by Susan Trollinger
Here at rightingamerica Sue and Bill decided to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting the 95 Theses by taking Sue’s Visual Rhetoric class and Bill’s Protestant Christianity seminar on a field trip to two of the most remarkable examples of what the Reformation hath wrought. We mean, of course, the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter!
It is fair to say that our students were bewildered and sometimes horrified. Here are a few of their observations:
About the Creation Museum
- Rose: “I was struck by the near-constant stream of audio. It only stops when the visitor arrives at the Jesus exhibit.”
- John: “Dragons from the moment you walk in the door, just breathing the fires of fantasy all over you!”
- Jerome: “I was surprised by the use of fantasy (dragons) combined with the “adventure” music reminiscent of video games like Skyrim 4 or World of Warcraft. Genesis is an adventure! They have worked very hard to create their own world, in the process answering all questions you might have about “holes” in their world. Their world-building would make a fantasy writer proud!”
- Diane: “I was particularly taken by the tattered magazine covers plastered on the wall at the beginning of the “Culture in Crisis” section. The specific headlines chosen, the way they are arranged/juxtaposed, with images of radical Muslims, 9/11, missing children – all of this seems designed to prey on contemporary anxieties of Americans while failing to contextualize/explain the images. The collage is meant to speak for itself, but it does this by constructing a narrative of destruction.”
About Ark Encounter
- Rowen: “The most fascinating parts of Ark Encounter are the detailed explanations. The descriptions of the methods and the technology by which the Ark supposedly allowed for waste management and air ventilation are things you just have to see to believe.”
- Karen: “I thought the section about the people on the Ark was very intriguing. Before you enter this exhibit there is a placard that explains the ‘Creative License’ that allows them to make up details about the people and the presents these details as ‘facts.’ They assume races and personalities for all of the women on the Ark, but it is all fiction.”
- Joe: “I was most startled by the Fairy Tale Ark exhibit. It seemed designed not only to instruct adults on the dangers of childish versions of the Ark, but also to lure innocent children into a horror-inducing display. I saw kids who were smiling as they came running in, only to have the smiles disappear with disillusionment.”
- Cory: “The emphasis on judgment and condemnation was terrifying. I feel like most of the displays go out of their way to belittle human beings and human life. The Ark presents a traumatizing and dangerous theology.”
Traumatic theology aside, it was a very good day, made possible by the University of Dayton College of Arts and Sciences, which once again demonstrated its commitment to experiential learning. We can say that this is an experience that our students will not soon forget!
P.S. In an event sponsored by the Ohio Humanities Council, this Thursday night (Nov. 02) Bill is giving a presentation at the annual meeting of the Auglaize County Historical Society: “Terrorizing Immigrants and Catholics: The Ohio Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s.” The talk will be at 7 PM in the St. Joseph Parish Life Center in Wapakoneta, OH.