Noah Never Had It So Good
On video, Richard Greene seems to be a very pleasant fellow. He speaks in complete sentences that make perfect sense, grammatically at least. Mr. Greene is the pastor of a small church in Frostburg, Md., and it is not until he begins talking about the ark that he seems at all unusual.
The ark. It was a night in 1974 when God spoke to Mr. Greene and instructed him to build a new ark along lines similar to Noah's earlier model. There now exist the beginnings of a massive steel framework of an ark planned to be more than 400 feet long. I have no idea how many cubits that is.
The ark is to include a 1,700-seat auditorium, a Bible college, and food and clothing pantries for the homeless. Noah never had it so good, though there is no mention of pairs of animals in the plan.
Mr. Greene is 75, and the ark has a very long way to go to completion, but he remains hopeful that he will see it to the finish.
There is certainly no conclusive proof that Mr. Greene is wrong about the possible need for an ark; indeed, there is a lot of apocalyptic thinking going around. The Mayan calendar thing is a recent example. Fortunately for Mr. Greene and his unready ark, that one failed to materialize.
Then there is the more scientifically accurate if less temporally predictable apocalypse of climate change. The ark could be just the ticket for that one, and the timing might be about right.
An ark seems an impractical safety valve for the survivalists. Their concern is not flood, and they place their hopes on hiding in well-defended isolation, not in a giant communal boat.
It seems as if there is always somebody, somewhere, prepared to believe that the end is nigh, and that if they build an ark, either real or metaphorical, they will somehow be saved, or at least directed to someplace better when it's all over.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, keeper of the Doomsday Clock, recently announced that the hands would be set at five minutes to midnight for 2013. This group considers climate change, nuclear proliferation, general global hostility and some other mysterious stuff in setting the clock, and has been pretty pessimistic since it started the whole business in 1947.
The farthest from midnight the clock has ever been was 17 minutes in 1991. This year's setting advanced a minute from 2012's six. Whatever happened to the morning hours?
It seems entirely possible that something really bad could happen at any moment. If those scientist fellows are right, there won't be time enough to finish the ark at the present rate, and besides, a biblical flood seems pretty unlikely. I'd be a lot more worried about a meeting of nukes and terrorists, and no ark is going to be helpful in that event.
Mr. Greene's very traditional approach to survival seems a lot like those generals always fighting the last war. The only sure way to escape may well be in a space ship, but to where?
Still, Mr. Greene keeps plugging away as the donations trickle in. Maybe he will be proven right. Maybe God did speak to him. Maybe there is a whole lot of rain somewhere in our future. Even so, it is a long way from Maryland to Ararat. And what about the animals?
If the ark is eventually finished and there is no forthcoming catastrophe, it would be a shame just to leave it sitting inland in Maryland. By that time, the cruise business may have picked up, and there will be a need for added capacity. Imagine the excitement as the ark sails into Nassau or through the Panama Canal.
It's never too soon to make a reservation.
Fred Wolferman lives in Southern Pines. Contact him by email at fwolferman@ sbcglobal.net.
More like this story