The following is from the June 16, 2007, edition of The Dallas Morning News

Noah fascinates the faithful

Despite destruction, tale has always gotten a flood of attention

The Dallas Morning News

Thousands of years after the Book of Genesis was written, folks are still fascinated by the story of an old man who followed God's command and set sail on a tumultuous journey.

Hundreds of children's books – and some adult ones, too – retell the Noah's ark story. Baby nurseries are decorated with scenes from the ark. Older children play at gathering the animal pairs with miniature sets made of plastic, wood or fabric.

The focus is rarely on the chaos, destruction and death in the Genesis story. Instead, the emphasis is on Noah's obedience, how he built the giant vessel, gathered the animals and witnessed God's promise, symbolized by a rainbow at the catastrophic storm's end.

Some even imagine a funny side. The comedy Evan Almighty, which opens nationally Friday, stars Steve Carrell as an arrogant suburban politician who reluctantly builds an ark. Morgan Freeman plays God.

Why does the flood story continue to capture our imagination? What is it about the Old Testament story that keeps us buying ark beach towels, coffee mugs, wallpaper and birdhouses – though it describes God as destroying "every living thing that was on the face of the ground, human beings and animals and creeping things and birds of the air"?

Part of the appeal lies in the story's adventurous spirit and child-friendly animals, said Robert Hunt, director of global theological education at Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology.

"It's an adventure story, at its roots," said Dr. Hunt. "People embarking on a great, great adventure appeals to adults and children."

There's a deeper attraction, too, Dr. Hunt said.

"The symbolism of being saved through and across water resonates deeply with human beings." We have a primordial fascination with water, he said, which provides and sustains life but can also destroy us.

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