Sunday, April 12, 2009

25 Random Things About Resurrection

1. Easter, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, after his arrest and crucifixion, is a movable feast, i.e., not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. Easter falls at some point between late March and late April each year, following the cycle of the Moon.

2. Naturalistic approaches to claims of Christ's resurrection point to other life-death-rebirth deities like Osiris, whose resurrection was tied to natural seasonal phenomena and agricultural cycles. Other life-death-rebirth deities include Dionysus, Attis, Adonis, Bacchus, and Mithras.

3. Depictions of Christ's Resurrection, though rare compared to the Annunciation or Crucifixion, usually show him bearing a standard, the "banner of the Resurrection", that symbolizes his victory over death...

It's a white flag with a red cross on it, first seen in a vision by the Emperor Constantine, who then modeled the Roman standard after it. In Piero della Francesca's 1460 masterpiece La resurrección de Cristo, Christ, looking a little jet-lagged, holds the battle standard in his right hand, although it is often shown in his left, freeing up his right for the Sign of the Cross (as in Bellini's version).

4. We do not find depictions of the risen Christ in art at all until the 7th Century.

5. The Jewish Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife, but the Pharisees believed in a literal resurrection of the body.

6. Fuke Zen Buddhist texts tell this story about its founder, Puhua's resurrection:
One day at the street market Fuke was begging all and sundry to give him a robe. Everybody offered him one, but he did not want any of them. The master [Linji] made the superior buy a coffin, and when Fuke returned, said to him: "There, I had this robe made for you." Fuke shouldered the coffin, and went back to the street market, calling loudly: "Rinzai had this robe made for me! I am off to the East Gate to die!" The people of the market crowded after him, eager to look. Fuke said: "No, not today. Tomorrow, I shall go to the South Gate to die." And so for three days. Nobody believed it any longer. On the fourth day, and now without any spectators, Fuke went alone outside the city walls, and laid himself into the coffin. He asked a traveler who chanced by to nail down the lid. The news spread at once, and the people of the market rushed there. On opening the coffin, they found that the body had vanished, but from high up in the sky they heard the ring of his hand bell.
7. The Catholic Church lifted its formal ban on cremation in 1963, until which it was officially viewed as a rejection of the dogma of the resurrection of the body. The church still discourages the scattering of ashes, however.

8. Mormons believe in animal resurrection. According to Prophet Joseph Smith:
John saw beings there [in heaven] of a thousand forms, that had been saved from ten thousand times ten thousand earths like this,-strange beasts of which we have no conception: all might be seen in heaven. The grand secret was to show John what there was in heaven. John learned that God glorified himself by saving all that his ands had made, whether beasts, fowls, fishes or men; and he will glorify himself with them.
9. When speaking of zombies it's not "resurrection," but "re-animation".

10. German director Holger Breiner may not have known this when he came out with Zombie: The Resurrection in 1998.

11. Muhammad was not resurrected or re-animated. He died and was buried in Medina.

12. Muslims do not believe that Jesus was crucified and resurrected, either. According to the Koran: "They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but they thought they did" (Koran 4:156). Some say the person crucified was Titian, whom Judas had sent to kill Jesus. Some say it was Judas, himself. Many early Gnostic sects, the Basilideans among them, believed Simon of Cyrene, who was forced by the Romans to carry the cross of Jesus as Jesus was taken to his crucifixion, was then crucified instead of Jesus. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

13. Another alternative hypothesis: "a synergism between drugs, limbic epilepsy, and physical restraint."

14. A Better Resurrection by Sylvia Plath
I have no wit, I have no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numbed too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
A lift mine eyes, but dimmed with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is like the falling leaf;
O Jesus, quicken me.
15. Royalties from Leo Tolstoy's last novel Resurrection were donated to the resettlement in Canada of the Doukhobors, a Christian sect of Russian origin who had been persecuted under Nicholas I.

16. The Apostle Paul's earliest attempts to spread the good news of Christ's resurrection were not particularly well-received. Of his speech to the Greeks at the Aeropagus of Athens (Acts 17:22-33) he lamented: "when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked."

17. Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy's take on Christ's Resurrection: "When Jesus reproduced his body after its burial, he revealed the myth or material falsity of evil; its powerlessness to destroy good and the omnipotence of the Mind that knows this: he also showed forth the error of nothingness of supposed life in matter, and the great somethingness of the good we possess, which is of Spirit, and immortal" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 201).

18. Eflornithine (difluoro-methyl-ornithine or DFMO), "the resurrection drug," is used to treat advanced human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), or sleeping sickness, the incidence of which has increased nearly a 100-fold in the last 40 years, returning to levels similar to those in the 1950s.
19. Resurrection plants can undergo complete desiccation and still be revived with water. According to the USDA, "the ability to manufacture crop plants that express traits found in resurrection plants would be an important asset to agriculture in Nevada, where droughts are common and the most widely planted crop, alfalfa, has a high demand for water."

20. "Resurrection ecology" is a technique whereby researchers hatch dormant eggs from lake sediments to study a still-living species at a previous stage of its evolution. In restored environments, where the species that originally inhabited it have adapted to survive man-made changes, a "version" of the organism from the past can be brought back to life and reintroduced to the restored environment. Extinct subspecies can also be brought back by introducing related subspecies into their restored environment and allowing them to evolve naturally.

21. As scientists get closer to reconstructing ever-more long-extinct species' genomes, there is a growing debate as to whether Neanderthals, whom humans likely drove to extinction 45,000 years ago, should be "resurrected" through cloning. Nicholas Wade of the New York Times believes there are good reasons to re-create a Neanderthal: "No one knows if Neanderthals could speak. A living one would answer that question and many others."

22. In Alien Resurrection (1997), the final installment of the Alien quadrilogy, a Ripley-Alien hybrid saves humanity from doom (again).

23. Although Warner Bros. has no official plans to produce a fourth Matrix movie, there is a thriving Matrix: Resurrection movement amongst Matrix geeks online, who have produced press releases, plot synopses, posters, DVD covers, and trailers for the non-existent sequel.

24. It took Gustav Mahler seven years to compose his Symphony No. 2 in C minor, known as the Resurrection. Both his parents died during the composition of the first movement, which was entitled Totenfeier (Funeral Rites). He had no idea at the time what sort of music would follow, and considered allowing the movement to stand as an independent work. When he shared it with composer/conductor Hans von Bülow, he recalled the latter "fell into a state of extreme nervous tension, clapped his hands over his ears and exclaimed, 'If that is still music then I do not understand a single thing about music!’" The criticism stymied Mahler, and the Symphony remained unfinished until three years later, when Bülow suddenly dropped dead. Deeply saddened by the news, Mahler played the Totenfeier for his friend and fellow composer Josef Förster with such emotion Förster was convinced it was offered “in memory of Bülow.” Three months later, Mahler completed his Second Symphony.

25. The Eighth Station of the Via Lucis depicts Jesus telling Thomas: "I told you so."

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