloney | Edited by Mary McNamara

Sand-sculptor Theodore Conibear found God while working in the Bullock's parking lot 51 years ago. "I was renting two parking spaces in a lot next to the Bullock's between 6th and 7th on Hill Street," Conibear, 85, says. "I'd sculpted my usual lot of dance girls and presidents. People put donations in my basket as they watched. Then I decided I wanted to sculpt something different."

So Conibear went across the street to a dime store and bought a picture of the Last Supper. "It took three tons of sand and six months, but it brought a good crowd," he says. "I didn't know much about the Bible. People asked me which disciple I made first. Well, I couldn't tell the difference between Judas and James. So I went back over to the dime store and bought a Bible."

From that day forward, Conibear believed. He began devoting himself to his life's work: Bibleland. Conibear's shrine to Jesus is located alongside Interstate 10 on the way to Palm Springs, just outside of Yucaipa. It consists of four life-size scenes from the life of Christ--the Nativity, Jesus praying in the garden, the Last Supper and at the tomb. Conibear and his wife, Irma, who live in a trailer by the shrine, do not charge admission, but welcome donations.

Bibleland may not be long for the world. In four years, Conibear's 25-year lease on the land runs out. Conibear has a prediction on what will happen to Bibleland then. "In 1996, creation will be 6,000 years old. So I figure, if that book I been reading all these years is right, maybe the world will come to an end."

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