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 The Town Talk - 3 October 2003

Athiest builds Bible stories from Legos
Jodie Belgard
Posted on October 2, 2003

How many of us played with Legos as kids?

For me, making a car was big news. I remember getting so mad at my brother because he could build anything - as long he had a few long pieces, a couple of short pieces and wheels. I still don't know how he did it.

Most of us grow out of playing with Legos. If we don't, then we become construction workers or architects - simply moving from child's play to business.

This is not the case for the Rev. Brendan Powell Smith.

I came across a Web site - www.thebricktestament.com - by accident. Actually, someone told me to go to it. She wanted my opinion.

For those of you who aren't rushing to your PC to log on, I'll go ahead and tell you the story.

The Brick Testament is a site devoted to the works of Smith. As a hobby, Smith recreates, with Legos, Bible stories - so far, 139 of them.

The dioramas, from both the Old and New Testaments, are photographed and placed on the Web site. New story dioramas are added as they become available.

Smith uses actual Lego figures for nearly every piece in his dioramas. He alters some pieces with markers or hobby knives to make them more diverse.

Good idea?

I'm not quite sure.

This is where things get a little hazy.

The Web site is not for devout Christians or children.

In a article in Entertainment Weekly, Smith said he "originally wanted to show the sex and violence left out of most illustrated Bibles."

The imagery is graphic.

There are Lego people in various sexual positions (the Lego people are not gender-specific, but the point is clear, nonetheless).

Each story has a rating system: N = nudity, V = violence, C = cursing and S = sexual content.

Taken at face value, the Web site could be a good source of information for people who struggle through the Bible. While the text isn't always word-for-word, the chapter and verse numbers are provided, meaning the Web site could be used as a guide of sorts.

Now dig deeper.

The "Reverend" is not actually a reverend at all. He's a self-proclaimed atheist.

Apparently he had some time and money on his hands. (He also wrote a book, "The Brick Testament").

But I'm having a hard time deciding where I stand on this issue.

In the aforementioned Entertainment Weekly article, Smith says fellow atheists write in saying the Lego dioramas helped them realize how ridiculous some Bible stories are, while ministers ask if they can use the stories to teach Sunday school classes.

It's a classic split. How does one decide the outcome?

Yes, it is a mockery of the Bible.

Yes, it is a great learning tool.

Whatever Smith's true intentions are, it's obvious he's not out to shed negative light on the Bible.

The stories are told with little or no bias. Smith simply puts them out there, makes them clear to the reader and hard to ignore.

Isn't that the way the Bible should be taught, after all?

 Athiest builds Bible stories from Legos
This is the text of an article that was featured in the 3 October 2003 edition of the Alexandria, LA, newspaper The Town Talk. It can also be read online here.

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