Wednesday, June 1, 2005

A Tree Ring Circus

Dear Friends,

Dendrochronology is the science of studying tree rings to learn about climate changes. A master chronology can be created by lining up pieces of wood from different eras. For instance, let's compare the rings of three trees using these pictures I scanned in.

o) ) ) ))  ) ) )) )  )                             Dead tree 1
     o))  ) ) )) )  ))  )    ) ))                 Dead tree 2
             o)) )  ))  )    ) ))  ) )) )         Living tree

Now we can make a master chronology that looks like this:
o) ) ) ))  ) ) )) )  ))  )    ) ))  ) )) )

Using this method, the bristlecone pine of the White Mountains has been traced back almost 9000 years continuously.

The most relevant use of this science is to date pieces of wood. For instance, scientists were able to prove that the log cabin in Hodgenville, KY that was supposedly Abraham Lincoln's birthplace wasn't actually built until the 1950's!

Yes, and even more startling was the analysis of the two wooden beams used to make Jesus' cross. Dendrochronologic dating demonstrated that the horizontal crossbar wasn't nailed on until almost 500 years later! This proves what many historians have suspected for years... Jesus was actually crucified on a single vertical log.

The ramifications of this discovery will have on Christian symbolism are significant. Pope Benedict XVI has wasted no time decrying the horizontal portion of the cross and is spearheading a movement to have all of the horizontal shafts removed from the world's crosses. In a recent address, the pontiff pleaded with the Catholic community at large to start by dismantling the horizontal portions of church crosses, and then work down to smaller crosses like wall-hangings and jewelry.

The Vatican has also demanded that thousands of paintings and stained glass windows be altered in accordance with this new evidence. Antonio Paolucci, a renowned art historian and curator of the Uffzi Art Museum in Florence, called this edict "an outrage" in a recent Washington Post interview. "Many of these works were painted by the great masters hundreds of years ago," he stated, "and to paint over them is most profane form of vandalism." He recommended instead that the collected works simply be thrown out.

As the final step of his plan, Benedict XVI plans to have the letter "t" replaced with the letter "l" in religious words like Christian and Vatican. For instance, Catholics will be called Calholics (except for Irish Catholics, who will continue to be called Alcoholics.) The Pope is expected to formally condemn the 90 degree angle later this week, and a delegation of Cardinals is convening to decide whether 180 degrees should inherit the tem "Right Angle."

The discovery has also shone light on another ancient controversy. Many theologians and historians believe that Christ may simply have had no arms, obviating the need for a horizontal crossbar. Support for this theory has been strengthened by the observation that many of Jesus' contemporaries, such as Venus de Milo, also suffered from armlessness. As it happens, the New Testament is filled with references to Jesus' legs, trunk, and head, but his arms are never mentioned. Furthermore, a traditionally-limbed person would most likely carry something up a hill in their arms, but Jesus suspiciously bore the cross on his back.

Finally, in light of these changes, vampires have grudgingly agreed to be repelled by a vertically held piece of wood.

The Hard Taco song for the month is called, "The Dancingest Boy in Town," and it is about a boy named Sacha who used to go to my summer camp. This song is an extended dance mix which means that it is about 1-2 minutes longer than it should be. The extra 60-120 seconds should be used for dancing or thinking about dancing.

With Warmest Regards,