Thursday, February 26, 2009

an outrageously long plug for The Last Emperor at The High Museum

Carla and crew recently went to view the King Tut exhibit currently on display at the Atlanta Civic Center. The display contains a few actual artifacts from the Kings tomb. Carla commented on the fact that most all the artifacts were elaborate provisions for the afterlife, from food to model boats that mysteriously became life-sized in the other world. Also in the tomb were Shabtis, carvings of people who were to be the Kings servants in the afterlife. According to an article I found through the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, “By the late New Kingdom (ca. 1185 B.C.), a well-equipped tomb had 365 shabti-figures, one for every day of the year, and 36 overseers carrying whips to make sure the work was done. Records indicate that people bought shabtis from temple workshops”. Evidently, whole villages were “given over” to tomb building. “Everyone recognizes the almost superhuman task of constructing the Pyramids, the lives sacrificed in their construction, and the agonizing slavery that made this corner of history so indelible and continuously fascinating. As exotic and elaborate as they are, the fact that they hold the dead also plays a role in casting their timeless spell” ( Even children’s games focused on being favored by the gods and determining ones fate in the afterlife. Tonight, I am going to the High Museum of Art to see an exhibit The Last Emperor: China’s Terracotta Army.
The famed terracotta army was initially discovered in 1974. In recent years, ongoing excavations have revealed that the army stood guard over a vast underground palace of far greater complexity than was previously assumed. The exhibitions will present both iconic and recently discovered examples including warriors from the terracotta army, court officials, acrobats, musicians, terracotta chariot horses, and bronze water birds discovered beside the complex's underground river.
These life-sized terracotta figures populated the underground tomb complex just as they would have been integral to the activities of the First Emperor's actual court. With so many figures on view, visitors will be able to see how each assumes a distinct role. For the soldiers, differences in armor detailing and hair style denote military rank. Some stand while others kneel, frozen in the poses of infantrymen, generals, and archers in action. For the civilian figures, identities are revealed by stature, costume, and stance: the heavy belly of the strongman, the lithe pose of the acrobat, and the small frame of the robed stable boy disclose a carefully orchestrated court life in which each person served a distinct purpose.
Further, all figures are individualized with a distinctive facial appearance. Close to 1,000 figures have been excavated from the tomb, and it is estimated that a total of 7,000 may ultimately be unearthed. No two terracotta figures are identical, testifying to a remarkable feat of organized production. The First Emperor will present the objects within their historical and archaeological contexts and will discuss recent research and excavation. In doing so, the exhibition also presents a reassessment of the First Emperor himself, a crucial figure in Chinese history. It was through his military conquest that what we now know as China was unified in 221 B.C. Equally important to the empire were his governmental and cultural achievements, which include the establishment of a centralized bureaucracy, a unified law code, standardized coinage and script, and the building of the Great Wall. The objects on view in The First Emperor are at once a representation of the military and civilian worlds he created, and a demonstration of his desire to exert equal control over his afterlife.
Talk about a need for a Savior! I am so glad He came! So that this is not the norm and we don't have to go to great lengths to save ourselves. We just need faith.
This was 221 B.C., King Tut lived around 1341 BC – 1323 BC. Before Jesus, before Jesus, before Jesus.
Growing up in the Bible Belt to a Christian family, in my earliest memories of myself, I am dressed in a frilly dress, with frilly socks, patent leather Mary Jane’s, standing in the middle of the aisle, on scratchy red carpet in the Hartwell Pentecostal Holiness Church, arms raised, bent at the elbow swaying them in sync with the pastor’s wife as the church belted out, “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder”.
I knew I would be there. I didn’t even know what Jesus did for me, didn’t truly know who He was, didn’t understand His Word, had no comprehension of the crucifixion, but I knew I would be there. I had an idea of what heaven looked like and I knew not to be sad when a loved one died because they were "walking streets of gold". I have never really contemplated what life would be like for me, or our society, if we did not have our faith in God and the security of eternity. And according to The Washington Post, and the The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life which interviewed more than 36,000 adults in one of the largest polls of Americans' religious beliefs ever conducted, most Americans do believe. 92% of Americans believe in God. 80% think miracles occur. I have certainly come a long way since my frilly underwear days and now walk daily in both His crucifixion and resurrection, as I am dead to sin and alive in Him. I have even been to other countries that worship idols and are not of the Christian faith, but I have never lived long enough within their culture to fully comprehend any fear, panic, uneasiness, and preparation involved in a life ever after in an undetermined location that might potentially exist. I certainly, fully respect all cultures and love them and embrace them and want to learn from them. I love it that so many other cultures are centered around relationship and experience rather than time oriented as it is in our culture. I love everything about other cultures, their foods, their architecture, their history, everything. I always want to take something from them and make it a part of me so that I don’t become so completely Westernized. But I know that I know, that I know, that I know, that Jesus Christ in the answer to all life’s problems.

Just two seconds ago I used Google, which now suggests words for you as you type them in, to find a statistic on Bible sales and saw where searches containing the words, “The Holy Bible” yield about 8 million results, yet words containing “The Holiday” a Queen Latifah movie contain 28 million results. The search is far from scientific, but oddly support my argument. This may be less scientific than my Google search but an Emory professor, Dr. Luke Johnson estimates the Bible to have been printed over 5 billion times. It is further estimated that there are approximately 4 Bibles in every American household, suggesting that Bible publishers sell twenty-five million copies a year, according to The New Yorker.

Don Piper wrote a New York Times Bestseller describing his experience when he died in a car crash and was risen from the dead. He says, “It’s a place. It’s not a myth. It’s not a concept. It’s a real place”. The sources are endless. From the paintings we have seen of Akiane, to books from people who have had encounters in heaven, the message is out there and spreads easily. There is more “tangible” proof of heaven than ever before. Ancient Egyptians and Chinese could not turn on Oprah for a one hour interview with a man describing the afterlife and his encounter. They had no Bible, no Sunday Sermon, no Joel Osteen, no New York Times Best Sellers, no Zu Zu’s petals. They had simple word of mouth and vague sketches, yet they spent their entire life planning for this unknown.

We, being partakers of Christ and being filled with the Holy Spirit, are fully aware of our eternity. We are comforted by the Holy Spirit, rest in His peace and through faith and encounters with God, know that we are going to heaven when we die. We stand daily in our Mary Jane’s singing of gold and jewels and life everlasting. So why then is our preparation for the afterlife as futile as the Egyptians and the Ancient Chinese? Why do we spend 99.9% of our life, not preparing for heaven? We are given glimpses of heaven in His Word and we have been given specific instructions on how to get there. Yet our obsession with materialism and accumulating "things" on this earth is no different than an obsession with carving a boat now to put in your casket so that you can island hop in Heaven. How many times have we heard, “you can’t take it with you”? What does Christ say about heaven and who inherits it? The meek, the poor in spirit. He even gives us a picture, of a rich man and a camel and the eye of a needle. I am not saying sell everything you have and give it to the poor, Jesus does, but this is not my argument. Neither is my argument that you should not have nice things. My argument is what is most important here on earth is often avoided and so much time is spent on accumulation of material wealth and possessions and so little on relationship with others, relationship with God and trusting in Him to provide. We often don’t even give Him a chance to prove Himself or show up in our lives. Being grounded in both our knowledge and reality of heaven, we should live a life diligently preparing for the afterlife, not by carving boats, or soldiers, but grafting ourselves into each other, and allowing Christ to graft us unto Him. Knowing that for relationship we were created and creation keeps growing through intimacy. You won’t need your Prada shoes for the streets of gold in Heaven and you can experience heaven here on earth when you have intimacy with those around you and the greatest Savior of all. The only thing I want to take with me is you!

Romans 11:17-24 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!


  1. i've been to the pyramids and the terracotta soldiers, but Jesus is surely the best deal. :) thanks for sharing your thoughts!!
    good stuff...

  2. wow! you have? after seeing this i really wanna go. if i am ever in china i will put it at the top of my list.