Saturday, September 08, 2007

The ark was soundproof?

Continuing our visual series, here is something I saw in a public park playground recently:
Let me repeat, this was a public park, county operated. The text reads as follows:
(upper right): Once there was a man named Noah who was warned by God of a great flood. Noah began to build an ark that was 450 feet long, 75 feet high and 45 feet wide.
(upper center): The ark was built with cypress (gopher) wood that was coated, both inside and outside, with a tar-like substance to make the ark waterproof and soundproof. The ark had three levels with one door.
(upper left): Seven days before the flood came, Noah began to stock the ark with food and he led the land animals, birds, reptiles and his family two by two into the ark.

(middle right): It rained for 40 days and 40 nights and the whole earth was covered with water. With water from the sky and from inside the earth, the flood waters rose more than 20 feet above the highest peak.
(center): Living creatures outside of the ark died from the flood but all that were in the ark were safe. [picture of ark]
(middle left): Once it stopped raining, the ark floated 150 days and nights. Then the ark came to rest upon a large mountain top.
(lower right): After living more than a year inside the ark, Noah sent a raven and a dove out to see if the earth was dry. The dove returned with an olive branch and Noah knew that soon it would be safe to return outside.
(lower middle): When Noah, his family and all the animals left the ark, a large beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky. The rainbow signified God's promise that the earth would never again be destroyed by water.
(lower left): Noah took about 100 years to build the ark. Noah was 600 years old when it was completed and 950 years old when he died.
Separation of Church and State, anyone?

I'm trying to figure out some of the odder details. The conversions of cubits to feet is a little haphazard, but not surprising in a child-oriented setting. I don't remember ever hearing about the ark being soundproof before, though, nor that Noah stocked the ark in seven days, after spending a century building it (My JPS version of the text suggests a bit less than a year inside the ark, not a bit more, though). There seems to be some particular tradition here that I'm not familiar with, or else it's both unconstitutional and incompetent.


Suzanne G. said...

Sounds like an ad for "Evan Almighty". Not appropriate, this is for sure.

Hey, an issue has come to my attention which I addressed in my blog. Would you do me the honor of checking it out? I think you'll want to comment too.

Penny L. Richards said...

Hard to say from the photo, but those don't look like the original surfaces of the play equipment. It's possible that someone just printed them up and affixed those story segments to a playground structure that used to have letters or numbers or something on it. They probably figured it would take a while before anyone caught on that they were unauthorized... and that in the meantime they'd be reaching unsuspecting visitors with their account.

People do stuff like this sometimes. For example, a famous case from Los Angeles in 2002, when an artist modified a freeway sign in the name of "guerrilla public service":

Anonymous said...

My first instinct is what Penny said, that this was guerrilla marketing of religion done without official sanction. However, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't object, loudly. The parks department should act on it quickly. If it turns out to have been authorized, you'll have to decide how far you're willing to go in protesting it.

If it's a sneak attack, at a minimum, the person who did it is guilty of vandalism.

Ahistoricality said...

Penny and Terry: I'm pretty sure that this is the original surface, yeah. That's why it was so striking: it clearly wasn't vandalism, but a decision made deliberately.

Herdingcats: I wish it were something so benign: then it might have been funny..... On the other issue, despite the Telethon and Open Thread crossposts, this blog is really on hiatus for the most part. However, I'd love to have you crosspost it at Progressive Historians: they'd be very interested over there, and setting up an account is easy.

Anonymous said...

wow, what part of the country do you live in?

well, i guess it could happen anywhere.

Ahistoricality said...

Umm... without breaking cover, I can say that we live in a relatively rural and often very Christian region of a very Blue state.