Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boar's Head Carol

The boar's head in hand bear I,
Bedeck'd with bays and rosemary.
And I pray you, my masters, merry be
Quot estis in convivio.



I know, no religious content here, which is why I saved it for post-Christmas, but I've always loved this song. I can't say I've ever partaken of boar's head, but I guess it was once a traditional yuletide feast centerpiece. I hope that you and yours had a festive Christmas.

MOC by Tony Sava

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Joy to the World!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.



MOC by JETfri

Friday, December 24, 2010

O Come All Ye Faithful

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, in the highest:
Oh, come, let us adore him, Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.



MOC by MisaQa

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming

Isaiah 'twas foretold it,
the Rose I have in mind;
with Mary we behold it,
the Virgin Mother kind.
To show God's love aright,
she bore to us a Savior,
when half spent was the night.



MOC by MooseBot

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We Three Kings

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb



Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heav'n replies

MOC by briXwerX

Monday, December 20, 2010

Little Drummer Boy

Little Baby
I am a poor boy too,
I have no gift to bring
That's fit to give our King
Shall I play for you
On my drum?



MOC by Lego_Joe

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."



Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

MOC by Matthew Hocker

Saturday, December 18, 2010

O Little Town of Bethlehem

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may his His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.



MOC by Gary McIntire and others

Friday, December 17, 2010

Angels from the Realms of Glory

Angels, from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o'er all the earth;
Ye, who sang creation's story,
Now proclaim Messiah's birth.



Sculpture by David Winkler

Thursday, December 16, 2010

O Holy Night

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.



LEGO Club model built by Nori

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Do You Hear What I Hear

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky little lamb,
Do you see what I see?



MOC by Piotr

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Angels We Have Heard on High

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?



MOC by Barbara Werth

Monday, December 13, 2010

Olympians

I've recently been reading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books, which are pretty fun, if a little light. This has me thinking about the Greek Pantheon. Auric mad a micro Olympus for the recent Mini Castle Contest over on Classic-Castle, and also representations of the gods.




These also reminded me of a much earlier version of the Olympians by Leah Cardacci.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

One last Hanukkah post

Hanukkah is over, but let's see two last menorahs. One from Chris Doyle is pretty close to minifig scale and another at a larger scale from Dave Kaleta. Could anyone help translate the Hebrew script on the front?


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Interview with Brendan, part 2

This is the continuation of an interview with Brendan Powell Smith, creator of the
Brick Testament. Please also read part 1 of the interview.

GodBricks: Currently you've been going back and recovering some of the stories that you addressed earlier, either expanding them or bringing in more advanced building techniques. How do you balance this versus addressing other parts of the Bible you have yet to cover?

Brendan Powell Smith: I ache to return to illustrating parts of the Bible that I have not yet covered at all. But the ache I felt when looking at my earliest illustrative work was worse, so it has won out for the past several months. I assume many people who come to The Brick Testament start with the beginning of Genesis, and I was just really bothered that my best work was not what people saw when they first visited.



So I feel committed to this re-illustration project for a while. I am not sure where I'll be able to draw the line and feel OK leaving the old stuff there. I kind of want to re-do all of Exodus and The Wilderness, though I know that's crazy. And I think I want to get to new material more than I want to spruce up those sections. Maybe. Haven't decided yet. Definitely have to at least close out the Abraham stories for consistency's sake, and I will very likely do a bit more work on the latter half of Genesis.

GB: Much of what you've done has been fairly straight-forward narrative. Some sections, though, have been less linear storytelling, like the law and the epistles, or used fantastic imagery like Revelation. Of course there's a ton of more poetic material you've left largely untouched, like the Psalms, Proverbs, and the major and minor prophets. Do you plan on tackling these areas? What additional challenges might these pose to you as an illustrator?

BPS: I would definitely like to illustrate a fair amount of material from Psalms, Proverbs, and the writings of the books of the Prophets.



I think people have a very misguided idea that the Psalms are a "nice" section of the Bible because they have heard Psalm 23 and assume they are all poetic praises of how good God is to people. I think this stands in need of correction.

GB: Do you have a favorite scene or MOC from the Brick Testament so far?

BPS: I am particularly proud of how I captured the insanity and horribleness of Revelation, whether it's the fiery balls of blood and hail that burn up a third of the Earth, or all the islands sinking into the sea and people attempting to kill themselves to avoid being tortured by locust creatures with scorpion tails, people worshiping a seven-headed beast from the sea, or Jesus trampling people to death in a giant, gory wine press.



I waited seven years to illustrate Revelation, because I knew my skills needed to be well-honed first, and I think that strategy was the right approach.

GB: Is there a particular scene or MOC that was particularly difficult to build in LEGO form?

BPS: Solomon's Temple took a lot of planning and patience to build inside and out. More recently I remember spending an enormous amount of time setting up a single shot of the victims of The Flood drowning in a watery grave. For the latter, I used a bunch of LEGO-constructed props to hold all the people and animals in place.



The supports themselves I hid off-camera, behind other people or animals, or had to resort to photoshopping out. It's the same technique I had used for the Battle in Heaven scene in Revelation.

GB: As I recall, there were already other niche books aimed at the AFOL community (things like books on Mindstorms programming), but The Brick Testament: Stories from the Book of Genesis was probably the first AFOL-produced book intended for a wider audience. There have since been others, like I LEGO NY, LEGO a Love Story, and the books by Sean Kenney. Were there any obstacles to getting a LEGO book published? Do you have any suggestions for others who would like to turn their hobby into a book?

BPS: The hardest thing is to find a publisher who is as excited about your idea as you are. After the first major press that The Brick Testament got, several people suggested I try to get a book published. I had a friend of a friend in the industry, and got a recommendation for an agent who could shop the book idea around for me. There was a certain amount of interest, but nothing came of it, so I assumed that was that. Then a few months later after some more good press, the president of a small publishing house happened to hear me interviewed on NPR and contacted me, and that turned into a three book series.





So it's hard to know how to give good advice. Make something new and awesome with wide appeal, and things will possibly work out for you.

GB: Do you think you'll ever finish this project? I don't mean will you build a MOC for every single verse in the Bible, but do you think you'll get to a point where you've illustrated all of the passages that interest you? Or perhaps will you simply get sick of this whole project? If so, do you have other projects in mind for the future? Perhaps your take on holy books from other religious traditions?

BPS: I don't know if I'll ever feel done with it, and I'm fine with that. It's nice to have a project I can just keep adding to and improving on indefinitely. Even if, in a few years from now, I've actually gotten around to illustrating all the Bible material I'm interested in illustrating, I wonder if I'll always feel compelled to go back and do a better job re-illustrating the oldest parts of the site. Even if my building, photography, and storytelling skills plateau at some level, it seems as though LEGO will always be putting out a wider and wider variety of minifig faces, hairstyles, outfitting, and accessories that I will wish I had had when I first illustrated a certain story. Or when I illustrated it the second or third time. :)

If I'm not at all sick of the project after nine years, it's hard to imagine that will ever happen, but who can know for sure? There's always the possibility of starting in on a new holy book after finishing the Bible, but I don't feel like I'm nearly as studied in other religions, so it would take a fair amount of groundwork first. I've started reading the Book of Mormon, but haven't gotten all that far, and don't like that it apes the writing style of the King James Bible, making it difficult to follow. I could get interested in illustrating some of the New Testament apocrypha, like the Acts of Thomas it which Jesus's twin goes to India, or the Apocalypse of Paul in which the apostle Paul gets a gruesome and detailed tour of the tortures of Hell.



But I if I had to pick one thing right now, I am most tempted to illustrate the works of Josephus concerning the Jewish-Roman war of 66-70 AD. It is chock full of great little stories very reminiscent of those in the Bible, and in some ways feels like a continuation of the epic story of the Israelites that the Bible begins in 4,000 BC and carries up to about 60 AD. So it's sort of a nice Bible epilogue or final act. And it's just as violent and terrible, but almost definitely more true.

GB: Okay, I'll let you get back to your bricks. Thanks for joining us here at GodBricks!

BPS: OK, back to building! Thanks for the thoughtful questions, and as always, thank you for your continued interest and support.

--

I hope that you enjoyed this new feature here at GodBricks. In the weeks and months to come I plan to have additional interviews with builders with different perspectives on the intersection between LEGO and religion.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Nauvoo Temple

After Joseph Smith and his followers left Kirtland, Ohio, they settled in Nauvoo, Illinois, where they built the Nauvoo Temple. Facing persecution, they left only a few years later, ultimately to arrive in Utah, so the original Nauvoo Temple was not used extensively. Damaged by tornado and fire, it was later demolished. In recent years, the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints has built a replica on the site. This LEGO replica was built by the "grandson of LDS sculptor Avard Fairbanks", though I don't know the name of the builder.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Happy Hanukkah

Tonight is the final night of the Hanukkah festival. Let's look at a few more LEGO menoras.

The Golda Och Academy is, I gather, a Jewish day school in northern New Jersey. Here are photos of their giant menorah.


The Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor, Michigan, held a similar event. This girl is assembling a section that will be added to the ten-foot tall stand.


Here's one from last year, at the Fairfax Corner shopping center in Fairfax, Virginia.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

May the merry bells keep bringing, happy holidays to you

Rick Theroux and Brian Wygand collaborated on holiday shopping at the mall. Note the inclusion of both Christmas decorations and the menorah.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cow and the ditch

This contest entry by Rinsju immediately made me think of this passage where Jesus was challenged over healing on the Sabbath:

"Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?”" Luke 14:5

Monday, December 6, 2010

This means war!

Hound Knight presents a MOC inspired by the Christian hard rock band Petra's song This Means War:
"This means war--and the battle's still raging
War--and though both sides are waging
The Victor is sure and the victory secure
But till judgement we all must endure
This Means War!"

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Legorabia

Last August I blogged a small mosque by 1wave, noting that he was going to use it in a larger project. Well, that larger project has since been completed - Al Qasr.

Friday, December 3, 2010

God bless us, everyone!

With the start of December, I'm sure this blog will be dominated by Christmas-themed creations, but I'll try to not completely neglect other traditions. Dickens' classic Christmas Carol is not a particularly religious work. While the action is centered around Christmas, it is shown as more of a season of good will and charity towards others than an explicit celebration of Christ's birth, but it is suffused with Christian themes like repentance. A builder with the nickname 'Okay' made this LEGO form of Scrooge and the three ghosts.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Interview with Brendan, part 1

As a new feature here at GodBricks, I'm going to have occasional interviews with some of the LEGO builders I've featured. And who better to start with than Brendan Powell Smith, creator of The Brick Testament? This work is easily the most extensive and most prominent LEGO project devoted to themes relevant to this blog, but from a different perspective. Since Brendan was kind enough to give extended answers to several of my questions, I'm going to break this up into two parts. And so, with no further ado, on to the interview ...


Photo credit goes to Flak Magazine.

GodBricks: First up, welcome to GodBricks. For the sake of our readers, let me say up front that we've corresponded many times and I've been a fan of the Brick Testament from the very beginning nine years ago. Can you tell me about the original inspiration of this project? Did you intend from the very start to spend many years covering the whole Bible, or was this at first just meant to be a few short stories and then on to other LEGO projects?

Brendan Powell Smith: The Brick Testament began life as just another in a string of quirky creative projects I was doing at the time (others included writing and recording albums, making a 600-page web-based choose-your-own-adventure game, and writing and acting in a Christmas movie). To be honest, if any of those projects had gotten the kind of attention and flattering praise that The Brick Testament attracted so quickly, I might still be working on one of those other projects.

When I first conceived of doing the Bible in LEGO, my initial thought was to just recreate a few famous scenes like the Garden of Eden and the Last Supper as LEGO models. But as I started building the Garden and designing minifigure versions of Adam, Eve, and God, I began to realize that I had an opportunity to make not just models for display, but that I could retell the stories of the Bible in LEGO using a series of still photos set inside a fully LEGO-built universe.



Since I was starting with the first story from the first book of the Bible, I thought I'd just go from there and see how things went. The website went online in October 2001 with six stories, from Adam and Eve up to The Flood. Things indeed went well, and now, nine years later, I've put 422 illustrated Bible stories on the website and have had three books published in seven languages around the world.

GB: I know that you are not a religious person. Could you tell us about your own story with regards to faith issues? Why would someone who is not religious spend so much time on the Bible?

BPS: I was raised in a family that went to an Episcopal church where my mom was even a Sunday School teacher for a few years. Around the age of thirteen, I went through a phase where I consciously decided I wanted to leave behind what seemed like childish ways of thinking. I didn't start off taking aim at religion. It was more an attempt to weed out magical thinking and superstition, but eventually I began to see the similarities in how people think about God and especially prayer. It wasn't the most comfortable thing for me to bring skepticism to bear against God at that age, and it was a solitary journey, since I did not know anyone else who was not a believing Christian. But I baby-stepped my way through it with thoughts like, "Well, if there is a God, and he is going to punish me for even questioning these sorts of things, that doesn't seem like a God worthy of my respect in the first place."



Eventually I decided there just did not seem to be good reasons to believe in God, and that it seemed far more likely that no gods exist, and that put me in an odd position. I now felt like I had "seen through" religion, and that I had figured out something that almost everyone else in the world had not, even people who were (otherwise) very, very sharp. This made me fascinated by religion and with why other people found it convincing and didn't see through it the way I did. Was it that I was missing something, or was it really that almost everyone else was?

This curiosity lead me to study religion and philosophy in college, where I learned about the historical origins of Judaism and Christianity, studied the philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God, and first read through the Bible on my own. Reading the Bible was a revelation to me. I was downright shocked by so much of the content and by the overall portrait it portrayed of God. It seemed entirely at odds with the idea of God that most Christians I'd encountered seemed to believe in. I became convinced that most people simply are not aware of the contents of the Bible, and reasoned that it would be a better thing if they were.

So even though I am not religious, I recognize the importance of people being familiar with the contents of the Bible, and I am jarred by the idea that more than 2 billion people identify themselves as Christians or Jews, and yet almost none of them really know what makes up the vast bulk of the book they consider our most important moral guide. The few carefully chosen readings given in churches, and the distorted versions the Bible stories found in children's Bibles and Sunday School lessons were not doing the job, and were actually giving people a false representation of the Bible. So I wondered if there was a way to make the actual contents of the Bible presentable in a way that was fun and engaging, and yet still true to the text. It wasn't until a few years out of college, though, that I happened to get back into building with LEGO as an adult.

GB: Have your own views of the Bible, Christianity, or Judaism changed in any way over the course of this project?

BPS: There are a couple of things I've changed my mind about over the years. One of them is the conventional wisdom that says "The God of the Old Testament is god of wrath, while the God of the New Testament is a god of love". To some degree I believed something akin to this for years even after I'd been working on The Brick Testament, though I wouldn't have made the contrast quite so stark. Sure, it's easier to find some more agreeable or even noble ethical maxims in the Gospels, but the life and teachings of Jesus are not without their dark side, and even within the first year of working on The Brick Testament, I made sure to strike a balance between adding material from the New Testament in proportion to material from the Old Testament. I've always sought to keep The Brick Testament safe from the potential criticism that it only highlights some small minority of Biblical material that misrepresents the whole.

It was in re-reading the book of Revelation, though, that it became clear to me that the God of the New Testament was every bit as much a nasty, vengeful God of wrath as the God of the Old Testament. My mind reeled at the sadistic nature of that book, and how warped by hatred and spite its author must have been. It casts a deep, dark shadow over anything positive that might have come before it in the pages of the New Testament, and yet seems in many ways like a perfect close to a Bible whose bulk concerns the God of the Old Testament.



The other change of mind I've had over the years concerns the scholarly quest for the historical Jesus. I studied under Paula Fredriksen at Boston University, and for many years after that I found her view of the historical Jesus to be the most convincing. It is the same view held by consensus of (non-religiously-motivated) scholars, and perhaps best laid out by Bart Ehrman in his 1999 book Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millenium. As that title suggests, these scholars argue that the evidence points to a portrait of Jesus as a Jewish prophet (one of many during that period) who was convinced that God was about to (during his lifetime) bring about a violent end to the world and usher in a radically new age. His code of ethics are therefore best understood as temporary instructions on how to act during the very, very short time remaining.

What's changed for me is that, while I still think scholars like Ehrman and Fredriksen make a strong argument, I have become more persuaded by the interpretation of the evidence by the author Earl Doherty who, in his book Jesus: Neither God Nor Man, makes the argument that the writings of the first hundred years of Christianity point to an earliest period of the religion that believed in a Jesus / Son of God figure who was purely a spiritual entity, and who was not seen as a human being who had walked the Earth in recent memory. I fully realize this theory strikes most people as a radical notion, and those who haven't read the case for it are quick to dismiss it. In fact, I would even recommend that people read Ehrman's or Fredriksen's books first, since they are a bit more accessible, and provide a good groundwork for comparison. And yet, in the end, I find Doherty theoy has the most explanatory power, leaving fewer important questions unresolved.

But my own assessment of the scholarly quest for the historical Jesus does not really affect my work on The Brick Testament in any significant way. When illustrating the Bible, I always put myself in the mindset that what it says about Jesus it true. It would be the same if I were illustrating The Illiad: even if I was interested in Ancient Greek history enough to become convinced, like most scholars, that King Agamemnon was not an actual historical king of Mycenae, such a belief would not change how I illustrated Homer's epic.

GB: Of course you've gotten tons of press over the years. Can you tell us about some of the response you've gotten from different groups - atheists/agnostics, Christians, Jews, Muslims, The LEGO Group?

BPS: The vast majority of responses I've received have been very positive, whether from Christians, Jews, or non-religious folks. There have been hundreds of requests from churches and other religious institutions to use material from The Brick Testament their in presentations and classes. Others who have left the religion they were brought up in tend to appreciate how it brings to light the absurdities and repugnant material in the Bible.

Only about one in every hundred e-mails will have anything negative to say. The most common complaint is that I do not shy away from illustrating the Bible's sexual content in a frank manner, and there is an accompanying worry over the effect that seeing such things might have on children. I am always bewildered that people could be so worried about children being exposed to sexual content, yet not have a far more pressing concern over children being exposed to cruel and violent content. Especially when it comes to the Bible where, sure, there is a little bit of sex content here or there, but the amount of cruel and violent material is just tremendous. It is by far the most violent book I have ever read. I can't understand how someone could fear the effects of children seeing a depiction of two people having sex more than they would fear the effects of children seeing a depiction of torture, murder, or genocide.



I don't know what the reaction of The LEGO Group is to The Brick Testament. I know that there are people who work for LEGO who are fans and have said some very nice things about the project, but I think the company itself would prefer to keep a polite distance, and that's fine with me. While it would be wonderful to get shipments free bricks from them (especially any and all new minifig parts as they come out, wouldn't that be nice?), I don't think they would ever want to be seen as a sponsor of the site, or endorsers of its content, and I would never want to feel beholden to them when it comes to making decisions about its content.

GB: I note Muslims in particular because someone took an image out of context and labeled it as Muhammad having sex. Your depiction of slavery is another image I've seen spread around the web without proper attribution or context. I rather suspect that your depiction of Nazis will eventually share a similar fate. Have you had any personal fallout from things like this? Have you tried to counter this misuse of your images?

BPS: I don't know that I've ever received feedback about The Brick Testament from someone who made clear that they are a believing Muslim. I am aware of the image that was taken from the Judges section of my website and altered by some unknown person (without my knowledge or permission) to depict a fake LEGO set of Mohammed having sex with an underage girl. It had spread to many parts of the internet before it came to my attention. I did make a concerted effort to post a note on any forum or blog that displayed this image, asking them to remove it, and explaining how the original had been altered without my consent. I suppose it's possible for any of my images to get used without my permission in a similar way. If someone can take an image of an Israelite and label it Mohammed, perhaps someone will take the image of the Nazi rally and label it a kibbutz.



I have not had any personal fallout from anything like this so far. Of course, it will be a shame if a Muslim believer kills me because he mistakenly believes I depicted Muhammad in LEGO. But I'm not sure what I could really do to prevent that. That whole issue is pretty insane. Does it make any sense for people to be "tolerant" of the insane and evil belief that someone should die for depicting a certain other person? If Presbyterians believed that people should be killed for wearing blue jeans, and indeed had killed many people who wore blue jeans, should other people show "respect" for that belief and never wear blue jeans? Wouldn't the more sensible thing be to denounce such evil, deranged beliefs and severely punish anyone who acted on them?

A huge thank you to Brendan. Check back in a couple of days for part two of this interview. -GodBrick

Edit - Please read part 2 of the interview.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Hanukkah

Tonight Jewish families around the world are lighting the first candle of their menorahs. Every year you'll see stories of synagogues building public LEGO menorahs, such as this in Toms River, NJ, I assume to ignite (pun intended) the interest of kids in their congregations. Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple in 165 BCE, after a Jewish revolt pushed foreign invaders from Jerusalem. There was only enough oil to burn the ceremonial lamp for one night, but miraculously the flames stayed lit for eight, hence the eight night Festival of Lights.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eid Mubarak

I missed this a couple of weeks ago, but Mezba Mahtab of Teaching Kids the Holy Quran wished his readers a joyous Eid Mubarak, or 'blessed festival', for Eid al Adha. This holiday commemorates the obedience of Abraham who was willing to even sacrifice his son to God (Muslims and Jews/Christians differ on which son was involved). This is also the end of the annual Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca.



This is actually the first time I've seen the Kaaba depicted in LEGO. It seems a pretty obvious build, as its cubic shape fits in with the basic LEGO architecture. The Kaaba is the holiest site in Islam. It is believed to have been built by Abraham and Ishmael. By the sixth century AD, this had become a religious structure revered by many groups, and was filled with idols. When Muhammad came to power in Mecca, he had all of these removed and rededicated the structure to the worship of Allah. Today this building is the focal point of the Hajj, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, and also the point which Muslims face each day during their prayers.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Always winter, never Christmas

"As she stood looking at it, wondering why there was a lamppost in the middle of a wood and wondering what to do next, she heard a pitter patter of feet coming towards her..." SlyOwl's depiction of Lucy and Mr. Tumnus is another MOC offered via Creations for Charity. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is, of course, an examination of the story of Christ's death and resurrection set in a children's fantasy world.



BTW, if there is something you want at Creations for Charity, you should move fast. These are by definition one of a kind items, so if you can't find this or one of the other MOCs I highlighted, it's because someone else already purchased it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Creations for Charity

All of the world's major religions value charity. Zakat, or alms-giving, is one of the five pillars of Islam; the Hebrew Torah is replete with admonitions to be concerned for orphans and widows; and so forth. At this time of year, we are often especially reminded of the needs around us.

A really cool idea was pioneered last year by Nannan Zhang, a prominent member of the LEGO hobbyist community. He asked a number builders to donate their own MOCs which were sold through Creations for Charity. All of the proceeds went to Toys for Tots, to purchase gifts for needy kids. Last year they raised over $3000, and they've already doubled that this year, with two weeks left to go in the campaign. Some of the creations offered for sale this year include Nativity by Thepaleman9
and the Hallgrímskirkja by Bruno and Tanja Kurth. If you're looking for a way to share a little with some kids who have less than you, and get a great LEGO model in the bargain, check out all of the offerings at Creations for Charity.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Pop-up Kinkaku-ji

I ran across an Italian language blog, Religione 2.0, that has occasional posts on LEGO creations. One of the ones they've featured in the past is an older MOC that I haven't posted here yet, Talpaz's Pop-up Kinkaku-ji. You really have to watch the whole video to believe this. The Temple of the Golden Pavilion is a Zen Buddhist temple built in Kyoto, Japan. The original dates from 1398, but was destroyed 60 years ago and the present building is a reconstruction.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

After Henry VIII separated from the Catholic church, England was torn by religious upheaval. The basic rivalry between Protestant and Catholic was ultimately decided in favor of the former, but the Puritans felt that the Church of England hadn't gone far enough in removing Roman influences. In the late 16th century in in Babworth, Nottinghamshire, pastor Richard Clyfton preached a separatist message. Membership if the Anglican church was mandated by law, and Clyfton's followers faced persecution. Some of them eventually left for the Netherlands, but, unhappy there, they later hired the Mayflower to transport them to the new world. In 1620 they made landfall at Plymouth, Massachusetts (shown here by Bumblejeep44). In 1621 they celebrated their harvest with a feast to give thanks to God. I hope that this year has given you all much to be thankful for and that the year to come will as well. Have a great day!