Noah's Ark, the Theme Park: Tomorrow Never Knows

Paul Harvey

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?


Cynthia L. said…
I like how the site is soliciting donations ("Help Build the Ark! Peg: $100, Plank $1000, Beam $5000"), when they've incorporated as for-profit. Classy. (hm, they do say that the donations will be tax-deductible, so do they have a separate corporate entity for that?)
Randall said…
Where do I sign up to become a bible times reenactor? I know that they will be needing hundreds of folks to die in the flood.

Love the Beatles reference.
Tom Van Dyke said…
Odd, Paul. I was thinking about the walruses the other day meself. I mean, really, I was. Not that I think about Noah's Ark often or anything.

Prothero mixes his partisanship in a bit too much for a religion blog in my view---especially it being CNN's---but worse, he makes a very specious link between two fairly unrelated items. What they do have in common is a disdain for Christianity.

I can't speak for the Tea Party [another gratuitous irrelevance on Prothero's part], or for evangelical Christians, as I'm neither.

However, I think government-sponsored "art" that had ants crawling across the Quran would be not only in poor taste but a violation of the American pluralistic tradition.

And Kentucky providing 900 jobs at a cost of only $37 million in tax breaks is pretty cost-effective by prevailing standards, even if the park is religiously-themed.

BTW, the Quran tells the story of Noah's Ark in Sura 11. I think it's impolite to laugh.

[11:37] "Build the ark under our watchful eyes, and with our inspiration, and do not implore Me on behalf of those who have transgressed; they are destined to drown."

[11:38] While he was building the ark, whenever some of his people passed by him they laughed at him. He said, "You may be laughing at us, but we are laughing at you, just as you are laughing.

[11:39] "You will surely find out who will suffer a shameful retribution, and incur an everlasting punishment."

[11:40] When our judgment came, and the atmosphere boiled over, we said, "Carry on it a pair of each kind, together with your family, except those who are condemned. Carry with you those who have believed," and only a few have believed with him.

[11:41] He said, "Come on board. In the name of GOD shall be its sailing, and its mooring. My Lord is Forgiver, Most Merciful."
Anonymous said…
I'm with Randall. I want to be a reenactor too--but who will donate all the animals to die in the flood? Love to have a front-row view of all the kids watching their dream pets--baby giraffes, zebras, kittens,etc.--perish! Can walruses drown?

And Tom "unrelated items"? Instead of a common "disdain for Christianity,"try the hypocritical selectivity of conservative complaints about gov't spending? Or their selectivity when it comes to the 1st Amendment? Surely the stories discussed by Prothero and others say something about the
current state of the American pluralistic tradition, among other things.

Cost effectiveness, for example, is not the real political or religious issue here. Never mind the establishment clause. I'd bet a year's pay (which comes in slightly under $37 million) that the state of
Ky. would not give those same vaunted, job-producing tax breaks to, say, a for-profit Muslim group building a theme-park or community center.(Yes, I know, Park51 is a non-profit. Yes, in fact, Muslim theme parks exist, such as Taman Tamadun Islam in Malaysia.)