9:06 AM | |
Hey LA friends--
Our new short film, A DEATH IN THE WOODS, is screening at the Silver Lake Film Festival on Sunday, May 6, 2007 @ 4:30 PM. We're screening at the Loz Feliz 3 Theaters at 1822 Vermont Avenue (in Theater #1).
Tickets are on sale now at http://www.silverlakefilmfestival.org/, and we'd like to take this time to personally (or, rather, impersonally -- but such is the nature of mass email) invite you and your favorite people out to see it. We've been screening around the country over the last few weeks and are thrilled to be back screening in our "hometown."
You can find out more info and see the trailer for the film at www.tarwaterpictures.com. There are *nine* short films playing in our film block (approx. two hours), so you might want to buy those tickets very soon, as that works out to only about 17 tix allotted per film...
Thanks a million billion trillion.
Scott Teems, Writer-Director
Terence Berry, Producer
Craig W. Richards, Producer
A DEATH IN THE WOODS
9:04 AM | |
Ein Gespräch über "Behind the Screen: Hollywood Insiders on Faith, Film, and
ROM, 20. April 2007 (ZENIT.org).- Was bewirken die Christen in Hollywood? Ein
jüngst in Italien vorgestelltes Buch liefert mit Zeugnissen und Betrachtungen
von bekennenden Christen aus der Filmbranche überraschende Einsichten in eine
wenig bekannte Welt.
Anlässlich der Veröffentlichung von "Cristiani a Hollywood" ("Christen in
Hollywood"), der italienischen Ausgabe von "Behind the Screen: Hollywood
Insiders on Faith, Film, and Culture" vom Autorenteam Spencer Lewerenz und
Barbara Nicolosi, kam ZENIT mit Professor Armando Fumagalli ins Gespräch, dem
Herausgeber der italienischen Ausgabe des 240-seitigen Bandes.
Die Katholikin Barbara Nicolosi hat sich der Evangelisierung der Massenmedien
verschrieben. 1999 gründete sie in den Hollywood Hills die Filmschule "Act One".
Was tragen Christen in Hollywood bei? Helfen sie, die Standards der Kinos zu
verbessern? Armando Fumagalli bemerkte zu diesen Fragen, dass man zunächst
einmal berücksichtigen müsse, dass die überzeugten Christen in Hollywood eine
relativ kleine Schar bilden. "Wir sprechen über Hollywood, weil die Produkte,
die dort gemacht werden, um die ganze Erde gehen. Aber die Präsenz der
Christen im europäischen Kino ist - wenn überhaupt - noch unzulänglicher als
Es sei ein besonderes Verdienst von Barbara Nicolosi zu versuchen, dass sich
gläubige Christen "ernsthaft mit hohen professionellen Standards eingehend
vorbereiten", um in einer Atmosphäre, die von Konkurrenz und Leistungsdruck
geprägt ist, zu arbeiten. Dabei trachte sie danach, "den Dialog zwischen den
verschiedenen Kulturen und den verschiedenen weltanschaulichen Überzeugungen,
wie sie im Kino und im Fernsehen verbreitet sind", immer mehr zu intensivieren.
Dafür reicht es nach Fumagalli nicht aus, "gute Absichten zu haben. Ebenso
notwendig ist es, ein ausgezeichneter Fachmann zu sein." Barbara Nicolosi
verfügt in seinen Augen über das richtige Gespür, um bei der Lektüre von
Drehbüchern für das Kino recht schnell zu merken, wenn es sich nur um gute
Absichten und wenig Professionalität handelt. "Christen müssen genauso wie
jeder andere Experte bescheiden sein und Geduld haben, um von den Besten zu
"Behind the Screen" handle vom gemeinsamen Zeugnis unterschiedlichster
Menschen, die der gottfernen Welt des Kinos die Stirn böten - als Christen
verschiedener Kirchen und Konfessionen. "Das Buch ist gerade deshalb ein
wundervolles Beispiel für gelebte Ökumene", unterstrich Fumagalli gegenüber
ZENIT. "Aber ich muss auch sagen, dass die Autoren - nach reiflicher Prüfung -
bei Protestanten oft einen Mangel an sicherer Lehre und klaren Grundlinien in
wichtigen Punkten der Ethik wahrgenommen haben."
Auf die Frage, warum "das tief fromme Amerika", wie es im Buch heißt, der Welt
so viele Filme voller Blutvergießen und Gewalttätigkeit anbietet, verweist
Fumagalli auf die Entwicklung der jungen amerikanischen Kulturgeschichte, in
der lange Zeit das Gesetz des Stärkeren gegolten habe. Motor und Antrieb für
das Streben in Richtung einer weniger gewalttätigen Gesellschaft sei unter den
Amerikanern immer der christliche Glaube gewesen, fügte er hinzu.
Die "raue Kultur" der sechziger Jahre sei teilweise reflektiert worden; und
der Amerikaner reflektiere sie im Kino auch noch heute; was Gewalttätigkeit
angehe, sei das US-Kino eben toleranter als das europäische.
Während das europäische Kino weitgehend von einer nihilistischen Wurzel komme
und von Atheisten geprägt sei, ließe sich in den USA in jedem neuen Filmjahr
doch auch eine gewisse Offenheit für Spiritualität erkennen.
"Zumindest gibt es Lösungen, die vom menschlichen Gesichtspunkt her gestaltet
werden" und auf einer "ausgeglichenen und humanistischen Anthropologie
gründen, die ihre Wurzeln im Christentum hat", erklärte der Filmexperte.
Als Beispiele nannte er "Der Herr der Ringe" und "Die Chroniken von Narnia".
Aber auch Filme wie "The Truman Show", "C'è posta per te", "The Family Man",
"Master and Commander", "Hitch", "Cinderella Man", "The Interpreter" und viele
andere hätten spirituelle Wurzeln. Eindeutige Beispiele für eine humanistische
Ausrichtung seien Filme aus den Pixar-Studios wie "Toy Story", "Nemo", "Cars"
Hollywood als Sündenbock für alle Übel der Welt hinzustellen sei falsch,
unterstrich Fumagalli. Natürlich käme dem Film im Hinblick auf den Entwurf von
Lebensmodellen eine große Rolle zu, aber dabei dürfe man nicht vergessen, dass
es zur Verantwortung aller gehöre, das entsprechende professionelle Umfeld zu
schaffen, das eine große Resonanz ermöglicht. Dafür gelt es, zu beten und zu
arbeiten: für Menschen, "denen der Mensch und seine ewige Bestimmung am Herzen
Diese Nachricht an einen Freund schicken
8:56 AM | |
Cristianos en Hollywood
Entrevista al profesor Armando Fumagalli
MILÁN, miércoles, 25 abril 2007 (ZENIT.org).- ¿Qué hacen los cristianos en
Hollywood? Es lo que explica un libro con testimonios y reflexiones
provenientes de la «capital» del cine.
Publicado primero en inglés y ahora en italiano, «Cristiani a Hollywood», de
Spencer Lewerenz y Barbara Nicolosi (Edizioni Ares), muestra cómo se vive la
fe en el competitivo y duro mundo del cine.
Zenit ha entrevistado a Armando Fumagalli -responsable de la edición italiana
del volumen-, para quien «los cristianos, como cualquier otro profesional,
deben tener la humildad y la paciencia de aprender de los mejores» y buscar
los niveles de excelencia que superen la «buena voluntad», también en el cine.
--¿Qué hacen los cristianos en Hollywood? ¿Contribuyen a mejorar los niveles
--Fumagalli: Diría que antes de preguntarse si contribuyen a mejorar los
niveles, hay que decir que actualmente los cristianos practicantes y
convencidos en primer lugar son pocos.
Hablamos de Hollywood porque los productos que nacen allí van a todo el mundo.
Pero la presencia de cristianos en el cine europeo es todavía más escasa que
Luego, como siempre, entre los cristianos están aquellos más o menos capaces,
más o menos preparados, etcétera. Pero la cuestión interesante es, por una
parte: ¿cómo es que en los últimos decenios ha habido tan pocos?
Y todavía más interesante, como ha hecho Barbara Nicolosi, es tratar de hacer
que personas de fe se preparen seriamente, con niveles profesionales muy
altos, para poder trabajar en este ambiente tan competitivo y exigente, para
llevar una voz más al diálogo entre las diversas culturas y las diferentes
visiones del mundo que hay en el cine y la televisión.
No basta con tener buenas intenciones; hay que ser excelentes profesionales.
También a mí, como a Barbara Nicolosi, me sucede con cierta frecuencia leer
obras para el cine escritas con las mejores intenciones, pero con un nivel
profesional todavía muy bajo.
Los cristianos, como cualquier otro profesional, deben tener la humildad y la
paciencia de aprender de los mejores.
--¿Hay mucha diferencia en la industria del cine entre los católicos y los
cristianos de otras denominaciones?
--Fumagalli: Uno de los aspectos que me ha impresionado más, cuando leí el
libro en la versión estadounidense, es el sentido de espontánea unidad entre
los cristianos de diversas denominaciones y confesiones que trabajan en la
Frente a un mundo lejano a Dios, al que devolver una dimensión espiritual y
una esperanza ultraterrena, las diferencias de confesión cristiana desaparecen
naturalmente. El libro me pareció enseguida también un bellísimo ejemplo de
Pero debo decir también que -en los ensayos de los autores protestantes- se
advierte la falta de referencias doctrinales seguras sobre algunas cuestiones
éticas importantes: no tienen un magisterio oficial, o al menos no lo tienen
con la claridad con la que lo tenemos los católicos.
Sentí una gran compasión por personas que tan seriamente y con tan gran
motivación quieren hacer el bien. Y una vez más he vuelto a considerar el gran
tesoro que tenemos los católicos en la guía del Magisterio.
--¿Por qué los Estados Unidos, país «profundamente religioso», como dice usted
en el libro, nos ofrece tantas películas de sangre y violencia?
--Fumagalli: En parte es una cuestión que depende de su cultura. Se trata de
un país civilizado desde hace pocos siglos, y durante muchos decenios de su
historia ha sido una especie de tierra de nadie en el que la ley del más
fuerte era a menudo la que prevalecía.
No debemos dejarnos encantar por la imagen idílica a menudo transmitida
también por el cine. En los años '60, en algunos Estados de la Unión se
toleraban todavía los linchamientos de negros, sólo por poner un pequeño
La fe cristiana (pero también el cine, estoy convencido) ha sido y será un
elemento de educación y de transformación hacia una sociedad menos violenta.
Esta cultura ruda en parte se ha reflejado y se refleja todavía hoy en el cine
estadounidense, que tolera más la violencia que el cine europeo.
Pero no hay que olvidar que mientras bastante a menudo el cine europeo es de
raíz nihilista y atea, en le cine americano quedan todavía -al menos en
algunas películas cada año- en modo significativo rendijas de espiritualidad,
y muy a menudo -al menos desde el punto de vista humano- las soluciones que se
dan a los dilemas de los personajes están arraigadas en una antropología
equilibrada y humanista, que conserva fuertes elementos de sus raíces
Pienso no sólo en las películas de inspiración incluso indirectamente
religiosa, como «El señor de los anillos» o «Las crónicas de Narnia», sino
también en películas como «El show de Truman», «Tienes un e-mail», «Hombre de
familia», «Al otro lado del mundo», «Especialista en ligues», «El hombre que
no se dejó tumbar», «La intérprete» y muchas más.
Por poner otro ejemplo, que me es muy querido, todos los filmes de «Pixar»
(«Toy Story», «Nemo», «Los increíbles», «Cars», etcétera) son casos muy
interesantes de cintas de enorme éxito y con contenidos humanos excelentes.
--¿Por qué acusamos a Hollywood de ser responsable de nuestros males cotidianos?
--Fumagalli: Por una parte porque es verdad que el cine y las series de
televisión, que son los productos audiovisuales más difundidos en todo el
mundo, tienen mucha importancia para presentar y difundir modelos de vida; por
otra, sin embargo, no hay que olvidar que es responsabilidad de todos lograr
que este ambiente profesional que tiene tan amplia resonancia en todo el mundo
sea objeto de la oración y también del empeño laboral directo, de hombres y
mujeres que se preocupen por la persona y su destino eterno.
Así que no basta con culpar a Hollywood de nuestros males: cada uno de
preguntarse si puede hacer algo para mejorar la situación.
Volver a la página principal
8:06 AM | |
I found it here.
10:00 AM | |
The first reason I was enthralled to see this film has less to do with the actual film, and more to do with my long-held preoccupation that the stories from the Gulag (and "its errors as they spread through the world," ref. Our Lady of Fatima) haven't been told. We've seen the attrocities of the Nazis over and over, and rightly so. But the sufferings caused by Hitler hardly have a monopoly on the evil of the last Century, a moment of human history which Pope John Paul II described with a shudder as "a pile of corpses."
It's easy to understand why many of the folks in Hollywood wouldn't be jumping up and down to make movies showing the evils of communism and the heroism of people who suffered and lost their lives fighting it. It was downright fashionable in post-War and 1950's Hollywood to be a leftist. It was on the wave of this trend that we saw absurd Hollywoodites like Jane Fonda doing propaganda for the Viet Kong during Vietnam, and Warren Beatty making a teary eyed valentine to the ideals of the Revolution in Reds. My film school professors at Northwestern were almost all committed Marxists, hypocritcally nostalgic for the days when "the workers" were freed from the constraints of organized religion and sweating away in soot-covered factories, while themselves having unconstrined free-speech while pulling down pretty big salaries. I had one professor sniff to me when I complained about Stalin's starving 6,000,000 Lithuanians and Ukrainians and putting 10,000,000 more folks in prison camps, "Stalin was forced to make difficult choices by the pressures of foreign capitalist regimes. The truth is, communsm hasn't failed. It just has never really been tried." Anyway, I am sure that there are lots of folks in Hollywood who find the unwashed masses/religion-oppressing vision of communism, a wistful fantasy.
But, for the record, it seems to me downright unfair, that we have seen only a handful of fringe movies about the millions of people Stalin killed. Or the untold millions who died in the name of Mao's cultural revolution. Or how about folks like the Cuban guy I met once in Miami who had his ring finger cut off because Castro wanted him to know for sure that his wife who had fled to the U.S. was really, really dead to him? Why haven't we seen more of the ugly, brutal, fanatical, radically hypocritical and despotic face of atheistic communism marching across the screen in the last fifty years? Just asking...
So, in telling one story of the demonic Big Brotherness of the former East Germany's secret police, The Lives of Others had me at Fade In.
The story, in brief, is that a Stasi agent seeks out an assignment to spy on Georg Dreyman, the top pro-communist playwright of East Germany. The playwright is handsome, charming, a good writer, and is in a live-in relationship with Christa, an actress described by one of the Party bosses as, "the pearl of the East German stage." The Stasi agent resents Dreyman, the film suggests in a kind of envy, and so he willingly takes on the assignment from the lustful Party boss who wants Christa for himself, to try and find something seditious in the life of Georg. The agent bugs Georg's apartment and then spends the next hour or more of the film listening in to the lives of Georg, Christa and their artist friends. As he listens, the agent moves out of resentment into solidarity which climaxes in a wonderful act of other-centeredness.
At its heart, this film is an emphatic indictment of the whole communist era. Which warmed my heart. Over and over, the audience watches the horrific permutations of life in communist Germany with a kind of befuddled, "Why did people consent to live like that? How could the citizens of the state do that to each other?" The answer comes back: Fear and power. The narrative includes many scathing but certainly true asides detailing the ruthlessness and hypocrisy of the communist power-brokers in the GDR, from their lack of humor, to their exploitation of those under their control, to their petty obsession with detail.
The Lives of Others has a solid story which has only a couple of missteps. The movie suffers in the end by jumping ahead in time three times. This was an awkward way to get to an ultimately happy ending that could have been achieved much more gracefully.
The other slight misstep is that the film needs a stronger moment to cause the Stasi agent to move out of coldness towards the objects of his spying and into empathy. Right now, the film is a bit too mysterious about it. An American studio story meeting would have caught that early on. But it doesn't harm the overall project that much, because the real drama comes more from the arena of the tale, than from the details of the tale itself.
The film is pervaded by the constant fear that the alternately random and focussed terrorizing of the State is going to sweep into the main character's lives at any second. This keeps the viewer's attention, even despite the European filmmakers tendency to repeat himself and ramble around a little more than is needed for the narrative.
The pallet of the piece is very faded - all grays and browns, blacks and washed out greens and yellows. In so doing, the production designer makes a powerful comment on the colorlessness of life behind the Iron Curtain.
The acting is good. The cinematography is good. The theme - about the mysterious connection and empathy between human beings despite all odds - is great.
The movie isn't for children. There is nudity in a couple of contrasting sexual situations that very effectively show the absence of love in the lives of the communists vs. the real love experienced by the artists. There isn't any real violence in the film, but a lot of tension. Every college kid should see it, if only to make real the life stories of 60% of the people of the world in the 20th Century - and continuing today in China, North Korea, Cuba, and wherever else despots rule.
I recommend you make The Lives of Others part of your life.
7:53 AM | |
It is here. Please read it so that your prayers might be more heartfelt as we wait for Delaware to decide whether it is going to greenlight cloning.
10:04 AM | |
"...I've lost interest in the cracks, chips, holes and broken places in the lives of men like Cho Seung-Hui, the mass murderer of Virginia Tech. The pain, grievances and self-pity of mass killers are only symptoms of the real explanation. Those who do these things share one common trait. They are raging narcissists. "I died--like Jesus Christ," Cho said in a video sent to NBC.
Psychologists from South Africa to Chicago have begun to recognize that extreme self-centeredness is the forest in these stories, and all the other things-- guns, games, lyrics, pornography--are just trees. To list the traits of the narcissist is enough to prove the point: grandiosity, numbness to the needs and pain of others, emotional isolation, resentment and envy....
...There's a telling moment in Michael Moore's film Bowling for Columbine, in which singer Marilyn Manson dismisses the idea that listening to his lyrics contributed to the disintegration of Harris and Klebold. What the Columbine killers needed, Manson suggests, was for someone to listen to them. This is the narcissist's view of narcissism: everything would be fine if only he received more attention. The real problem can be found in the killer's mirror."
10:30 AM | |
I missed the day trip to the site of Jesus' question "Who do you say that I am?" because I opted to spend the afternoon reading the Gospel by the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Some times you have to make tough choices.
The pictures that follow here are from another city named Caesarea, which was built on the Mediterranean by Herod the Great to be one of his play palaces. It included swimming pools and a chariot racing stadium and a amphitheater that would seat Herod and about 4000 of his closest friends...or, for Herod, 4000 people who were the most terrified of him to not show up when he staged a play.
From a Christian standpoint, the only significance of the place is that St. Paul was imprisoned here for a year before he was sent off to appear before the Emporer in Rome. It's a lovely seaside place even today when it is mostly just ruins. I was glad that St. Paul was in a place where he could at least hear the sea and hopefully feel a cool breeze every so often. If you have to be in prison, might as well be in a resort town.
The amphitheatre has been restored pretty close to its original glory. Behind the stage, the Mediterranean makes a stunning backdrop for the audience. Can't ever fault Herod for his architectural taste.
The chariot race/sports stadium.
The remains of Herod's palace.
We ate at a restaurant that is very typical in Israel for not having any meat. That's because it had cheese in some of the salads. It's not kosher to have restaurants that serve both meat and cheese, so you can either eat pizzas or hamburgers, but rarely both in the same restaurant. Here are friends Rob and Cindy in said kosher restaurant, one of the loveliest spots I have ever eaten an artichoke pizza - with cheese. The Mediterranean is just outside the frame off to Cindy's left.
We also had the coolest most-refreshing drink I have ever had in this place. It is a Minty Lemonaide, in which they blended up lemons and mint. Delicious. Really memorable.
9:00 AM | |
Really the only reason for which I supported George W. Bush for President paid off this morning. The Supreme Court made a first giant leap towards restoring fundamental constitutional liberties, by allowing the States to outlaw the practice of pulling everything but the nostrils of a full term infant out of its mother's womb (can't have the nostrils out, because if the thing breathes then "Shazam!" it's a U.S. citizen!), puncturing its head with scissors, and sucking out its brain so that its skull can be collapsed in an abortion.
It is a sad proof of the current level of crazed narcissistic frenzy as the norm in our country, that it has taken nearly a decade of debate to make this happen. (But wait! We can't talk about this now! We need to talk about why a 23 year old Virgina Tech student lost such respect for human life that he gunned down 30 of his fellow students!?!)
Killing one's own children is the age old sign of a society that has moved from worshipping the good God to worshipping the devil. The above is an ancient ruin from the city of Megiddo in Israel, of an altar used to sacrifice the babies of the town to Baal. Ostensibly, the offerings were made for really good reasons like having a better harvest and beating the hell out of the neighboring city.
Here's the glorious future Megiddo earned for itself by killing its children.
Weird but true fact about Megiddo. The place is literally crawling with really ugly, long, black centipedes. For some reason, the birds which are everywhere in Galilee, can't seem to make a dent in the crawling worms that own the site of some of the most notoriously evil pagan Kingdoms to ever put up tents in the Land God would eventually clear out and make Holy.
Here they are crawling around various places in the excavated city.
Here's a shot of the valley in which the final battle of Armageddon is supposed to be fought. According to our Evangelical guides at the spot. (There isn't a lot of metaphoric reach going on in their thinking. More on that in a later post.) In the background is Mt. Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration. Just to the left, and outside the frame here is the city of Nazareth. Again, weirdly providential that the Son of Man grew up in a hill country overlooking Armageddon.
6:25 PM | |
The security wall. It's awful. Much more massive than I had imagined, and utterly without any relieving factors that would make it look less like, well, the walls around a prison camp.
It's covered in graffiti on the Palestinian side, much of which is in English - which struck me as odd. The most impressive graffiti I saw read, "Mr. President, Tear down this wall!"
It has temporarily stopped the bombings. But it is the source of such ominous simmering rage in the Palestinians, that it seems to me that it will cause an even greater outbreak of violence at some point.
People kept saying that the Wall should naturally become the border in the eventual negotiated two state settlement that will fix everything and bring peace to the region.
My feeling is that the two state solution is a pipe dream. It is impossible to realize because the Muslims are ubiquitous throughout the whole region. Except for a few places around Tel Aviv, the whole land west of the Jordan to the Mediterranean is filled with Muslims (and Christians...but they are almost a non-factor in their current numbers). Nazareth, for example, is west of the Sea of Galilee. It is 80% Muslim. What are you going to do, just expect the 80,000 Muslims who have lived there for a thousand years to up and move to the other side of the wall? It's just not going to happen.
The thing that should happen to bring peace is that the Muslims should grow up and accept that the Israelis are the best thing to have happened to the region. The Israelis are really good at governing when they aren't having to be warding off suicide bombers. They bring order, prosperity, modernity. The Palestinians seem completely inadequate to the task of governing. They don't build half as well as they destroy.
(I snapped this shot from one hillside. It seems to me to be a testament to Palestinian self-rule. Just over the hill a piece, the Israelis have pioneered amazingly 21st century methods in agriculture and food production. But here is a Palestinian farmer, using a wood plow and a donkey, pretty much exactly the way it was done 2000 years ago. It's more than poverty, folks. It is a rejection of modernity.)
But the Muslims aren't going to accept life under the Israeli flag because their religion has no provision for anythng but dominance by Islam.
So, the answer to peace in the region is to abolish both States of Israel and Palestine. And then you create one new state - call it the Holy Land - in which the rights of minorities are protected. And then you have elections and the Muslims win most of the seats because they are the majority.
This is the only realistic solution. But it will never happen. Because of the Holocaust. We visited the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem and it is life-changingly powerful. After their European neighbors had sold them to the Nazis and watched them get herded away in box cars, it would have been impossible for the Jews to go back to their homes in Europe. They had to go somewhere. But it wasn't right to move in on Palestine and just declare it Israel. So that injustice continues to cause unrest, and it won't stop until it is corrected. Which will probably be never. Because of the Holocaust.
Anyway, back to Bethlehem...
Bethlehem is a thirty minute drive from Jerusalem on the other side of the security wall. It is pretty much completely Arab and under the administration of the Palestinian Authority. So, we heard tales of widespread corruption and extortion, and saw blocks and blocks of abandoned buildings and garbage dumped everywhere in the streets and empty lots.
This lot filled with garbage is just down the hill from the Church of the Nativity.
As with in Jerusalem, where the Muslims have built a mosque beside every important Christian or Jewish site, in Bethlehem, the Muslims built a mosque directly across the plaza from the Church of the Nativity.
Here's a shot of part of Bethlehem from the nicest spot in the whole area, the Shepherd's Field.
Here's the Crusader's Cross (in neon!) directly across from the mosque, over a Franciscan residence beside the Church. Every major site in the environs of Jerusalem is tainted with this kind of "We're Here! So There!" kind of spirit.
Here is the entrance to the Church of the Nativity. The door was made little in medieval times so that people wouldn't ride their horses and camels into the church.
The Church is maintained by some kind of Orthodox group, and most of it has been burned out and whitewashed at some point in the Middle Ages. Up in front, there are all kinds of (gaudy? that's my Roman bias, I guess?) lamps and icons. Which makes for an interesting survey, but a lot of them were so darkened by years of smoke that they just looked like black shadows in gold frames.
Under the Catholic half of the Church of the Nativity, they have excavated the cave where St. Jerome lived and worked...
And have found his grave.
A beautiful must-see in Bethlehem is the Franciscan maintained site that for centuries has been venerated at "The Shepherd's Field." This would be the site in which the heavens opened and angels proclaimed the news of the Incarnation to the shepherds who were watching their flocks.
Archologists have excavated there a first century cave of the type used by shepherds, as well as a Christian Church and monastery that was built on the site fourteen hundred years ago, indicating that the location had been established at that point as being a place of significance.
The Franciscans have built outdoor Chapels all over the grounds so that visiting groups can offer the Mass. It's very peaceful and holy feeling there.
Here is the small but impressive main church on the site which was the last building built by an architect whom our guide told us was very famous, but whose name I can't remember (because he never made a movie?).
There is a line of angels like this all around the inside of the chapel ceiling.
I walked all over the site which really kind of emits the presence of angels, and prayed for my city, the city of the angels. (How do pagans deal with the fact that Los Angeles, a city dedicated to the angels - God's messengers - became the global center of world media?)
11:49 AM | |
Director Karey Kirkpatrick (Over The Hedge, The Spiderwick Chronicles) has
inked a two-year, first look deal with Nickelodeon Movies and MTV Films,
under his new production company, Blue Shirt Productions, per Variety. The
deal includes live-action family centric movies, as Kirkpatrick's exclusive
animation pact with DreamWorks remains in tact. His first project under the
deal is Captain Abdul's Pirate School, an adaptation of author Colin
McNaughton's book of the same name. He co-wrote the script with Chris Poche
and Clare Sera.
9:13 AM | |
Abolitionist and Reformer, Lord Thomas Macaulay, 1800-1859
6:51 AM | |
No, that's not who it looks like. Some kind of "the ghost of little boy Jesus past." But it sure looks like it could be an image of the little Son of Man sitting on a hillside in Nazareth, doesn't it? Thank God for Nazareth Village. It was the only spot I saw in Nazareth that is proclaiming despite the oppressively encroaching Muslim presence, "Uh, guys, Jesus Christ lived here!" (We didn't make it to the Church of the Annunciation because it is right downtown and we literally gave up because of the horrible traffic and the fact that there is no parking around the Church.)
Two of the most disappointing daytrips we took during our Holy Land pilgrimage were to Bethlehem and Nazareth. Both of these places - which because of the events that occurred there should be walled off and turned into the most holy of holy places - have actually grown into teeming, ugly urban centers largely populated by indifferent and even hostile to the Gospel non-Christian Arabs. Here is a nicer shot of the center of Nazareth. The environs are really much, much uglier than this photo indicates.
If I was really trying to make a photo journal of the area, it would have a lot more images like this one I snapped of a poster that had been stuck onto the door of a Christian church.
Nazareth, particularly is notorious for its terrible traffic and interfaith tension. We had a long conversation with a Christian Arab from the city who begged us to please write about the sufferings of the Christian Arabs in the Holy Land. He wanted us to tell people about the intimidation and discrimination that his family has gone through from both the Muslims and Orthodox Jews. He was very vehement that we let people know that there are such things as Christian Arabs: "I am not a terrorist! I don't want to kill anybody! This is my home too!" He noted that most of the Christian Arabs are fleeing Nazareth for Canada, Australia and the States. Apparently, Nazareth, has grown from being a tiny town of about 400 people in Jesus' day, to having 80,000 residents today, 80% of whom are Muslims. It's a filthy city with garbage in the streets and lots of shuttered business, with graffiti everywhere and with three of every four structures being half finished cement blocks.
I asked one of our Christian Arab friends there, "Why don't the Muslims finish their houses?"
You really have to see it to understand what I am talking about. Everywhere you go in Israel, you know you are in a Muslim neighborhood when you see that the top floor or floors of houses and businesses are unpainted and windowless - it's ghoulish, like every house has a dead place with hollowed out eyes staring at nothing.
I was told, "If you finish your house here, you have to pay taxes on it. And the Muslims don't want to pay taxes to Israel. So they leave their houses like that." I don't know if this is true or not. But that's what I was told.
Several of the Christians I met in the Holy Land noted that "civic pride" and "respect for the community" are not Muslim virtues. One friend told me, "I've been in lots of Muslim homes where you could eat off the floor. What else do the women have to do most of the day but be in the house which is considered the husband's castle. And most of them live in fear that iof anything is out of place in the house, they will be beaten. So the house better be clean. But the Muslims have no interest in the fact that on the outside their homes look like slum dwellings."
I think the lack of attention to the exterior environment of the homes is just more proof of the flawed theology of Islam. Why do Christian men take pride in their yards? Because they want to make a beautiful environment for their families whom they value and respect. I have noted since I was a child how you could tell the families in our neighborhood who were going through divorces, by the untidiness of the yards. Men who hate their wives often take it out passive aggressively by letting the yard go.
So, in Islam, men are raised to believe that their wives and children are inferior beings. So, why should they plant flowers and mow the lawn and make a nice place for them? It's all about the men in Islam, what they want and what they need. And how many men, really care that much about having a tidy, pretty personal environment? Islamic men are removed from the civilizing effect of women, whom they fear and disdain. (Which is why it is a demonic way of life and not a religion of "peace" in any civilized understanding.) So, the outside of Muslim homes in the Middle East seem to me to be just a broader expression of what we see here in unmarried guys drinking beer on sofas in filthy bachelorpads. Christian guys often get it together when they get married because their wives won't tolerate them being pigs. Muslim guys celebrate their pigginess as being a male perogative.
It all comes from bad theology. And visiting Arab areas in Israel is a practicum in bad theology.
There is one lovely spot we visited in Nazareth, which is an effort by a group of Christians to create some kind of memorial to the fact that this little town is where the Son of God spent several decades. Called "Nazareth Village," the place is on some land owned by a Catholic hospital in the center of Nazareth. Several years ago, some Christian scholars found on the site a large, first century community wine press and remains of first century terraces for growing grapes. Which means that it was very likely that the Holy Family used this wine press with the other families in the village to store their grapes and make their wine. Here was our guide for the day, standing over the wine press:
They have a group of very prominent archeologists and scholars involved in the project, and they have endeavored to make it as authentic as possible to the way the village would have looked inthe time of Jesus. Similar to Plymouth Village here in the U.S., Nazareth Village makes use of lots of volunteers all dressed in period clothing and performing first century tasks. Here are some images...
Here is a shot of the vineyard terraces.
These are pictures of a first century olive press for making olive oil. I learned that virgin olive oil is the first and best oil that comes to the top when you press olives. The people of Jesus time used the virgin oil for eating, and the last skimmings to trim their lamps.
Here's our host, Cindy, sitting in the recreated village synagogue.
We got to watch a Blessed Mother "stand-in" weaving together thread from lambs wool...
And we saw a St. Joseph wannabe drill a nail using a first century rope drill.
And then they fed us a huge spread with lots of pita bread and bowl and bowls of stuff for dipping. And lamb. But I couldn't eat it because it was a Friday in Lent. Gotto go back some day for that lamb...
It was a cool day.