Thursday, December 31, 2009

On the sixth day of Christmas ...

... and laid Him in a manger ...
-Luke 2:7
Nativity, an entry in last year's Colossal Castle Contest by Barbara Werth

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

On the third day of Christmas ...

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
-Luke 2:6
Detail from a nativity scene by Steve bishop

Saturday, December 26, 2009

On the second day of Christmas ...

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.
-Luke 2:4-5
From a 2003 display at Our Lady of the Snows by a number of AFOLs

Friday, December 25, 2009

On the first day of Christmas ...

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
-Luke 1:26-28
From the Brick Testament by Brendan Powell Smith

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Hanukkah

Hmm, what to feature? After a bit all of the LEGO menorahs and dreidels look alike to me, so let's take another look at Tbone_tbl's version of Solomon's Temple, as described in further detail on his blog. Okay, this isn't the actual structure that was rededicated on the first Hanukkah. Solomon's Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE. The returning Jewish exiles built another on its spot between 537 and 516 BCE. That second temple is the one celebrated on Hanukkah, but this is a great model well worth a second look.



I hope all my readers who celebrate it had a wonderful Hanukkah.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Hanukkah

Back to a Hanukkah MOC. Even though there was only enough oil for one night, the lamps kept burning for eight, hence the eight candles in the menorah. Someone needs to point this out to G-MO, but it's a great little model nonetheless.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I have a little dreidel, I made it out of ... LEGO

In addition to the lighting of the menorah, another tradition associated with Hanukkah is the dreidel game. The letters on each side of the spinning top stand for Nes Gadol Haya Sham – "a great miracle happened there" - referring to the story of the Temple's rededication. Builder Januson made this LEGO top to play the dreidel game.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Away in a manger ...

Barbara Werth presents a great nativity scene that she built last year around Christmas-time.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Hanukkah

"Hanukkah is the festival of lights, instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights," sings Adam Sandler. The lighting of the menorah recalls the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabean revolt in 166 BCE. In recent years there have been several examples of LEGO menorahs, such as this event from two years ago in Northfield, NJ. Watch the news story on its construction. This event was coordinated by Stephen Schwartz, of Building Blocks Workshops. I've previously blogged Stephen for his workshops involving the construction of significant religious and cultural sites in ancient Jerusalem.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Minaret

A couple of days ago I posted about minarets as the key architectural element found in mosques. This lovely Arabian street by Polish builder Ciamek has a great example of a minaret.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nicholas of Myra

Jolly old Saint Nick is recognized as a saint in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions, but instead of being a fat man who lives up north, he was a kind man from Turkey known for his generosity and holiness. Several exploits and miracles are attributed to him, particularly in relation to helping children. Over the centuries, of course, his reputation has grown into the figure we associate with the secular side of Christmas, but his origin is on the sacred side. He is the patron saint of Amsterdam, and in the Netherlands (and elsewhere), Saint Nicholas' Day is celebrated on December 6. In Dutch tradition, children leave out their shoes with a card for the saint and a carrot for his horse, as depicted by Dutch LEGO builder Erik Smit. When they awake they find candy and other treats.



The text in the image translates to "Have a nice Saint Nicholas."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Nativity scene

As we enter the Christmas season, expect to see a lot of holiday-themed LEGO creations, such as this nativity scene by Alpha-98.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tarot

Tarot cards were originally used for playing card games, but in the late 18th century began to be associated with mysticism and the occult. Yaron Dori made a LEGO tarot deck.





Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Minaret

Minarets are the most visible structure of an Islamic mosque. Traditionally, this tall tower served as a platform from which the call to prayer could be made (though in modern times a loudspeaker is generally used rather than someone climbing up into the minaret. Minarets are in the news because a few days ago Switzerland passed a law banning the construction of minarets - something that could be seen as a blow to the freedom of religion, or a statement of Swiss identity, or both.



SaberScorpion made this minaret as a scene from the video game Assassin's Creed. I guess in that game a figure has to leap from the spire and land in the hay wagon below, but this is a great example of LEGO architecture.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Church of Scherpenheuvel

Another entry for the CCC Religious Life contest is Sebastian Arts' (Aliencat's) Church of Scherpenheuvel from Belgium.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. -Abraham Lincoln, 1863

Thanksgiving is, of course, a civic rather than religious holiday, but it has roots in a faith in a generous God. Here are a couple of Thanksgiving MOCs - Clancy's feast by Josh Wedin and Zerves' variation on set 10090. I hope all my readers have a wonderful day tomorrow, whether you are in the US celebrating this as a holiday or not. I'll probably be away from the computer for a couple of days, and then once December starts I'm sure that Christmas-themed creations will start appearing.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Flying butresses

The Colossal Castle Contest over at Classic-Castle is bringing out lots of church builders. Shmails built some flying buttresses for the 'technological advances' category. Flying buttresses allowed for the construction of much taller and grander cathedrals and became a hallmark of gothic architecture.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Funeral of Roland Kingsley

Entries are starting to arrive for the Colossal Castle Contest 7 over on Classic-Castle. For this blog, let's take particular note of the 'religious life' category. Here is RichardAM's Funeral of Roland Kingsley.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sunday's sermon at Notre Dame de la Carce

Entries are starting to arrive for the Colossal Castle Contest 7 over on Classic-Castle. For this blog, let's take particular note of the 'religious life' category. Here is 74louloute's Sunday's sermon at Notre Dame de la Carce

Friday, November 20, 2009

Medieval wedding

Entries are starting to arrive for the Colossal Castle Contest 7 over on Classic-Castle. For this blog, let's take particular note of the 'religious life' category. Here is Nanuck95's medieval wedding.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Breakfast Television

Janey Red Brick recently appeared on Breakfast Television, a morning news program in Canada. This was a great public display of our hobby, and I've previously blogged Janey on my other blogs for her vignettes and microscale MOCs, but I'm noting her here for her MOC of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.



The FSM's first appearance was in a 2005 letter from Bobby Henderson to the Kansas State Board of Education, using satire to object to the teaching of Intelligent Design theory in public schools. The FSM has since become a sort of internet icon among skeptic and atheist groups, having some fun with the whole idea of organized religion.



On Flickr, Janey has more photos from her appearance on Breakfast Television.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Church of Fremont

John Cooper, of Fremont, Nebraska, built a >huge LEGO church. According to the newspaper article in the Fremont Tribune, this project took three years:
* The main sanctuary is six feet long and seats 400 people ... well, perhaps Legos-size folks. It is tiled, includes tiny pews and hymnals and four organs. There are walkways along the sanctuary. And there’s a large dome with a cross.
Oh, and there’s a music room, of course.
* The lighted bell tower, which is a little over three feet tall, took almost a year to complete.
* On the south end of the L-shaped structure is a fellowship hall with a basketball court and stage. A guest who peeks through the skylights can also see a tiny piano and trumpet on the stage.

Cooper is music and worship director at a local Lutheran church, which helps explain his inspiration, though from the article it seems that the LEGO church is his own design, and not based on the church he is a member of. Sadly, the Coopers are moving into a new home, so this church has already been disassembled. But now the bricks are ready for the next project.



Sorry about the photo quality. This is a screencap of a slideshow of four photos on the Fremont Tribune website. It does not appear that Cooper posts anyplace like Brickshelf or Flickr, though the article mentions that he did use Bricklink to get the bricks.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Creations for Charity

There is no GodBricks content to this, but it's a great cause and, heck, this is my blog. A number of LEGO builders have gotten together to create Creations for Charity (headed up by Nannan Z). You can buy original MOCs by great LEGO builders, and all proceeds will go to buy LEGO sets for underprivileged kids - these will be distributed via Toys for Tots. I highly suggest you give this a look. All major faith traditions recognize a duty to help those who are less fortunate, and in the western world we often see the Christmas season as a time to particularly focus on that need (there, I got in some relevance to this blog after all).

Friday, November 6, 2009

LEGO Book

DK Publishers recently released a boxed set: The LEGO Book, all about the hobby and another about minifigs (celebrating their 30th anniversary). One of the coolest aspects of the book is the inclusion of creations by LEGO fans, including the previously blogged recreation of the Cologne Cathedral by J├╝rgen Bramigk.



I apologize for the quality of the photo. This was cropped from a snapshot I took with my phone. Follow the link I gave above to a full gallery of great photos of this cathedral.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ordo Fratrum Minorum

Matthew 10:9 - "Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts." In 1209 Francis of Assisi was so impressed by a sermon on this passage that he took a vow of poverty. The power of his example and sanctity of his life brought others to him, and eventually Pope Innocent III formally sanctioned their order. Still today, Franciscans are one of the best known religious orders within the Catholic Church, and they still hold to Francis' original teachings about poverty. Naneto presents this representation of a Franciscan friar. Btw, this scale of building is called Miniland, as this is the type of model you see in the Legoland theme parks. For more about this style of LEGO building, see one of my other blogs, MinilandBricks.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Contest time!

Classic-Castle is a website focused on the LEGO Castle theme. The annual Colossal Castle Contest VII was just announced, and one of the categories is 'religious life.' The Church, of course, played a huge role in medieval society, and this category challenges entrants to show that in LEGO form. I'm a judge in this contest, so I'm sure there will be lots of great monasteries, cathedrals etc. to report on this blog. This contest is open to anyone who wishes to enter, so all readers of this blog should try their hands.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Luther's Rose

Chris Wunz made a mosaic of Martin Luther's seal to commemorate Reformation Sunday.



Quoting Chris, who was quoting Luther:

In Luther's words"

"From the wilderness of Koburg Castle
8 July 1530

Honorable, kind, dear Sir and Friend!

Grace and Peace in Christ!

Since you ask whether my seal has come out correctly, I shall answer most amiably and tell you of those thoughts which now come to my mind about my seal as a symbol of my theology. There is first to be a cross, black, and placed in a heart, which should be of its natural color (red), to put me in mind that faith in Christ crucified saved us. For if one believes from the heart, he will be justified. ["For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved." --Romans 10:10] Even though it is a black cross, which mortifies and which also should hurt us, yet it leaves the heart in its natural color and does not ruin nature...that is, the cross does not kill, but keeps man alive. For the just shall live by faith, by faith in the Savior. ["This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, 'It is through faith that a righteous person has life.'" --Romans 1:17]

Such a heart is to be in the midst of a white rose, to symbolize that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. In a word, it places the believer into a white joyful rose, for this faith does not give peace and joy as the world gives. ["I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid." --John 14:27] Therefore, the rose is to be white, not red, for white is the color of the spirits and of all angels. ["..an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled aside the stone and sat on it. His face shone like lightening, and his clothing was as white as snow." --Matthew 28:2b-3 and "She saw two white-robed angels sitting at the head and foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying." --John 20:12]

This rose, moreover, is fixed in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that such joy in the Spirit and in faith is a beginning of the future heavenly joy. It is already a part of faith, and is grasped through hope, even though not yet manifest.

And around this field is a golden ring, to signify that such bliss in heaven is endless, and more precious than all joys and goods, just as gold is the most valuable and precious metal.

May Christ, our dear Lord, be with your spirit until the life to come. Amen."
Martin Luther

Semper Reformanda!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

Well, tomorrow is Halloween, a holiday that has come into our modern life via various cultural and religious festivals. In the Celtic world, Samhain was one of the major holy days celebrated during the year, marking the end of summer and the beginning of winter. In Wales this night was called Nos Galan Gaeaf. It was believed that the dead would walk the earth on this night, and people would build large bonfires to ward them off. As illustrated here by Jonas Lindbärg, people would leap over the flames for luck.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The heavens declare the glory of God

The Pillars of Creation is a photo of a portion of the Eagle Nebula where new stars are being formed. It is also a LEGO mosaic by Brandon Button. Why include it here? Let's look to Brandon's motivation in choosing his subject matter, as reported in an article in the Mormon Times:
Button also says he was struck by the connection to the gospel the "Pillars of Creation" photograph seem to represent.
The three "Pillars of the Gospel" are the Creation, the Fall and the Atonement. In the temple, intimate details of the Creation and the Fall are revealed. The need for the Atonement is made very clear. In the temple, a grander perspective of the Plan of Salvation is presented.
He says that through this photograph, "we can realize and feel God's love for us in a more personal way and on a broader scale." To Button, this photograph shows order and purpose to the universe, and is evidence that our own existence is not accidental.



Sadly, this is the only photo I can find of the mosaic. Photo credit goes to John Evans of the Mormon Times. Hopefully Brandon, the builder, will post photos of this to one of the photo sharing sites LEGO hobbyists tend to use - he mentions in the article that he got the mosaic software from Lugnet, a major LEGO hobby website, so he has some connection to the fan community.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gifts of Grace

The actual LEGO creation isn't religiously themed, but Chris Wunz built this maxi-fig(giant version of a minifig) for a program at his church. Their "Gifts of Grace" festival involved giving coats and other items to needy families. Chris set up a LEGO station to occupy kids from these families while their parents were otherwise busy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Reformation Sunday

Yesterday was Reformation Sunday, when Protestant churches recognize Martin Luther, who nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg, setting off a chain of events resulting in the Protestant Reformation. Here we see the scene recreated in LEGO form by Chris Wunz.



BTW, just a helpful hint, if you're traveling through Germany and want to make a side trip to visit this site, "Wittenberge" and "Wittenberg" are two different towns. True story - I made this mistake and found myself in a small town that, while pleasant enough, has no real features to commend itself to a tourist. And the next train to take me back to Berlin wasn't coming for another four hours.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Agostino Novello again

I previously noted three creations by Italian LEGO builder Mautara illustrating miracles attributed to Agostino Novello. He's completed a fourth scene, saving a child fallen from a cradle, thus completing his recreation of the panels from an altarpiece by Simone Martini. Mautara has said that his next project will be a LEGO recreation of a fresco of Saint Mauro from the Abbey of Monteoliveto, so I'm looking forward to seeing that.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

LEGO ornaments for charity

The Christmas season is often seen by Christians and many others as a time to be concerned about those in need. As described in the Omaha World Herald, seven-year-old Brandon Carlson has combined LEGO and charity, selling LEGO Christmas tree ornaments to raise money for the Food Bank. Each ornament sold will fill a backpack with food for a hungry kid. Sounds like a great project to me. To order one of the ornaments, or a kit so you can build your own, see the Carlsons' website at Ornaments 4 Charity.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wars of Humanity

The Wars of Humanity site is devoted to stop-motion animation using LEGO (called Brickfilms) based on stories from the Exodus and Joshua. Their 20-30 minute films have won awards at various film festivals and have been shown at churches and other venues. It looks like they are planning on selling a DVD, or you can contact them via their website if you want to learn how to schedule their film. Their site hosts short trailers for each of the three films. Attack of the Plagues looks at the confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh. Price of Rebellion follows the Israelites into the wilderness after they leave Egypt. Jericho, the Promise Fulfilled takes the Israelites into the Promised Land (this last one I linked on YouTube, as the video on their site seems to be broken).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Last Supper

Bill Vollbrecht built this version of Da Vinci's Last Supper out of all chrome pieces. Photo credit goes to Mariann Asanuma.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Key Islamic leader urges forgiveness

Key Islamic leader urges forgiveness - so reads an article from Thailand from last month. Several years ago, someone took an image from the Brick Testament that was meant to illustrate immorality in Israel before the time of King Saul, and they made fake box art, claiming it was a LEGO set about Muhammad in a sexual situation. This angered many Muslim groups, and LEGO had to make an apology and reassure people that this was not a real set but was rather a fake. In this story from Thailand, someone re-used this image in an student magazine promoting sexual awareness. Local Islamic leaders got upset, and the publisher ran a "five-day public apology advertisement in seven Thai-language dailies," published 50,000 copies of a book on Muhammad, and burned hundreds of copies of the magazine. I'm disturbed by the implied intimidation here that made the publisher go to such lengths. I'm also disturbed that no one ever seems to try to learn something about the original creator of the image or to ask Brendan permission for its re-use.



As before - warning - clicking through the image to the original source will show minifigs in an implied sexual situation. If that sort of thing bothers you, don't click.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Forgive me, father, for I have ...

LEGO builder zgrredek has some fun with the Sacrament of Penance, more simply known as confession. The idea of confession in Christianity goes back to James 5:16 - "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed." In the Catholic tradition, the Church is held to be heir to the promise of Christ to his disciples in John 20:23 - "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven."
From the LEGO building standpoint, note that minifigs don't have knees, but here zgrredek has come up with two different solutions to get more realistic poses.



Found via Klocki, another LEGO blog.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Spirit of God descending like a dove

In the very front of Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican stands the Cathedra Petri, or the Altar of the Chair of Saint Peter. This monument, completed by Bernini in 1666, holds a chair that Peter is said to have sat on as he taught the church in Rome. The whole monument is topped by a stained glass window, also by Bernini, depicting the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove - imagery repeated in all four gospel accounts of the baptism of Christ.



When Brian Korte was in the Vatican on his honeymoon, he was so impressed with this image that he decided to recreate it in LEGO form. His mosaic is built of all transparent LEGO elements, so it can work as a real stained glass (okay, stained plastic) window. All of Brian's LEGO mosaics can be found at Brickworkz, and you can even commission him to create one for you. Brian has said he plans on making more mosaics from religious-themed art, so you can expect to see more of his work on this blog.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ishtar Gate

Ishtar is not just a bad movie from the late 1980's - Ishtar was a goddess in ancient Babylon, where she was associated with both love and war. King Nebuchadnezzar II (the same one from the biblical book of Daniel) had a gate erected in her honor leading into the inner city. Today the pieces of this gate have been transported to Germany, where they are reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum (and it's really impressive to see in person). A French LEGO builder has made a great replica and recently displayed it along with other AFOLs.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ahimsa

Ahimsa is the principle of doing no harm, and is important in several religions centered around India - Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. It was preached by Gautama Buddha, leads many to vegetarianism and is tied to the idea of Karma. Jains take this to the greatest lengths, going out of their way to avoid harming even small insects. Today is the 140th birthday of Mohandas K. Gandhi, here depicted in minifig form by Andrew Becraft, perhaps the most well-known proponent of ahimsa. He took this concept from religion and philosophy and applied it to political action in his resistance to British rule. He was also a great influence on Martin Luther King Jr., though Dr. King found the philosophical grounding for his non-violence in Christian teachings.