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Speculation on the afterlife in Heaven and Hell – The Boston Globe

Posted: March 27, 2020 at 1:41 am

A recent Pew Research Poll reports that 72 percent of Americans agree that there is a literal heaven, and 58 percent an actual hell. Yet, Erhman, an authority on the New Testament, surprises readers early in this book with the assertion that these views cannot be found in the Old Testament and they are not what Jesus himself taught.

The Old Testament thinkers did not conceive of an afterlife. Nor did they subscribe to a belief in the immortality of the soul. Death, for the authors of Job, the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Samuel, was final, uninteresting, and unredeemable. Jesus himself did not believe that a person would go to heaven or hell immediately upon death.

If the prototypes of eternal torture and Elysian Fields didnt come from the Bible, where did they come from? Though it would take centuries to arrive at the images we hold today, Erhman argues that it was Plato who most influenced later thinking, leading ultimately to the views of heaven and hell that developed centuries later in the Christian tradition. In Socratess famous last speech, written in the fifth century B.C.E., Plato has Socrates claim that the soul lives on, imperishable. Socrates argues that all who think rightly should die daily, escaping the confines of their bodies by focusing on the welfare of their souls.

The Greeks had evolved a keen appreciation of ethics and individual choice, and with these, the corollary issues of equity and justice. Five hundred years later, Virgil delivers a rendering of the underworld that reflects a first century B.C.E. awareness. Hell is a realm of cracking whips and dragging chains for those who die without confession; while for the good, there await fields of sport, singing, and feasting.

Erhman knows this territory as well as anyone writing today; the reader is struck by his nimbleness in drawing the thread of this rich-layered narrative, sprinkling larger thematic arcs with anecdotes that honor the non-lineal and multivalent nature of eschatological thought.

As the Greek and Roman views evolved, the Old Testament thinkers notions of divine justice shifted as well. From the eighth century B.C.E. until the sixth, Israels prophets were most concerned with the survival of the nation in the face of continuous invasion by the Babylonians and Persians. Isaiah 26:19 promises that God would return to bring his servant Israel back to life. When a victorious kingdom did not come about, the idea of a Cosmic Evil at work in the world was born. The world was controlled by forces of evil, but God would ultimately triumph on the Day of Judgment, ushering in a new Kingdom for his faithful.

This was the theological climate into which Jesus was born. An Apocalyptic, like many at the time, Jesus predicted that the Day of Reckoning would occur in his generation, and involve the full resurrection of the body. When the predicted reckoning did not occur, his followers had to reinterpret his teachings.

It was precisely during this interval that the visions of the afterlife we hold today came into their own as a literary phenomenon. Over time, the Day of Judgment was replaced by a vision that rested almost exclusively on rewards and punishments that would begin immediately at death.

We owe many of our lurid, fantastical images of heaven and hell men hanging by the genitals, women cast neck deep into pits of excrement to the Roman satirist Lucian of Samosata. The Passion of Perpetua, a second-century Latin text by a 22-year-old convert to Christianity, describes dream-visions of heaven beyond her impending martyrdom. The synchronous Apocalypse of Peter details bodies aflame, worms devouring entrails, and lightning piercing the eyes of mothers who kill their infants.

The cast of characters is vast and entertaining. There is Saul, arriving in disguise at the home of the Medium of Endor, a woman whose wizardry he had outlawed years earlier. Desperate in the face of an enemy army and the upstart, David, he seeks contact with his deceased counselor, Samuel, who the Medium produces through a sance. There is the pseudonymous 1 Enoch, in which Sons of God came to earth and impregnated women, producing giants who wreaked havoc by eating everything in sight (including humans), before God sends a flood to destroy them. And much more.

Erhman suggests that the intent of the prophets and fabulists were of a piece: not to impose the terror of death, but a concern for living a virtuous life. He repeatedly hopes that his study will offer assurance and comfort to an anxious world. In the process, he ably enlightens and entertains.

Even if we do have something to hope for after we have passed from the realm of temporary consciousness, he writes, we have absolutely nothing to fear.


By Bart D. Ehrman

Simon & Schuster, 352 pp., $28

Kathleen Hirsch teaches at Boston College and blogs at

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Speculation on the afterlife in Heaven and Hell - The Boston Globe

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

The Nike Adidas Puma Olympic Battle Will Have to Wait – Barron’s

Posted: March 27, 2020 at 1:41 am

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...And Puma takes the gold in a time of 9.81 seconds, ahead of Nike in a thrilling race here in Rio.

Billions of people around the world watched Usain Bolt sprint to victory in the Olympic 100 meter final in Brazil on Aug. 14, 2016. Bolt, wearing the iconic Puma-made Jamaican running gear, outpaced Nike-wearing American sprinter Justin Gatlin on his way to athletic immortality.

That same summer, 600 million people watched as Cristiano Ronaldos Nike boots helped Portugal win soccers European Championship, beating a French team lit up by Paul Pogba and his Adidas footwear in the final.

Both the Tokyo Olympics and Euro 2020 have been postponed until the summer of 2021, and sports major brands are set to miss out on millions this year. The Olympics Games have become a battleground for the industry decorated swimmer Michael Phelps, who was sponsored by Under Armour, caused a splash four years ago by wearing Nike on the podium.

Puma, Adidas and Nike have long battled to kit out the worlds best sporting stars and teams at major sporting events, offering bumper sponsorship deals.

Those deals come good at the sporting calendars global events, and they dont come bigger than the Olympic Games. But with global sport on hold, the impact may not be that bad for the sector.

Read: Olympics postponement will make just a dent in Japans GDP. It could have been worse if the games had gone ahead

Earlier this month, Adidas Chief Executive Kasper Rrsted said 2020 would be an exciting year for the company, and said the brand would take center stage at the two major sport events of the year the UEFA Euro 2020 and Tokyo Olympics. It has even provided the match balls for Euro 2020.

The German sportswear giant said the financial impact of the postponements would be between 50 million and 70 million, describing the impact as fairly limited. Bryan Garnier analysts agreed the impact would be limited. Showing its competitive edge, Adidas said that while it would miss out on brand exposure it was the same for all brands.

Puma hasnt publicly quantified the impact but Chief Executive Bjrn Gulden said the Olympics typically spikes interest in sports and drives sales.

Nike Chief Executive John Donahoe was relatively upbeat about the Olympics postponement and said it would not hinder the companys innovation pipeline or product launches.

While global sport has been put on hold, Nikes third-quarter results on Tuesday hinted that the demand for sportswear may hold firm, despite the deepening coronavirus crisis. Adidas and Puma have signaled a significant financial hit at the beginning of 2020, as stores across Asia have been closed, but Nikes performance provided some positivity.

Nikes sales in Greater China fell 4% in the quarter, ending Feb. 29, having been up by double digits in the first two months of the quarter. At the peak, 75% of Nike stores in China were closed in February but now 80% are open. Digital sales climbed 30% in the country in the quarter. RBC analyst Piral Dadhania said the results suggest that sporting goods has perhaps been less affected than other sectors from the Covid-19 shutdown, with consumers focusing on health and well-being while at home. Nike, Adidas and Puma stocks all soared on Wednesday.

Looking ahead. Europe and the U.S. will be tough for Nike, as well as Adidas and Puma, in the coming weeks but the signs of an Asian recovery, and increased interest in sportswear for those stuck at home, bodes well. Crucially, major sporting events have been delayed but not canceled sport will return, and when it does its absence will have made the heart grow fonder.

As Donahoe said on Tuesday: We look forward to when organized sport will be back and running and when they are, well be there.

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The Nike Adidas Puma Olympic Battle Will Have to Wait - Barron's

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Writing in the time of coronavirus: John McPhee’s legendary course goes virtual – Princeton University

Posted: March 27, 2020 at 1:41 am

On Monday, March 23, the day Princeton transitioned to remote instruction due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 16 undergraduates enrolled in one of the Universitys most legendary courses were naturally curious. After all, their professor, John McPhee, a Ferris Professor of Journalism in Residence and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, had always taught Creative Nonfiction on campus for the last 45 years.

Hosting the seminar remotely via an online conferencing service was not the only first of the day. McPhee, a 1953 Princeton alumnus, also welcomed a new guest speaker to class McPhees former student David Remnick, a 1981 alumnus and editor ofThe New Yorker.

On March 23, the first day of Princeton's transition to remote learning due to the coronovirus pandemic, John McPhee (top row, third from left), a Ferris Professor of Journalism in residence, took his legendary course "Creative Nonfiction" virtual, with guest David Remnick (top row, far left), a Princeton alumnus and editor of The New Yorker. Fifteen of the course's 16 students participated from around the globe.

Image courtesy of the Program in Journalism

In his apartment on West 86th Street in New York, Remnick lightly strummed a Gibson J-45 guitar while the students, all sophomores now scattered across the globe, joined the virtual session. McPhee told Remnick that the students were aware of Remnicks college gap year spent as a busker in Pariss Odon metro station, and asked how much money he made during that time. Be honest, McPhee quipped. About 59 dollars, Remnick said.

McPhee, with his signature combination of humility and dry wit, shared a nugget of advice for all Princeton students in a roundup of faculty voices posted on the Universitys main Instagram account.

Image by the Office of Communications

The following three hours of the seminar were filled with a rich, wide-ranging conversation. The students, who were asked to identify their current location upon introducing themselves, posed probing questions about writing, the magazine industry and how each issue ofThe New Yorkercomes together, down to the placement of cartoons and ads. Remnick shared his thoughts on the importance of reading to a young writer, how economics and technology influence art, and the unexpected trajectory of his career.

In a note McPhee later sent to his students, he wrote: Searching for themot justefor the way you shaped that seminar with David Remnick, the word stupendous comes along readily. David, to say the least, was up to the challenge. If you were impressed by him, he was no less impressed by you.

Also on March 23, McPhee, with his signature combination of humility and dry wit, shared a nugget of advice for all Princeton students in a roundup of faculty voices posted on the Universitys main Instagram account. He wrote: You are already the most unusual students who have been here since the bubonic plague. This is your chance to cyber your way into further immortality.

McPhee has taught writing at Princeton since 1975. His course, Creative Nonfiction (originally called Literature of Fact), offered each spring, is open to Princeton sophomores, by application, and is limited to 16 students. To date, nearly 500 students have taken Creative Nonfiction.

In this profile, McPhee reflects on his writing process, what he learns from students and the structure of his renowned writing course.

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Writing in the time of coronavirus: John McPhee's legendary course goes virtual - Princeton University

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

GKids Acquires Lupin the 3rd: The First, the Franchises First CG-Animated Caper – IndieWire

Posted: March 27, 2020 at 1:41 am

GKids has snatched up North American theatrical rights to Lupin the 3rd: The First, the latest anime feature in the popular gentleman thief franchise, written and directed by Takashi Yamazaki (Stand By Me Doraemon, Dragon Quest: Your Story). GKids will release The First (produced by TMS Entertainment and Marza Entertainment Planet) in 2020 for Oscar qualification in both Japanese and an all-new English language version.

Based on the legendary manga series, Lupin III, by the late Monkey Punch, The First marks the first CG-animated addition to the movie franchise. Arsne Lupin III is hired by young female archaeologist named Letizia to steal the infamous Bresson Diary (containing the secret to a powerful energy) from a dark cabal devoted to resurrecting the Third Reich in the 1960s. Through a series of adventures that includes trap-filled tombs, aerial escapades, and daring prison escapes with his trademark wit and visual finesse, Lupin III uncovers his familys literary origins.

Monkey Punchs Lupin III manga began in 1967 and has spawned a diverse range of movies, manga, TV, video games, a theme park ride, musicals, and, most significantly, Hayao Miyazakis feature debut at Studio Ghibli, The Castle of Cagliostro (1979), currently streaming on Netflix. The First follows the high-tech antics of Lupin the Third Part 5 (2018) and the erotic charms of Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine (2012).

As someone who has been a fan of Lupin III since The Castle of Cagliostro, I was blown away by the quality of animation and storytelling in Lupin the 3rd: The First,' said GKids President David Jesteadt. Director Takashi Yamazaki has taken such incredible care and detail in creating Lupins first adventure in CG, and I am hopeful that audiences fall in love with the film as much as I have.

Lupin the 3rd: The First


This year GKids previously released Ride Your Wave (February 19), the anime romantic fantasy about the connection between music, the ocean, and immortality from Japanese director Masaaki Yuasa (The Night is Short, Walk on Girl).

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GKids Acquires Lupin the 3rd: The First, the Franchises First CG-Animated Caper - IndieWire

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Emmanuelle Alt’s top 10 film recommendations of the moment – VOGUE Paris

Posted: March 27, 2020 at 1:41 am

Including cult science fiction films and irresistible French comedies, Emmanuelle Alt, editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, gives us her film recommendations for this period of confinement. In all, 10 good films to watch, day after day, alone or with your family.

In this vampire film by Tony Scott, Catherine Deneuve, dressed in Yves Saint Laurent, plays Miriam, a female vampire who has acquired the gift of eternal youth. She herself has offered immortality to her husband John, portrayed by David Bowie. But one day he suddenly grows old. So she does everything in her power to stop this process.

COLLECTION CHRISTOPHEL / RnB Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer PicturesMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures / Collection ChristopheL

With all the allure of a Hitchcock thriller, Body Double is one of Brian de Palma's best films, which combines style, sex, manipulation and violence. It follows the tumultuous journey of an agoraphobic actor who has taken refuge in a magnificent villa (the famous Chemosphere) perched on the heights of Hollywood and witnessed the murder of his beautiful neighbor.

Collection Christophel / RnB Columbia Pictures

After his shocking film about AIDS, Mauvais Sang (Bad Blood) in 1986, Leos Carax offered one of the most beautiful roles to Juliette Binoche, his girlfriend at the time, in Les Amants du Pont-Neuf, the incredible love story between two vagabonds who dance, thrive and live under the lights of the bicentenary commemorations of the French Revolution.

Films A2 / Collection ChristopheL via AFP

In a dystopian universe, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a Blade Runner, in charge of tracking down the replicants that have been declared illegal. But he will gradually fall under the spell of Rachel (Sean Young), a replicant with a fictitious emotional memory, assistant and product of Eldon Tyrell.

Warner Bros./Archive Photos/Getty Images

In the Bubunne People's Democratic Republic, women run the country and go to war, while men wear the veil and look after the household. But the young Jacky (Vincent Lacoste) secretly dreams of marrying the Colonelle, who is played by Charlotte Gainsbourg. A zany comedy that ironically and humorously denounces the inequalities between men and women.

Jacky au royaume des filles

Les Films des Tournelles

Winner of the Palme d'Or and four Oscars, All That Jazz captures the glories and setbacks of a dying director and choreographer who remembers his life in his hospital bed. A cult musical comedy that has marked several generations, lulled by its unforgettable soundtrack, charismatic actors (Roy Scheider, Jessica Lange and Leland Palmer in the lead) and flamboyant choreography.

Collection Christophel

In seventeenth-century Spain, Don Salluste, the greedy finance minister of the king relieved of his duties, wants at all costs to regain his rank, and the gold that goes with it, using the charms of his valet Blaze. A (very) funny French comedy, freely adapted from Victor Hugo's Ruy Blas, carried by the facetious duo formed by Louis de Funs and Yves Montand.

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Badly struggling with his fall of popularity, Michael Dorsay (Dustin Hoffman), a self-centered actor, decides to create a new opposite character: that of Dorothy Michaels, a whimsical woman who quickly becomes the star of a hospital soap, adored by all. An irresistible comedy for an unforgettable acting performance.

Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), freshly graduated, spends his vacation at his parents' house in Los Angeles. At a reception, he succumbs to the charms of an older woman, the fatal Mrs. Robinson. He becomes her lover before falling in love with another, younger woman...

Photo United Artists/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Winner of six Oscars, this cult film shines with the unforgettable performance of Bette Davis in the role of Margo Channing, a Broadway star threatened by a young ingenue played by Anne Baxter.

John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Translated by Freya Doggett

Also on

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Emmanuelle Alt's top 10 film recommendations of the moment - VOGUE Paris

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Christ Provides the Antidote to Fear Amid Coronavirus – National Catholic Register

Posted: March 27, 2020 at 1:41 am

Bartolom Esteban Murillo, The Resurrection of the Lord, c. 1655 (Public Domain)

COMMENTARY: Turn to the Savior of the world who conquered death when fear or anxiety strikes.

The global coronavirus pandemic has made it clear how interconnected, vulnerable and fragile mankind is--and how undivided we are in our unity against death. As fear of this disease haunts Americans' minds and hearts to the point it's paralyzing our nation, I'm reminded how many times Christ told us, "Be not afraid," and I feel compelled to ask a serious question. If we as Catholics truly believe that when we receive Christ in the Eucharist were receiving the fountain of immortality, shouldnt we be more stouthearted in the face of this news than the secular culture around us is?

As we journey through Lent, joyfully anticipating the bright new day of Christs Easter Resurrection, this seems an appropriate time to take stock of our spiritual lives and remember what that word salvation really means. When the prophet Isaiah 12:2 says, I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation, whats he talking about? What exactly has Christ saved us from?

Well, of course, the short answer is that hes saved us from death.

Hold on a minute. Didnt Christ come to save us from sin? Yes, but theres more to it than that, explains Wyoming Catholic College Byzantine chaplain Father David Anderson. St. Athanasius says the problem with us isnt ultimately sin. God could have forgiven all the sins of the world gratuitously without the Incarnation. But to get rid of death, which is the source of sin, God had to become incarnate and take upon himself not only sin but also death. He points to a quotation in the Book of Wisdom: God created man for life and immortality, but by the envy of the devil, death [not sin] entered into the world.

So our Lord Jesus Christ our Savior, the eternal Son of God, comes to die voluntarily in order that he might destroy the power of death, Father Anderson continues. Thats what we are preparing for now as we journey through Lent toward the greatest celebration of the year the destruction of death. The destruction of death includes the destruction of sin, but sin is the symptom and death is the disease.

In the Byzantine tradition, Father Anderson adds, hundreds of times in the course of the Paschal celebration, were going to sing, Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death. Sometimes that word trampling is translated as conquering. But the original word in Greek literally means he stomped and smashed it to bits.

Furthermore, Father Anderson reminds us, eternal life doesn't begin only at some point "after we die." Eternal life in Christ begins now.

In a reassuring March 13 letter on the coronavirus, Bishop Benedict Aleksiychuk of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Nicholas in Chicago reminded the faithful that every test sent is by the will of God and that much information we receive through the mass media is incomplete or incorrect.

We are a people of faith, and that is why we see Gods Providence in this event which is teaching todays world to stop, listen and understand the language of God, the language of his mercy and love, Bishop Benedict wrote. Observing that this situation gives us a unique opportunity to love one another, he added, Let us protect ourselves, not only from this virus, which can destroy our body, but also from the virus that can kill our soul, through panic, anger, censure and confusion.

As the coronavirus reveals just how vulnerable we are as a race and a nation, fears of sickness and death have many Americans running scared. Thankfully, as people who know the meaning of salvation, weve been given the faith and hope to rise above fear and be for those around us a center of calm in the midst of the storm.

Sue Ellen Browder writes from Lander, Wyoming, home of Wyoming Catholic College.

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Christ Provides the Antidote to Fear Amid Coronavirus - National Catholic Register

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

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