Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. - Luke 2:6,7
Brick Monster wishes us all a merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Magi

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea in the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem. - Matthew 2:1
Steve Bishop's Magi came in 2nd in the New Testament category of the LEGO Biblical Scenes Contest.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Menorah

While the giant public display menorahs are fun (for instance, see this one in Oregon), my favorite might be this one by Eli built last year at Hanukkah.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Hanukkah

I'd like to wish all of my Jewish readers a very Happy Hanukkah. The Festival of Lights begins tonight at sundown. Each night a candle of the menorah is lit to commemorate the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days at the rededication of the Second Temple. Each year, and this year is no exception, there are stories of groups that build giant LEGO menorahs, like this one from three years ago, so you might want to check for an event near you.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Abraham and Isaac

There are only a couple more days to get in your entry for the LEGO Biblical Scenes Contest. IMO, the odds-on favorite to win the Old Testament category is Blakes Baericks' Abraham and Isaac.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011

This week Christopher Hitchens lost his fight with cancer, and the world seems a poorer place. An essayist and commentator on a great number of political and social issues, in recent years he has become known as one of the "Four Horsemen of the New Athiests", vigorously debating all comers against the belief in God. While I disagree with his conclusions, and would love to have debated him, I will miss his mastery of language, his biting wit, and his gracious manner of dealing with his opponents, even while viciously attacking their ideas. As a little private memorial I listened yesterday to an mp3 of his 2008 debate with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. I highly recommend listening or watching some of his countless debates, many of which can be found on YouTube or through iTunes. I was hoping to find some LEGO tie in, but the only thing I could find was a 2006 piece republished in his book Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens in which he was urging his readers to join him in a demonstration outside the Danish Embassy in Washington, DC (this during the whole Danish Muhammad cartoons controversy). He wrote: "Danish flags are good, or posters reading "Stand By Denmark" and any variation of this theme ("Buy Carlsberg/Havarti/Lego").

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mithraeum

-[mikey]- built this Mithraeum, which is an underground temple for adherents of the mystery religion Mithraism. During the first through fourth centuries, many in the Roman Empire turned to this faith, drawing on the Persian deity Mithras. Little is known about the specific doctrines of Mithraism, as not writings survive, but the archaeological evidence gives some clues. Mithras was born out of a rock, or maybe a cave. He performed a miraculous act bringing water from a rock. He significantly killed a bull, as this scene is featured prominently in Mithraea. He met the sun god and feasted with him on the bull, and a common feast among the initiates of the faith seems to have been an important part of their ritualistic practice. Some have argued that Mithraism was an early rival to Christianity, but others say that Mithraism was not so widespread as to potentially become the dominant religion. Also, some claim that Christianity was simply a copy of Mithraism, and the story of Christ was patterned after the story of Mithras, but a little examination shows there is little to support this.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama, here in LEGO form by TheBrickMan, is a high leader in the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. His followers believe that he is the physical manifestation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, and that he has been reincarnated fourteen times in order to continue leading his people to enlightenment. The current Dalai Lama has become an international leader, representing the Tibetan people in exile and speaking out in support of a number of issues.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Saint Peter

"...on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." - Matthew 16:18,19
Zgrredek gives us an interpretation of Saint Peter.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bible too racy for Sam's Club

Apparently Sam's Club rejected the Brick Testament. The company responded to inquiries saying "Sam's Club received numerous concerns from our members and parents about the mature content in what is perceived as a children's book. Accordingly, Sam's Club made a business decision to discontinue sales." It appears that the company got a few e-mails (or maybe just one?) complaining that Brendan is an atheist, and that on his website (NOT in the book) there were offensive depictions of sexual activity. Wow! Gee whiz! They've uncovered some deep dark secret that was, um, never a secret, and explicitly stated way back in 2001 (shoot, I missed celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the BT a month ago). There is a long discussion on Facebook where you can interact with the person that may be behind the initial complaints to Sam's Club.

BTW, while Brendan may have lost out here financially, since there will be fewer sales of his book (and to help remedy that, see below), IMO he won rhetorically. He has oft stated that one of his goals is to make people look at the Bible and judge it, not just go on the redacted version they got through Sunday School when they were little. Also IMO, I think both Brendan and small minded people like (IMO) the complainers here have a complete misunderstanding of the Bible. They all think that the Bible is meant to be a guide book for right living, full of upstanding moral examples. To Brendan the Bible fails at this, and so he rejects it. The complainers simply seek to ignore the failings of Biblical figures, and so stick to their Sunday School version. I'm sitting in my son's room right now as I type this (because I'm waiting for the baby to wake up and she's in the crib, okay, that was unneeded information), and there on the shelf is a Children's Bible with about twenty or so nice stories. I think that's what these complainers want the Bible to be. But it's not. The Bible is about God's quest to save a stupid, stubborn sinner like me (and you and you and you). God doesn't work through moral paragons, but through a deceiver like Jacob and an adulterer like David as the ancestors of Jesus, a bullheaded Peter as one of his closest friends and leader of his church, heck, the whole nation of Israel that was constantly turning away from Him to chase after other false gods. He did this so that none could boast that we were saved through our own righteousness, or that of our forebears. Any righteousness we might have is just dirty rags, as Paul writes. Instead, he saves us by pure grace, despite all of that. So, IMO, both Brendan and Tabitha Grace fall into the same pitfall. The Bible is not meant to be a perfect little book full of nice sayings, stories, and rules to live by. It is the story of God's encounter with humanity, a humanity that lusts, hates, covets, lies, kills, and ultimately denies that God. And yet He died on Calvary to save us.

Okay, end of sermon. I've shared these ideas before in discussions with Brendan on the old, now largely defunct, Lugnet, and in some of my reviews here. I disagree with him philosophically, and yet I love what he has built out of LEGO. If you're looking to buy the Brick Testament, perhaps as a Christmas gift for that AFOL in your life, you can go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. 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. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State



This bust of Abraham Lincoln is on display at Legoland California.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bible scenes contest

I apologize for being away from blogging for the last three weeks. Anyway, in the meantime I missed the posting of the Lego Biblical Scenes Contest. You've got one more week to enter a scene in either the Old or New Testament categories. While this is short notice, at least those of my readers here in the US have a couple of days off from school or work, so maybe we can get some things going. For inspiration, let's take a look at my favorite of the entries so far, TheBricks' Ezekial and the Valley of Dry Bones. “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life." - Ezekial 37:4,5

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cristo Redentor

Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) looks out over Rio de Janeiro from high atop Mt. Corcovado. This 130 ft statue dominates the skyline and has become an icon of Rio and of Brazil in general. BTW, I like how this LEGO rendition by joaopaulo includes the cross in the pavement at the statue's feet.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Göbekli Tepe

Gabriel Thomson's Göbekli Tepe recreates the archaeological site where the oldest known temple was discovered in Turkey.



Rather than try to give my own take here, I'll just quote Gabriel's description:
Gobekli Tepe (means "belly hill")is a hillside in Southeast Turkey, where the oldest known temple complex in the world was discovered in 1994 by a German archaeologist called Klaus Schmidt. It is a complex of 20 or so circular buildings of various ages, the oldest of which has been dated at 11,000 years old - to put that in perspective, that is 6000 years older than Stonehenge! It is so old that it predates both agriculture and metallurgy - as incredible at it seems, achaeologists believe these temples were constructed by nomadic hunter gatherers using only stone axes and flints. The giant T-shaped limestone megaliths that form the site are decorated with animal motifs in both shallow relief and also more sculptural forms. The spaces in between the megaliths were filled in with drystone walls, which often incorporated low benches in thier design. Nobody knows what type of religion or spirituality the makers of the temple had, but due to the frightening nature of the animal carvings, (which include vultures and lions) some speculate that it could have been a death cult or necropolis.
It has long been believed that neolithic societies only started to build such enduring temples once they had settled into complex agrarian communities; domesticating wildlife, making pottery and the like. However, the evidence at Gobekli Tepe presents a different picture altogether - a hunter gatherer society whos spiritual life led to them later settling in the area (possibly to maintain the temples they had built) and developing agrarian technologies. In short, thier religion lay at the very root of who they were to become - us.


Via the Brothers-Brick.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Reformation Day

Aha! You thought I was going to post a Halloween creation, didn't you? I suppose I could have, looking at the history of the Christian roots of All Hallow's Eve, or maybe at some of the Celtic roots of Samhain, but this day is also known as Reformation Day, remembering that October 31, 1517 was the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg church. BTW, little personal aside here, if you're traveling in Germany, Wittenberg and Wittenberge are two different towns. I spent a half a day waiting for the next train back to Berlin from Wittenberge, which is a lovely little town, but not really what I was trying to reach. Anyway, back to LEGO, Chris Wunz made this great version of Martin Luther at Wartburg. Since there was a price on his head, Martin Luther hid out at the castle of Wartburg (the domain of one of his patrons), where he worked on translating the Bible into German. He was working in this room. BTW, I can't help but think that Chris also drew some inspiration from Jojo's version of the same scene.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bountiful Utah Temple

Samuel Mirejovsky was asked to make a Mormon temple in LEGO form to help out with a children's class. The teacher was expecting some small creation, but he took the suggestion and ran with it, coming up with this 4ft by 4ft rendition of the Bountiful Utah Temple.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hindu temple

Anu Pehrson presented this gorgeous Hindu temple at BrickCon this year, where she appropriately won 'Best Architectural Style'. She explains the details:
This is an Ancient Temple from India. This is the Nagara style of Architecture which was fully developed in the 10th century. Such Temples exist till date and are very much in use as a place of worship and pilgrimage. In Hinduism the devotee offers flowers and fruit to the 'deity' as a form of worship. Therefore we always see stalls selling garlands, flowers and fruit outside a temple. A visit to the Temple is not a sombre event, and could be and evening outing for the family or a 'picnic' Therefore one finds a 'fair' like atmosphere around the entrance.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Walking on water

"When they had rowed about three or four miles,[b] they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened." - John 6:19, illustrated here by Brick Monster.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Plague of blood

"Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. " Exodus 7:17

Lazer Blade illustrated Let my people go from the story of the ten plagues in Egypt.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dragon Dance

I often go back and forth on whether I should feature cultural practices that have some origin in religious belief at some point in the distant past. In some cases the LEGO creation is just too good to miss, as in Legohaulic's recent dragon dance scene. References to dragons go back 7,000 years in Chinese culture. Dragons were at some points seen as mythical beings associated with rivers, oceans, the weather, or other phenomena. There were temples devoted to the local dragons, where supplicants could ask for rain, or safe sea-journey, or for the river to not flood. Dragon imagery can be seen in temples and other religious art. Over time dragons became a symbol of China, of the emperor, of power, and dragons worked their way into Chinese culture. One aspect of this is the dragon dance, going back almost two millennia, where many dancers carry a long dragon puppet/costume through the streets as part of cultural festivals. Okay, so this is a pretty long ways from a religious MOC, but, as I said, it's way too cool for me to ignore:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Roskilde Cathedral

Lasse Vestergard made this rendition of Roskilde Cathedral. This Lutheran Cathedral was built in Denmark in the 12th and 13th century. It was the first Gothic cathedral built of brick and helped spread the use of brick as a building material for churches in the region.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ascension

On the third day He rose again from the dead, ascended into Heaven ...

I assume that Milan Bikics' Ascension is a detail that will be worked into his wonderful in-progress St. Mirtin Cathedral.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Church service

Last one from Wes Pitter, a praise band. I suppose some non-Christian readers of this blog may be unaware of this, but in the past twenty years there has been a real movement, especially in non-denominational Christian churches but in other denominations as well, away from some of the more traditional hymns played on organ and piano, to more modern (pop, rock) music played on guitars, drums, etc. If you've never read this, there's a hilarious story comparing hymns and praise songs in an agricultural setting. As someone who both loves the old hymns and also played bass in a praise band, I laughed quite a bit the first time I read that. BTW, Wes does go on to illustrate the whole church service - follow the link and read his descriptions.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Silent night

Continuing around Wes Pitter's site, he has a nativity scene, placing the manger in a shepherds' cave.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Showdown on Mt. Carmel

Looking around Wes Pitter's site, he also illustrated the Showdown on Mt. Carmel. Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to prove whose god was the real God. Elijah won.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall

Over on MOCpages, MOColympics 2011 is a contest that challenges builders to build in set themes. Round one suggests that builders choose one of the following: earth, air, wind, fire, winter, spring, summer, fall. You can take this in whatever direction you choose. Wes Pitter decided to use a different meaning of the Fall (from grace).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cristo Redentor

The 130 foot Cristo Redentor (here in LEGO by neilc73) has towered over Rio de Janeiro from atop Corcovado mountain for the past 80 years. Via the Brothers-Brick.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Young church

I think I've been to Howsuch's church. A lot of the most exciting churches these days are not found in the large obvious cathedrals, but are rather these small start-ups meeting in non-traditional spaces.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Water walking

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Legoorci illustrates Matthew 14:25-27.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Trinity Church

William Leue made this great rendition of Trinity Church from Albany, New York. Built in 1848 and designed by the same architect who made Saint Patrick's in NYC, This Episcopalian church was recently demolished due to serious structural damage caused by time and neglect.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Christchurch Cathedral

LegomanNZ built his rendition of Christchurch Cathedral from his hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand, that was partially destroyed by an earthquake a year ago.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mount Timpanogos Temple

I've always loved religious architecture. My favorites are the gothic cathedrals from medieval Europe, and there are also many amazing mosques. In recent days, however, the Latter Day Saints are surely making some of the most beautiful houses of worship. A great example is Mount Timpanogos Temple in American Fork, Utah, here in LEGO by Ben Watson.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Creator

Sing along with me now -
He's got the whole world, in his hands,
He's got the whole wide world, in his hands,
He's got the whole world, in his hands,
He's got the whole world in his hands.

Piglet's Creator:

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

El Miguelete

Sehjo_vlc made this great rendition of El Miguelete, the bell tower of the Cathedral of Valencia, Spain.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Selamat Idul Fitri

Aripramz wishes us all a Selamat Idul Fitri, which is a traditional Indonesian greeting for the Eid (holiday celebrating the end of Ramadan). "Mohon maaf lahir dan batin" is a request for forgiveness - this holiday is a time to atone for the wrongs that you have done to others in the previous year. It is also a time to travel to see relatives, and the 'musafeer' or traveler depicted here must be doing that.



BTW, that image to the right of the LEGO picture is ketupat, an Indonesian food where rice is boiled inside a pouch made of woven palm leaves, as this is a characteristic dish eaten at Eid celebrations in Indonesia.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ramadan Mubarak

I'd like to wish all of our Muslim readers a blessed conclusion to their Ramadan. For today, let's take a look at this mosque in Legoland Billund. I do not know if this is a reproduction of an actual structure, but I kind of assume it is since most of those Miniland displays are. So if someone knows exactly what is depicted here I'd love to know.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cowherd and Weaver Girl

Sometimes I debate whether a MOC is truly about a religious subject, or would better be characterized as a cultural practice. For example, the Danish holiday Sankt Hans aften I blogged here earlier this month. The Chinese folktale Cowherd and Weaver Girl (here depicted by Tigerggyy) is one of these. As the story goes, the daughter of the Jade Emperor (one of the chief gods in Chinese traditional religion and also in Taoism) fell in love with a mortal cowherd. They were separated by the river of the Milky Way, but once a year the Jade Emperor allows them to meet on a bridge across the river. That day is called the Qixi Festival, the Chinese equivalent of Valentine's Day.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pagoda

Matija Grguric continues to build great MOCs, such as this pagoda. The design comes from Kiyomizu-dera, a Buddhist temple in Kyoto.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Moai

As I understood it, the significance of the Moai of Easter Island (here in LEGO by Matija Grguric) was unclear. Wikipedia suggests they represented deified ancestors.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Kościół Mariacki

The Kościół Mariacki, or St. Mary's Basillica (here by Diabel), was built in Krakow in the 13th century and then rebuilt in the 14th. Every hour a trumpet signal plays from the taller tower, commemorating the 13th century trumpeter who was killed while sounding the alarm of the oncoming Mongol attackers.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Star and crescent

Eilonwy77 is a master at mosaics and patterns using LEGO. She was recently challenged to come up with the star and crescent symbols of Islam. While a six-pointed star is more commonly associated with Judaism, she says that in researching this she found some examples with six and eight-pointed stars rather than the more common five-pointed star. For the non-LEGO builders who may read this, the 36 degree angle for a five-pointed star is pretty much impossible* at this scale with LEGO pieces.



*Of course, that raises this as a challenge to all you builders out there.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pantheon

The Pantheon (here built in the style of the Architecture line by Victor Martinez Nouvilas) was built in 126 and dedicated to all the gods of Rome. Later it was reconsecrated as a Catholic church, and is still used today.

Monday, August 8, 2011