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.