4.19.2006

Still Crazy After All These Years

That Ark Don't Float!

from Sploid

A bible-thumping old preacher in the hillbilly hills of western Maryland has spent more than a quarter-century trying to finish a giant metal "replica" of Noah's Ark.

Pastor Richard Greene began the ludicrous project on Easter 1976, convinced that his god was speaking to him through a series of
apocalyptic dreams.

Just as countless would-be prophets over thousands and thousands of years have suffered the delusion of believing the End Times were close at hand, Greene started believing the world would end shortly after his bicentennial visions of doom.

Instead, the world moves on - perhaps to its doom, perhaps just a constant, pointless shuffle to nowhere in particular - and Pastor Greene
can't seem to get his monument finished.

An unloved Sphinx looming over the old mining town of Frostburg, the
rusty skeleton of the would-be ark has watched the town die and be born again. Industry crumbled in the 1980s. Prisons were installed to house convicted criminals from the slums of Baltimore.

And finally, in the first years of this millennium, the housing boom around Washington D.C. finally sent its shock wave all the way out to these dirty Appalachian hills.

"Across the road from the unfinished Ark, construction crews have broken ground on the 400 homes of the upscale Prichard Farms development," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
reported Sunday.

"There are no such construction crews working on Pastor Greene's Ark."

The saddest part of Greene's pursuit is that the Noah's Ark story has nothing to do with the Hebrew gods later converted by Christians to a universal god.

While many Christian faithful believe the biblical story as literal history, serious theologians and historians know that the ark saga is part of the "
Flood Mythos" important to many cultures that sprang from the cradle of modern-day civilization, the Tigris-Euphrates fertile crescent in Iraq.

(Epic stories of a Great Flood exist in Indian, Chinese, Norse and even Native American traditions, but the Great Flood of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley was most likely a specific regional event that
lasted a week or so and wreaked havoc on the low-lying lands.)

Hebrew tribes in
Babylonian exile in the 6th Century B.C.E. brought many ancient myths back home to Israel, including the story of different gods sending a deluge to purge humanity and different chosen characters saving their families, wealth and livestock by loading everything aboard a large river barge.

Stories of the creation, Garden of Eden and the first humans also come from the old Sumerian epics so popular in Babylon.

Abraham/Abram himself - the traditional father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam - was reportedly a native of the Sumerian city-state Ur and brought those beliefs with him during a long journey west to modern-day Israel.

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