December 15, 2017

The Disney-ization of Faith

By Chaplain Mike

NOTE from CM: Comments on this post are closed. Please join us on current posts for further discussion.

Let me say it right from the beginning — I have always enjoyed Disney movies and characters. From my infancy, when mom and dad took me to Disneyland, to my childhood when I swam the churning ocean with Pinocchio to escape Monstro the Whale, to the days when we and our young girls enjoyed The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast together, to today, when I am introducing my grandchildren to what are now deemed “classic” films, Disney has been a part of my experience and my family life.

But I know what Disney is and what they do — They take classic stories and make cartoons out of them.

Disney does not fool me into thinking what they do is great art containing profound insights into life and the human experience. I accept and enjoy them for what they are, no more. Their artists and animators are first class and what they do, they do well. But whether you are talking about their films, their theme parks, or their pervasive merchandise, the bottom line is that Disney is an animation corporation. They take stories that are classic because of their universal themes and dumb them down so that the kids can enjoy them with mom and dad. They remove all the messiness, complexity, nuance, and grit from these tales and sanitize them for a G or PG-rated modern entertainment audience. They are enjoyable, but as subtle as a punch in the face; as deep as the puddle in my driveway after a light rain.

Unfortunately, many American Christian leaders seem to think the Disney way is the way forward for the church. I could write a long book about all the examples of this across our land, from the many ways we market Jesus in books, music, and media, to the kistchy excess of the televangelists and the corporate “excellence” of the megachurches, to iconic monuments like the Crystal Cathedral. So much of it represents the “Magic Kingdom” mentality.

In the cartoon world of contemporary American evangelicalism, it’s all about bigger, better, and simpler. Help folks think their dreams can come true. Create “moments” for people in the congregation that they will never forget, that will “bless” families in safe and sanitized settings. Remove the messiness and reality of day to day life. Instead, put a sentimental, heart-tugging version of life up on the screen and make people feel it. Embrace the possibilities.

Evangelicalism has become “Disney-ized.”

For example, enter the Mickey Mouse world of Ken Ham and his theme park vision for the Christian faith.

IM’s ever-vigilant Ohio correspondent, Jeff Dunn, reported in yesterday’s Saturday Ramblings that Ken Ham and company is at it again. The Creation Museum near Cincinnati has decided to expand and build an 800-acre theme-park style complex featuring a replica of Noah’s Ark. The project will cost an estimated 125 million dollars and is scheduled to open in 2014 in nearby Williamstown, KY.

Some have questioned whether it is legally permissible for the state of Kentucky to fund a religious theme park. I raise another question: Is it appropriate for Christians to “Disney-ize” their faith like this?

One critic termed the project a “particular confluence of faith-based fantasy and place-based entertainment in which the usual laws of physics, taste, or logic will obviously not apply.” May I add, an informed reading of the Bible does not actually apply here either.

However, I’m sure that doesn’t matter to the folks behind this. They are not really concerned about promoting a serious study and careful understanding what the Bible teaches, any more than the Disney corporation was truly interested in a thoughtful reading of Hamlet when they created The Lion King. They know what they believe already. And believing, they have set out to shape reality according to that image and make a new “dream come true.”

When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.

• Walt Disney

According to The Ark Encounter web site, this mammoth “themed attraction” will include nine areas:

  • A Walled City. This is where guests will enter and gather. It will include “period shops, restaurants, and venues that bring to life the city and times in which Noah lived, including his house.” According to planners, the city will depict “the lifestyle of the people of Noah’s day.” Considering the Bible says this about life in Noah’s day — “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” and “Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence,” (Gen 6:5, 11) the possibilities stagger one’s imagination. I wonder what characters will represent the “Seven Deadly Sins”? “Please, mommy, I want a hug from Envy!”
  • Noah’s Ark. The Ark will be the park’s central attraction. Guests will take a tour of the structure so that they may “gain an understanding of how it could have been built, and how Noah, his family, and all of the representative kinds of land animals were cared for, and then survived on board for 370 days of the Flood and its aftermath.” Given the fact that Scripture says nothing about any of this, one wonders about how “Biblical” these “themed presentations” will be. The highlight of each day will be a spectacular show “featuring the ‘parade of animals’ and the dramatic ‘eruption of the fountains of the great deep.'” Will there be re-enactments of sinners drowning and crying out in hysteria and panic? Carcasses of dead, bloated animals floating on the surface of the lake? A nearby ravaged landscape? Will the greatest historical example of God’s wrath being poured out on the earth be “fun” and “exciting” or will it communicate anything at all about the actual fear of God and the reality of Divine judgment?
  • Noah’s Animals. According to the site, “This area will be similar to a petting zoo, complete with barns, a petting animal area, an open grazing area, a stage for daily live animal and bird shows, and lots of meet-and-greet areas for close-up encounters with unique animals and birds.” Why sure, because that is what the story of Noah’s Ark in the Bible is all about: lots and lots of cute animals providing squeals of delight for the kids. I never could understand why the Flood story was so popular in Sunday School literature and children’s books and toys. I can’t think of a more horrifying narrative! (What’s next, a Sodom and Gomorrah theme park? “Enter over there, by the pillar of salt, ma’am.”) When it comes to the Flood, nothing tells the story of God destroying the land and creating absolute chaos, mayhem, and universal death like a parade of cute little baby animals frolicking two by two up the Ark’s ramp.
  • Children’s Play Area. Another “fun-filled” and family-friendly area, this part of the park will “be highly themed with bridge nets, climbing areas, slides, and zip lines.” Maybe if the kids in Noah’s day had some of these cool things, they could have escaped the destruction. Quick! to the zip line!
  • The Tower of Babel. Ironically, the motivation for those who built the original city of Babylon and its tower was, “so that we may make a name for ourselves” (Gen 11:4). ‘Nuff said.
  • Journey through Biblical History. Not content to give answers from Genesis, the park will depict “the formation of Israel, Moses and the ten plagues in Egypt, and the parting of the Red Sea.” They give no details here, so perhaps these will mostly be portrayed in trailers for coming attractions.
  • The First Century Village. Their description of this part of the park is so subtle that one can only conclude this is the area where the “Gospel Presentation” will take place. Can’t have a Christian theme park without an altar call. The clue is “First Century.” Fast forward to the time of . . . you got it — Jesus. In their words, “The experience culminates with a visit to the Performing Arts Theater where a combined live and video-based show shares the summary of what guests have seen at the Ark Encounter.” You’ve seen the presentation, now it’s time to buy the condo.
  • Aviary. A bird and butterfly sanctuary. Why? Well, presumably because of the birds that directed Noah to dry land after the Flood. Or, perhaps it is because so many people have asked, “What happened to birds during the Flood?” Apologetics is important, you know. Gotta be able to give a reason for what you believe, even down to a question like this.
  • Special Events Area. I love this one. Note their description: “An area where large groups can have private outings away from the main guest areas will showcase some of the Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building techniques used to construct the Ark Encounter. These techniques feature LEED standards in the use of wind and solar power, renewable resources, and preservation of the land. This will attract many educational groups and be positioned outside of the actual walled area—allowing for large group meetings and private events.” What? Nothing says environmental concern like a theme park about God destroying the world! The emphasis here on being “green” certainly sounds like a departure from the usual conservative party line. Oh wait, educational groups coming to learn about this will beoutside the actual walled area.” They will be consigned to the “Court of the Gentiles,” where the unwashed put a high value on such questionable concerns as environmentalism and the fact that humans might be able to do something to protect the natural world.

The Deluge, Doré

How can any thoughtful Christian support a project like this? I know some of you are going to write and complain that I’m being judgmental and why can’t God use this to bring others to Christ and teach people about the Bible? Please. I will respond as clearly and directly and forcefully as I can — this project has nothing to do with Biblical Christianity.

This is cartoon faith. It represents the “Disney-ization” of the Biblical story. I mean, seriously. Christian people are going to waste $125 million building this travesty, and then undiscerning American believers will spend countless millions more to be indoctrinated, wowed by spectacle and a thoroughly sanitized version of the Biblical story. Bus-loads of young people from entertainment-seeking youth groups will be “educated” in a “Biblical” interpretation of the Flood that had its “genesis” not in the Torah but in the visions of Ellen G. White, whose “inspired counsels from the Lord” guided the 19th century sectarian Adventist movement.

Those visions will come to life in true Disney-like fashion — with overwhelming kitsch, mawkish sentimentality, a thin veneer of credibility, and, most importantly, the absolute conviction of unwavering belief in spite of any contrary evidence or countering interpretations. This project is fundamentalism at its creative worst. It doesn’t lead us to the real Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible. It leads us to the cartoon Jesus, the Disney Jesus, the American sanitized version of Jesus, the Jesus who entertains us and keeps it all safe for the whole family to enjoy (at 50 bucks a pop). The Jesus they give us is Jesus the Hero who lived and died on the screen in all his glory, not the “Man of Sorrows” who suffered and died on the cross in shame. This Jesus has been drawn and brought to life for us by purveyors of spiritual technology, not shared with us as true apostles like Paul did — through a humble daily life of suffering and loving in Jesus’ name. There’s the Jesus way and there’s the Disney way, and the gap between them is vast.

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to the faith, I want the real thing, not a Disney caricature.

I’ll say it again. This project has nothing to do with Biblical, Jesus-shaped Christianity. It is promotion of an ideology, plain and simple. It is small-minded “wish upon a star” fundamentalism, exhibiting an approach to faith that allows for nothing subtle, nothing mysterious, nothing human. No doubts, only certainty. The kind of certainty that has enough chutzpah to ask people to pony up $125 million to build a pretentious propaganda park. At least Walt Disney had enough character to learn a trade, go to work, and build a business to fund his dreams.

Even though this is a supposedly “Christian” dream, the creators of the Ark Encounter evidently agree with Walt about the true bottom line:

Disneyland is the star, everything else is in the supporting role.

• Walt Disney

Comments

  1. To paraphrase MacIntyre, the barbarians are, indeed, among us.

  2. Mike, thank you for putting into words what has been in the back of my mind ever since I saw this on the news. You are dead right that a project like this has a potential to bring well-deserved mockery to the faith, for many outsiders will 1) identify this as biblical Christianity, and 2) be much more cutting than you were.

    You asked, “Will the greatest historical example of God’s wrath and judgment being poured out on the earth be “fun” and “exciting” or will it communicate anything at all about the actual fear of God and the reality of Divine judgment?”. Sadly, from the description above, I think we know the answer to that question.

    • Heck, even fun and exciting would be a sight better than most attempts at Disneyfying Christianity to attract converts and/or retain believers. Painfully embarrassing seems more likely . . . unless they come up with some REALLY cool water rides. (“Grab your driftwood and get Swept Away in our thrilling White Water Deluge!”)

    • Danny Willis says:

      What part of the Ark Encounter do you consider to be anti-biblical? Will you provide some scriptural references?

      With the Ark Encounter being run by AIG, there will be no problem with presenting the truth about the ark and the flood being God’s judgment for the world that was. The article above is misleading in that idea so you can be heartened instead of saddened as you were.

  3. Btw, your comments about the lifestyle of the people in noah’s day are priceless (“I want a hug from Envy”). Sanctifying satire.

    • At the risk of sounding facetious here, but if the lifestyle was so bad, I would like a hug from fornication. I’d even fly all the way to Williamstown, KY from here in Australia for that.

      • /end sarcasm

      • That was too easy Brandon. How about this, though—”Sorry honey, you can’t have your picture taken with Lust until you’re 60 inches tall by this measuring stick.”

        • Or until you’re 18 (or whatever the age of consent is in Kentucky).

          Maybe I can apply for a job there — I’d be perfect to play Sloth!

        • I can be Gluttony? Or maybe Wrath – nah, too energetic. Pride? Certainly!

          I know it’s wrong for a Catholic to laugh at Christian kitsch, because take one look at any Marian shrine or pilgrimage site worldwide and yeah – Bad Taste R Us, but I have to say: only Americans could make the drowning of the earth into a special-effects extravaganza.

  4. Chaplain Mike (or anyone else who would care to answer), I’m curious what you mean by this statement:

    “a “Biblical” interpretation of the Flood that had its “genesis” not in the Torah but in the visions of Ellen G. White, whose “inspired counsels from the Lord” guided the 19th century sectarian Adventist movement.”

    • Check out the writings of Ronald L. Numbers, for example, “The Creationists , the Evolution of Scientific Creationism”. ( a long, well researched, fascinating story) Many of the early “scientific creationists” were Adventists. Current creationist dogma was birthed in White’s visions. Interestingly, Henry Morris of the Institute for Creation Research is quoted on the back cover as saying “for those interested in the background of the modern revival of creationism, whether evolutionists or creationists, this book is a rich mine of information and historical insights.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Is this the same Ellen G White who pretty much defined modern Seventh-Day Adventism?

      (And whom the Fundies denounce as a Satanically-inspired Cult Leader, grouping the SDAs into their definition of “Cult (TM)”?)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      P.S. In my teens, I acquired a Seventh-Day Adventist End Time Prophecy book titled What Jesus Said. What sticks with me is that the SDAs had a very unique and quirky take on the Book of Revelation and EOTW choreography. Other than that (and their definitive taboo on Sunday Keeping and secondary taboo on “flesh foods”), the general Are You Saved tone of the book wasn’t that much different from Evangelicals using their Revelation EOTW choreography to force turn-or-burn Conversion Decisions.

  5. First of all, I can understand some Christians if they do not embrace the literal six-day creation view but I think those who reject the historicity of the flood, Noah, the Tower of Babel incident, etc. need to really examined the veracity of their faith.

    Second, those Christians who embrace the historicity of those events are not mouth-foaming lunatic fundamentalists influenced by Ellen G. White, Ken Ham, or Westboro Baptist Church. They are genuine Christians who take God’s revelation of these events seriously with exegetical earnestness and theological responsibility (many of them brighter than a lot of people who come here).

    Pretty sick of things promoted here that claim the label of orthodox historic Christianity

    • I’m struggling to figure out how Mike’s commentary on the helpfulness of a huge theme park about the flood is an indication that he does not believe in a literal flood. Can you help me out, here?

    • I think those who reject the historicity of the flood, Noah, the Tower of Babel incident, etc. need to really examined the veracity of their faith.

      In other words, people who don’t interpret Genesis the same way you do?

      • Cedric Klein says:

        Or in the same way Jesus did. The Boss didn’t use Six-Dayism as a major teaching tool, but He sure seems to put a lot of stock in the Deluge.

        I’m Old-Earth Creationist verging on Theistic Evolution (but believing in a literal Adam&Eve) and I found the Creation Museum to be interesting, thought-provoking but unconvincing due to its dogmatic YoungEarthism. If it didn’t portray belief in an Old Earth/Universe as a compromise to the Faith, I’d have loved it. Being a regional Delugist rather than a global one, I expect to have similar issues with The Ark Encounter, but I sure won’t be as sneering about it as the throng here are.

        Lord knows Michael Spencer would have a lot to say about this, probably some of it quite similar, but as harsh as he could be about dogmatic Fund’ism, he was never as condescending to it as IM is now often prone to get because Michael never forgot that Fund’ists were his Christian siblings, the people from whom he had come, and ones who often held true to the Faith when the mainline establishments & those who sought mainline respectability were selling out.

        • I’ve not forgotten from whence I came, either, Cedric. And I beg to differ. I’m a bumbling rookie in comparison to Michael’s masterful put-downs of evangelical silliness.

          • Don’t sell yourself short. This post is poetry. I enjoyed it to the last stroke of the pen. Seriously, we should have to pay to read some of this. Or you should get a book deal too!

            Hay carumba, the complainers. “Imonk would never….” Did you actually meet him?

          • I think it’s an issue of the rosy days-were-better-back-then view of things.

            Michael was, was, …. I can’t get the right words. Scathing. Brutal. Um… Caustic.

            You get my point. He had a lot of love for those people, but he held absolutely NOTHING back when he felt they were harming the body of Christ somehow.

        • Can we not distinguish genuine fundamentalist Christianity, whether we agree with it or not, from commercialized, for-profit, too-much-money-and-leisure-for-our-own-good tackiness? There are fundamentalists who are praying and working for the hungry and marginalized and persecuted; there are others who are spending gross amounts of money and resources on entertainment for the richest people in the world. As far as I’m concerned, Chaplain Mike is rightly filling his prophetic role here to remind people to think; he’s not bashing fundamentalism per se.

    • Since when has belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ for my sins been superseded by embracing “the historicity of the flood, Noah, the Tower of Babel” as the grounds for salvation?

      • i think mark would just wonder, and i hesistate to speak for him, if one accepts the Resurrection, the most incredulous of all the bibles claims, how hard is it to accept the rest?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          That’s the same argument the X-Treme YECs make — that if any part of the entire Bible is not taken literally, the Resurrection (and MY Salvation) is also fake.

          Appropriate that this surfaces on a theme park by the Kentucky Creation Museum.

          I’m sticking with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences…

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            “That’s the same argument the X-Treme YECs make — that if any part of the entire Bible is not taken literally, the Resurrection (and MY Salvation) is also fake.”

            Which is extremely silly. No one actually takes everything in the Bible literally. Don’t believe me? Here is an easy one:

            ‘The Lord is my shepherd…’

            Let’s read that literally. A literal shepherd requires literal sheep. So right off this passage cannot be about The Lord guiding and protecting me, since I am not a literal sheep. Next let’s look at that word “my.” What does it literally mean to say that The Lord is “my shepherd”? If I were a literal sheep, this would present no problem. The idea of sheep having their shepherd is standard idiomatic English. But since I am not a literal sheep, this can’t be the meaning. This only makes sense if the writer of the Psalm owned literal sheep, and hired a literal shepherd to care for them. So the Psalmist is telling us that The Lord is an employee of his. And so on. You can take this as far as you wish.

            But of course no one really reads that passage this way. It is absurd on its face. Everyone understands that “shepherd” is being used poetically, to represent something other than its literal meaning. There is a word for this: “metaphor.” Reading a text metaphorically is the opposite of reading it literally. Everyone reads parts of the Bible metaphorically. Some just won’t admit it. Once you admit that you read some parts of the Bible metaphorically and other parts literally, this leads to awkward discussions about how you decide which is which, and this in turn leads to even more awkward discussions of “genre”. Down that road lies textual criticism and becoming Episcopalian!

          • Danny Willis says:

            HUG, many people misread the YEC stance on how to interpret the Bible. If you look carefully you will see that YECers (AIG specifically) say to interpret it by not interpreting it, but by reading it plainly. This means poetry is read and understood plainly as poetry, parables as parables, prophecy as prophecy and history as history.

            AIG also makes it clear in several places that not understanding the Bible as above does NOT make your salvation fake, only inconsistent and that inconsistence can open the door for more compromise in others or yourself (i.e. if one can reject the biblical account of the creation week and the flood, why not be able to reject the resurrection and Christ as the only way to heaven?).

        • “i think mark would just wonder, and i hesistate to speak for him, if one accepts the Resurrection, the most incredulous of all the bibles claims, how hard is it to accept the rest?”

          Well, considering people who actually knew Jesus reported the Resurrection, and it got written down within a few decades, while the story of Noah was written thousands of years after the alleged event by a bronze-age culture that had just invented writing and involves dozens of impossible elements, I think the former is easier to believe.

    • Mark—point. missed.

      • Point missed? Really?

        I find a lot of things promoted in mainline Christianity today that is like Mickey Mouse Christianity.

        • Mark, what does mainline Christianity have to do with today’s post? If you read the post at all with any understanding, you would see that it is not directed toward Mr. Ham’s interpretation of Genesis (except for his lamentable following of Ellen White’s visions when it comes to Flood geology). It’s about this silly project he is proposing. It’s about the medium of a theme park being used to promote Christianity. It’s about taking the rich, complex stories of the Bible and turning them into shallow cartoons. It’s about promoting a culture war ideology saying our narrow interpretation of Genesis and the rest of the Bible is the only true interpretation, and anyone else who disagrees is wrong and dangerous.

          Yes. Point missed. Completely.

          • Chaplain Mike,

            Xxxooo for this. There are some days I am just hanging on by my fingernails …

            We are to love our Lord with our MINDS too.

          • I sometimes wonder about the ministry being promoted on iMonk after Michael Spencer left to be with the Lord. What is the purpose of it here? Is it to make certain people feel good about themselves despite their deep pessimism with the orthodox evangelical faith?

            • Mark, I simply don’t understand your question. Michael was a hundred times more harsh on evangelical silliness than we are now. I suggest you go back into the archives and read “Talk Hard: In which the iMonk describes and defends the role of the critic in Christianity.” In that piece he wrote these words:

              It is the Internet that now allows sites like Internet Monk to publish the sort of things that The Door Magazine always dared to say, at the risk of losing subscriptions. But it’s apparent- we have a lot of evangelicals that don’t know how to criticize even a reeking phony and Tetzel like Benny Hinn. They don’t know how to call Warren a mediocre author or say the megachurch movement is arrogant and ghettoized. Worst of all, we’ve become a kingdom of sheepish consumers and we don’t know how to produce critics who will criticize the products we are devouring or the corporate interests that sell us the need to buy them. (All so we can be good Christians, of course.) We’ve become a community that eats out four times a day, but jails any critic who says the food is bad.

              Man, I miss Michael.

    • Eddie Scizzard says:

      “I think those who reject the historicity of the flood, Noah, the Tower of Babel incident, etc. need to really examined the veracity of their faith.”

      why? and will you be doing the examining?

  6. As a biblical literalist, I will boycott this park as heretical unless Noah’s drunkenness and rape by his son Ham are somehow incorporated. A gay bar, perhaps…?

  7. George: Maybe they’ll have Nephilim mascots you can get your picture taken with.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Considering last year’s CBA pronouncement of “Christian Paranormal Romance — Just like Twilight, Except Christian(TM)!”, will their Nephilim mascots be Uber-Hawt and *SPARKLE* in the Sunlight?

      • Cedric Klein says:

        Have you read Tim Powers’ The Stress of Her Regard (the GOOD sparkly vampire/Nephilim novel)?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          No, but after Declare and On Stranger Tides it’s probably going to be good and strange. Tim Powers is THE master of the “Secret History” sub-genre.

          • Eric HInkle says:

            Ahem — HUG, I gave you a copy of The Stress Of Her Regard last January. I’d hoped you would have found the time to read it by now.

    • Oh, my. I just sprayed coffee all over my monitor. Seriously, I shouldn’t be having this much fun.

  8. Some guy in the Netherlands built a replica of the ark of Noah and first toured it from city to city. Now he’s docked it and inside there is a ‘bible museum’.
    The dutch Evangelical Broadcast Cooperation was positive towards this initiative, perhaps because a lot of their members are strict calvinists who hold to a strictly literal interpretation of the first 12 chapters of Genesis.
    Question is if initiatives like these do as least as much in affirming the prejudices about christianity as affirming the fundamentalist faith of a minority of christians.
    Good article Chaplain Mike, no christian in the Netherlands has made fun of our ark yet…

  9. A hug from fornication…literalism encorporating “the Ham/Noah” encounter…whooooo man. That is funny, funny stuff.

    The actual theme park idea, however, is not so funny. The idea that those of us who question not so much the historicity of the flood so much as its scope and impact are…what? Apostates? Definitely not funny. See, that’s what happens when we start pinning our hopes on things that are not Jesus. Everything becomes critical. Nothing is open for investigation. It’s house-of-cards faith, and that’s not for me.

    • Some misguided people say the Great Flood didn’t really cover the whole world–that the floodwaters couldn’t have been that high. But if that’s true, then how come there is evidence of flooding on Mars?

  10. Deb Searles says:

    i found your blog thru facebook…I understand your concern. I disagree with you on some points and find your judgement of Ken Hams motives disturbing.You said about his ministry..”…They are not really concerned about promoting a serious study and careful understanding what the Bible teaches, any more than the Disney corporation was truly interested in a thoughtful reading of King Lear when they created The Lion King” You don’t really know what is in Ken Ham’s heart, do you? Would you want someone to judge your motives who didn’t really know you and hadn’t sat down to talk to you? I just sat under Ken Hamm’s video series on defending creationism and it is the best thing i have ever heard and it has already helped us to share more intelligently with many of our son;s unsaved friends.It is a very serious study of the bible and encourages a very careful understanding of what it teaches. Many of my friends have been so inspired by the creation museum and have stood in awe more of God and his handiwork./ I think we should leave Ken Hamm alone and just maybe God will use His ideas and creativity to reach many people some of us will never reach. And maybe we should ask ourselves how much time we spend reaching out to the people around us who do not know the truth and who need it desperately? I am concerned that sometimes we may spend more time criticizing other Christians and debating on line than we do reaching out in practical and loving ways to the lost world around us…the neighbor next door, the lady who works at the post office…our relatives..the natural bridges in front of us….that’s what Jesus said to do when he left. I have seen many leaders in my life time who were full of faith and the Word who did things others didn’t like but God used them in great ways to reach many people who are now faithuflly serving and loving God. I am a serious student of the Word and committed totally as a follower of jesus…I will be one who takes a grandchild to this new theme park and encourage them to stand in awe of our great God! We will come home and read a book on Noak’s ark, look at the Bible account more and make a memory they will never forget of thinking of what it may have been like and looking forward to heaven to see more of God’s majesty and glory!! IN regards to Ken Hamm…do to others what you would want them to do for you….I appreciate him so much and all he is doing to bring great glory to God and His truth and speak out intelligently to a world that has fallen for evolution as truth. He is raising the bar of excellence in presenting truth in his videos and museum and gaining much respect from those who never gave creationism a thought. . have you read his books? We should applaud him for his research and courage and helpfulness to all of us to b able to explain the affects of evolution on this world and elevate the truth of God’s Word. I am behind him and grateful for him.

    • Deb, the fact that you think Ken Ham is promoting serious Bible study and excellence in dealing with scientific issues betrays more than I could ever say about the state of Biblical literacy and thoughtful interaction with the academic disciplines in American Christianity. Good luck.

      • This is my first and last visit to your site. You are incredibly condescending. You might be embarrassed by people who enjoy what Ken Ham does, but I am embarrassed that you can so easily trash other Christians. There’s a fine line between Christian satire and mean-spirited behaviour and you crossed it.

        (Yes, I’m working under the assumption that you are making an attmpt at Christian satire and not actually trying to be mean-spirited. And no, you didn’t say anywhere that it had to be one or the other.)

        • Sorry, Wanda. This is not satire. This is prophetic ridicule. This is anger at what some people are doing in the name of Jesus. This is serious. It is not “mean” in the sense that I am bullying someone or calling them names. I hope it is analytically sound while at the same time expressing utter disapproval of what someone is doing. It is criticism, plain and simple. Ken Ham as a brother does not deserve to be “trashed.” This project does.

          • I think the rub is that a lot of us would love to read some satire going the other way sometimes. We almost never get there here. Perhaps this is the wrong place to look for it.

        • Wanda,

          I think I know Chaplain Mike well enough to say that he is not a judgmental or condescending person. He is gracious and pastoral in his personal interactions. However, when very public organizations plan a very public (and very large) portrayal of certain parts of the Bible in an attempt to make money, satire is an appropriate tool.

          Personally, I don’t think his satire went too far, but I suppose we all have our own thresholds here.

        • ” There’s a fine line between Christian satire and mean-spirited behaviour and you crossed it.”

          The Old Testament prophets crossed that line every day. They crossed it, doused it in gasoline, and set it on fire.

          The church needs to learn to take some criticism, especially from people who are deeply concerned about the disastrous direction it’s heading in — people like Chaplain Mike.

          • Just imagine a modern Isaiah publicly declaring that God wants the church to take a break from all these showy religious spectacles because it’s making Him sick at His stomach — just like the real Isaiah told the religious leaders of his day in the first chapter of the book named for him. Want to talk about people getting up in arms!
            The simple truth is that church history has included more than its fair share of bad ideas — as well as a noticable shortage of people willing to stand up and say, “Hey, that’s a bad idea!” And I definitely think this theme park is a bad idea — right up there with the Children’s Crusade, the marriage of church and state, and that song “Devil in the Phone Booth.” Thank you, Mike, for calling a spade a spade and pointing out why it’s spade.

      • Danny Willis says:

        I apparently have missed the posts where you present the Biblical argument against what Ken Ham is teaching. Please point me in the proper direction since you only seem to be insulting what he teaches and discount anyone who backs him.

        Your response to Deb is not a valid argument, it is only an attack on her intelligence. The same post could be made of yourself:

        Mike, the fact that you think you are promoting serious Bible study and excellence in dealing with scientific issues betrays more than I could ever say about the state of Biblical literacy and thoughtful interaction with the academic disciplines in American Christianity. Good luck.

        If you want to discount his views, fine, but please present some valid arguments and some scriptural support instead of dismissing him as a fool. You seem to be forgetting your grace.

        • You seem to be forgetting the point of the post, which is not to argue or analyze but to prophetically denounce.

          • Danny Willis says:

            Then the intent of my repost was for the same. The fact that you think you are promoting serious Bible study and excellence in dealing with scientific issues betrays more than I could ever say about the state of Biblical literacy and thoughtful interaction with the academic disciplines in American Christianity. Good luck.

    • Deb, thanks for your post.

      Earlier this year I was asked to review Ken Hamm’s video on the six days of creation (probably one of the ones you watched). My review is here:

      http://www.fccplace.com/a-review-of-ken-hamms-the-six-days-of-creation/

      If you read it with an open mind, I think you will see why Mike and others do not consider Mr. Hamm to be a serious teacher of the Word.

    • Not trying to be difficult…but as a former Mormon seeing your defense of Ken Hamm reminds me of the Mormons I knew who would tell me…”I know Joseph Smith is true and a Prophet from God. I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true..”

  11. I don’t know. I get that this park has some issues, but honestly, I just don’t get why some on this site are so quick to pounce on fundies? I’ll take a sincere fundie over an “as long as I have a passing mental assent to a historic Jesus I don’t have to beleive anything else” intellectual any day.

    There has to be room for criticism but some of the stuff vented at fundies on here is almost as funny as the fundies themselves. Some of you must have some real baggage in regards to fundies:)

    • Why is that the choice, Austin? I don’t recall ever making those two choices the only options.

    • Also, maybe it’s different where you are, but where I live (Cali) “fundies” is considered something of a pejorative term, kind of like referring to homosexuals as “faggots.” Just saying.

      Or were you being ironic? On the ‘Net it’s hard to tell sometimes …

    • Austin, this whole site was made because of Michael Spencer’s baggage, so it’s not surprising that it attracts the kind of people who foam at the mouth a bit whenever they hear the word ‘orthodox.’ Two kinds of people generally come here: Christians who are confused and looking for something deeper than the cotton-candy Christianity that really is prevalent in America and those who are just the other side of the same legalism coin as the fundamentalists they hate.

      • Cipher, it’s pretty presumptuous to think you’ve got us all pegged. And you may think it’s all about our “baggage,” but maybe, just maybe it’s about more than that. Maybe it’s about calling the evangelical church back to something real, something many of us are finding elsewhere.

        • Oh, there are most certainly people who come here for something real. That’s why I came here. I’ve just seen a few too many topics here degenerate into the same kind of divisiveness and groupthink that the other side is criticized for. One often gets the idea that Post-Evangelicals would sooner break bread with a Nazi Christian than with someone like Al Mohler.

      • And some of us come because we are curious, there is good writing and good topical discussion, and much less juvenial mud-slinging. Sometimes there is a good exchange of ideas and some things that cause me to think or receive another perspective on. Heck, I’m not even evangelical….

      • All I’ve got to say is, the Chap’s criticism of Ham is much more classy than your criticism of the Chap (of my criticism of you for that matter :P).

        • Assuming you’re talking to me, I’m actually with Chaplain Mike on this issue and most of his posts. He’s a very likable guy. My comment was about people here in the comments section, not him. Sorry if it came off that way.

      • Donalbain says:

        Ahem! And atheists! Dont forget us atheists!

    • @Austin; I won’t venture to speak for Chap Mike, he’s a big dude and can handle that, but I”ll say for myself that the rub is that Ken Ham does not allow for any other view, PERIOD.. His way is christianity, PERIOD. If he were’nt so dogmatic about this, maybe he’d get more leniency, more “yeah, that’s not my cup of tea, but that’s OK…” As it is, he should be calledj out, IMO, NOT for his particular views (by the scientific community, perhaps, but that’s another matter) but for his poorly thought out, ill defended “orthodoxy”. He insists on making a non-essential an essential.

      Granted, I don’t recommend using all of Ham’s tactics in seeing him corrected. But this peice is lavender and rose petals compaired to what Ham calls others. I won’t drag out all his jibes, but it’s way beyond ‘silly’ or ‘Disney-esque’.

      I don’t think Chap Mike plays the prophetic card flippantly or in excess, but then I’m the wrong person to assess that , probabaly.

      GregR

  12. This post comes across a bit judgemental and harsh imho. Appreciate this blog site though.

    • It is harsh, Fr. Chris. Intentionally so. I’m sorry if that’s offensive to some, but I think this kind of nonsense needs to be held up to the light of day.

      • I agree.

        I believe Jim and Tammy Baker had a theme park too….

        The whole christian theme park idea smacks of the hypocritical to me. As I have commented about it before it is simply using the christian brand to make money (look, our rides and exhibits have a bible theme, come spend your money and don’t go to that secular park).

        Someone should gather statistics to see who comes through the gates of the park. Is it bringing in those who have fallen away and could possibly be brought back to the church through fun and imagery? Or is it simply catering to those who are of like mind?

        • I agree. The whole Christian (you fill in the blank) is very strange to me. I constantly see advertisements from oh say a car dealership that touts a bible verse and encourages us to come buy a car. I think it is so bizarre that Jesus is used in our marketing techniques. I mean why can’t I buy a car from you because you are honest and also might have a sale? Why can’t I go to a theme park because I like your roller coasters?

          Daniel, I just read your post on Ken Ham and I found it quite interesting. I have not formulated an opinion YEC but, I think I am leaning toward an old earth designed by the Lord. Could anyone give me the titles of books that might help?

          • The best book I have read on Genesis 1 is:

            http://www.amazon.com/Lost-World-Genesis-One-Cosmology/dp/0830837043

            Many people also found John Sailhammer’s Genesis Unbound to be helpful, but I haven’t read it.

          • If you would like a shorter and more immediate take on ways of interpreting Genesis 1, you are welcome to check out:

            http://www.fccplace.com/resources/sermons/?download&file_name=Genesis+One+Sermon.doc

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            “Bizarre” is not the word I would use. When I see Christianity used in marketing, I think of chapter 6 of Matthew. (One benefit of a liturgical church is that we hear this passage every year at Ash Wednesday.) Giving the benefit of the doubt, such marketing betrays a shallow Christianity. Less charitably, I always suspect these marketers of cynically faking Christianity to separate the rubes from their money.

          • Danny Willis says:

            The Genesis Record by Henry Morris is a great Book. If you are going to read Genesis Unbound, you’ll need to read Morris’ book along with the Bible to see which view is credible.

            • The Genesis Flood and other books by Morris and Whitcomb are based on “visions” reported by Ellen G. White, the founder of the sectarian 7th Day Adventist movement back in the mid-1800s.

          • Danny Willis says:

            Books by Morris and Whitcomb may be similar to White’s but it is likely because they are both based on simply reading the Bible. This is unlike Sailhammer’s Genesis Unbound book that is based on evolutionist assumptions instead of Biblical exegesis or even straightforward reading.

            • You did not read what I said. White did not get her information from the Bible, but from a series of dreams and visions she had in which God explained to her why the earth appears to be so old. In the visions, it was revealed to her that it was the result of the worldwide flood, which changed the very appearance of the earth. She didn’t get that from the Bible, and neither has anyone else.

            • Sailhamer’s credentials in Hebrew exegesis are impeccable, and his view of Genesis (whether one agrees with each detail or not) is by no means based on “evolutionist assumptions.” That is just about the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.

          • Danny Willis says:

            It should also be noted that the idea of millions of years and evolution was never founded upon studying the Bible. If one is so against the ideas of the 7th day adventist, how much more should he be against the atheist?

            • You’re right, Danny. And neither does the idea of only a few thousand years come from the Bible. The Bible simply doesn’t deal with that question.

          • Danny Willis says:

            Surely you are aware of the YEC argument that the genealogies (so and so begat so and so at so many years old) are where the 6000 year old earth/universe originates? This is a valid argument that fits perfectly with the YEC framework. The idea of millions of years always has to be made to “fit” with the Bible, it did not originate in it.

            White and Morris’s books may have similar stories but that in no way necessitates that one came from the other. If it did then the claims that the Bible and Christ were based on other cultures ancient writings would have to be true as well. I’m sure that idea would disagree with our belief that Jesus is God incarnate. The Bible testifies that there was a worldwide flood and science (empirical, not molecules to man evolution) supports it.

            Sailhammer takes many liberties with scripture. Here is a courteous rebuttal to his book by James B. Jordan: reformed-theology.org/ice/newslet/bc/bc.97.04.htm

    • Daniel,

      I read Genesis Unbound. Then I read it again and I think I emptied a pack oh highlighters on it. It was enlightening and in a number of ways helped me tie a number of strands together. It’s a great read.

      I recommend it…if you can find a copy that you won’t have to take a loan to buy.

  13. Anytime you turn faith into a product to be exploited commercially, you’ve made it a worldly commodity.
    Isn’t it the evidence of things unseen?

    Now, will we be able to order Noahland t-shirts on line, or do I have to drive all the way to Kentucky to get one?

  14. This kind of thing depresses me because it’s fodder for atheists and those thinking about leaving the faith to make fun of Christians and how ignorant, tasteless, etc., we are. It’s too easy for unbelievers to poke fun at this kind of thing and say that all Christians are like this and believe this “Disney” Christianity. Such a current to swim against …

    • Nina that is my thought exactly! It seems that many in the evangelical world stoop to such incredible silliness. I just can’t see any of the church fathers engaging in such nonsense. Of course, they were probably concerned with other things like being set on fire or fed to lions… Yet they go out bravely defending Christ’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins.

      • Yup it was stuff like this (and how Christians act themself with no love or grace) that helped me to walk away and become agnostic. In some of the agnostic circles I am in this is laughed at… Funny thing is that as hard as I could at times fight for my faith I felt it slipping away regardless.

        • Eagle, what happened to you is regrettable, and I’m glad you come here and participate in spite of your disillusionment with Christianity. My goal in writing like this is certainly not to confirm anyone’s unbelief. I hope you will find your way back. However, I find it sad that Christians keep doing things like this project, which only serve to confirm your worst suspicions. There is another Jesus besides the cartoon Jesus, and he’s the real thing.

          • @Chaplain Mike…

            Thanks for your concern Chaplain. I still keep a couple of lines of communication open with a couple of people. We discuss and talk about things and I get frustrated (as I am sure so do they…) I don’t know where this is going I have connections with a few Christians, some atheists/agnostics, and then those that have no spiritual invovlement, or a limited one. It’s a model train club and I think sometimes they are the healthiest of circles that I have moved in. But we’ll see where things go…I just don’t want to be burned again.

            @HUG..I don’t know where this is going. I’ve had a large sway of emotions since my spirtual meltdown and hammering by Pharises. It’ still a process…one problem for me is that I think of Christinaity at times and can feel so uneasy and sick. I think this is going to take time. A long the way I have learned who my freinds are, and have slowly been making new ones to replace the evangelicals who melted away.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Eagle, I wonder if you might be in the full swing away from the extreme Evangelical wilderness that burned you, and may over time slip partially back into a position somewhere between their position and your present position. That’s the pattern I followed, which ended up with me in a mainstream liturgical church.

  15. “How can any thoughtful Christian support a project like this?”

    Is it okay to be in favor of this … but in the hope that the $125M cost will bankrupt Ken Ham and His Band of Merry Thugs, thus getting him out of our hair?

    • Well if the project bankrupts Answers in Genesis (AIG) where can I sign up? It will be the best $100.00 I spent!!! 🙂

      • Danny Willis says:

        Eagle, what is it about AIG’s scriptural stance that you disagree with? You said before that similar beliefs are what drove you to agnosticism. It would be nice to understand why.

  16. Ben from Guildford says:

    chaplain Mike, the Lion King is an adaptation of Hamlet, not King Lear

    • thanks, corrected.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      No, Lion King is a knockoff of Osamu Tezuka’s Junguru Tatei, AKA Kimba the White Lion!

      • Now you have the “Kimba the White Lion” theme song playing in my head, (along with Astro boy and the man in the suit Ultraman)… but I digress….

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Hey, Radagast, back in the early Eighties when I was helping out in anime video rooms, any early Tezuka stuff — Astroboy, Kimba, Amazing Three — would pack them in. And this was before anime really developed a fandom here in the States.

  17. David Cornwell says:

    Excellent piece, but hey, our faith in the United States, at least, is a faith in Capitalism. Everything else must bow before that god. Why else have “In God we trust” inscribed on our currency? It really means in this god, that you have in your hand, that we can use to buy, sell, innovate, manipulate and speculate– this is where we place our trust, our faith, our worship.

    Now, it’s time for me to go Christmas shopping.

  18. Wow, this article really brought out the Hamites. Chaplain Mike you stated “but I think this kind of nonsense needs to be held up to the light of day.” Please continue your good work in this regard.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “Hamites” as in Ken Ham, Curse of Ham, or a little bit of both?

      (Doing a little offbeat Biblical interpretation myself, I wonder if THAT’s what the “Curse of Ham” really meant…)

      • Will the theme park incorporate a genealogy tracing Ken’s descent from Ham, son of Noah, and therefore we can all be assured he wots whereof he speaks?

        More seriously, have we so declined in intelligence since the early centuries of Christianity that we will make it a touchstone of ‘true’ faith that you must absolutely believe the historical account in every detail literally or else the entire Gospel is proven false? Even St. Augustine recognised an allegorical element in the Flood account, and warned against the two extremes of either taking it as a pure myth, or treating it literally as bare history:

        “Chapter 27.—Of the Ark and the Deluge, and that We Cannot Agree with Those Who Receive the Bare History, But Reject the Allegorical Interpretation, Nor with Those Who Maintain the Figurative and Not the Historical Meaning.

        Yet no one ought to suppose either that these things were written for no purpose, or that we should study only the historical truth, apart from any allegorical meanings; or, on the contrary, that they are only allegories, and that there were no such facts at all, or that, whether it be so or no, there is here no prophecy of the church. For what right-minded man will contend that books so religiously preserved during thousands of years, and transmitted by so orderly a succession, were written without an object, or that only the bare historical facts are to be considered when we read them? For, not to mention other instances, if the number of the animals entailed the construction of an ark of great size, where was the necessity of sending into it two unclean and seven clean animals of each species, when both could have been preserved in equal numbers? Or could not God, who ordered them to be preserved in order to replenish the race, restore them in the same way He had created them?”

        And from the same Wikipedia article, we see that even in the 2nd/3rd centuries, already questions as to the absolute historicity of the account were being considered:

        “From the same period the early church Father Origen (c. 182 – 251), responding to a critic who doubted that the Ark could contain all the animals in the world, countered with a learned argument about cubits, holding that Moses, the traditional author of the book of Genesis, had been brought up in Egypt and would therefore have used the larger Egyptian cubit. He also fixed the shape of the Ark as a truncated pyramid, square at its base, and tapering to a square peak one cubit on a side; it was not until the 12th century that it came to be thought of as a rectangular box with a sloping roof.”

        So all in all, I am not depending upon the genuine Ark being found on Mount Ararat as a guarantee of faith. Neither am I saying there was never a Flood, nor a Noah, nor a chastisement of the wicked by God; I’m saying that arguing about “the animals went in, two by two” is not the point of the story.

        • Well, but it’s even worse than what you say, Martha. You ask, “More seriously, have we so declined in intelligence since the early centuries of Christianity that we will make it a touchstone of ‘true’ faith that you must absolutely believe the historical account in every detail literally or else the entire Gospel is proven false?” No, now the touchstone of true faith is whether we believe in a theme park, apparently. It’s not even built, and it’s already a sacred cow.

          • No, now the touchstone of true faith is whether we believe in a theme park, apparently. It’s not even built, and it’s already a sacred cow.

            Oh wow……I was kind of chuckling with many of the posts until I read this…. I’m not laughing now. I think you’ve distilled the article and review here, Damaris. The LORD help us all.

            Greg R

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            No, now the touchstone of true faith is whether we believe in a theme park, apparently. It’s not even built, and it’s already a sacred cow.

            No, Damaris, it’s a Cash Cow!

            (Too good a lead-in to pass up…)

          • Your humor mooooves me, HUG. I can always count on you to milk a joke for all it’s worth, and that’s no bull.

            I considered working in something about having everything down pat, but I thought that the kind of people with a chip on their shoulder might have a beef with me for such a pastoral pun. Aren’t you glad I refrained?

  19. Btw, Mike, using Disney as the lens to understand the park is brilliant.

    “They take stories that are classic because of their universal themes and dumb them down so that the kids can enjoy them with mom and dad. They remove all the messiness, complexity, nuance, and grit from these tales and sanitize them for a G or PG-rated modern entertainment audience. They are enjoyable, but as subtle as a punch in the face; as deep as the puddle in my driveway after a light rain.”

    Almost perfect analogy here, and I love how you carried the theme through the whole post. Of all your posts that I have read, this is the best written.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      A little more analogy:

      And how many boys once they turn 18 (and “put away childish things”) will admit to ever even liking Disney cartoons?

      • me

      • Gee, I wish the guys I know had put away childish things when they turned 18 . . .

      • Part of the appeal of putting away the childish things is knowing you can pull them out again.

        I watched Sleeping Beauty again recently. I was incredibly disappointed. All I remembered was the cool fight at the end, which was still cool. But the rest was a yawner. I’m kind of afraid to go back and watch any of the others I remember.

    • Danny Willis says:

      The only similarity between Disney and the Ark Encounter is that they are (or will be) both large theme parks. Answers in Genesis does nothing to dumb things down. The Creation Museum doesn’t hide the messiness and complexity of humanity and history but instead shows how the Bible makes sense of it all. The Ark Encounter will be enjoyable but not entirely a “happy, happy, joy, joy” type of place. AIG does a great job of eliminating the “cartoon” look of Christianity (like the bathtub arks that are commonly depicted) and replacing them with true visions from a Biblical perspective.

  20. I find this no more silly or self-endulging than Jimmy Carter’s “homes around the world” park in Georgia at the Habitat for humanity center. I mean come on, Jesus never worried about a place to sleep, “the foxes have holes” and all that, he slept in a manger for crying out loud. Do we really need to make ourselves feel better by touring how shoddy other folks homes are in other parts of the world. It’s not realistic anyway what with no rampant yellow fever, feces in the gutter, drug lords roaming the streets than this theme park is.

    • Slightly off topic, but in responze to this and on a slightly different tangent – I was speaking to my wife’s cousin who has been a missionary in the past to places like some of the muslim countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union and also parts of Africa. Thruogh our discussion we both agreed that we Americans sometimes see, through our American eyes, that people seem to be living in poor conditions because they do not have American housing (they have a mud hut instead of drywall) or material things. In some cases thats the case. In other cases what they lack there (and they’re not missing it since they have not been exposed to it) they make up for in familial bonds, strong sense of community, a strong patriarchal or matriarchal system. In other words thay are happy even though they are not up to our perceived standards because of culture or other factors.

      Now I understand that takes on a different view in the states, but things are not always what they are perceived to be overseas through our eyes….

  21. Wow, Chaplain Mike, you really through yourself into this post! Very interesting to read. You are correct that the story of the flood is one that is filled with death and destruction. But there does seem to be something about Noah building an ark and loading all these animals into it that charms many people.

    I got a big kick out of Bill Cosby’s humorous portrayal of Noah building the ark on a comedy album he made MANY years ago. (I just did a search online and you can hear him doing it at http://www.icomedytv.com/Comedy-Videos/ID/375/Bill-Cosby-Noah-with-transcript-0750.aspx and scroll down if you just want to read the transcript of it. I was going to copy and paste some of it, but it is ALL funny, so I would be pasting too much.)

    It certainly seems like the $125,000,000 could be used more more usefully elsewhere than on this theme park.

    Hans, I can’t remember if it was the replica of the Ark that I saw online that you are mentioning, but it did look pretty cool.

    • Voopa, Voopa, Voopa, Voop! Noah…..

      Grew up on that album – great stuff….

      Noah to God: What’s a cubit?

      • Narrator: So Noah began to build the ark. Of course his neighbors were not too happy about it. Can you imagine leaving for the office at 7 AM and seeing an ark?

        Neighbor: (enters whistling, with brief case) Hey! You over there.
        Noah: What do you want?
        Neighbor: What is this thing?
        Noah: It’s an ark.
        Neighbor: Uh huh, well you want to get it out of my driveway? I’ve gotta get to work. Hey listen, what’s this thing for anyway?
        Noah: I can’t tell you, ha ha ha.
        Neighbor: Can’t you even give me a little hint?
        Noah: You want a hint?
        Neighbor: Yes, please.
        Noah: Well, how long can you tread water? Ha ha ha

        • I like it when God asks Noah the same thing after Noah’s fit of frustration…

          God: Noah

          Noah: What!

          God: How long can you tread water? Ha ha ha

  22. I suggest that this story doesn’t revolve around doctrine or beliefs at all:

    >> “The people of Kentucky didn’t elect me governor to debate religion,” [Governor Steven Beshear] said at a news conference. “They elected me governor to create jobs.”

    The developers of Ark Encounter, who have incorporated as a profit-making company, say they expect to spend $150 million, employ 900 people and attract 1.6 million visitors from around the world in the first year. With the Creation Museum only 45 miles away, they envision a Christian tourism corridor that would draw busloads from churches and Christian schools for two- and three-day visits. <<

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/06/us/06ark.html?src=ISMR_AP_LO_MST_FB

    Thus, these 'Christians' are not known by what they believe, but by what they’ll spend money on.

    .

    • David Cornwell says:

      Now my trips from northeast Indiana to Lexington will be even worse!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “And they’ll know we are Christians by our $$$, by our $$$,
      Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our $$$$$…”

    • Well, if this project will employ up to 900 people, you COULD say that Ham is doing a better thing than I will EVER do. Maine finally voted to allow a casino with tables to be built. I think the tipping point was that jobs are going to be created. I think most Mainers may have preferred that the jobs get created in some other way, but at this point, we are almost willing to take whatever we can get. So, if the only folks who visit this place are the people who believe what Ham believes anyway, then it’s not like it’s going to corrupt people who believe another way or people who don’t believe at all. The people who don’t believe at all may read about it and think, “Those stupid Christians” but it won’t be the first time Christians have done stupid things. If they want to do stupid things and employ 900 people while they do it, then perhaps I should be saying “More power to them.” But it’s not easy for me to say that, as so much of what Chaplain Mike says is true about turning Jesus and Christianity into a Disneyland kind of happening.

    • Then there’s “Touchdown Jesus” just up I-75 a bit!

      • not at the moment – it burned down (or up, depending on your viewpoint) last year….

        • “Touchdown Jesus” is at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana. What burned down near Cincinnati was “Big Butter Jesus.”

          • I live in Dayton…we called it both “Big Butter Jesus” and “Touch Down Jesus” and Solid Rock Church is rebuilding bigger and better…

            It was quite the “witness” to traffic zipping along the interstate. 😉

    • Donalbain says:

      If they get the government involved, does that mean they can’t use religion to discriminate about who works for them?

  23. http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v2/n2/netherland-ark
    There’s the ark in the Netherlands. He built it 1/5 size. He is including “other things” on the Ark which will float from place to place around the country. It says, “One section of the Ark will highlight various Bible stories such as the open tomb of Jesus, the Ark of the Covenant, the story of Joseph, and a fishing boat, which tells the story of Jesus and His disciples.” And: “Another area of the Ark includes a Bedouin tent, which represents the dwelling place of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. According to Johan, the tent symbolizes hospitality, which is something that is missing in Holland these days.”

    Does Johan’s way seem like “Disney-fied” than Ham’s or only less Disney-fied in its scale?

  24. So when is a Rapture based amusement park going to open? How about the following. Is this not a good representation of fundementalism?

    1. Millenium Rollar coaster…(coaster can be designed as a white horse)

    2. Rapture Fly Through the Air (reverse of the Free Fall at Great America in CA..except that you fly through the air…)

    3. Auditorium showing the Left Behind flicks

    4. Meet and greet with Kirk Cameron (where he signs autograghs….)

    After that you and your family can visit the tasty Believer cafe…what do they have there…what could the menu be?

    -Fire and Brimstone (Cajun ribs…spicy, and hot, hot, hot, hot…make sure you do business with Jesus so you don’t end up in the Lake of Fire)
    -Flamming Faggot (Shish Kabob…hot off the flames..remember to tell that Gay neighbor of yours to prepare for hell as it’s evident that God doesn’t love him!!)
    -New Babylon (Hamburger with cheese)
    -Tribulation Force (Chicken Salad…eat this before the rise of the Anti-Christ only $12.95)
    -Nicolae Carpathia (Beef Strogonaff…fresh out of Russia just like the Anti-Christ)
    -Damned Democrat (Chile with crackers….because Democrats have no backbone…and are being preped for hell as salvation is out of the question for them)
    -Creationist (Herb Chicken…tasty just don’t ask what comes first…that or the egg? 😉
    -New Heaven and New Earth (4 large brownies, with ice cream and hot fudge…remember this is a taste of what heaven will be like with Our Savior and remember those Catholics, mainstream Protestants, liberals, seculars…who are in hell…OH PRAISE THE LORD!!!!)

    So after a fun filled day on your way out they have a prayer room where you can pray for another Hurricane to hit New Orleans, or for a Boeing 737 to tear through the John Hancock Tower in Chicago..remember it’s the fault of the feminists, Nancy Pelosi, and gays. This special prayer time is led by either Jerry Falwell’s son or Pat Robertson 🙂

    Fun for the whole family!! (Where’s an air sickness bag…)

    _________________________________________________________________________
    This post is meant to be humerous….

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      After that you and your family can visit the tasty Believer cafe…what do they have there…what could the menu be?

      What else?

      – The Millenium (STEAMING PILES OF FRESH PRODUCE, DRENCHED IN BUTTER!!!!!)

      (Quit handing me such perfect straight lines, Eagle…)

    • funny

  25. Ham is taking deadly serious, “R” rated events from the Biblical narrative and turning them into flannel-graph caricatures for the entertainment(and so-called educational) value. The question is, will we see any criticism from the more YEC end of the spectrum? Even if they agree with Ham’s message can’t they see that the medium is distorting and even completely obscuring the message?

    And in fact the medium is sending its own message and it ain’t pretty.

    • good point and I think the criticsm should be there instead of the fact that he is a literalist

    • Your last comment is dead-on. This is primarily about medium and what it does to our message.

      • If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “It’s what you say, not how you say it” in evangelical circles…

        Everyone needs to read “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman.

    • Danny Willis says:

      Where did the idea that the Ark Encounter or any of Ken Ham’s messages turn the Bible’s history into “flannel-graph caricatures”? If you’ve been to the Creation Museum, you’d see that they do no such thing and if AIG is going to run the Ark Encounter then there is no basis for your claim that they downgrade the Biblical message.

      • Oh, you mean like all the white Caucasian mannequins purportedly representing Biblical characters?

        • Danny Willis says:

          Using a caucasian mannequin is a far cry from watering down the message. AIG is very straightforward about their explanation for the differing “races” so I think they can be granted a little leeway for having supposedly all white mannequins. I seem to remember them being more brown than white.

  26. Mike, I’m on the same page as you on this one. I didn’t see that anyone mentioned the Holy Land Experience theme park in Orlando. Every time I drive by it (I have lots of family in Orlando) something inside me says, “this is so wrong.” I don’t think I can say it better than you but this type of mentality takes Christians even a step further back from reality. Sort of the same with the Evangelical’s artist laureate–Thomas Kincaid. He paints an idealized world with the “light of Jesus” while his DUI mugshot makes it’s way around the Internet and his company is sued by (and looses to) several of his associates for unfair businesses practices. It is a dichotomy between the idealized, pretend world and reality.

    In an obscure book by Frank Schaeffer, Shame Pearls Before Real Swine, he devotes at least a chapter to the Disneyization of Christianity.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I don’t think I can say it better than you but this type of mentality takes Christians even a step further back from reality.

      Remember the Thomas Kincade-themed “Planned Community” (housing tract) you blogged about a couple years ago, JMJ? How the 60 Minutes coverage mentioned the demographic most interested in buying and moving in were “You guessed it — Born Again Christians, by the fiberglass-buggy full”?

  27. http://www.arkvannoach.com/great/
    OK, there is an Ark in the full size. Wowza! Maybe they can later adapt it so that hundreds of poor people can live in it. THAT would be cool.

    I’m done now. I know I often venture off-topic. But one thing leads to another in my mind and before you know it…I am way out there.

  28. This is coming from a former Christian…but it was the fundies who helped me lose my faith in God and get to this point in my life. It was the fundies who taught that..

    1. Christianity is nothing but sin management..and that is while you are getting hammered by Pharises..
    2. Catholics are not Christian…this was a lovely thought to ponder when I and my family were burying my Irish Catholic grandmother.
    3. That to be an evangelical Christian you have to believe in the rapture (and a host of other things…) like was taught at McLean Bible…then the pastor told us if we didn’t believe in some of what he taught to get out of the church..So I followed the Senior Pastor’s advice. Best sermon I ever heard….
    4. All sin would go away..thus you need to lie and be deceptive which I am not about to do.

    Well I’ll leave it at that…

    Eagle

    • That’s interesting. I’m an Evangelical who considers himself a fundamentalist and I believe precisely zero of those points (well, I believe in a rapture, but probably not the same one they were talking about).

      • Cipher

        I was invovled with CCC in the upper midwest, it turned out to be very legalistic and came back to bite me. While going through that I was involved in a charasmatic third wave church. There were some good people there but so much time was spent engaging in spiritual warfare. The closest I ever came to being arrested for assault happened when I went up for prayer after church and one of the Elders told me that being single was a sin. Somehow I restrained myself. But I remember when one of the Elders died suddenly and people actually thought there was going to be a Lazarus type of situation and prayed for him to rise.

        Then I moved to DC dealt with a number of differnet churches got a good taste of a mega church (which will also be my last…) at McLean Bible. If any church represents the McDonaldsization with the franchsing of faith..McLean Bible fills the bill. Add a lot of judgementalism, Phairsee’s, “us” vs “them” and it left a bitter, bitter taste in my mouth. The last church I was involved was more open to working with the poor, and it was there I came to realize how how subjective Christians are about sin.

        But a lot of what I wrote about above is some of what I heard…I remember one CCC director in the upper midwest telling me that Catholics are not Christians, just as another crusade volunteer told me that HIV and AIDs is God’s way of punishing homosexuals. I thought like that and forgot it for a while until my Dad who is a Physician told me a story of one of his nurses who accidently infected herself with HIV during durgery preparation. I wondered after hearing that (according to how I was taught…) what was her sin where she deserved that?

        But evangelical Christianity left a bitter, bitter taste in my mouth.

        • But evangelical Christianity left a bitter, bitter taste in my mouth.

          It sounds like your tastebuds are working just fine. I hope you taste something better around here.

          That’s not to say that all evangelicals are that way. They’re kinda like lawyers: 90% of them give the other 10% a bad name.

          • Eric HInkle says:

            What they call the “Vocal Minority” problem on http://www.tvtropes.org

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Yeah. Just like in both D&D and (especially) Furry Fandom, there is only so much you can do to disassociate themselves from idiots and crazies who LOUDLY PROCLAIM TO EVERYBODY (especially mass media) THAT THEY’RE ONE OF YOU AND YOU’RE JUST LIKE THEM.

        • What can I say? I’m so sorry that you’ve had such experiences. Mine have been completely different with Evangelicals being, for the most part, understanding and kind people. One of the most stinging criticisms of Christianity that I’ve heard is that Gandhi quote “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians, they are not like your Christ.” Yet, if we were like Christ, then He would not have to come here in the first place. We as people are going to screw up, and you’ve encountered a lot of such people. But in the end, Christianity is about Christ, and not about Christians. Whether it is true is about Him, and not about us. I hope that you will come to love Jesus, even if you can’t feel the same for us.

          That said, Christianity in America is very ill right now. Too many things that should not be a part of it have come into it and it has neglected proper exercise. It is like a spoiled, lazy, and obese child. Things seem to be changing a bit, but I hope that you won’t solidify your opinion of Christianity as a whole purely on your experiences with a segment of it.

    • Danny Willis says:

      I am an evangelical Christian who wholly supports the YEC view and AIG and I too believe none of the things that you pointed out. I’m not sure why AIG is disliked by you as I’m confident they too would denounce the things you’ve encountered. Let me encourage you to let the Bible be the judge of people’s character instead of the poor leader’s your encountered.

  29. It’s sort of funny to me that some commenters have no problem jumping on Chaplain Mike for being harsh or judgmental, but they give people like Ham a pass. I’ve heard Ham speak in person. He certainly has no problem passing judgment on Christians who disagree with him. He condemns for not taking the Bible seriously, and pretty much says that if you don’t take Genesis literally, you might as well throw out the whole Bible. That is a much worse condemnation than anything Chaplain Mike has written here.

    All parks like these do is push the Christians who take them seriously into a Christian ghetto. I have no problem if Christians are made to be the laughing stock for the right reasons, but stuff like this makes it for all the wrong reasons. Why aren’t Christians made fun of for protecting the least of these or loving the unlovable? Probably because that’s not what we’re known for. We’re known trying to get dirty words or body parts off TV, going crazy about gays getting married, or when people mention the word evolution. I can totally understand why this post was written.

    • Phil writes, “Why aren’t Christians made fun of for protecting the least of these or loving the unlovable? Probably because that’s not what we’re known for.”

      Wow, excellent comment, Phil. Something to think about. DEEPLY think about.

    • Thanks for this comment, Phil. It better sums up what I tried to say below.

    • Phil writes, “Why aren’t Christians made fun of for protecting the least of these or loving the unlovable? Probably because that’s not what we’re known for.”

      Hmmm…I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone mock Mother Theresa. Or Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Or Francis of Assisi. Really good point, Phil. Thank you…

      • Laura,

        I’ve read a number of places where fundamentalistic Christians have no problem at all consigning Mother Teresa to hell, Just because she was a Catholic (who believed in working her way to heaven)

        The others, I haven’t run across anything similar, or at least what stuck in the memory banks.

        • Mother Teresa was a heretic who glorified suffering so much she refused to relieve it in her “patients”. The silence of Christ she repeatedly speaks of to her confessor is a result of her heterodox beliefs, IMHO. Also, she constantly agitated to get her own order, and precisely when she did, the voice fell silent.

          • Wait, what?

          • Yes…what do you do with someone so absolutely Catholic in her beliefs and spiritual experiences? Unless you downplay or “Disne-fy” her, you’re up against a cousin of the “Liar, Lunatic, or Lord” scenario. Make her into a Santa Claus, maybe.
            Or stick her in your garden holding a birdbath, like St. Francis. Or go the Hitchens route and deny it all.

          • ugh… anger here?

          • So if there was only one slot open left in heaven, and you were up against Mother Teresa for it, you’d feel pretty good about your chances, her being a Catholic and all?

          • well that’s one way of appeasing one’s guilt over not taking care of the least of these like Mother Theresa…condemn her to hell. Awesome.

    • From what I understand even in the darkest, ugliest corners of the internet there is one person you dare not speak ill of: Mr. Rogers.

      • Maybe not on the internet, but haven’t you listened to Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion” on public radio?

        It’s all in good fun. Mister Rogers isn’t really a psycho…

      • That is true. Not even 4chan speaks badly of Mr. Rogers.

      • Actually Eddie Murphy once did some parody sketches on Saturday Night Live…

  30. I agree with you, Pastor Mike. It’s not that there is harm in going to it necessarily (sure, kids can learn about Noah and the ark there), but what are we doing? This is very first-world, American wealth and consumerism Christianity with Disney flash…just what we Americans want, or, some of us. I’m very much involved with poor Haitian neighbors in my town. We share meals together, read the bible together and, though we have very little in common, we are brothers and sisters in Christ and we are friends. I cannot imagine that my friends would have interest if even they had the funds to go to such a place. No, they are trusting God for jobs, language acquistion, rent money, food (we often bring food to a few families). They praise God for taking care of them, and yesterday, a friend asked, “why are people afraid to die?” to which someone responded, “because life is so good and comfortable, they can’t imagine it being better in eternity when they know it will be so different than here.”

    I am with you, Pastor Mike. I don’t get it.

  31. “period shops”

    I’m trying to imagine what kind of souvenirs they’ll have on sale in those period shops. What kind of family-friendly items can they have? Any suggestions?

    Wine, obviously, as “Noah was the first tiller of the soil. He planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine” – unless the text really means grape juice, in which case what – little packets of Welch’s Grape Juice in clay jars?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I’m trying to imagine what kind of souvenirs they’ll have on sale in those period shops. What kind of family-friendly items can they have? Any suggestions?

      Probably generic Jesus Junk.

      Whatever they are, they’ll have Bible verses engraved/embossed on them and be seriously overpriced.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        P.S. Everybody:

        I know of what Chap Mike speaks regarding Disneyfication. I live just over a mile due North of Disneyland. The Mickey Mouse Artillery barrage rocks my house @ 9:30 every night.

        • HUG,

          Don’t take this wrong, but this is the only time I’v ever wished I were you:)

          I went to Disney with my kids for the first time this year. My first time as well. I’ve got to admit I was like a kid again. I loved it. That probalby says something bad about me but there it is.

          I want to go back soon.

        • But HUG, that means you can eat at In N Out anytime you like! I’d say that was a fair trade…

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            As far as I can tell, In-N-Out’s a stealth Christian company (in the manner of Chick-Fil-A, NOT the expected “Just like Mickey D’s, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)! Jesus Junk Food manner). They’re known for using only high-quality ingredients in their burgers and treating their employees real well.

          • I miss In – N – Out…that is one of the joys of being from California!! 🙂

      • HUG, you forgot one thing about the stuff. It will all be made in China. (and hopefully our Christian family over there won’t be making it.)

  32. Those of us who do not pay attention to history are doomed to repeat it. Case-in-point: remember Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker? They did a Christian theme park, hotel, and convention center called Heritage USA.

    Good readin’ too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritage_USA

    • Yeah, they did, didn’t they? Whatever became of that?

      /end facetiousness

    • I spent a fair amount of time at Heritage USA when it was a quiet, non-pretentious campground with a studio off in one corner. But even as a kid, I felt a strong sense of revulsion (righteous indignation?) when it was transformed into a luxury Christian theme park with fancy hotels, indoor shopping malls filled with Christian trinkets, etc. I think CM’s essay is dead on the mark in that evangelicals are totally missing the point if they think these sorts of things are what sharing or living the gospel is all about. It’s not that the individual people involved don’t mean well or that there’s no chance some good somehow might come of it all—it’s just that it’s all fundamentally self serving (which isn’t even what those involved deep down truly intend) and in a very spiritually unhealthy way.My question is how, in a constructive way, can we get the light of recognition to go on in those well-meaning individual’s minds?

  33. excellent post. thank you for the levity you have provided to this topic!

    for all those who seem to think this is too harsh, let me interject. i was forwarded a Ken Ham video by someone from my church because i’m the youth pastor and our kids need to know the truth. while i watched said video, i quickly realized that, according to Ken Ham, i am not a Christian. you know, the whole if you don’t believe in literal 6 day creation and the young earth view, you obviously don’t believe the Bible. that isn’t helpful. that is actually downright disgusting. i think it’s fair to push back against people who, either implicitly or explicitly, are polarizing Christians.

    • Chad M says

      >>i think it’s fair to push back against people who, either implicitly or explicitly, are polarizing Christians. <<

      I agree. Except how can it be done?

      Talking about the leaders behind their backs won't change anything. And most of the followers can't engage in real discourse anymore. They'll just call you smart (as if 'smart' were a curse) and say "The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it."

      I would love to be pushing back in a meaningful way, but i just don't see how.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        They’ll just call you smart (as if ‘smart’ were a curse) and say “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it.”

        Substitute “Koran” for “Bible” and you have the Talibani attitude.

        • So when will we see the Turbans, and public executions. Alah Akbaaaaaaaaaarr!!! 😀

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            When the Theonomists/Reconstructionists get the same Absolute Power over us as the Taliban had over Afghanistan and the Ayatollahs do over Iran.

            Absolute Power plus Utter Righteousness is a REAL dangerous combination.

            “Nothing’s worse than a monster who thinks he’s Right with God.”
            — Captain Mal Reynolds, Free Trader Serenity

      • Andy Z: I liked yoiur post and feel pretty much the same, but this blog is not behind anyone’s back (granted, it’s porbably not in the top ten of Ken Ham’s blog roll). I think there is little chance of changing Ken Ham’s course, or talking him onto a different trail. But there are thousands, if not millions that aren’t quite sure which way to go, and don’t have it settled if Ham is just strident, or something else/worse. If Ken wanted to defend himself , he can, but I think this post , and those of Michael Spencer years ago, were for the church at large. We need to weigh these things out, and a blog like this is a start.

        maybe a ragged start, but a start. The fact that some find this unpleasant, IMO, purely cannot be avoided. There are large dollars, and the visions and dreams of too many to soft sell the opposition. If you can think of a more meaningful way of “pushing back” (of course one on one conversations is always a possibility), then I’m all ears.

        Examine everything, cling to what is GOOD……
        GregR

      • @ Chad-

        I agree with you. I wish there could have been more people like you in the churches I was in. Unfortunately in evangelical ciricles the person who can yell the loudest or makes the most commotion wins. Which is what Ken Ham and so many others do. Evangelicals are attention hounds in a lot of ways. Another problem is that the Hal Lindsey and the Left Behind series introduced new theology to where you have Christians expecting to be persecuted and who romanticize it. So I would sugges that some of these culture battles have grown out of these false teachings. You can have Christians who are influenced by the Left Behind movement/series who seek confrontation in an effort to create a self fulfilling prophecy.

        Its really warped…but at least there’s no Kool aide…- Yet.

    • Chad M said:
      i think it’s fair to push back against people who, either implicitly or explicitly, are polarizing Christians.

      WORD.
      GregR

    • Danny Willis says:

      Chad, I think you missed the message. Ken Ham nor AIG questions whether or not you are a Christian (visit their site and see for yourself). The argument is that if you reject what the Bible says about the creation week and the flood, then why not reject the resurrection and Jesus being the only way to heaven. That should be a consistent logical argument. I suspect that when you viewed the video, you were convicted in your heart about your inconsistent belief (which is actually good evidence that you are a Christian) and instead of dealing with your relationship with God’s Word, you turned against the person in the video. Did you reject the person who gave it to you as well?

  34. Hadn’t heard of this “plan.” I am a Genesis one literalist and I think it is an awful idea. Most of the world is living on less than 2 dollars a day and 125 million is going to what?

    A huge part of the world’s population needs to hear about and see the love of Jesus. How about using the funds planned for this project to help the efforts of Christian missionaries?

    After all, we are to go into the world, not have them come to Kentucky.

    • It’s just a bigger version of what goes on in most evangelical congregations in the US: “if you want your (fill in the blank) to get saved, bring them to this service/event.” Forget going into all the world like we were commanded — make them come to us!

      When the early Church started getting ingrown, God sic’ed a pre-Damascus road Saul on them and sent them running from Jerusalem as far as Antioch and Alexandria. Wonder what he’s going to do to get our fundamentalist fundaments in motion …

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “if you want your (fill in the blank) to get saved, bring them to this service/event.”

        When this pronouncement was made at Cal Poly Campus Crusade regarding a Billy Graham Crusade coming to town, everybody except me panicked: “HOW DO I MAKE A NON-CHRISTIAN FRIEND SO I CAN TAKE THEM TO THE BILLY GRAHAM CRUSADE AND GET THEM SAVED?” I am not making that up — most of them were GUBAs who’d never made a friend outside of church or had even known anyone outside of church.

        When the early Church started getting ingrown, God sic’ed a pre-Damascus road Saul on them and sent them running from Jerusalem as far as Antioch and Alexandria. Wonder what he’s going to do to get our fundamentalist fundaments in motion …

        Shari’a?

        • Seems unlikely. How about the gov’t realizing they could pull in a lot in taxes is they revoke 501 (c) 3 status for religious organizations? We’d lose most of our buildings, almost all our broadcast facilities and 100% of the retreats, campgrounds and Answers-in-Genesis-based theme parks. Pretty soon we’d have nothing left except God and each other …

          Hey, a man can dream. 🙂

      • “if you want your (fill in the blank) to get saved, bring them to this service/event.”

        “Gospel Blimp”, anyone?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          “Gospel Blimp” is funny because it (or at least the attitude it spoofs) is true.

    • Danny Willis says:

      I believe Gen 1-11 as written and think this is a great idea.

      I’ve been to Mexico, Thailand, and China on missions trips as well as serving in various ministries in my home town and supporting missionaries to Africa, Scotland and Switzerland. Every time I’ve left the country I’ve looked back and seen that the problems that missionaries have isn’t related to the amount of money they receive (as God has proven time and again that he’ll fund his work) but to the strength of the church. The church today is crumbling at its foundations and slacking in its education. If missionaries don’t believe what they say they believe and don’t take the time to understand the culture they are witnessing in, they will fail.

      AIG does a great job of helping to bring back the church to the book that it professes to believe in. If the church is strong it will change the world. Part of the spiritual battle is to go out into the world, but part of it is to meet regularly and be of one mind. AIG is a different part of the body of Christ, like the immune system, building up the body to fight off attacks and get healthy enough to walk about and put it’s hands back to work.

  35. Kathy Shertzer says:

    Hi Mike: I love you but I must admit I love some of the things Ken Hamm is doing as well.

    • Good to hear from you, Kathy. It’s never all black or white. I’m sure he’s a nice guy with some good things to say. This project, however, is silly and will give people a thousand unnecessary reasons to reject and ridicule the Christian faith.

  36. I just read “The Divine Commodity” by Skye Jethani…Good insights there on the way American Christians have “sold” Jesus over the years. I am reminded of the way He reacted when He entered the Temple and found the court full of entrepreneurs making shekels in God’s name.
    I cringe at the way we have “branded” Jesus and pimped Him to the world.
    Jesus did NOT say, “Go ye into all the world, selling t-shirts, cartoon videos of singing vegetables, cheap mugs, self-help books and Scripture mints…”

  37. Mike,

    Thanks for coining a great new term: the disneyization of the faith. I like it, and I think it is an apt description of a lot of what goes on in churches today.

    But my perspective of what is going on here is a bit different. I have been to the Creation Museum and found that its gospel presentation was very good: it tied the whole story of the Bible together in a very clear and memorable way. It focused on Jesus’ redemptive work as the restoration of creation, and it invited all who heard to put their faith in him. (All without including an explicit “altar call,”).

    Of course, the fact that Answers in Genesis comes from a theological-scientific perspective that you consider to be loony, I would imagine that, given the matrix of assumptions you bring to the table, the very act of associating Jesus with young earth creationism involves a “cartooning” of him. But if, like me, one does not so easily dismiss young earth creationism (it is, after all, a fixture in all pre-modern Christianity, and for that reason alone deserves a fair hearing), then one’s perspective is a bit different. I don’t think the Creation Museum is “cartoonish”; I think it is a serious attempt to present a young earth creationist perspective on the question of origins at a popular level. Goodness knows the Darwinians need some competition in this area.

    I would imagine that the Noah’s Ark display will have a similar goal, only this time the focus will be particularly on the flood. Don’t expect AIG to shy away from presenting the horror of it. Obviously, I don’t mean they will have things like floating carcasses that would traumatize children. But I am almost certain they will be clear about the reason for the flood and the consequences of it. They will explain it as a demonstration of the wrath of God against humanity.

    I imagine the purpose of having a real ark display is to give people a feeling for how real the story of the flood is. We tend to read Bible stories and unknowingly categorize them in our “mythological” brain slot. We have a hard time envisioning how these things ever could have really happened,. The purpose of this park, I assume, is to help people come to terms with the realness of the flood. (No, I don’t mean they will be able to communicate exhaustively everything that is possible about the flood; there are many ways in which this medium of communication will fall short, and your point is well taken; but in a skeptical age I think it is helpful to give people a sense that the flood story is a true, historical account, even if you can’t communicate everything).

    I would prefer to wait and see before lambasting this project as a sanitized version of biblical Christianity. I think AIG is theologically grounded enough to make this good.

    • “(it is, after all, a fixture in all pre-modern Christianity, and for that reason alone deserves a fair hearing)”

      Not so!

      Irenaeus, Augustine, Origen…

      Also a Jewish contemporary of the above, Philo of Alexandria.

      But I don’t want to hijack the thread….

      The Disneyfication / Kinkadenisation of Christianity (nay, Evangelicalism) represents an important milepost in its slide downwards. Read Mike’s post again.

    • Aaron, I don’t quite know how to answer this, except to say that everything I have seen from AiG has not been “theologically grounded” but shallow and propagandistic. See Dan Jepsen’s excellent critique of their approach to the Bible at http://www.fccplace.com/a-review-of-ken-hamms-the-six-days-of-creation/. Daniel and I take different views about Genesis, but we both agree that Ham does not deal with it seriously.

      BTW, Ham’s project is but one example of an entire mindset that is pervasive throughout evangelicalism. The bigger, the better, the simpler we can make it, the more people we will attract and persuade. It is attractional church growth-ism to an extreme. You see nothing like this in the ministry of Jesus, the apostles, or the early church. Paul condemned the “super-apostles” who relied on wowing and impressing their audiences in order to win them. I believe the Jesus Way lies in the hidden, the personal, and the humble approach. 2Corinthians 10-13 is an entire message devoted to this.

      • From what I have seen from AIG, they have good theology. Yes, I would like to see more engagement with the text of Genesis 1, but as far as I’m concerned, the age of the earth conversation has much more to do with how one understands the creation-fall-redemption narrative of Scripture than it does that particular passage. This is where I think AIG has a solid theological grounding. The importance of the time factor in Genesis 1 has been way overblown in this discussion on both sides.

        And you have given me good food for thought in your second paragraph here. I’ll try to think through some of the implications. I have long believed that many churches betray their message with their methodology, but I have not thought through how that might apply to parachurch organizations like AIG. Technically, this is not really “church growth-ism” because AIG is not a church. I don’t think their primary goal is to grow churches but to provide a cultural presence for the faith as they understand it.

        • Ham’s theology is horrible, and, no I’m not just saying this as hyperbole. It’s horrible because it takes something like YEC and makes it a cornerstone of the Gospel. The cornerstone of the Gospel isn’t Genesis 1 – it’s Christ crucified and resurrected. All the other stuff we become impassioned about doesn’t mean anything if we’re preventing people from seeing this.

          When I heard Ham speak, it was at a church, and I was in college. At the time, I will admit, I found him rather convincing (I actually bought a few of his books!), but now, looking back, I realize the reason I was convinced is because at that point in my life I had not really given much thought to the question either way. I had grown up in a Christian family, actually a pastor’s family, and I just sort of accepted a lot of stuff as givens. Well, it wasn’t until doing some of my own reading and research that I came to see Ham as selling a bill of goods. He has a story and he’s stickin’ with it because it works for him. But it doesn’t work for a lot of people. And if having to believe everything he believes about Genesis 1 is a requirement for being a Christian, than people simply will choose not to be a Christian.

          I believe Ham is well-intentioned, for the most part, but I just think he’s misguided. I actually think rather than helping people, he’s hurting them in ways they might not see yet.

          • I may be wrong about this, but I think that a charitable reading of Ken Ham and AIG would be one that recognizes the distinction between “absolute gospel essential” vs. “slippery slope” argumentation. I would put Ham’s view of YEC in the latter category.

            I don’t speak for Ken Ham, but my guess is that he would say that belief in YEC is not absolutely essential for one to believe the gospel. There are many who disagree with him on that whom he would regard as brothers in the Lord. But he does believe that a relinquishment of YEC, because of its effects on the creation-fall-redemption narrative of Scripture, involves one step down a slippery slope that does lead to a complete reinvention of the Christian faith.

            I would nuance things a bit more than Ham does, but I am somewhat sympathetic with his concern. I heard a paper at the recent meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in which Bruce Waltke (whom I revere, by the way, as an outstanding biblical scholar) was basically toying with quasi-dualistic ideas as a way of explaining the compatibility of the Bible with evolution. Some of the things Waltke was saying are not even recognizably monotheistic (he actually answered one question of an audience member by saying that Col. 1:15 does not necessarily mean that all things without exception were created through Christ; “surd evil,” as he presented it, seems to be a quasi-divine power that is uncreated, yet not eternal, that rivals God; how something can be both uncreated and yet not eternal is beyond my ability to grasp). It is apparent that when you modify the creation-fall-redemption narrative, you are beginning to modify the Christian faith itself.

            Now, I am not claiming that anyone who is not YEC is necessarily modifying the narrative in bad ways. But there are a good number of trends that I perceive as troubling among those who are too eager to harmonize the faith with modern science. I perceive this largely as an attempt to commend the faith to its cultured despisers, just as Schleiermacher did, with disastrous consquences. Even when I don’t agree with Ham, I know for sure that he is not going to monkey around with the scriptural narrative as the church has always confessed it. He is a zealous defender of it, and for that I am thankful.

          • Amen, Phil, you don’t go back to Genesis to understand the rest of the bible, you go to the gospels to understand everything else.

          • Aaron, when you said that you don’t think he would say that a belief in YEC is absolutely necessary for one to believe the gospel, you would be wrong. Very, very wrong.

            He has stated exactly that numerous times. Occasionally, when he is challenged on it he gives a tentative bit of qualification – “Well maybe someone could … but not really.”

            For example, there’s a great quote from him, “If you don’t believe that Genesis is a literal account, then Jesus didn’t die for your sins.”

    • Danny Willis says:

      Well put Aaron. I agree with you view on AIG and Ken Ham.

      Neither says that a belief in YEC is necessary for salvation, but they do say that it is necessary for a consistent belief. Many are confused by the statement and don’t understand that there needs to be a literal garden, fruit and rebellion in order for there to be a need for a literal savior dying and being resurrected. When Ken Ham says that Christ didn’t die for the sins of those that don’t believe in a literal/historical reading of Genesis 1-3 it’s because they reject the cause of sin and death, so a savior isn’t necessary. He is not saying that if one rejects Genesis one rejects Christ, they just reject the basis for the need for Christ.

  38. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    The Creation Museum near Cincinnati has decided to expand and build an 800-acre theme-park style complex featuring a replica of Noah’s Ark…

    Item: Disneyland (until its recent expansion) was only 600 acres.

    A Walled City— According to planners, the city will depict “the lifestyle of the people of Noah’s day.” Considering the Bible says this about life in Noah’s day—“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” and “Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence,” (Gen 6:5, 11) the possibilities stagger one’s imagination.

    “I don’t know — I can imagine a lot!” — Han Solo

    But rest assured that no wickedness (TM) will be shown which could possibly offend any of the Church Ladies.

    Noah’s Ark/Noah’s Animals..

    All I can say about that one is GUERILLA FURSUITING!

    The Tower of Babel

    Which I don’t see on the picture-map of Ark Encounter. Though it would make a great observation lookout.

    The First Century Village—Their description of this part of the park is so subtle that one can only conclude this is the area where the “Gospel Presentation” will take place. Can’t have a Christian theme park without an altar call.

    I concur; i.e. the real reason for the entire attraction — to carve more notches in their Bibles.

  39. I’m kinda surprised that nobody has recognized the outstanding opportunity this sort of park might actually have to communicate some deeply profound and biblical truths! The worldwide aquatic catastrophe as an act of divine wrath and righteous judgement against the backdrop of a small wooden boat as a provision of God’s mercy and display of compassion. Step right next door into “first century land” for some good old fashioned fire an’ brimstone: The day of God’s judgement of the earth, through fire this time, as the coming act of divine wrath against the backdrop of a small wooden cross as a provision for God’s mercy and a display of salvation. Brilliant! Unfortunately, however, this will probably not be the thrust of the presentation. It will probably be more evidentially oriented, as in: “We’ve shown the Bible is true, so drink the cool-aid, er, um, I mean, walk the aisle or else!”

    • Only after you’ve paid your $25 admission…

    • Miguel…any religious function where the Kool Aide is being passed out generously and people are being told by their spiritual leader to drink is a place I’d get my a@@ out of!!!

      • Good for you. But remember this: EVERY religious function is passing out Kool Aide in one form or another. And you will die from all of them, except one: The flesh and blood of Christ will give you life, because in drinking it you are brought into union with God. Religion will give you a Kool Aide recipe every time, and usually cram it down your throat. But in Jesus, God IS the Kool Aide, and he will end your thirst, not your life.

        • Danny Willis says:

          Miguel, if you attend the Creation Museum, the Ark encounter, or visit AIG’s website, I’m sure you’ll see that they agree with everything in your post except they they are making people drink the Kool-aid. Your original post had me thinking you understood what they were going to say about the ark being a type of Christ. Read the site and you may be surprised that you agree.

  40. I’m reminded of a little song by a guy who I really wish would give us more songs instead of movies.

    Guilty by Association
    by Steve Taylor

    So you need a new car?
    Let your fingers take a walk
    Through the business guide
    For the “born again” flock

    You’ll be keeping all your money
    In the kingdom now
    And you’ll only drink milk
    From a Christian cow

    Don’t you go casting your bread
    To keep the heathen well-fed
    Line Christian pockets instead
    Avoid temptation

    Guilty by association

    Turn the radio on
    To a down-home drawl
    Hear a brylcream prophet
    With a message for y’all

    “Well I have found a new utensil
    In the devil’s toolbox
    And the heads are gonna roll
    If Jesus rocks”

    “It’s a worldly design!
    God’s music should be divine!
    Try buying records like mine
    Avoid temptation”

    Guilty by association

    So you say it’s of the devil
    And we’ve got no choice
    ‘Cause you heard a revelation
    From the “still small voice?”

    If the Bible doesn’t back it
    Then it seems quite clear
    Perhaps it was the devil
    Who whispered in your ear

    It’s a Telethon Tuesday
    For “The Gospel Club”
    “Send your money in now
    Or they’re gonna pull the plug!”

    Just remember this fact
    When they plead and beg
    When the chicken squawks loudest
    Gonna lay a big egg

    You could be smelling a crook
    You should be checking The Book
    But you’d rather listen thank look
    The implication

    Guilty by association

  41. Watch the press conference on the website. The selling points: jobs, tourism, jobs, money, jobs, jobs, and more jobs. My two favorite exchanges:

    Q: “Will there be dinosaurs on the ark?”

    A: “I’m sure we’ll have representative kinds of animals on the ark…to include dinosaurs.”

    Q: “Live animals?”

    A: “[tongue in cheek] Probably no live dinosaurs [laughs].”

    What good fun! And this is supposed to defend biblical authority? This is a big fat joke. They’re turning scripture into a laughing stock. Sorry, but this is embarrassing.

    They want to prove that the ark isn’t some “bathtub filled with cuddly critters” children’s book fantasy, yet they’re going to accomplish just the opposite. They’re main message is: look, it’s feasible, it’s real history! See, touch the planks, for a spirit does not have wood and pitch as this does!” And that’s dandy. But to ignore all nuance and ANE parallels (Atrahasis and Gilgamesh anyone?) like the plague is just going to cheapen the authority of the bible. Why don’t they contrast Genesis with these accounts, which serve as Genesis’ backdrop, in order to demonstrate the superiority of ethical monotheism with pagan polytheism? Because that [i.e., reality] is too messy for them. Too complicated. Just tell me what I want to hear, give me a churro, let me feed the goats and I’ll be happy. This is not a challenge to think, but a facade dedicated to affirming people’s theological and world view comfort zones. I’m going to go there on opening day and hand out copies of C. John Collins, John Walton, Bruce Waltke, and Henri Blocher’s books to them and say “Welcome to the mainstream of evangelical O.T. theology! You’ll find it bears little resemblance to what you are about to experience!”

    And, on top of it all, the true horror of the story will be sugar coated, so as not to kill the mood or upset the little ones. I want floating carcasses! I want tears on Noah’s face as he watches his relatives drown! I want Jesus saying, “You think this is bad? Wait till I come back.” This is Katrina on steroids, and they’re gonna sanitize it and stamp it on t-shirts. Does that make anyone else feel yucky?

    And, best quote of all. This sums it all up from judge executive Darrell Link:

    “Along with this ark I anticipate that there’s gonna be a rainbow…and that rainbow’s gonna set in Grant county, at the end of that rainbow is a pot of gold. I’m looking forward to finding it.”

    Do any of them actually believe what the park will promote (besides job creation)? Does the governor of Kentucky? They all seemed embarrassed. They should be. I feel like I need to take a shower after watching those press conferences.

    • Garrett wrote, “This is Katrina on steroids, and they’re gonna sanitize it and stamp it on t-shirts. Does that make anyone else feel yucky?”

      Great comparison, Garrett. And good idea about passing out those books. You better have a LOT of them!

    • Garrett, thanks for your passionate response.

      Folks, if a devout, studious, level-headed guy like Garrett can get this worked up about this project, it says something.

      • Yea, It says I’m not all that level-headed after all! I know it’s knee jerk, but your article got me all riled up!

        No, it’s just that this is ridiculous and AiG needs to be called out on this. I think it actually hurts one of Ham’s stated causes, which is to bring the Ark out of fairly tale land and into real history, which isn’t really the main problem for me.

        It’s just that the way he’s doing it is absurd and not much better in my estimation than TBN’s “Holy Land Experience” theme park in Fl, which I am against for the very same reasons; not because I have a beef with the bible stories themselves (for example, I think the ANE authors were definitely drawing on a shared memory of a terrible flood, which Genesis gets right) but because munching on popcorn as the Lord Jesus Christ (their equivalent to Mickey Mouse) is crucified 3xs a day for your entertainment is sickening. Hey Luther, you thought the Mass was bad, check this out!

        The jobs, money, tourism drumbeat at the press conference was a “Cue Jesus flipping over tables” moment for me. Just doesn’t sit right, no matter Ham’s intentions.

        Two must watch videos:

        A presbyterian bro on YT, as evangelistic and Christ-centered as they come, critiques the holy land exp. and his analysis applies perfectly to the Ark Exp. as well:

        http://www.youtube.com/user/bzel333#p/search/0/2qU1uElHs5I

        Also, for some laughs to lighten the mood, Tim Hawkins notes the curious habit of painting Noah’s ark scenes on children nursery walls:

        “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVxRddVYYig”

        “Hey, grab a brush and paint some screaming people on that rock for me. Look in the baby’s room I painted the stoning of Stephen, you’re gonna love it!”

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Yea, It says I’m not all that level-headed after all!

          I’m not wrapped all that tight myself, Garret. (You can tell from the type of comments I’ve been posting since I first saw this.)

          During a dip into Pentecostalism and “Gifts of the Spirit” some 30+ years ago, I was the only one who didn’t want to Speak in Tongues. I held out for Wisdom, the command control over all the others. And Wisdom has it’s flip side — when “The dog returns to his vomit/The sow returns to her mire/And the burnt fool’s bandaged finger wobbles right back into the fire” over and over again, the urge to just choke the stupid out of people can get overwhelming.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Going down some list of hypertext links from here I’ll never be able to re-traverse, I discovered that “Noah’s Ark” was also a popular theme for amusement-park Dark Rides from the last century. So, in a way, Ken Ham is carrying on an old carny tradition.

      • Ha! I had forgotten about those. I grew up not far from Pittsburgh, and I was in the Noah’s Ark ride at Kennywood several times. I have a feeling that Ham’s park won’t be as cool as that was.

        • And the Ark is still there – with its boat a’rocking, floors a’vibrating, the scary gorilla and good ole’ Noah himself….

    • Garrett, if (when) they stone you, can I have some of your books. ?? OK, just kidding, sort of..

      Greg R

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And, best quote of all. This sums it all up from judge executive Darrell Link:

      “Along with this ark I anticipate that there’s gonna be a rainbow…and that rainbow’s gonna set in Grant county, at the end of that rainbow is a pot of gold. I’m looking forward to finding it.”

      i.e. “We’re in this purely for the Money.”

    • You’re really going to go hand out books on opening day? That would seem to be quite an expensive undertaking.

  42. Frankly – there’s more than one kind of ‘prostitution’. I wonder if the old fashioned kind is slightly more honest …

  43. will they christen the arc??? will they use a bottle of champagne or a bottle of ginger-ale. (Fundy-style) 😀 Noah was the first to make wine. let’s celebrate Noah’s life in style!
    Great article Chaplain Mike – sad but true.

  44. “Is it appropriate for Christians to “Disney-ize” their faith like this?”

    No.

    Remember when the Passion came out, everyone was expected to have a life change when they saw it. As if faith wasn’t enough, you needed the movie also. The more times you saw the movie, the closer to Jesus you were. Something like that will probably happen in the crowd that attends these things- the more times you go to the park, the more committed you are to creation story, and therefore the stronger your faith must be. I just googled Ham and AIG and found the phrase “creation evangelism” in abundance. What exactly are people being converted to in this method?

    Get enough Christian-themed junk, and you won’t need Christ at all. The bigger and more glitzy, the less necessity for content (Hollywood figured that out long ago). I see no reason to hold back on this stuff.

    • The revolution will be Commercialized!!!! if sales are up God is with us! God is the invisible hand!—– actually, I think the invisible hand of our economy is depravity 🙁

    • your analogy with “The Passion” reeks, buddy. It wasn’t supposed to change your life, just dramatize the events as accurately as possible, right down to the Aramaic and Latin (possibly a mistake, as it turns out). My teenage children were very moved, and like to watch the movie every year on Good Friday. Well, not “like”. For better or worse, “The Passion” was not junky or superficial, just moving. Are you now saying we should ban all movies of the Bible??

      • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says:

        Some folks approached it like you and your family, but others took a more sensational approach. I remember some people I worked with at the time (evangelicals on the charismatic-ish side who are pretty hostile to Catholicism, which is ironic considering who made the movie) thinking that the Passion was going to change the world for God and that any criticism of it was a Satanic plot. And that was before it even came out!

        I’ve also heard some criticism that the movie focused too much on the violent passion and death without the context of the rest of his ministry or without much focus on the Resurrection (a criticism I disagree with on artistic grounds, though can understand on theological grounds). Another criticism that I can understand (though I don’t embrace) is that it was pushing the line toward so-called “torture porn” genre (e.g. the Saw movies).

        For my part, I saw it once. Parts of it were moving. Parts of it less so. But once is probably enough for me.

        • Isaac, I saw Mel Gibson’s “The Passion” and once was more than enough for me. I felt he focused too much on the torture. My friend and I walked out of the theater feeling “dirty” for having watched this. I know what Jesus went through was horrific, but it seemed like Gibson was glorying in the torture scenes. It was too much. I know that my feeling about the movie put me in the minority of viewers who disliked it, but there you have it. My favorite scene of all was when Jesus was a toddler and fell and his mom picked him up and comforted him.

          • I can’t really put my finger on why, but I never had any interest in the movie. I haven’t seen it and don’t plan to.

            The Gospels make it pretty clear what happened. It’s the hardest part of the scriptures for me to read. It’s a good chance I would have had the same reaction that you did.

            Was there a resurrection in the movie, Joanie? I’ve asked several folks who watched the movie and have gotten different answers.

            I

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I remember some people I worked with at the time … thinking that the Passion was going to change the world for God and that any criticism of it was a Satanic plot. And that was before it even came out!

          Back when The Passion was THE Ninety-Day Wonder of the Christianese set, there were a LOT of exaggerated claims being tossed around — mostly of the “Millions Will See And Be Saved” Evangelism Tool variety. There was also a lot of outside observations and snickering re Christian Culture Warriors Plugging an R-Rated Movie.

          The guy over at Totem to Temple/Onward Forward Toward expressed a LOT of reservations — not about the movie per se, but on potential crazy/dumb antics of Christians using it as another weapon in The Culture War and/or Four Spiritual Laws tract. (That fear proved unfounded, as even those Wretched Urgency Culture Warriors were usually too much in shock to Witness (TM) by the closing credits due to the intensity of the film.) However, he did relate one anecdote about it:

          Remember the Christianese idea that The Passion would “Lead Many to Christ (TM)”? Well, the way it worked out at his local multiplex was they had to stop making group reservations, as so many churches bought out entire screenings that nobody else could get in to see it. Theater management said they had to turn away lots of customers because tickets to The Passion were “all sold out” while the constant parade of church buses unloaded (probably singing what passes for hymns these days or speaking in tongues) for sold-out group screening after sold-out group screening, day after day after day after day after day.

          For my part, I saw it once. Parts of it were moving. Parts of it less so. But once is probably enough for me.

          That’s about what my writing partner (the burned-out preacher-man) said — “I just watched the best movie I do not want to ever see again — just Too Intense.”

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          P.S. For some reason Apocalypto, Gibson’s subsequent large-budget art film, ended up with quite a different reception from those who gung-ho supported The Passion.

      • Of, course. Obviously i’m saying we should ban all Bible movies. Please.

        I knew several people that asked me if I had a “life change” when I saw the movie. I wasn’t commenting on the moviemaker’s intent. I liked aspects of the movie myself.

  45. I don’t like nor dislike this. If, it encourages people to learn about Christianity it will be on the
    right path. It will depend on the visionary creativity of the Disney team. If, done correctly and
    yes, perhaps a bit “kitschy” it still has the ability to open minds to finding out about Christianity.
    Is the faith being dumbed down? No, Christ spoke to the illiterate masses. Those are the ones
    who followed Him. The t2 apostles were common men. Anyone or anything today that has the
    potential to lead people to Jesus, faith and morality is better for the world.

    • I don’t think this is about leading people to faith. It is about convincing them to adopt a particular interpretation of Genesis and recruiting them to take sides in the culture war.

      • Danny Willis says:

        “It is about convincing them to adopt a particular interpretation of Genesis and recruiting them to take sides in the culture war.”

        Does this mean you are not encouraging people to take sides against AIG, Ken Ham and the Ark Encounter? I’m confident they are open about their intent on building this park. If they are right in their claim to defend the Word of God from the first verse, is this something you are open to or against? You claim to be for the Bible, but you are not arguing from the Bible.

        • We have argued from the Bible about creation issues quite often on this site. Please check the archives.

          I disagree with Ken Ham and the teaching of AIG. That’s not really the point here. What I disagree more with is their position that theirs is the only legitimate interpretation of Genesis, and that if one doesn’t hold that position, he is a compromiser and on a slippery slope toward spiritual disaster.

          • Danny Willis says:

            If one thinks that all views on interpreting Genesis are equally good then one must include the view that it can only be understood in the straightforward way that it was written. If one thinks that only certain views are acceptable and anyone who thinks only their view is acceptable is out of line must understand that they too are out of line by their own reasoning.

          • Danny Willis says:

            I did not state that you said “all views on interpreting Genesis are equally good”. It was a philosophical if/then statement. It is obvious that you reject the young earth straightforward reading of Genesis 1 but there really are only three options:
            1. One view is true, all others are untrue
            2. All views are equally true (would include one that says others are not true)
            3. Some views are true but only if they do not hold that other views are untrue

            I would assume you are a number 3, but I do not know what view you actually hold.

  46. Rev Farnsworth:”And over there, we have the Jump For Jesus bounce house. You don’t think I used to many pictures of myself, do you?
    Fletch: “What the heck, it worked for the Ayatollah”

  47. Phil Vischer traces the precipitous downfall of Big Idea (aka Veggie Tales) to his reading of “Built to Last” by Jim Collins.

    “The analysis of the Walt Disney Company struck me as particularly relevant, and I found myself asking the question, ‘Do I just want to make a few films to leave behind when I’m gone, or do I want to build a company that can keep making great films for the next 100 years?’ The answer seemed obvious. I wanted to build the next Disney.” – Phil Vischer, ref. http://www.philvischer.com/?p=38.

    A few years later, Big Idea was in bankruptcy. In an effort to be as big and influential as Disney and Nickelodeon, they spent beyond their means and growth.

    I have heard other Christian leaders quote from “Built to Last” and exalting the Disney business model as an example for Christian ministries. Christian theme parks is just tip of the iceberg; it is the epitome of the media becoming the message. It concerns the role of all Christian media, whether print, music, videos, movies, or internet. It concerns Christianity becoming molded into a business model, becoming a product, a brand. It is a utilitarian, pragmatic view of art and creativity, which can never honor the Creator.

    • Insightful. Thanks, dumb ox.

      • I guess I just restated your initial description of “Magic Kingdom” mentality. That really nails it.

        I know people who dogmatically, zealously follow Ham. I can’t imagine they are too thrilled about young earth creationism being treated as if it was a fairy tale come to life in theme park magic.

        • Danny Willis says:

          “young earth creationism being treated as if it was a fairy tale come to life in theme park magic.”

          Where does this idea come from? I like what Ken Ham teaches and I have no clue why you have been led to believe that the Ark Encounter will be a real live “fairy tale” with “theme park magic.” Is it possible for it to be just a historical theme park?