The headline reads like a punchline: “Owners of Noah’s Ark sue over rain damage.” Does God have a sense of humor or what? In the case of Irony v. This Has to Be a Joke, Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky, is suing its insurance carriers.
The administrators of the life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark, 300 cubits/510 feet long, claim that heavy rains, while not reaching biblical proportions, caused a landslide on their access road. The ark itself was not damaged by the flood, nor did the park close; but for a time it looked like people who wanted to get into the ark could not because of the water, just like in the Bible.
The 77-page lawsuit seeks not only compensatory damages, but punitive damages, presumably because someone made fun of Ark Encounter – which also happened to Noah. The suit asks for a jury trial. They will need to find 12 people with no sense of humor.
Ark Encounter is rumored to have cost $100 million. It opened on July 7, 2016, a date (7/7) that was selected because of Genesis 7:7, “Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.”
They claim to have 1 million visitors a year. Tickets cost between $15 and $48. Imagine how much money Noah could have made selling tickets.
This story is why Twitter was invented:
“The Onion has gone too far.”
“Thoughts and prayers!”
“Now I believe in God.”
“All right . . . who prayed for rain?”
“I hope the penguins who walked from Antarctica are safe!”
“Looks like God doesn’t want anybody to go see it.”
“And on the eighth day God created tort reform.”
Oh, there’s more:
“Seriously, shouldn’t Yahweh have prevented this?”
“Noah’s replica will have to start an http://godfund.me.”
“So biblical . . . just like in Genesis when Noah sued the Lord God for the flood damage to the Earth.”
“Mitch McConnell’s state. Go figure. Shocker.”
“It only carried a 40-day warranty.”
If this is a publicity stunt, it is genius. Aren’t you tempted to visit? You could be the person who asks too many questions:
Where are the dinosaurs?
How did they fit that many animals in a space that is not big enough for that many animals?
How could there be enough water to cover the whole world?
How did the dogs and cats get along, or the mice and the elephants?
Why didn’t the lions eat the bunnies?
Were the bunnies still creating other bunnies?
Were the animals in a coma?
After a month did Noah wish he was in a coma?
Do you consider the recent rainfall an act of God?
Did you think about suing God and not the insurance company?
How did a story about the annihilation of most of the world’s population – men, women and children drowning, heads bobbing up and down in the water – become an amusement park?
Do you think you might be missing the point?
Noah’s ark is not a children’s story, a funny story or even a story concerned with history. This story is true even if it never happened.
If you get past the strangeness, it sounds like recent events. Terrible things are happening to God’s good creation. Violence is rampant. Terrorism is on the rise. War is considered a solution. Politicians refuse to listen to their enemies. Hungry children are starving.
We understand their situation. We have had 13 school shootings this year. We have gotten used to walking past the homeless. Innocent teenagers die in our prisons.
How will God deal with the brokenness of the world? God responds not as an angry architect whose building has been ruined, but as a grieving parent whose heart has been broken.
God sees the violence in the world and decides to turn away, to forget the whole experience, and walk away. God decides to return creation to the chaos from which God called creation. God will let the waters cover the earth.
But there is one person whom God cannot forget. God’s love for Noah changes the plan. The story which up to now is all darkness takes a turn to the light.
The grieving God decides to save the world. God will stay with creation, notwithstanding the sorry state of humankind.
After the rain has stopped, God points to the rainbow in the sky and promises never to give up on us. God says, “I take my warrior’s bow and restring it not as a weapon, but with the colors of creation.”
We travel through waters that threaten to engulf us, but none of the suffering we know comes from God’s displeasure. God is doing everything God can do to offer hope, end our heartaches and bring us home.
That is no joke.