Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

The Elephant in the Room …


The Calgary Zoo Statue

The Calgary Zoo Statue

Christian group condemns zoo’s elephant sculpture

A three metre-tall statue of a dancing elephant was donated to the zoo for the opening of its Elephant Crossing exhibit in 2006. It was commissioned to look like Ganesh, a Hindu god worshipped as a remover of obstacles. But Laurie Herron, a Calgary Zoo spokeswoman, said all religious symbolism on the statue was omitted before it was allowed to be displayed. Jim Blake, national chair of Concerned Christians Canada, sent a letter to the zoo on Thursday, calling for the sculpture to be removed.

Zoo officials defend elephant statue

Officials at the Calgary Zoo say an elephant statue modeled after a Hindu god will stay right where it is. Concerned Christians Canada has sent a letter to zoo officials, asking that the sculpture be removed.The group says that such religious symbols are inappropriate. Graham Newton, a zoo official, says the statue is dedicated to honouring Asian culture because it’s set up near the Asian elephant enclosure.Newton says the symbolic elephant statue has a connection with Asian culture, much like the bald eagle has come to represent the United States. He says there have only been a handful of complaints, but adds most zoo patrons like the statue.

A Religiously "Significant" Ganesh

A Religiously "Significant" Ganesh

Can we talk about the elephant in the room? Sure we can … but only if we do so out of both sides of our trunk!

Here is yet again, a sad and bitter reminder of the blatant double standard that prevails in our country today.

It was commissioned just for the opening of new exhibit, and intentionally modeled after the god Ganesh precisely for its religious meaning as one who overcomes obstacles. This much is admitted, but then spokespersons turn around and say that it is purely a cultural honourific, not a religious symbol. Indeed, all the religious meaning has been removed from it, except what it represents and why it does so …

Perhaps someone could explain to me how this second statue, not of an elephant in the style of Ganesh, but an actual statue of Ganesh differs enough that I should know when one has religious implications and one does not, because it is only giving a nod to the culture.

Consider also, that since it was only a small number of complaints, it would be silly to acknowledge that real people have been offended … unlike most every time a Christian symbol is publicly brought down for being offensive to small – but important – segments of our society.  Apparently, Christians in any number just aren’t that important in public decision-making or accountability any more.

Keep your statue if you like dear Calgary Zoo. It has done its job of bringing media attention to your newly expanded exhibit. But at least have the decency to be honest about who you choose to offend, and why you think it is OK. People have long memories too.


Author: kenmaher

When I'm not working I enjoy Astronomy, Camping, Comic Books, Epic Fantasy Novels, Games (both playing and designing), Hiking, Juggling, Sci-fi, and building strange things out of pvc pipe. I also enjoy being an honorary pre-schooler with my four great children ... much to their mother's dismay.

3 thoughts on “The Elephant in the Room …

  1. I love how utterly spiteful and juvenile “Concerned Christians” is, much like many “Christian” movements in general throughout Canada. People like you give real Christians a bad name.

    If you want Christian symbolism displayed next to the elephant statue, go ahead and put it there. It would look utterly stupid, but hey, that’s never stopped people like you before. Oh, and if you do decide to put a cross or something there, make sure to balance it by discussing the genocide that Europeans committed against North America’s First Nations people, who are also the children of God, even if your white ancestors refused (and continue) to acknowledge that that fact.

    What? You don’t agree with me? Then just call me politically correct. After all, that card never gets old.

  2. Robert,

    Thank you for your comments. Please allow me to apologize. It appears that I have offended you. I am sorry.

    If the offense is because you feel I have misquoted the parties involved please show me how I have done this and I will promptly fix it. Or perhaps you feel that I have misrepresented either the picture of the one statue or the other. Again, if you will show me where I have misrepresented them I will make the necessary corrections.

    Perhaps I wasn’t fully clear on the point that while I am a Christian, who is concerned at times with things I see around me … I am not a member of Concerned Christians Canada, nor do I implicitly endorse everything they say or do. I do, however, think that in this particular instance their concern is/was justified.

    Please also note that I nowhere called for the placement of the cross (or any other Christian symbol) in the zoo. I, along with you think that such a thing would serve very little purpose. The intention in calling out the issue is not to push a Christian agenda upon the Calgary Zoo, but simply to ask why the Zoo put a religious symbol in the zoo, (precisely for its religious meaning and symbolism) and then denied it when asked about it. I’m not sure why merely asking for honesty should be construed as either spiteful or juvenile.

    As to several of your other assertions, I must confess that I am mystified. If you would care to elaborate on how you feel I have given Christianity a bad name I would be happy to reply further, either by way of clarification as required, or an apology if needed. It would also help me out in answering the same, if you could tell me what you mean when you refer to me as “people like you.”

    I also wouldn’t mind if you could help me understand what any of this has to do with (as you stated) cultural genocide.

    Finally, please rest assured that while it seems we do indeed disagree on several points I won’t be calling you “politically correct”. Rather than simply making bald assertions or putting labels on people I would prefer to have a meaningful dialog on the issues that matter in your life and mine.

    Merry Christmas to you, Robert, and those you love. And all the best in the New Year!

  3. Christians are so boring. Ganesh is beautiful and fun and remover of obstacles. Rejoice!

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