Apr 14, 2014

Into the Darkness

Late tonight we will be treated to a total lunar eclipse. Slate has a detailed writeup on where and how to view it.

Do you live in North America, South America, Australia, or eastern Asia? Then you get to see a lunar eclipse on the night of April 14/15! And while North America is the best place to watch—we’ll get to see the whole event—the real action doesn’t begin until 05:58 UTC on the 15th, which is just before 02:00 EDT, so it’s a bit late. You might just want to stay up for it, though.

It will also be broadcast live by the Griffith Observatory.

But this is just the attention getter for a series of celestial alignments that astrologers are claiming is one for the books. This Easter will bring with it a collective crucifixion as a Grand Cross in the Cardinal signs.

Apr 13, 2014

"Gospel of Jesus's Wife" Papyrus Authenticated

The papyrus fragment that touched off a firestorm because it refers to Jesus's wife appears to be authentic. Tests of the papyrus fibers and ink confirm that both are of ancient origin.

For two years, researchers carried out a number of tests, including two radiocarbon tests, microscopic imaging, and micro-Raman spectroscopy, to examine the fragment.

One of the radiocarbon tests indicated that the piece of papyrus must have originated from some time between 659 and 859 CE. Using micro-Raman spectroscopy, researchers confirmed that the ink's carbon character matched with similar samples of other old papyri fragments. The handwriting was examined, and imaging scientists assessed the damage caused to the document to examine if there was a possibility of the document being forged or doctored.

After weighing the evidence, the scholars and scientists agree that the GJW fragment is old and definitely "a product of early Christians, not a modern forger," according to a press release from Harvard Divinity School.

Homeless Jesus

A public art installation in an affluent North Carolina suburb is causing some consternation amongst the locals. One woman even called the police when she noticed what appeared to be a homeless person sleeping on a bench outside St. Alban's Episcopal Church. Another complained in a letter to the editor of the local paper. But the vagrant cast in bronze is artist Timothy Schmalz's conception of Jesus.

Some neighbors felt it was an insulting depiction of the Son of God, and what appears to be a hobo curled up on a bench demeans the neighborhood.

The bronze statue was purchased for $22,000 as a memorial for a parishioner, Kate McIntyre, who had loved public art. The rector of this liberal, inclusive church is Rev. David Buck, a 65-year-old Baptist-turned-Episcopalian who seems not at all averse to the controversy, the double-takes and the discussion the statue has provoked.

"It gives authenticity to our church," he says. "This is a relatively affluent church, to be honest, and we need to be reminded ourselves that our faith expresses itself in active concern for the marginalized of society."

. . .

"We believe that that's the kind of life Jesus had," Buck says. "He was, in essence, a homeless person."