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 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.