The Ark of Irony

Once upon a time, the Lord spoke to Noah and told him to go build a giant boat in the northern territory of Kentucky.

No, that’s not right…

Once upon a time, some super Christians, who were super in with God, decided that to honor Jesus, they would re-create a giant boat from a story that occurred thousands of years BEFORE Jesus was born. It would be a replica of biblical proportions. They would use the exact dimensions detailed in Genesis, construct an epic scale model of Noah’s ark, and make it into a theme park. Because the Lord loves a good theme park, don’t ya know.

But that wasn’t enough. This theme park was going to create JOBS for the good people of Kentucky, after all, so the super Christian theme park people got all these great tax breaks for their near-sea-worthy vessel. And then–somehow–they sold the damn thing to themselves for like a dollar, so they wouldn’t have to pay ANY taxes on it.

Yeah, I’m not sure how all that works. I’m pretty sure the Fed and the IRS together could not figure out the math on that one.

But what we do know is that the ark–which I’m pretty sure will actually preserve a solid representation of wildlife in the event of a flood, but will probably not help us when North Korea finally gets the nuke to work–is now illuminated every night by multi-colored lights. It looks like a rainbow.

A big gay rainbow.

Ark+Rainbow

I get what they’re doing. Folk around those parts think they are “reclaiming the rainbow.” Not to be confused with TASTING the rainbow (which makes you hungry for Skittles, admit it). No, they are reclaiming the rainbow. You know, from the gays. Who stole it, I guess? Persecuting Christians by wanting pesky equality, and all that.

The biggest irony here, and the colorful poetic justice of it all, is that the ‘reclaiming the rainbow for Jesus’ message is buried under too many layers of code and culture. To the average passer-by, it is just a Big. Gay. Boat. And it’s fabulous.

This is what Christians do sometimes. Trying to reclaim something in Jesus’ name that was not part of the Christian narrative to begin with; while simultaneously burying a complex and mostly spiteful message under layers of color-coded insider language; so that it is utterly lost on the outsider anyway. It takes some DOING to pull off that kind of distortion of the gospel message… but I tell you what, some people have got it nailed.

A rainbow is: a lovely natural phenomenon; a symbol of God’s mercy and compassion on sinful humanity; a retro candy commercial; and an image associated with equality, diversity, community, love and joy. But according to the ark park people, the rainbow is there to remind people that “next time God won’t punish with water.” [Oh that’s nice you may be thinking, but wait!] “Next time, God won’t punish with water… next time it will be FIRE.” Thus saith the quote from the newspaper.

Right under the picture of the big gay rainbow lights.

So, let me get this right… that beautiful rainbow–rather than a sign of God’s mercy and forgiveness and ongoing covenant with Israel–is actually a warning that next time it will be WORSE?? That our loving and merciful God will cook up a fresh NEW horror for us, rather than boring us with the same ol’ torture? Neat.

Right about now is when you can shout into the void that no wonder the Church is dying!! Not only can we not get our story straight…but when we do it is often a terrible story.

These folks clearly missed the point of the Noah narrative. Well, and scripture in general, if you want to get right down to it. But why labor the details? It’s got pretty lights.

If you think the rainbow of diversity, joy and compassion is the message God intended–as opposed to a rainbow of death and destruction– then you might like my book. Joy, compassion, and diversity are a few of the principals I discuss as modern day, progressive family values. I wrote this book because I didn’t want people who build giant arks to have sole ownership of “family values.” I hope you’ll join me in reclaiming something life-giving out of the ashes of that dialogue. Each chapter contains questions for discussion, and suggested practices for exploring these values as a family.

Note–a trip to the Ark Encounter is not on the itinerary.

More-than-Words

Paperback from Westminster John Knox press.

Also available for Kindle

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