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The Wisdom of Youth

The Wisdom of Youth

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
The last week of classes at many Italian schools is now past, and the stressful season of final exams—a one-week battery of written exams, followed by intensive oral follow-ups—began this next. But the last week of classes was also a time of culmination, the week for the presentation of the extracurricular theatrical productions some of these same students have been preparing all spring. I had the singular pleasure of seeing one such production in the Roman seaside township of Fiumicino a week ago on a late Monday afternoon, and was amazed by the sophistication of the entire production.

Entitled “2012: An Odyssey in Space and Time,” the show was conceived, written, choreographed and produced by a remarkably creative group of more than thirty students ranging in age from eleven to fourteen, and supported by some remarkably generous and far-sighted teachers who do this all voluntarily, in addition to their already extensive professional duties.

A QUESTION OF PRIORITIES

A QUESTION OF PRIORITIES

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
President Obama’s Press Secretary, Jay Carney, put it this way: “The President believes that everyone who serves the American people by working for this government needs to hold themselves to the highest standards of public service.” Mitt Romney was pithier; he said he’d “clean house.” A thoughtful US citizen might well wonder what they were referring to, sadly enough, because there are so many scandals to choose from.

Good Friday Christianity

Good Friday Christianity

Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr., Huff Post….
The consensus view is that Paul’s letters were written in the mid-to late 50s, whereas Mark’s Gospel was written right around 70 C.E., after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple by centurions very much like the one he describes observing Jesus’s death. Some important implications of this dating are the following. It could be the case that Mark was responding directly to Paul’s claims in this letter. It could be the case that he had never heard Paul speak, nor ever read this letter. It could be the case that Mark was responding to the kind of beliefs articulated by Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians, whether Paul was the original author of such views or simply one especially vocal proponent of them.

A Further Note on Cronus and Chronos

A Further Note on Cronus and Chronos

By Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr., Georgia State University…..
I recently published a piece at “Religion Dispatches” about the Roman winter festival called Saturnalia. A commentator noted that I had inadvertently confused (or rather, conflated) two very different divinities in that piece: namely, the Greek figures of Cronus and Chronos. I was grateful for the opportunity this provided to say what I should have said then with a bit more care and clarity, and the detail of these reflections seems perfectly suited to the non-at-all nerdy audience at “Religion Nerd.” So here goes. Greek and Roman religions were religions without canonical scriptures; their mythology is notoriously complex and, to modern eyes, often contradictory.

The Christian—Pagan Mix-and-Match

The Christian—Pagan Mix-and-Match

Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University…..
After Christmas and Easter, what’s the most important Christian holiday? It’s not really a very Protestant question—since you need saints and Mary, and the whole ritual calendar they entail, to pose it—and even in the Catholic or Orthodox Christian world it depends very much on where you put the question. In Greece the question has a pretty clear answer: it’s August 15, the feast day of the “All-Holy” (Panagia) Virgin Mary. And in Rome it’s equally clear: it was June 29, the Feast of Peter and Paul.

Red Riding Hood Arouses Man’s Inner (Were)Wolf

Red Riding Hood Arouses Man’s Inner (Were)Wolf

By Louis A Ruprecht….
We know, for example, that werewolves are shape-shifters, much like vampires, though they are their sworn, almost genetically-determined enemy. But recently we’ve learned that they can also make treaties and commit themselves to truces, fragile though they inevitably are. Vampires and werewolves can have common enemies (like witches), articulate common purpose (survival, most obviously), or strive heroically and movingly against their natural antipathies. Their relationship looks a lot like the dance between capitalists and communists in the waning years of Soviet power. “Trust but verify” is their watchword. And now this mysterious figure has come out of our collective dream-world once again, hard on the trail of a no-longer-little Red Riding Hood in Catherine Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hood, released earlier this month.