This is from internetmonk.com by Chaplain Mike, my favorite watchers of all things post-evangelical. This offers further thoughts on the role of culture and relgion. How much of Centrism, year in Israel or kiruv – Is to provide magic moments? How much is heart-tugging sentimentality? How much is the state of Israel views as a theme park? And how did the super cognitive Rabbi Soloveitchik create a rabbinate of sentimental kitsch? Did the acculturation into Evangelical America override anything else? How much of the visions of Torah circulating have mawkish origins far from anything in the Talmud or classic Biblical commentaries, let alone the classic of Jewish thought? Why do we can this shallow frumkieit a form a Torah? At least, the Gra and his followers would reject the folk relgion of the prostaks. It seems we are not Litvaks anymore.
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… 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.
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 projected 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?
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.”
• 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 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?.
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. Read the Full version here.