New baseball season scouting reports

Now that baseball season has started, what I need from you are scouting reports.  What are the developments, prospects, promising new players, and issues for your favorite team?

It looks like Philadelphia is playing a hand with four aces (maybe five aces, but then the card game metaphor breaks down).   The Brewers seem poised to make a run, what with acquiring pitchers Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, two serious pitchers.  Washington is positioning itself to be good NEXT year, when the two first-round draft pick prodigies Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper might be ready.

So, all of you Cranach sports correspondents, please report.

You may also include predictions.

The Official Site of Major League Baseball | MLB.com: Homepage.

The Christian equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls?

 

the most ancient Christian texts

 

Archaeologists have discovered some 70 little books with lead pages that may be the earliest Christian texts, dating from shortly after the time of Christ.  Interestingly, they seem to have been made by Jewish Christians–being written in ancient Hebrew, depicting both a Menorah and a Cross, and including a stylized map of Jerusalem, outside of which is drawn a T shaped cross and an empty tomb.

Most of the writing is in code, though, so it isn’t  decipherable, at least not yet.  From the BBC:

They could be the earliest Christian writing in existence, surviving almost 2,000 years in a Jordanian cave. They could, just possibly, change our understanding of how Jesus was crucified and resurrected, and how Christianity was born.

A group of 70 or so “books”, each with between five and 15 lead leaves bound by lead rings, was apparently discovered in a remote arid valley in northern Jordan somewhere between 2005 and 2007. . . .

The director of the Jordan’s Department of Antiquities, Ziad al-Saad, says the books might have been made by followers of Jesus in the few decades immediately following his crucifixion.

“They will really match, and perhaps be more significant than, the Dead Sea Scrolls,” says Mr Saad.

“Maybe it will lead to further interpretation and authenticity checks of the material, but the initial information is very encouraging, and it seems that we are looking at a very important and significant discovery, maybe the most important discovery in the history of archaeology.”

The texts might have been written in the decades following the crucifixion

They seem almost incredible claims – so what is the evidence?

The books, or “codices”, were apparently cast in lead, before being bound by lead rings.

Their leaves – which are mostly about the size of a credit card – contain text in Ancient Hebrew, most of which is in code.

If the relics are of early Christian origin rather than Jewish, then they are of huge significance.

One of the few people to see the collection is David Elkington, a scholar of ancient religious archaeology who is heading a British team trying to get the lead books safely into a Jordanian museum.

He says they could be “the major discovery of Christian history”, adding: “It’s a breathtaking thought that we have held these objects that might have been held by the early saints of the Church.”

He believes the most telling evidence for an early Christian origin lies in the images decorating the covers of the books and some of the pages of those which have so far been opened.

Mr Elkington says the relics feature signs that early Christians would have interpreted as indicating Jesus, shown side-by-side with others they would have regarded as representing the presence of God.

“It’s talking about the coming of the messiah,” he says.

“In the upper square [of one of the book covers] we have the seven-branch menorah, which Jews were utterly forbidden to represent because it resided in the holiest place in the Temple in the presence of God.

“So we have the coming of the messiah to approach the holy of holies, in other words to get legitimacy from God.”

Philip Davies, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament Studies at Sheffield University, says the most powerful evidence for a Christian origin lies in plates cast into a picture map of the holy city of Jerusalem.

“As soon as I saw that, I was dumbstruck. That struck me as so obviously a Christian image,” he says.

“There is a cross in the foreground, and behind it is what has to be the tomb [of Jesus], a small building with an opening, and behind that the walls of the city. There are walls depicted on other pages of these books too and they almost certainly refer to Jerusalem.”

It is the cross that is the most telling feature, in the shape of a capital T, as the crosses used by Romans for crucifixion were.

“It is a Christian crucifixion taking place outside the city walls,” says Mr Davies.

Margaret Barker, an authority on New Testament history, points to the location of the reported discovery as evidence of Christian, rather than purely Jewish, origin.

“We do know that on two occasions groups of refugees from the troubles in Jerusalem fled east, they crossed the Jordan near Jericho and then they fled east to very approximately where these books were said to have been found,” she says.

“[Another] one of the things that is most likely pointing towards a Christian provenance, is that these are not scrolls but books. The Christians were particularly associated with writing in a book form rather than scroll form, and sealed books in particular as part of the secret tradition of early Christianity.”

The Book of Revelation refers to such sealed texts.

Another potential link with the Bible is contained in one of the few fragments of text from the collection to have been translated.

It appears with the image of the menorah and reads “I shall walk uprightly”, a sentence that also appears in the Book of Revelation.

While it could be simply a sentiment common in Judaism, it could here be designed to refer to the resurrection.

via BBC News – Jordan battles to regain ‘priceless’ Christian relics.

HT: Joe Carter

Food & ideology

A Washington Post food writer, Andreas Viestad, discusses the Italian futurist artist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who tried to carry his aesthetic into food with his 1932 Futurist Cookbook.

 

Marinetti was the leader of the Italian futurists, a poet and demagogue closely associated with the ruling fascists but often in conflict with them. (He criticized them for being too traditional and for their anti-Semitism.) He is best remembered for his many manifestos calling for a break with the past. One of his most memorable and controversial was the “Manifesto Against Past-Loving Venice,” wherein he suggested that the “small, stinking canals” of Venice be “filled with the rubble of the past” and paved over and that it be rebuilt as a modern militarized and industrialized city.

His venture into gastronomy started in 1926, when in another manifesto he called for a ban on pasta, describing it as “an absurd Italian gastronomic religion.” The favorite food of Italians, Marinetti claimed, made them lazy, tradition-bound and pacifist. He was met with massive protests. Petitions were signed. Housewives took to the streets. An enraged nationalistic journalist even challenged Marinetti to a duel. Marinetti accepted and — as happened so often in his colorful career — lost. He was gravely injured.

Marinetti’s many stunts made him famous, but they are also why he was seldom taken seriously. Today he is an obscure figure, even in Italy. But when I read “Futurist Cookbook,” I have little doubt he was on to something. Many of his ideas have since become commonplace. His proposal to make a cuisine that consisted of lighter sauces, bite-size dishes and “a consistent lightening of weight and reduction of volume of food-stuffs” is pretty uncontroversial, even though it sounded strange at the time.

Other ideas have an uncanny similarity to what is happening at the frontline of creative cuisine today. A recurring theme in Marinetti’s work, for instance, is the participation of all senses while dining, as illustrated by “A Tactile Dinner Party.” In another futurist meal idea, a house is built on a tongue of land between ocean and lake, and the smells from the sea, the lake and a nearby barn all contribute to the experience. Several other meals involve scent or music. When Blumenthal at the Fat Duck asks a diner to don headphones and listen to the sound of the sea while eating an oyster, he clearly has entered some of the same territory.

Similarly, Marinetti’s chapter “Invitation to Chemistry” has been answered by today’s modernist cooks, who are both lauded and criticized for being technology-focused and for using texture- and flavor-altering chemical compounds in their food. Playing with the shape and the appearance of the food is pretty commonplace today. At El Bulli, I was once served a dish consisting of two perfectly simple raw razor clams, one real and one faux. Playing with the diner’s expectations is also one of the ideas behind my futurist-inspired recipe for an orange-colored, orange-smelling dish that doesn’t actually contain orange (see recipe, Page E6).

via The Gastronomer: What if one futurist had made his ideas more delicious? – The Washington Post.

Cuisine is an art form, no less than music and painting, and I have often wondered about the extent to which a particular approach to food is expressive of ideology and worldview.  For example, Asian food is directly tied to Taoism, with the putting together of sweet and sour, smooth and crunchy, etc., expressing the yin and the yang, the balance of opposites that is the key to harmony in the universe.  I have known Christians who would not think of partaking of books, movies, or music that are not “Christian” who nevertheless love to eat Chinese food, not caring about its worldview as long as it tastes good.  (Do realize I’m not opposing Asian cuisine, far from it, any more than I’m advocating staying away from other art forms that aren’t Christian.  The aesthetic elements, whether food that tastes good or art that is in good taste, already fall under the created order of God’s rule.)

Marinetti’s ghastly ideas–the rejection of tradition (making Italians give up pasta?) and the embrace of chemicals and technology–are clearly modernist.  His radicalism and his assaults on ordinary human values–thinking they can be changed by mere willpower–are also clearly fascist.

So is the traditional arrangement of meat and potato and vegetables separately on a plate an expression of American individualism, as opposed to the communal pots of many combined ingredients that more communal cultures favor?  Are casseroles favored at church pot luck dinners because in their mushing together of diverse ingredients they express Christian community?  And what are we to make of the postmodernist touch in so many restaurants today of stacking the different foods on top of each other?

How does fast food express the consumer capitalism of the pop culture?  Can you tell someone’s political beliefs by what they eat?

OK, how far can we take this?  (I’m being partially serious and partially unserious.)

 

I’ve written about the Futurists and their very real (but often minimized) connection to Fascism.  They demonstrate that Fascism was most certainly NOT conservative, but instead “the latest thing” much beloved by  “cutting edge” artist and thinkers.

China spreads its influence

Michael Gerson tells about China’s inroads into Africa and its bigger plans:

The skyline of this city — what little there is of it — is a Chinese creation. Chinese money built the Parliament building. A $100 million, Chinese-funded hotel and conference center is rising. The Chinese government is constructing a soccer stadium, a decidedly popular move.

It is difficult to argue that these shiny new buildings are more urgent development priorities than, say, fighting malaria or providing a daily meal to children in rural schools. But the Chinese don’t even pretend this is the case. These highly visible investments, increasingly unavoidable across Africa, are designed to buy influence with governments.

But why Malawi? This poor, rural, landlocked nation is hardly a strategic prize. Elsewhere, the Chinese are clearly after oil and other resources. Malawi does have some unexploited rare-earth metals and a mine producing uranium. But the aggressive Chinese outreach here seems more directly motivated by a plan to establish China as a power throughout the continent, even in its remotest corners.

This is sometimes called neo-imperialism. At closer range, it more closely resembles mercantilism. Unlike in Asia, where China pursues tinderbox land disputes, the objectives here are overwhelmingly economic — securing vital commodities while selling cheap manufactured goods.

Though China does not seek to plant military bases or ideological revolutions in Africa, the Chinese model of state-led development is increasingly viewed as an alternative to Western economic liberalism. Leaders such as South African President Jacob Zuma are impressed with the Chinese economic approach — which is naturally attractive to leaders inclined toward the expansion of government power.

But what is appealing to African leaders is not always good for African societies. China’s defining foreign policy principle is “mutual noninterference in domestic affairs,” which comes in handy for a nation that fears a focus on its own domestic oppression. In practice, this means that African governments have a rich friend with low standards. Some Chinese associates, such as Zimbabwe or Sudan, are international outlaws. Elsewhere, the influence is more subtle. Malawi, for example, is a multiparty democracy that is experiencing slow democratic regression. Recent legal changes have restricted press freedom and expanded discrimination based on sexual orientation (adding a prohibition against lesbianism to the existing colonial-era statute). Western donors have objected. But since China is indifferent, the pressure on the Malawian government is diluted.

via China’s African investments: Who benefits? – The Washington Post.

How long does it take to read the whole Bible?

69 hours.  And to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Version, the Globe Theatre in London–an authentic recreation of Shakespeare’s playhouse–will read it straight through.

Shakespeares Globe Theatre in London has entitled its 2011 season “The Word is God” and will mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible with a cover-to-cover reading between Palm Sunday, 17 April, and Easter Monday, 25 April.

Twenty actors, including many Globe regulars, will take part in the reading, which will take 69 hours over the eight days. They will recite all 1,189 chapters of the historic bible, considered an essential part of the development of the English language, in the theater built as a replica of the place that saw many of Shakespeares greatest plays.

“Four hundred years ago, a set of church scholars sat in Stationers Hall by St. Pauls Cathedral and put the finishing touches to the King James Bible. Across the river, a set of playwrights, Shakespeare foremost amongst them, entertained a town. The playwrights listened to the clerics in church, the clerics sneaked in to listen to the plays in the theatre. Between the two of them they generated an energy, a fire and wit in the English language. We will honour that achievement this summer, starting with the recital of one of the greatest and most significant English texts – the Bible,” Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole said in an interview.

via Word is God at Shakespeare theatres season in London | The Christian Century.

The troupe will also put on mystery plays (the dramas of Bible stories that were the beginnings of modern drama), Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII’s short-lived queen and Reformation activist), and other performances and lectures about England’s Biblical heritage and the impact of the King James Bible on the English language and England’s culture.

HT:  Paul McCain

When you disagree with someone, try to destroy him

The liberal organization Media Matters used to just try to refute stories on Fox News.  But now it is changing tactics:

In an interview and a 2010 planning memo shared with POLITICO, Brock listed the fronts on which Media Matters — which he said is operating on a $10 million-plus annual budget — is working to chip away at Fox and its parent company, News Corp. They include its bread-and-butter distribution of embarrassing clips and attempts to rebut Fox points, as well as a series of under-the-radar tactics.

Media Matters, Brock said, is assembling opposition research files not only on Fox’s top executives but on a series of midlevel officials. It has hired an activist who has led a successful campaign to press advertisers to avoid Glenn Beck’s show. The group is assembling a legal team to help people who have clashed with Fox to file lawsuits for defamation, invasion of privacy or other causes. And it has hired two experienced reporters, Joe Strupp and Alexander Zaitchik, to dig into Fox’s operation to help assemble a book on the network, due out in 2012 from Vintage/Anchor. (In the interest of full disclosure, Media Matters last month also issued a report criticizing “Fox and Friends” co-host Steve Doocy’s criticism of this reporter’s blog.)

Brock said Media Matters also plans to run a broad campaign against Fox’s parent company, News Corp., an effort which most likely will involve opening a United Kingdom arm in London to attack the company’s interests there. The group hired an executive from MoveOn.org to work on developing campaigns among News Corp. shareholders and also is looking for ways to turn regulators in the U.S., U.K., and elsewhere against the network.

The group will “focus on [News Corp. CEO Rupert] Murdoch and trying to disrupt his commercial interests — whether that be here or looking at what’s going on in London right now,” Brock said, referring to News Corp.’s — apparently successful — move to take a majority stake in the satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

via Media Matters’ war against Fox – Ben Smith – POLITICO.com.

Postmodernists, remember, do not generally believe in reason.  They think truth claims are nothing more than the imposition of power.  Thus their personal animosity against people who disagree with them, who, they think, are trying to oppress them.  Conversely, people who think this way tend to want to impose their power against the people they disagree with and to hurt them as much as they can.

Have you seen other examples of this kind of vindictiveness as a substitute for rational debate?  I’m not denying that both sides do it.   What would be the consequences for civil society and political liberty if everyone acted that way?


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