Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Burqa ban

It looks like France may ban the wearing of the burqa in public. The Quran says "that [women] should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands." Some in France argue that this is a form of oppression, or that having unidentifiable women walking in public is dangerous. Others say this is intolerance of the growing Muslim population (see also the recent ban on minarets in Switzerland. The Zam Wessel minifig (here in a photo by im.mick) has a veil. Technically I believe the burqa is the full-body covering, and a veil is called a niqab.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Intelligent design

LEGO has played a small role in a debate over evolution, intelligent design and the role of religion in the classroom. John Freshwater was a middle school science teacher in Ohio until he was fired for a number of violations involving inappropriate use of religion in the classroom, teaching of ID and abusive treatment of students. In one of the various hearings and lawsuits, he testified about whether he used a thought experiment involving LEGO. It goes like this - if you shake up a box of blocks, a completed model is not going to suddenly appear. Therefore, he argues, you can't expect complex order to come from disorder.
Speaking as someone who is both a scientist and religious, this is incredibly simple-minded. The real ID thinkers are much more sophisticated than this and should be met on those grounds, rather than some (alleged) abusive jerk who doesn't seem to know much either science or religion. Oh well, at least it was an interesting LEGO reference.

(image of LEGO bricks by TravelingRoths)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr.

"In the final analysis, I must not ignore the wounded man on life's Jericho road, because he is part of me and I am part of him. His agony diminishes me, and his salvation enlarges me."
-Martin Luther King, Jr., from Strength to Love, a collection of his sermons
We tend to think of Dr. King in political terms, but that fails to recognize that he was first a preacher, and his views on civil rights grew out of his Christian faith. Perhaps this is because American schools are wary of emphasizing religious topics for fear of violating the separation of church and state. Anyway, I highly recommend reading some of his words as you reflect on this Martin Luther King day. That link I give to Google Books has extensive excerpts, with several of the sermons given in full.

MLK minifig by Dunechaser, mosaic from Legoland Windsor - photo credit to astonpuff

Monday, January 11, 2010

Malaysian conflict

The conflict in Malaysia is one of the top religion stories in the last week. As I understand it, in the Malay language, "Allah" is the equivalent of the generic English word "God," not a more specific term like Jehovah or YWHW to Jews or Jesus to Christians. However, many Muslims feel that this name should only be used to refer to their understanding of God. There has been a dispute in their courts over whether Christians can use this name, and violence has even broken out among those unhappy with the court's ruling. I couldn't find an appropriate Lego image, even though there's a beautiful mosque in Malaysia that's just crying out to be transformed into a MOC, so here is a model of the Perdana Putra created by Andy Grubb (a builder at Legoland California), built for the announcement of the upcoming Legoland Malaysia. This isn't a religious building, but is really their equivalent of the White House or 10 Downing Street, though it is obviously influenced by Malay and Islamic architectural styles.

BTW, I'll be interested to see What they do with Legoland in Muslim-dominated Malaysia and Dubai. The Miniland displays are at the heart of each of the Legoland parks, and these are really brought to life by the clever designs of the Miniland scale people (see MinilandBricks for much more on this). However, Islam frowns on representational art - it's not directly forbidden, but you really don't see much of it. So we'll have to wait and see what they do.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

On the twelth day of Christmas ...

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
-Matthew 2:10-11
NativityScene2007 by Elstephe

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas and will have a great New Year. For those from other faith traditions, I hope you will forgive my 12 posts in a row on a theme. I'll try to quickly return to a more ecunemical distribution of topics.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

On the eleventh day of Christmas ...

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
-Mattew 2:1-2
Nativity ornament by Joe Meno

Monday, January 4, 2010

On the tenth day of Christmas ...

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
-Luke 2:15-16
Homemaker Nativity by Zazza

Sunday, January 3, 2010

On the ninth day of Christmas ...

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
-Luke 2:13-14
Angel by Blackbulb

Saturday, January 2, 2010

On the eighth day of Christmas ...

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.
-Luke 2:8-12
Creche by Kezzart

Friday, January 1, 2010

On the seventh day of Christmas ...

... because there was no room for them in the inn.
-Luke 2:7
2008 display for QPB Glasgow by Watchman