I was recently attracted to news about the billionaire brothers Kwok brothers in Hong Kong has built a life-sized replica of Noah's Ark, a project that has been christened as one with "biblical proportions". While mega attraction projects are not uncommon in this part of the world, what caught my interest was how this project attempts to link entertainment with evangelism. The project also seems timely since the Ark is often seen as a beacon of hope in times of uncertainty and global turmoil, with project director Spencer Lu claiming that "the financial tsunami will be over".
Apparently, this isn't the first time that a replica of the huge wooden vessel is attempted. However, it is supposedly the most accurate in terms of size and dimension. According to the Bible, the floating zoo should be built from gopher wood and measure 300 cubits long, 50 wide and 30 high, with a window, a door and three storeys. From the estimation of modern scholars, that comes out to about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.
With all these factors in mind, Hong Kong's Noah's Ark presents itself as an excellent case study of a buzzworthy project with all the classic elements of a tantalising tale during these trying times, namely:
Controversy - Are the Kwok brothers commercialising Christianity? Will an explicitly Christian icon be appropriate in a largely Buddhist and Taoist society? Is there also competition amongst the different Noah's Ark builders and a global race to be the first to test its true shipworthiness?
Metaphoric Relevance - The idea of a floating haven for beasts which helped to save the world during the Great Flood and its parallels to the current global financial meltdown.
Larger than Life Characters - There are strong and unique personalities at play in this tale like Noah himself, the Kwok brothers, and the beneficiaries of this project.
Charity - Apparently, proceeds from this project will go to various causes such as the following on the project website.
Mythic Appeal - There is an air of mystery, legend and romance over the fantastic tale of Noah's Ark. Is it possible for a wooden vessel to float for one year (after a 40 day deluge...thanks Chun See for clarifying!) conveying all manner of birds and beasts? How does one survive on board such a ship? Can there ever be solid evidence found about the existence of such a feat of ancient engineering?
To conclude, here's a short clip with a spokesperson sharing what the values of the project are for your viewing pleasure.