I’m not a big fan of theme parks. Never have been.
I’ve never traveled to the various Disney or Universal Studios offerings in Florida. I’m told they are a great experience, but they aren’t the experience I am looking for. Too ersatz.
I have slightly more interest in the historical parks such as Ontario’s Upper Canada Village, New Brunswick’s King’s Landing or the Village Museum in Bucharest. Those at least have an educational component rather than being purely for entertainment. Even then, I don’t seek out the experience.
Some places, especially in the US, have theme parks that take you back to first century Palestine and give you a chance to see life as it was lived in Jesus’ time. I’d rather see an exhibit in a reputable museum, a piece of the temple wall as opposed to a fake temple.
Then there is Bibeldorf. To me it was a theme park with a sense of humour. My wife’s aunt discovered it and brought us there. It was new when we were there in 2009, but the website has been updated so I guess it is still going. The morning we were there we were the only visitors.
Bibeldorf, which Google tells me is translated “Bible village” is a modest attempt at recreating a first century Judean village. Very low budget, but that doesn’t matter. Even spending millions on such places makes them look fake.
What sets Bibeldorf apart, what gave it charm and made me like the place despite my prejudices, was the people and animals. They weren’t real. And that was a blessing.
Instead of actors trying to convince me they were first-century Jews, and some scraggly goats and sheep, there were old motorcycles in their place. Or motorcycle parts anyway, welded together to represent people and animals. In some bizarre fashion it works. For me anyway.
Germany has a long Christian tradition that is not as much in evidence as it once was. I haven’t looked at statistics, but I don’t think it is going out on a limb to suggest that while the majority may be “Christian” by culture and self-identity, the percentage who are Christian by practice is much smaller.
When you live in a country with such a heritage itis easy to have those magnificent church buildings just blend into the landscape. They have always been there, it seems, relics from a past that is no longer relevant today.
So how do you tell the story of Jesus in such a place at such a time? Bibeldorf is an attempt to answer the question. I’m not sure how well it works, for the average German, but I enjoyed my visit.