Only the sly wit of Randall or the acerbity of Matt Sutton could do justice to this story: Noah's Ark, the Theme Park.
Kentucky, it appears, has "promised generious tax incentives to a group of entrepreneurs who plan to construct a full-size replica of Noah's ark, load it with animals and actors, and make it the centerpiece of a Bible-based tourist attraction called Ark Encounter." Like I said, Randall will have to write another chapter of his new book The Annointed: America's Evangelical Experts, which already features one chapter on the creationist museum just 45 miles away from the proposed Ark theme park in Kentucky, to explain this new story to us.
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.
The bulk of the story focuses on the relationship of the theme park to a series of tax incentives given to its part-owner, Answers in Genesis. Tea-Partiers: where are you now? Here is your Exhibit A of government subsidies run amok. Evidently, though, they are too busy bitching about an 11-second video of a cross with some ants crawling on it, intended to depict the sufferings of AIDS victims, that was part of a larger installation up at the National Portrait Gallery -- I say "was" because it's been taken down. Check your empathy at the door. Oh, never mind, don't even go through the door, since the firestorm of criticism about the exhibition came from those who had not seen it (those who had seen it registered virtually no complaints). Thanks, Speaker Boehner, for focusing on the big issues of the day. Read/hear more about this story, including a slide show of some of the pieces in this installation, here.
But back to the Ark Park. One thing about the park will be cool: it will explain how Noah dealt with issues of "waste management" on the boat. When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time wondering about that very issue.
The park is facing some "rough waters" around issues of separation of church and state, as reported here. The secular/scientific libertarians are all over the story here. Most amusingly of all, though, the Los Angeles Times story, intending to hyperlink its reference to the group Answers in Genesis, instead provides a link to Genesis, the Phil Collins musical group. Come to think of it, Genesis actually did a pretty credible version of the Beatles' song "Tomorrow Never Knows." Like the Beatles sang, "it is believing. It is believing." Of course, they also sang "I am the walrus, coo-coo-coo-choo." Were walruses on the ark?