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May 18, 2009

Moon: Light for the Blind

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From William Moon's book Light for the Blind, London: Longmans & Co., 1877.

"God gave me blindness as a talent to be used for His glory. Without blindness I should never have been able to see the needs of the blind."
- William Moon

William Moon lost his sight to illness in 1839, when he was 21. In 1845, he developed an embossed alphabet for his blind students. Omniglot says Moon was "soon swamped with requests for parts of Bible. " Moon type still has some readers today.

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May 15, 2009

Virtual Catacombs

Abb.3.jpg Scans of chambers in the Catacombs of Domitilla have been color-coded to show specific tombs. Photo by N. Zimmermann / OEAW.

The Catacombs of Domitilla, Rome's largest, extend over 9 miles. The network of tombs still contains bones, as well as frescoes that range from pagan to 4th-century Christian. Tourists have been able to see about a mile of the catacombs, but not quite like this: An team led by Norbert Zimmermann has been making a virtual 3-D model of the tomb over the last three years. "When the process is finished," reports the BBC, "it looks like an actual film of the particular room in question."

Paintings on walls, which have not been seen in nearly 2,000 years, are now visible - their colors vivid and clear.

"It is not a virtual image, it is not animation - what you are seeing is real data," says Mr Zimmerman.

I ask him why he did not just video the whole thing.

"Well, you could have filmed each room. But that would not have given you the ability to 'travel' through the catacomb in a way that the scanned images allow," he says.

"Its moving, 3D flexibility, gives you the chance to compare areas, to assess the ways the Catacombs were developed over time, to analyze how and why those who built them did what they did," he adds. "That's never been possible before."

The team plans to finish documenting the sections with paintings in 2009.

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May 5, 2009

Mini-Temple: Herod's complex, scaled-down

temple-man-wide_1355298i.jpg © Geoff Robinson Photography

Alec Garrard has been working on a 1:100-scale model of Herod's Temple since he was 48. That was 30 years ago. He told The Telegraph his wife "wishes she'd married a normal person." Garrard has re-created not only the building but several scenes from the Bible with little plaster figures he made. "I'd seen one or two examples of it in Biblical exhibitions, but I thought they were rubbish and I knew I could do better," he said. The Daily Mail says, "Historical experts believe the model, which has attracted thousands of visitors from all over the globe, is the best representation in the world of what the Jewish temple actually looked like."

Herod expanded the Jewish Temple in about 17 B.C., so it would have been quite new in Jesus' day. Romans marveled at the giant complex, partially because there was not a single sculpture in it. They destroyed in 70 A.D., during the siege of Jerusalem. More photos after the jump.

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May 1, 2009

Off-Duty Megachurches

Desk.jpg Desk. Fort Wayne, IN. 2007 © Joe Johnson. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Kayafas.

Joe Johnson says on Michael Paulson's Articles of Faith blog, "With the Mega Church project, an interesting point of tension lies in a secular treatment of contemporary religious practice within Mega Churches. . . .This body of work attempts to reveal the mechanics of creating faith by capturing the wires, computers, light bulbs, and cords that are used to construct mysteries on stage for the faithful. The rawness of the abandoned mega-space and the eerie familiarity of its commercial fixtures question the intention and business of faith in the 21st century."

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April 30, 2009

He Qi: Holy Spirit Coming

79-Holy%20Spirit%20Coming.jpg Holy Spirit Coming, by He Qi.
He Qi's work, which Christianity Today has previously covered, is on display at Wheaton College until June 9. More of his paintings are in our slideshow, "The Dragon in the Belly: Patriarchs, Judges, and Kings."

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
- John 14:15-17

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
- Acts 2:1-4

April 28, 2009

Currier & Ives: God's Words

10commandmentsCI.jpg By Currier & Ives, "Publishers of Cheap and Popular Pictures," c1876.

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April 17, 2009

An Uncomfortable Toy Story

Playmobil, after threatening to sue a German pastor over his toy Bible diorama website, said it would try to "work with him to find a way he can keep the site without violating the company's rights," reports the Associated Press.

Markus Bomhard has been making Bible dioramas of Playmobil characters for two years and posting them to his website.

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The company's press release says their problem isn't with customizing the figures, but "that they were created by manipulating the toys in an unsafe manner," such as melting Playmobil Jesus' hands so they could be nailed to the cross.

Gisela Kupiak, a Playmobil spokesman, told The National Post

the pastor was violating the company's commercial rights for his own benefit.

"We are quite tolerant if this is done in the privacy of the home but if someone crucifies a Playmobil figure, or, as in the case of Eve, glues on breasts, then this is a completely different dimension," she said.

Bomhard said his scenes were created to teach children about the Bible. However, when compared to atheist Brendan Powell Smith's Lego Bible scenes, it's difficult to tell who's kidding. Playmobil smiles can be ghastly in the wrong place.

April 3, 2009

Easter Hats for a Recession

2398985414_eaa8690a17_b.jpg By aptmetaphor/Flickr

Easter Hats Fall Victim to Economic Downturn
By Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

There are many things that Paula Settles is willing to forgo in these budget-conscious times, but an Easter hat isn't one of them.

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April 1, 2009

An Easy Fast

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"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."
- Matthew 6:16

O king, Araunah gives all this to the king." Araunah also said to him, "May the Lord your God accept you." But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing."
- 2 Samuel 24:23-24

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February 24, 2009

Vintage Passion

The Bible (and Hollywood apocrypha) in movie posters.

Since 1898, filmmakers have been portraying Bible stories and imagining subtexts--Lot trying to save Sodom, Pompeiians and gladiators meeting Jesus, and various people romancing Mary Magdalene. The Museum of Biblical Art is displaying movie posters from Salome to King of Kings in Reel Religion: A Century of the Bible and Film.

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The Last Days of Pompeii, 1935, USA. Poster to promote The Last Days of Pompeii, 1935, USA. Directed by Ernest B. Shoedshack.

More posters from the exhibit after the jump.

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