Finding and seeing Richard III

We blogged about how archeologists have discovered what they thought was the skeleton of King Richard III, the monarch who, according to Shakespeare’s play of the same name, murdered his way to the crown until he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth field (“a horse!  My kingdom for a horse!”) by Henry, the Earl of Richmond, who would found the Tudor dynasty.  Well, yesterday DNA evidence confirmed that the skeleton–with its curved spine (Shakespeare described him as a hunchback) and a skull that had been hacked by a sword–is, in fact, that of Richard III, the last of the Plantagenets.  Not only that, facial reconstruction based on the skull showed his face, which is exactly that of a contemporary portrait of Richard.  This has also sparked controversy about whether Shakespeare was a propagandist for the Tudors in making him such an over-the-top but extraordinarily interesting villain.  Some say Richard was a good king after all.  The details of the DNA research, my take on the controversy, and the  pictures are after the jump. [Read more...]

Is America in decline?

When it comes to economic measures and economic prospects for the future, the United States is not in decline at all.  So says a report cited by economics columnist Robert J. Samuelson (who, however, is not quite so optimistic).  Then again, despite what some people assume, economics isn’t everything.  Are we in cultural, intellectual, or political decline? [Read more...]

“The content of their character”

Today honors Martin Luther King, Jr., the man who said this:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

That seems clear, doesn’t it?  But actually the statement is interpreted in all kinds of ways.  See Debate swirls over Martin Luther King’s monumental ‘content of their character’ quote – The Washington Post.

How does the debate over the meaning of that speech parallel other disputes over interpretation, such as the interpretation of the Bible?

A movie about Pontius Pilate

This sounds like it has the potential to be a terrific movie.  Mike Fleming has seen the script:

Brad Pitt is circling the title role in Warner Bros‘ Pontius Pilate, the drama about one of history’s most vilified figures. The studio acquired a script by Woman On Top scribe Vera Blasi with Mark Johnson producing through his Gran Via banner. Pitt is not committed, but it could well move that way quickly.

I revealed this project last summer, when the studio acquired Blasi’s script. I got hold of a draft and it’s very strong stuff and has the makings of a compelling period big budget film. This script follows the evolution of Lucius Pontius Pilate from the sensitive son of a Roman Knight into a ferocious soldier whose warrior exploits make him a general and puts him on a political track under the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Promised a military governorship in Egypt, Pilate is instead assigned by Tiberius to become the prefect of Judea, at a time when Jerusalem was a cauldron of religious tensions between various factions of the Jewish faith. Pilate veers from the political fast track into the express lane to hell and historical infamy. Rather than a straight ahead Biblical film, Blasi’s script reads almost like a Biblical era Twilight Zone episode in which a proud, capable Roman soldier gets in way over his head. His arrogance and inability to grasp the devoutness of the citizenry and its hatred for the Roman occupiers and their pagan gods leads him to make catastrophic decisions. All of this puts him in a desperate situation and in need of public approval when he is asked to decide the fate of a 33-year old rabbi accused by religious elders of claiming he is King of the Jews. [Read more...]

Has the lost tribe of Mannaseh been found?

A tribal community in India that calls itself Bnei Menashe (Hebrew for “children of Mannaseh”) is claiming to be the the remnant of the Hebrew tribe of Mannaseh, one of the “lost tribes” that was taken into captivity by the Assyrians some 3000 years ago.  And the state of Israel is recognizing their legitimacy by according them the “right of return,” whereby all Jews are allowed to immigrate to Israel.  Some of the Bnei Menashe have moved to Israel, which some Christian groups are hailing as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.  See ‘Lost Tribe’s’ Return to Israel Fulfilling Prophecy? – Inside Israel – CBN News – Christian News 24-7 – CBN.com.

The tribe does seem to have some traditional songs and legends with echoes of the Exodus.  But according to the Wikipedia article, the Bnei Menashe are part of a larger tribal culture of animists and headhunters that converted to Christianity in the 19th century.   In 1951, a Pentecostalist preacher in the tribe said that he had a vision from God that the people should turn back to their ancient religion of Judaism.  (So do the Christians getting all excited about this believe that this was the work of the Holy Spirit?  Telling people to give up their Christianity?)  [Read more...]

Make your predictions for 2013

As is our custom on New Year’s Eve, we invite you to make your predictions for what will happen in the New Year.  We will then review those predictions in exactly one year to see how you did.  (See today’s accompanying post.)  Whoever made the best predictions will receive honor, accolades, and bragging rights.

Highly specific predictions will score higher than general predictions.  And predictions that are surprising and completely unexpected but that come true anyway will score the highest of all.

(The Deuteronomy 18:22 rule will not be enforced.)

So what do you think will happen in 2013?


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