Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Noah's Ark, & Other Museums

Did you hear about the "full-scale replica" of Noah's Ark they're going to be building as part of a theme park Kentucky--a mere stone's throw from the (literally) fabulous Creation Museum?

"Scale," I assume, will be provided by those Biblical cubits (what's a cubit?) But what do they plan to "replicate"? Beats me. Anyway, according to the New York Times report, it will be stocked with pairs of (real, not replicated!) animals of all kinds to be kept on board in pens, including--though small ones--giraffes. I suppose they thought that tall ones might be uncomfortable below decks. "We think that God would probably have sent healthy juvenile-sized animals," said one of the organizers, "... so that there would be plenty of room." Careful attention will be paid to every issue that Noah himself had to face, from the provision of fodder to "waste management." "It's our opportunity to present accurate, factual biblical information to people," the same organizer is quoted as saying. It's important that children understand the literal and indisputable truths of scripture.

What a travesty! There is, to start with, the question of using public funds--to the tune of tens of millions of dollars in the form of tax credits--to support this private commercial initiative, whose purpose, aside from making a mint of money, is explicitly religious. Even if the economic case can be argued on the basis of the stimulus to the state economy and the creation of jobs, however, it seems to me that no state should be supporting the promotion of such blatant mis-education. The story of Noah's Ark may be a fine myth; it's one that finds its equivalent in several of the world's major religions. But to present it as historical fact is to distort not only history but also the sum total of scientific knowledge in the impressionable minds of the young.

I wondered at first if this was any worse than Disney's Fantasyland, but then I realized that of course it is, because Fantasyland presents itself as nothing more than fantasy. The Noah's Ark theme park and the Creation Museum--where dinosaurs are shown co-existing with our species in the 6,000 year "history" of our planet--present fantasy in the guise of reality, distorting the relationship between the two.

Also on the museum front, I note in a New York Times editorial this morning that the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery is being intimidated by, among other things, the threat of a congressional investigation from John Boehner's office if the museum fails to remove from a current exhibition a video by the late David Wojnarovicz, who died of AIDS a few years ago. The exhibition, "Hide/Seek," explores issues of identity and gender, and the offending piece includes a seconds-long shot of ants crawling on a crucifix, the cause of great outrage to the Catholic church establishment. The Smithsonian Institution is, of course, capitulating. The piece has been removed from the show.

We are in the grip of ignorance, intolerance and the arrogant abuse of power, friends. Is a nation subject to the laws of action and reaction? The origin of America's greatness was twofold: the territorial expansion facilitated by the rape of Native American lands and the massacre of their indigenous inhabitants; and the wealth created on the backs of slaves. Now it seems that we have dissipated our wealth, delivering it into the hands of our new corporate masters; and great numbers of us find their property repossessed by those same overlords. What a cosmic irony! Karma, anyone?

My apologies to readers for my bleak mood these days... Have a great day.


mandt said...

Cheer up friend. The Creation/Ark park should be fun as long as everyone wears natural fibers and avoids BBQ'ing any of those cloven hooved ones. :)

mandt said...

ps. Peter...thought you might find this article interesting: http://www.slate.com/id/2234010/ as it examines Arendt and Heidegger