The Vatican Visit— Part Four

No matter how you cut it, the Sistine Chapel is one of the great frescoes of all time. Yes, Michelangelo nicked some ideas from Signorelli's Apocalypse Chapel in Orvieto. But still the execution of this amazing masterpiece is stunning. Imagine lying on your back for days at a time doing this one little square at a time. And if you understand the process of fresco, it's like painting on wet plaster... check that, it is painting on wet plaster of a sort. Check the Agony and the Ecstasy biopic … [Read more...]

The James Box Has been Freed!

I am happy to tell you that the James Ossuary, after a ten year battle, has finally been returned to Oded Golan, its rightful owner. Unfortunately, according to Golan, it has been allowed to deteriorate while in the hands of the IAA. It may or may not be up to more rigorous tests. We shall see. A decade has been wasted on a fruitless trial. Matthew Kalman has sent me his article which just appeared in the NY Daily News. First, here is some pictures of Golan recovering the box..... … [Read more...]

The Vatican Visit– Part Three

Why are these guys smiling? Well first let me tell you who they are-- they are some of the few Protestants invited to Pope Benedict's conference on the historical Jesus. There were, by my count, only four American Protestants invited, all Evangelicals--- from left to right you see Darrell Bock from Dallas, Eckhard Schmidt (not an American!) Paul Anderson from George Fox, and yours truly from Asbury. Of these, only Paul and I were asked to do papers (two Canadians Protestants were also asked--- … [Read more...]

Thor into the Dark World

By now the Marvel formula is clear--- a little smash and dash, a little romance, a little pathos, a little humor (actually this one has got more than a little), a cameo appearance of Stan Lee himself (this time as an inmate in Bedlam, the insane asylum in London), and of course a trailer after the first credits giving a preview of the next installment of the now burgeoning Marvel film series.Of course there is something different about the Thor stories from other Marvel tales in that … [Read more...]

‘Mud’….and Mark Twain

Remember Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer? Two river rats that have adventures along the muddy Mississippi. Well 'Mud' is in various ways a story much like some of Twain's tales, focusing on two young boys, in this case Ellis and Neckbone of Dewitt Arkansas. They run into a man called Mud (brilliantly played by Matthew McConaughhey) hiding out on an island in the river, running from the Law. Seems he killed a man who was abusing his girlfriend. But, even though that girlfriend (Juniper, … [Read more...]

The Vatican Visit- Part Two

Once you are in the Vatican, you have to go to see St. Peter's, one of the largest churches in the world. We may talk about mega-churches, but we have no idea. This is the mother church for four billion Catholics. Yes, I said billion. No Protestant denomination or even Orthodox one is even close in size. Yuliya and I were given permission to have 30 minutes in St. Peter's by ourselves. The picture above is of course of Peter, who has a shiny left foot, from so many pilgrims rubbing it for … [Read more...]

Bella Italia Part Four (More from Orvieto)

The views from the city on the hill (which cannot be hid) are pretty spectacular. For instance, consider these shots....There is a pretty good archaeological museum with some Roman remains such as....And also....But old fashion domestic life, like hanging out the wash is in evidence everywhere...And you can always find another vine covered ristorante for dinner....Or another child who is far from bored staring at the boar outside the butcher's shop... … [Read more...]

Bella Italia Part Three (the inside of Orvieto Cathedral)

Once you get inside the zebra cathedral, things change in some ways. First of all there is still the zebra look with the marble and the basalt alternating in the walls and columns.But you also have beautiful stained glass windows, frescoes, and alcoves.By far the most impressive part of the interior is the chapel of the apocalypse and its amazing frescoes, which in fact inspired Michaelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.. Here is some of the Wiki explanation....Fra … [Read more...]

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...]