Insight on the News
Michelangelo and the Cross
● Italian government art experts are said to be “90 percent sure” that a sculpture recently found in a monastery in Lebanon is the work of the famous Italian artist Michelangelo. The small wooden carving is said to be worth $2.5 million (U.S.) if it actually is Michelangelo’s work. According to an Associated Press report, “the figure is unusual because it represents Christ with his hands stretched out above his head instead of to the side, as he usually is depicted on the cross.”
Whether the wooden sculpture is the work of the 16th-century artist Michelangelo or not, it illustrates that the impalement of Christ on a cross frame has not always been so certain as Christendom’s leaders today would have people believe. For example, the 16th-century Roman Catholic scholar Justus Lipsius illustrated impalement on an upright stake in his book “De Cruce Liber Primus.” This fits the meaning of the Greek word used in the Bible to describe the impalement of Christ—“stauros”—which “denotes, primarily, an upright pale or stake.”—“An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,” W. E. Vine.
World Peace Through Law?
● “Law is the instrument that must guarantee peace,” said Spain’s king, Juan Carlos, speaking to the Ninth Conference of the Law of the World. Representatives from 85 countries attended the conference in Madrid last September.
At this meeting, Charles Rhyne, chairman of the World Peace Through Law Center, urged “everybody in the world to help us to build a system of laws so universally acceptable that it would have sufficient force to avoid war and make peace durable.” A few days later, at the Vatican, Pope John Paul II held an audience with some of the conference delegates and called for “an unprecedented effort to be mastered by man” in this direction.
Yet, even before the conference ended, its chairman, Spain’s public prosecutor, Juan Manuel Fanjul Sedeño, said: “It is very difficult to attain peace by the exercise of Law and Justice.” Why? He answered: “Because of a false and narrow sense of nationalism, there is no nation that is ever ready to make a useful gesture of humility and renunciation for the good of others. Nobody is willing to give way.” How true those words!
The record of human failure throughout the centuries illustrates the truth expressed in the Bible at Psalm 146:3: “Don’t put your trust in human leaders; no human being can save you.” (“Good News Bible”) The Holy Scriptures indicate that God will bring peace in his own way, by means of his heavenly kingdom under his “Prince of Peace,” Jesus Christ. (Isa. 9:6) Then, when God’s law is lovingly applied, “the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Ps. 37:11.
“The Cadence of Jackboots”
● Last year the Illinois State legislature passed a bill that required schoolchildren to begin their day with the flag-salute ceremony as of January 1, 1980. When Illinois Governor James Thompson signed the bill into law, he wrote admitting that “it is clear that under present constitutional law, this legislation is plainly unconstitutional.” And during argument in the legislature, Representative Richard Mugalian said that “this is by far the worst bill of the session. If one listens well, one will hear the cadence of [a dictator’s] jackboots.”
Pointing to the weakness of such parrotlike techniques for instilling true appreciation for one’s country, Representative Glen Schneider observed: “I don’t think 15 seconds of the Pledge of Allegiance contributes to an understanding of what this country is all about.”
The Joliet, Illinois, “Herald-News” quotes a local spokesman for one group affected by the law as saying: “Jehovah’s Witnesses, not only in this country but throughout the world, always take a neutral stand towards the government. It’s not that we don’t have respect for this country. It’s just that you won’t find Jehovah’s Witnesses saying a pledge of allegiance to any country.”—John 17:16.