Into India— Part Eight

When you are taken to Agra, its not just to see the Taj Mahal (though that is goal number one) but also to see several other impressive examples of Moghul architecture including the tomb of Ahkbar, the fort of Ahkbar (actually out in the country between Agra and Jaipur), and the red fort. In this post we will be examining the famous--- red fort, which in fact is one part palace, one part fort, one part mosque.If you ask what makes the red fort red.... well its that incredible red … [Read more...]

The Monuments Men— Momentus but not Monumental

George Clooney, our home by from Kentucky, has shown as his latest feature film another buddy movie, quite unlike the 'Oceans' franchise. Indeed, one could say this film is oceans apart from that one, set as it is in WWII Europe. Based on the book by Robert Edsel about the actual rescue of lots of priceless art from the clutches of the Nazis, near the end of WWII, it tells a moving story, which raised the question-- Is it really worth a human life to save a work of art? As it turns out, the … [Read more...]

Into India— Part Seven

I must confess I am a sucker for animals. And here I've got one at the Taj Mahal eating out of my hand--- an Indian striped squirrel.One also runs into these fellows all over the place in India...Not to mention snakes of all sizes and shapes...The thing is you find these creatures running around loose all over the place. Hanging from trees like this...They're even in the road, along with the cows and bulls and water buffalos of course. So in India, you have to become … [Read more...]

‘Intimations of Immortality’

‘INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY’I listened for the Muse, But only heard her hum…. I was hoping for the lost chord But all I got was a strum…Inspiration is not a sensation Nor is it a thought, It’s a movement of the spirit That can’t be conjured Much less bought….Creation is not contrivance Nor is art mere artifice It requires a higher power To break the mental ice… So the vessel of words Can sail thru once or twice…Words are not like paints That dry and become set Mad Pi … [Read more...]

Into India– Part Six (A Valentine’s Story)

Perhaps you already know the story behind India's most beautiful building, the Taj Mahal (which means crown of palaces in Arabic, though it is in fact a mausoleum).The Taj Mahal is a monument to love, the love of Shah Jahan for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal (note the similarity to the current name of the building), who died bearing their fourteenth child. Grief stricken when she died prematurely, Jahan began building this magnificent tomb for Mumtaz in about 1631. Jahan was a … [Read more...]

Into India— Part Five

I am a person who loves art, artisanship, great skill used in the making of beautiful things. And there is plenty of that on display in India. Take for example this small green marble table with inlaid precious stones---cornelian, lapis lazuli, pearl. It took dozens and dozens of hours to make this little table which I bought and had shipped home.I took the time to do the tour when I was in Agra to see how these tables were made. Here's two men working hard at carving the stone so … [Read more...]

Into India– Part Four

Yes that's me with my doctoral student Jason Myers, who went with me to teach at what is perhaps India's largest theological college, with 250 undergraduates. It was Taste of India Saturday, with proceeds going to various worthy student causes. Notice in the background-- KFC, something all Kentuckians know well.... only in this case it stands for Kerala (a region in India) Food Court, and the food was decidedly not from Colonel Sanders.Here are some of our students smiling and … [Read more...]

Into India— Part Three

Hinduism is of course a form of polytheism, rather like Mormonism. It involved a belief in multiple deities, and in the case of Hinduism, hundreds of lesser and greater gods of all sorts. If you go to the Encyclopedias and read up on the major ones like Shiva or Vishnu you get a pretty clear sense of the character of the religion, which divides people into castes, expects them to believe in karma and reincarnation, and even treats some human beings as untouchables by nature and condition--- … [Read more...]

Into India– Part Two

On a sunny Saturday we managed to get off from teaching and headed for the hills. And these are some hills--- the Himalayas to be specific. Actually we only made it to the top of the first range of the Himalayas to a town called Mussoorie (pronounced like the State). This is a resort town, full of back-packers and tourists as well as plenty of natives. And you have to have a professional driver to drive up those hills, as they are all S curves and mostly one lane. I'll leave to your … [Read more...]