Archive for July, 2008

A stumbling stone?

 A three-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus is causing a quiet stir in biblical and archaeological circles, especially because it may speak of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days.

If such a messianic description really is there, it will contribute to a developing re-evaluation of both popular and scholarly views of Jesus, since it suggests that the story of his death and resurrection was not unique but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time.

The tablet, probably found near the Dead Sea in Jordan according to some scholars who have studied it, is a rare example of a stone with ink writings from that era — in essence, a Dead Sea Scroll on stone.

It is written, not engraved, across two neat columns, similar to columns in a Torah. But the stone is broken, and some of the text is faded, meaning that much of what it says is open to debate.

Amos 9, with particular attention to v. 11, is part of the “recognized Jewish tradition” which points to the resurrection of the Messiah. Who is the “tabernacle of David” but Christ Himself? How is he “fallen” but on the Cross for our salvation?

Then, there’s this:

Daniel Boyarin, a professor of Talmudic culture at the University of California at Berkeley, said that the stone was part of a growing body of evidence suggesting that Jesus could be best understood through a close reading of the Jewish history of his day.

“Some Christians will find it shocking — a challenge to the uniqueness of their theology — while others will be comforted by the idea of it being a traditional part of Judaism,” Boyarin said.

And park rangers are shocked to know that bears poop in the woods.


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Want to lose weight and firm up the leg muscles—and, by extension, the glutes? Take up spinning. Who spins? A lot of folks do. It’s a rewarding and challenging activity. Know somebody who’s got sheep? Get some free fleece; get a spinning wheel, and take a class at the local fiber arts center. Then, treadle away and watch as fleece or cotton becomes yarn. The treadling will firm up the leg muscles.

My first yarn came from freebie fleece obtained from the local petting zoo. The wool is rather coarse, either through over-washing or the very nature of the fleece itself. The sheep? Who knows what breed they are. The folks at the petting zoo didn’t. The fleeces (two and a quarter, one brown, one gray, the quarter white) were as dirty as the sheep could get them, chock full of grass, dirt, bugs, fecal matter, and urine. Then there was that wonderful sheep-smelling lanolin.

It was the work of several hot days to scour, wash, and dry the fleece. The scouring took longer than the washing and drying for I came to this fiber art a novice. A retractable thin-wire doggie brush served to flick considerable dirt out of the fleece. That done, a big old soap bucket full of hot water and some Dawn was the repository for soaking flicked fleece. Clean and clear water swiftly became brown. A quick pour out on the driveway, a refill, another soaking. Then the rinsing in more hot water. Once, twice, enough. Hot sun shone down upon newly washed fleece spread out on an old door screen laid flat on the driveway. The fleece dried quickly and blew hither and thither carried by a mischievous wind.

The debris and dead bugs which remained in the fleece throughout the washing and drying went swiftly in the carding and spinning. Well, most of them. A few bits of debris remained in the twists of the thinly spun yarn.

The treadling, ah, the treadling. The joy of a single treadle wheel is that either foot can work the treadle. Right calf muscle getting tired? Shift to the left foot and keep treadling. Turn sideways, face the wheel, turn again, keep treadling, for as you treadle you have the joy of creating yarn from scratch. That joy you experience means that scratch hasn’t met its match.

For further adventure, get into weaving. Scout Craigslist for excellent, low cost, second-hand equipment. That’s where I found Lilly

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The Lillstina Swedish floor loom’s user manual is now at the Loom Manuals page.

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Recently, a 350-mile roundtrip brought home Lillstina—a 36″ 4-harness 6-treadle folding Swedish floor loom with light but thick beams, a short dumpy workhorse who can handle everything from scarves to rugs. Thick legs spread wide even when folded, Lilly could not fit in the trunk of the car. Came careful dismounting and even more careful maneuvering. The rear beam, with warp on it, was tied on to the trunk lid; the castle and front beam assiduously angled into the rear seat of the car. Extracting Lilly’s front beam from that rear seat was an adventure in pure geometry and physics. All planes, angles, leverage, and forward motion.

It is not possible to obtain a new toy without showing it off. Only the friendless and lonely don’t show off new toys. So Lilly received her due: inspection from a friend and fellow weaver. Delight over her hinged beater; approval of Lilly’s extras; suggestions about reed cleaning; wonder over her horses; promises to search the books for info on Lilly’s tribe, the counterbalance loom. The happy pronouncement, Lilly is an excellent deal, needing some slight expenditure to make her a fully functioning loom. No preening here.

Shot string heddles stripped and new Texsolv ones ordered, grime removed with Spartan Dust-Mop Dust Remover and Murphy’s Oil Soap, Lillstina glowed.

As she patiently awaits her new Texsolv heddles, Lilly stands on the floor, feet aspraddle, her guts leaning against wool stash bins at her side. Her day of dressing is nigh.

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