Friday, June 28, 2013

Late Second Temple era Jerusalem

In recent years, Harvest Bible Chapel in Illinois has made large collaborative LEGO models a part of their week-long Vacation Bible Schools. I've previously noted their Noah's Ark and Solomon's Temple project. This year they once again did not disappoint, building a huge model of late Second Temple era Jerusalem. I'm pretty sure they drew heavily on the huge Holyland Model of Jerusalem, located at the Israel Museum, as you can see it on a TV screen in the background of one of the photos. The model shows key locations in the old city. That higher wall in the upper right would lead to Temple mount.

Casey was kind enough to provide a key. He designed both Herod's palace and Caiaphas' palace.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sagrada Familia

I've blogged this before, but today Google is celebrating Antoni Gaudí's 161st birthday, so it seemed appropriate to post the Sagrada Familia from Master Builder Kazuyoshi Naoe's Piece of Peace exhibition.

And from Enigmabadger's 'Travels of Bager', here is, presumably, Bager with the real thing.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cristo Rei

When the Cardinal of Lisbon visited Rio de Janeiro in 1934, he was inspired by the then-newly built huge statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooking the city from Mount Corcovado, and wanted something similar for his own city. It took over thirty years for his dream to come to completion, before Cristo Rei (Christ the King) was finished. The monument was built in part out of gratitude for Portugal being spared the ravages of World War II. Here Elex built a LEGO Cristo-Rei. BTW, I originally assumed that this was based on the Brazilian statue, but that doesn't have the tall base. I found this interesting article on the world's largest statues of Jesus, which pointed me to Lisbon.r

Thursday, June 13, 2013


In Egyptian mythology, Osiris was the son of Geb, the brother and husband of Isis, and the father of Horus. After he was killed by his brother Set, Isis buried him on the island of Philae in the upper Nile. He then became king of the underworld. The island became the location of a whole complex of temples, built over a period of about 500 years, and a center for devotion to Isis and Osiris, among other deities. One of the largest structures is Trajan's Kiosk, built perhaps as a resting place for Isis' boat. In the 1960's the construction of the Aswan High Dam threatened to flood the island, so all of the ruins were carefully moved to a site on higher ground at Agilkia Island.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Christ Church, Spitalfields

Lee McGinty built this rendition of Christ Church, Spitalfields. In 1710, the English Parliament established a commission to build fifty churches to serve the growing London population. This church was built in an area dominated by Huguenots and other denominations not in the Church of England in order to emphasize the authority of the Anglican Church.

Pope Francis

Raúl Segarra posted this virtual mosaic of Pope Francis.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tractatus Artis Bene Moriendi

In the early 15th century, a Dominican friar wrote the Tractatus Artis Bene Moriendi on the Art of Dying Well. This very popular work reminded the reader of the promise of Heaven, warned against despair and other sins, urged them to imitate Christ's life, and provided prayers and other procedures in caring for the dying. Fifty years later a shorter version appeared, excerpting portions of the original and illustrating them with woodcuts, as Lolino illustrated here with LEGO.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Gragger (Annoy-o-matic)

Yesterday we were at Barnes & Noble, and I was flipping through the book LEGO Crazy Action Contraptions when I ran across a gragger. They call it an 'annoy-o-matic', and it is often called a 'ratchet instrument'. The reason to note it here is that this is part of a Jewish tradition at Purim. During the Purim celebration, the story of Esther is read. Whenever Haman is mentioned, everyone makes noise, often with graggers, to blot out his name forevermore. You may recall that I've previously blogged Joanna Brichetto's LEGO graggers. BTW, doing some online searching, I found a similar Easter tradition in some parts of the Czech republic, where the noise is to chase away Judas.

Joanna gives instructions for her graggers. If you look at this version from the Crazy Action Contraptions book, it's fairly similar to hers and pretty easy to make.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Herod's Temple

Paul Vermeesch built this great rendition of Jerusalem in the first century. The focus is on the Temple, but there are a lot of other details surrounding it.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Official set: Leaning Tower of Pisa

LEGO has just released a new set in their Architecture line: 21015, Leaning Tower of Pisa. Some may not associate the Tower with religion, but indeed it is the campanile (free standing bell tower) of the Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption), the main cathedral of Pisa. Most people are familiar with the sight of the leaning tower, but the cathedral and baptistry that form a complex are also quite striking. I've previously described past LEGO sets with religious content. They are few and far between, and last year LEGO released a statement that they would not produce sets with "Religious references including symbols, buildings, or people." At least via the Cuusoo site that allows LEGO fans to propose set ideas. The Architecture line, OTOH, at least opens the possibility of religious structures, and here we see the result. As noted, most people don't see the Leaning Tower as religious - I do hope that they decide to go on and do something a little more explicit, such as Notre Dame or another cathedral (they did include the Sagrada Familia as a potential Architecture set. Not that LEGO has to copy other toy companies, but it is notable that Nanoblock has sets based on the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Mont St Michel, the Kaminarimon (complete with statues of Shinto gods), Kinkakuji Temple, Sagrada Familia, the Taj Mahal, and the Moai of Easter Island. Okay, a couple of those are only subtly or potentially religious sites, but others are quite explicitly so.