Bella Italia– Part Two (The Trip to Orvieto)

On any showing, Orvieto cathedral is one of the most interesting, and unique cathedrals in all the world. In 1290, Pope Nicholas IV laid the cornerstone for the building of this cathedral, originally designed to be a Romanesque basilica, using white marble and black basalt (hence the zebra look on the sides and back of the cathedral), as was so often the case, the cathedral was developed and added to over many centuries. Its front face and interior took on more of a Italian ornate Gothic style. … [Read more...]

Bella Italia– Part One (The Trip to Orvieto)

Perhaps my very favorite medieval town in a walled city on top of a small mountain is Orvieto in Umbria. It's only about an hour and a bit from Rome on the train, and well worth the trip. It has, among other things, a spectacular cathedral, equally spectacular food and beverages (including the famous Orvieto Classico wine) and lots of great shops. No wonder my alma mater UNC- Chapel Hill has a study house there. And you are about to see why I love this town. To get to it, you ride a train to … [Read more...]

The Vatican Visit– Part One

It was a beautiful Saturday morning (Oct. 26th). The sky was a brilliant Carolina blue, it was in the 60sF with a light breeze, and everything was clear and clean and sharply in focus. You had to work at it to take a bad picture on this morning. Yuliya, our Russian daughter, and I had taken a taxi to the Vatican to arrive in time for: 1) the reception; 2) the final two papers at the conference on the Historical Jesus; 3) the lunch with the Pope; 4) the audience with Pope Francis in Salle … [Read more...]

Roma Aeterna— Part One

What was the Rome of Paul's day like. My trip last week to Rome, Pompey, Herculaneum and other spots just confirmed to me once again that the Romans were the technological genius's of their age. Just an hour or two of studying the gigantic aqueducts which brought water into the city will leave you in awe of Roman engineering. Above you see a wonderful recreating of the city as it was in the late first century, with over a million people living on top of one another. It was the largest city in … [Read more...]

Inferno—- Brown’s not Dante’s

I have not been a part of 'Brown nation' in the past, nor a big fan of his novels. The Da Vinci Code alone had more than 150 historical and religious errors in it, and was certainly not grande litterature. Was he capable of a mot juste--- not really. Was it a fun page turner? Sure.But in the case of Brown's latest Robert Langdon thriller, some things have improved markedly, and some things haven't. Inferno is a bio-terrorism thriller about a brilliant but apparently bonkers scientist … [Read more...]

I Always Had My Sox On— We are the Champions!!

g">Back in March I went off to England for three months. But I took my Soxs with me courtesy of Jason Jackson. After the debacle of finishing last, last season, to come back and go worst to first and win the World Series, it doesn't get any better than this. I would get up in the morning in England, and watch my sox over breakfast. Day after day, week after week, I pulled for my boys. And then something horrible happened on Patriots Day--- two terrorists tried to kill the spirit of … [Read more...]

A Preview of Coming Attractions

Why is this man smiling? Because he just met and shook hands with this man.......Lots of stories about the week in Italy, and in the Vatican to follow..... … [Read more...]

Hell and Halloween

[Here is a helpful essay by Timothy George on 'the Hell House project' among other things. As he says, scaring people into the Kingdom of God basically does not work, especially when in this age people actually are happy to pay to be scared out of their wits.... and never take it seriously. BW3]I believe in hell. Not only the hell within, for there are those “private devils that hang like vampires on the soul,” to use the language of Thomas Merton—and not only the metaphorical hell around ev … [Read more...]

The War on Christians in the World Today

While many of us have been appalled by the recent attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt and the terroristic acts against churches in Pakistan, what many fail to realize, including apparently the author of the recent book on early Christian martyrdom reviewed previously on this blog, is that these actions are part of a much larger pattern of such persecution and murder. Here is a quote from a recent important article on this subject (see the link below),"According to the Pew Forum, between … [Read more...]