Friday Messiah: Isaiah Robertson, Prophet of Niagara Falls
Okay, it’s stretching things to call Isaiah Robertson a messiah—he’s a prophet, rather, with an apocalyptic message, which predicts the Rapture in 2014, and pinpoints the Second Coming to Niagara Falls, NY—but oh, how he puts that message across! He expresses it in carpentry and bright colours, in patterns of rocks and beads, candles and found objects, notably including his own modest bungalow. That is, it started out as a modest bungalow, in much the same way that Robertson started out as a humble housebuilder.
Born in Jamaica in 1947 and raised by a devout Adventist mother, Robertson became a carpenter because that’s what Jesus was. He came to Canada in the early seventies and continued as a building contractor, eventually adding to his income by buying, renovating, and renting out cheap properties on the US side of Niagara Falls. Then, in about 2003, came the fateful, life-changing contract: to drywall the sanctuary of Mt. Erie Baptist Church.
It seems that God spoke to him personally and made it clear that drywall was just not good enough; what God wanted was oak. Robertson duly, and at his own expense, did the whole interior of the church in oak. Further, he found that God guided his saw as he cut the wood, divinely inspiring inlays, cutouts, and panels, even coding messages for Robertson in the fine grain of the oak. Robertson realized that he was not just panelling a church—he was being given a prophetic revelation. And when the church was done, he continued with the revelation by gussying up his own house in what looks, at first glance, like metastatic Christmas decorations. At second glance, the charm takes hold.
Clearly, the Prophet Isaiah is somewhat beyond eccentric, and his apocalyptic vision of Christ touching down on Goat Island and casting sinners into a lake of fire at the base of Niagara Falls is—well—hilarious. But what a better world it would be if all prophets and messiahs worked out their visions with jigsaws and paintbrushes, oak panelling, and pretty patterns of rocks and beads.