Unpublished Writings

Articles written by Dolph, but not published (dates written are included with titles):

  1. A Glimpse into the Lives of Washington D.C.’s Homeless – 2004
  2. Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ: Is it Anti-Semitic? – April, 2004
  3. The Pamplona Bull Run – Fall, 2005
  4. An Unexpected Journey Back from Paralysis – November, 2012 (Click here for article)
  5. First Jackie Robinson, then Larry Doby – May, 2013 (Click here for article)
  6. We Only See Our Own Pain (In progress)
  7. My Fair Gentleman (In progress)


by Dolph Hatfield

The Urban Institute has estimated that there are about 3.5 million people living on the streets or in shelters in the United States. Personal problems have brought many of these individuals to the streets and shelters. Low-paying jobs and the high costs of housing and health care have brought others.
As my wife, Mary, and I have been become acquainted with many of Washington, D.C.’s homeless since about 2001, I thought it might be insightful to share several of their lives with others. Such insights will hopefully counter some of the rather unpleasant thoughts that many of us share in how we think about the homeless.
My initial interaction with the homeless, however, was through William Wallace Brown. This impecunious, gentle man attended St. John’s Episcopal Church at Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., where I am also a member. For more than 10 years, we sat in consecutive pews on Sundays and formed a strong and enduring friendship. Mr. Brown moved onto the streets of our Nation’s Capitol in the late 1970s to protest the theft of his home by an unscrupulous lawyer. Although he was a quiet man, Mr. Brown captured the attention of many whom he encountered. He made numerous friends while he lived on the street and others he met at St. John’s. When he died in October, 2000, his friends at the Church saw to it that he was buried on the grounds of St. John’s, also known as the Church of the Presidents. Mr. Brown’s burial service was covered by several articles in the Washington Post, on the NBC Evening News with Tom Brokaw and the NBC Early Morning Show with Katie Couric.

Meeting the homeless
After Mr. Brown’s death, I wanted to maintain an association with the homeless. On numerous trips to visit Mr. Brown on the street, I had noticed that several destitute individuals slept on the steps of St. John’s. I stopped by the Church one evening shortly after Mr. Brown’s death and introduced myself to several of the homeless. We had a pleasant, ten-minute conversation. They seemed pleased that I had dropped by and welcomed my offer to visit again.
I then began dropping by St. John’s about two evenings a week and my wife often accompanied me. We passed out snacks that consisted mostly of fruit bars, peanut butter crackers and bottled water. Occasionally, we would take McDonald’s coupons to distribute. We have learned that soft foods are preferable to those that are hard as many of the homeless have dental problems. The McDonald certificates are a favorite because they can be used to get coffee and a warm breakfast.
Early on, I noticed that a Salvation Army van comes by the Church each evening with dinner (soup, stew, sandwich, hot chocolate or the like) for the homeless. The Salvation Army is one of the major food sources for the destitute in D.C. These provisions are a Godsend for the dispossessed who would likely starve without the assistance of this organization and several others that provide food in the mornings, at noon or in the evenings. There are many other wonderful organizations in D.C. that provide assistance including food, clothing, medical care, counseling and bus and metro passes to individuals who are either not able or not inclined to take advantage of the city’s welfare services.
The winters of 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 were harsh by Washington standards. Due to the inclement weather, not everyone on the street could meet the Salvation Army van for the evening meal. It was obvious on those evenings when someone had missed the van as they would immediately eat the items I gave them whereas they usually kept them for a snack at a later time. On one occasion, when the temperature was below 15oF and the wind-chill pushed it below zero, I met a gentleman whose beard had frozen to his face. When he reached for some crackers that I offered him, his flimsy coat came open. All he had on under his jacket was a tee shirt. I called the Emergency Hotline for the Homeless. The person handling the lines said that their trucks were picking up those at risk from the freezing weather and that they would be sure to take this individual to one of the shelters. It was a fortunate encounter as this gentleman would likely not have made it through the night.
I am acquainted with many of the homeless who slept on the steps of St. John’s Church or in the vicinity. I have had the good fortune to know the following five individuals quite well.

Everyone knows Robert
It seems that virtually everyone living on the street within several blocks of St. John’s knows Robert. He is affectionately known as “The Mayor”. One afternoon, I went to look for Robert to alert him that food would be available in the evening from one of the city’s private clubs that sometimes donated food to the destitute. Since the homeless do not stay around the Church during the day, I started my search for Robert at the nearby park, McPherson Square. Although Robert was not there, I met George, a gentleman whom I knew only slightly. George said he knew Robert and would tell him about the food, and as many others as he could. I also went into Lafayette Square, across from the Church, and into Farragut and Franklin Squares that are on I Street just east of McPherson Square and west of St. John’s, respectively. None of the regulars who slept on the steps or around St. John’s were in any of these places. But I spoke to individuals in both of the latter Squares who knew Robert. They said they would tell him to meet me at the Church that evening.
Because Robert is known to so many, he has provided my entrance card into the Squares near the Church. This has been important since the homeless are reluctant to accept food from strangers. When the private club provides more food than the folks at the Church can consume, I now go to the other parks mentioning that Robert suggested the extra food be brought to them. It is always readily accepted.
Robert is one of the most remarkable homeless individuals that I have had the pleasure of meeting. He has taken on the responsibility for keeping alcoholics, drug users, loud or trouble-making individuals away from the steps at St. John’s Church. He also often takes on the responsibility for cleaning up the trash left by others around the Church. In the mid-1960s, Robert fell and severely injured his head. He was in a comma for about three months and has subsequently had problems with alcohol. He is 57 years of age and has no family to care about him. Although he has conquered his alcoholic problems and would like to get off the street, his chances of doing so seem slim.

Sam, a kind and gentle man
Sam is 56 years old and had worked for a tire manufacturer in Detroit for 23 years. He lost his job about 10 years ago when the company downsized their staff. Sam then went to work for the U.S. Park Service as a security guard and was assigned to a remote area in Big Bend National Park. He was relocated several times over the next 9 years and was finally released along with many other Park Service security guards in January, 2002, as a result of the reduction in staff that occurred after the 9/11 terrorists’ attacks. Sam became severely depressed and came to Washington, D.C. He found his way onto the steps of St. John’s Church in July, 2002.
Sam hated living on the streets. He has four children in Detroit, but was estranged from all except for one daughter. He did not tell her that he was unemployed and living on the streets. My wife and I made sure that Sam always had a telephone calling card to stay in touch with his daughter.
Sam is unquestionably one of the nicest people that I have met. He is pleasant to everyone he meets. When he received extra food or McDonald’s coupons, he always shared these items with those who were hungry. Sam often called me at home or at the office, and most of his calls were to let me know about the needs of others.
The Georgetown Ministry Center is one of several establishments that assists the homeless in a variety of ways. This organization afforded Sam a psychiatric evaluation that confirmed that he was suffering from severe depression. The Georgetown Ministry Center then helped Sam obtain social security disability insurance that made it possible for him to move back to Detroit and rent an apartment near his daughter. My wife and I put Sam on the bus for Detroit in November, 2003. We stay in touch and he is doing very well. Sam is volunteering at a local hospital and is taking business management courses at a nearby junior college. He has been promised a job by a local establishment when he finishes his course work. This good fortune could not have happened to a kinder or more thoughtful man.

Jake, so gifted and talented
Jake is 43 years old and has been homeless for almost three years. He is friendly, highly intelligent and very articulate. Whenever I took friends to meet the homeless, Jake was one of the first individuals I sought out as he is a wonderful conversationalist.
Jake had a difficult childhood that still haunts him. His mother was placed into a mental institution when he was quite young and his father was an alcoholic. He lived in several foster homes. Some of the families were loving, while others treated him horribly. As a consequence, Jake cannot stand the slightest pressure from anyone. He worked in research and development in designing highly specialized technical equipment for a spectrophotometric firm and also as a computer analyst until was 40. When the pressure got too much for him, he quit his job and moved to D.C. He lived in his jeep until he could not afford the gas and upkeep. He then began living on the steps of St. John’s Church.
Jake wanted to build and enter a robot vehicle in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) sponsored race that took place in the Mojave Desert on March 13, 2004. The prize was $1,000,000. None of the 14 entries traveled more than a few of the 200 required miles to finish in the first year of competition. Jake knew the shortcomings of each of the 14 entries and maintains that he could have built the winning vehicle. After speaking with him in considerable detail about the race and his proposed design, I have no doubt that he could have built a vehicle that would have been competitive in the DARPA race.
About a year after Jake and I first met, he began sketching for the first time in his life. His drawings are outstanding. We have shown samplings of Jake’s drawings to a few of the local artists and their comments have been very positive. Stoff Smulson, who managed of one of the local art galleries called Decatur Blue, saw one of Jake’s sketches of a ballerina and said that the hands of the ballerina would rival those drawn by the Great Masters. Between Jake’s artistic and computer abilities, he has the skills to achieve a great deal in life.
One of the D.C. outreach programs helped Jake obtain social security disability insurance that assisted him in getting off the street. His IQ was tewsted during the interview period of obtaining social security disability and Jake ranked in the upper 1-2% or genius category in assessing mechanics and technology. He now lives in an apartment in D.C. We see each other about weekly and Jake stays at our home to watch the house and take care of our pet whenever we are away. He often sends me drawings, ideas he has about many technology advances that I feel would indeed rival the great talents and minds of our society. I am so very hopeful that someday he will be able to completely be free of the many issues that haunt him from his early life so that he will make the major contributions to society that he is fully capable of doing.

Frank and the DEA
In the beginning, my conversations with Frank were always brief. He expressed appreciation for the food and clothing we gave him but had little else to say. As I came to know Frank better, our conversations got longer. It became apparent that he has hallucinations about his involvement with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and with several prominent sports figures. One holiday season, Frank said he wanted a baseball cap with the DEA logo on it for Christmas. When Frank received his cap, he began telling me how he had a role in starting this organization and continued to work undercover for them. He also told me that he was a friend of Michael Jordan and had helped Tiger Woods get his start in golf.
Frank was 46 in the summer of 2004, is very intelligent and well-spoken. He has a brother and sister who live in upper New York State, but they apparently do not get along with Frank nor do they have any desire to help him move off the street.
Frank suffers from bipolar disorder and requires medication. Once, since I have known Frank, he had to be institutionalized. Frank was arrested by the Park Police for jumping into the street and acting as if he were shooting at people in passing cars. He resisted arrest that resulted in his being charged with a misdemeanor. He was taken before the D.C. Superior Court and the judge ordered that he be sent to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. Once he had been stabilized with the appropriate medication, Frank was taken back to the Superior Court. The judge ruled that Frank could not be released until his trial date as the Court had no guarantee that he would continue taking his medication. The judge, therefore, placed him in the D.C. jail. Frank could not be returned to St. Elizabeth’s as the hospital had declared him mentally competent. When I visited Frank at the D.C. jail, he was shackled and caged behind a large glass partition. In contrast, the other inmates were placed into a large room where they were separated from their visitors by a thick glass plate. After about two months in jail, Frank was taken back to Court to face the charges of resisting arrest. The prosecution was not prepared for the trial. Thus, the charges against him were dropped and he was released. Frank was discharged on an extremely cold day in January in nothing more than his jump suit and a flimsy coat provided by the D.C. jail. I met him as he was released and urged him to accept temporary housing offered by one of the establishments that works with the homeless. Frank refused. He said he wanted to be back on the street with his friends. My wife and I bought him a heavy jacket, called the Emergency Hotline for blankets, fed him and then left Frank at the Church in weather in the low 20s. I checked on Frank several times a week for the first few weeks to be sure he was staying warm and fed.
I consider Frank to be harmless and a very descent individual. Everyone who interacts with Frank for any length of time likes him including his doctors and other health care workers as well as those who work with the homeless. He is not capable of being employed and, without family support, his future does not seem to be a very bright. I imagine Frank will be on the street for the rest of his life.

Ed and the U.S. government
One of my initial acquaintances of the folks who slept at or around St. John’s Church was Ed. Ed has a magnificent vocabulary but talks incessantly about filing briefs against the government on various environmental issues. Intertwined with these ramblings are comments about his communication with beings from outer space and his birth in the belly of a mastodon. There is no question that he is incapable of working. However, he is harmless and a very thoughtful person. I was touched on one occasion when Ed gave me one of the devices that he made for communicating with beings from outer space.
Ed is in his late 50s and, unfortunately, he does not have any family that cares enough about him to keep him off the street. He does not appear to be so mentally unstable that he should be institutionalized, and therefore, his only alternative would seem to be life on the street. I suspect that Ed, like Frank, will be on the street for the rest of his life.

Other homeless
These are the stories of only five of the homeless whom Mary and I have come to know. There are many others whose paths we have crossed. For example, Betty is in her late 40s and has been diagnosed with melanoma and breast cancer. Regardless of repeated attempts to get her to return to the doctor, she refuses to do so. She is an artist and her paintings, primarily of floral arrangements, are superb. Bob is an elderly gentleman who is an avid reader and enjoys spending his days at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. But his small social security check does not provide him with sufficient funds to live in an apartment. Tony is quiet, is very respectful, and stays to himself. I have gotten to know Tony well and he, like so many of the others, is not capable of working. Ken is from Laos and Shin is from Hong Kong and despite several years of trying to make it in this country, both have given up and are living on the street. John is an extremely nice individual who works and has a strong desire to get off the street. Unfortunately, he does not earn enough money to rent an apartment. Lori is about 45, and while she is a pleasant person, she appears to suffer from paranoia. She has hallucinations about the government trying to assassinate her that prevent her from functioning in society. Morris is slightly retarded and maintains that his mother and her boyfriend left him in downtown D.C. to fend for himself. Just before hurricane Isabelle hit D.C. in mid-September, 2003, my wife and I made a quick trip to St. John’s to ensure everyone had sought shelter. We found Morris shivering on the Church steps, fully exposed to the wind and rain. We rented a motel room on New York Avenue where he stayed until the storm dissipated. When I visit St. John’s and Morris is there, he often follows me around like a small child, asking if I have seen his mother.
On one occasion when Mary and I were having our home remodeled, the overseer of the work began answering our phone and taking messages. One of the messages was from Lee. The message was relayed to Mary that “Lee called and wanted you and Dolph to know that he and Graham were staying at 20th and L Streets”. Mary did not tell our message taker that Lee and Graham were staying on (not at) 20th and L Streets. Another message was from Don, and when Mary heard it was Don, she told our message taker that it was good to hear from Don as we had been worried about him and wondered how his was doing. The message taker replied “Don is in jail and asked that Dolph to come visit him!” We indeed receive many calls from our closest homeless friends with all kinds of requests and messages to let us know how they are doing.
So many of the homeless are capable of working but cannot find jobs that would make it possible for them to move off the street. For example, Rob is another of those individuals who loves to work and is one of the most considerate and nicest people we have met on the street. Rob takes a bus and then the Metro on a daily basis to travel to the suburbs to do construction work. He spends two hours traveling to work and two hours getting back “home”. His travel costs are about $15/day and he makes about $40/day at work. Hardly enough to get off the street and barely enough to keep himself and his lady friend fed and clothed. Many others have mental handicaps that prevent them from working, but they are not so ill that they require hospitalization.
Many of the homeless are victims of alcohol and/or drug abuse and, although there are numerous counseling programs, many do not seek help or fail to complete the programs. For example, Don, Nick and William have been beholden to the “white witch” (street slang for cocaine) for many years and have been through the rehab programs repeatedly. It is such a waste and heartbreaking to see them throwing away their lives. We have not given up on them, although many of the rehab programs feel after three attempts, it is usually useless to go on. All three of these individuals are very gifted and talented and can still make a contribution to society if they can get their addictions corrected. Don is currently in rehab for the third time and William for the fourth time. They still have our total support to get themselves straightened out. Nick has been before “the beast” (street slang for the Judge) and incarcerated on numerous occasions. He has been through rehab for a fourth time, but is now drug free and starting to move in all the right directions. We feel fully confident that Nick is going to make it this time.
The stories about the homeless, their problems, and why they are on the street are endless.

Keeping informed
Street Sense is a newspaper that is published monthly that focuses on the city’s underprivileged. The vendors are homeless and receive $0.70 of each dollar paid for the paper. Street Sense provides one of the best means of keeping those living on the streets in D.C. informed about available shelters, outreach centers, soup kitchens, emergency food sources and medical resources. The paper includes wonderful stories that involve or affect the homeless. Another source of information for and about the homeless in D.C. is on the website www.community-partnership.org/facts.html.

The future
I have met more than a hundred of the homeless and have come to know many of them on a personal basis. As in all walks of life, not all of these individuals are pleasant, and some can be very difficult. Most, however, are genuinely nice people, and are courteous and respectful to each other and to Mary and me.
A friendly hello from a stranger and a few minutes of conversation can make for a better day in the life of a homeless individual. However, counseling, jobs and secure housing are required to eradicate homelessness in this country. Meanwhile, greater awareness and involvement by all members of society can help to elevate the plight of the homeless.

Word count: 3,902 of text.


Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ: Is it Anti-Semitic?
by Dolph Hatfield
This article was initially written in April, 2004.

Numerous religious leaders have claimed that Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, is anti-Semitic, while others have maintained that it is not. The majority of those voicing an opinion on the movie, however, did not justify how and why they reached such a conclusion. Mel Gibson ardently defends his film as not being anti-Semitic and contends that it is based solely on the Christian scriptures.
A brief assessment of the events surrounding Jesus’ execution, based on Christian scripture and what was known historically at the time of his ministry and death, provides the best means of evaluating the film’s authenticity and whether the movie is anti-Semitic. Such an examination leads to the conclusion that the movie is inconsistent with many of the facts surrounding Christ’s last 12 hours prior to his execution, and that it is, in several aspects, a “Hollywood” version of his arrest and crucifixion. These misrepresentations raise questions about the message that Gibson is trying to convey about the death of Jesus and whether the movie portrays Jews as the Christ-killer.
The worst misrepresentations of the events surrounding Christ’s last 12 hours prior to his crucifixion were the devil’s numerous appearances in Jesus’ presence. The only mention in any of the Gospels about Jesus being confronted by Satan was at the beginning of his ministry. Perhaps the three worst misrepresentations of Satan appearing before Jesus in the movie were in the Garden of Gethsemane where Christ went with his disciples to pray after the Last Supper, and then again at two of his three trials. In the movie, Jesus rebuked Satan in the Garden of Gethsemane demonstrating his inner resolve to overcome any temptations of immorality. However, in the devil’s appearances in the background at Christ’s first trial before the Sanhedrin and the High Priest, Joseph Caiaphas, who collectively formed the Jewish supreme governing council and court, and again, in the crowd at his third trial before Pontius Pilate, the Governor of Judaea and the ruling Roman authority, Lucifer’s presence had a vastly different impact. The depiction of Satan among the Jews portrays them as the ones who were vulnerable to his evil influence that resulted in Christ’s crucifixion.
The excessive beating that Christ endured in The Passion was way out of proportion to what the scriptures describe as the single flogging by his Roman captors. In the movie, Jesus was initially whipped by those who arrested him in the Garden of Gethsemane, again on his way to his first trial, then beaten repeatedly and excessively at his third trial before being sent to his crucifixion, and finally further whipped on the way to Golgotha (the place where Jesus was crucified). No one could survive the beating that Jesus endured at his third trial. These excessive beatings brought the movie’s credibility into question making it unbelievable and a Hollywood version of Christ’s last 12 hours by anyone even slightly knowledgeable about the scriptures.
If Gibson did not follow the scriptures on these major points, what then was his message? Gibson puts the blame for Jesus’ execution squarely on Caiaphas, who had Christ arrested, who, along with the Sanhedrin, found him guilty of blasphemy, and who incited the crowd at Christ’s third trial resulting in his crucifixion. The message in the movie is that the Jews, who were influenced by the devil, were the driving force behind Jesus’ execution that resurrects the age-old image of Jews as the Christ-killer.
What is unfortunate is that Gibson could have made his “Hollywood” version of The Passion of the Christ and just as easily also blamed Pilate who unquestionably had a major hand in Jesus’ crucifixion. Both Caiaphas and Pilate had a lot to gain by Jesus’ crucifixion and both were most certainly responsible for his being put to death.
The Romans controlled Palestine militarily during Christ’s life and they wanted to avoid any uprisings by the Jews. Jesus had triumphantly entered Jerusalem during the Passover Feast which was when the Jews made their annual pilgrimage to the Holy City in large numbers to visit the Temple. This was the time of the year when both Caiaphas and the Romans were particularly concerned that there not be any riots or disorder. Certainly Jesus’ glorious reception was viewed as a possible threat to the peace enforced by the Romans and the responsibility of the High Priest to maintain. In the few days following Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, wherein many in the crowd had considered him to be King of the Jews, he entered the Holy City driving the money changers out of the Temple, which defied Caiaphas’ authority. The Romans viewed him as a troublemaker who could easily incite an uprising, and Caiaphas was in a political hotspot as his continued appointment as High Priest and ruler of the Sanhedrin by Rome were at stake. As Caiaphas had retained his position as High Priest from 18 to 36 C.E., which was much longer than the four year average of any prior High Priest, he had to have worked effectively with the Roman leadership. Pilate ruled from 26 to 36 C.E. Thus, he and Caiaphas were likely close friends, and undoubtedly in contact about mutual concerns of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and what they certainly viewed as his subsequent radical behavior in dealing with the moneychangers at the Temple.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ’s confrontation with the devil was pure “Hollywood”, and led one near the beginning of the movie to consider more carefully what Gibson is trying to portray in the Passion. Caiaphas, according to the scriptures, sent the Temple Guards to arrest Jesus as a troublemaker. As Christ was being arrested, Peter cutoff the ear of one of the captors who was Malchus and the slave of Caiaphas. Jesus performed one of his 30 plus miracles in his ministry by reattaching Malchus’ ear. Jesus was whipped in the movie by his captors while being taken to be tried before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. This trial, which was no more than an ad hoc gathering, was a mockery that ultimately charged Christ with blasphemy for claiming to be the Messiah or King of the Jews. The charge of blasphemy also put Pilate on notice that something had to be done with Jesus as the accusation was serious. The charge marked Jesus as someone who could easily incite an uprising from the more than 2.5 million Jews who were in Jerusalem for the Passover. Pilate had only about 7000 Roman militia, and he could not control a major uprising. Thus, his appointment as ruler of Palestine by the Emperor was in jeopardy, if he did not maintain control of the masses.
After Christ’s first trial before the Sanhedrin, he was taken to Pilate who sent him to the Jewish Governor of Galilee, Herod Antipas, for a civil trial. This trial was discussed only in the Gospel of Luke. Herod Antipas, whose appointment as governor was at the pleasure of the Romans, was only interested in Christ as a curiosity. Herod treated Christ with scorn when Jesus did not respond to his questions or to his request that Jesus perform a miracle for his own amusement. After Herod Antipas finished his inquisition, he dressed Jesus in a royal robe and returned him to Pilate without a verdict. The treatment of Christ by Herod Antipas apparently pleased Pilate immensely as Pilate did not like Herod prior to the trial, but they became friends after the trial.
The interpretation of Christ’s fate after he was returned to Pilate by Herod Antipas has led many scholars and religious leaders to question the depth of Pilate’s involvement in Jesus’ execution. Pilate declared that Jesus was innocent of a capitol crime and several times “suggested” that Christ be released. As it was customary for the Romans to free a Jewish prisoner during the Passover, Pilate asked the multitude assembled for Jesus’ trial whether he or Barabbas, an imprisoned criminal, should be freed. The crowd, who, according to the scriptures, had been incited by the High Priests to demand Christ’s execution, called for his crucifixion. Pilate had Jesus flogged as punishment on the pretext that the crowd would be satisfied and again asked the crowd whether Jesus or Barabbas should be freed. The multitude demanded that Christ be crucified and Barabbas be freed. The scriptures also say that Pilate’s wife had a dream that Jesus was the Messiah and she asked Pilate to free him. As a final gesture in declaring Jesus’ innocence, Pilate washed his hands before the crowd to symbolize his innocence of any responsibility in Jesus’ execution.
The interpretation of the above events has led New Testament scholars and historians to interpretations that range from Caiaphas and the Jews being entirely responsible for Christ’s crucifixion to the Romans being entirely responsible. It is noteworthy that the Second Vatican Council in 1965 was instrumental in producing a document called Nostra Aetate (In Our Time) that included the total exoneration of Jews in the death of Jesus. Other non-Catholic Churches have followed suit in subsequent years.
Unquestionably, Caiaphas was instrumental in the crucifixion. The fact that Caiaphas was Jewish did not make the Jews responsible for the crucifixion. Caiaphas, as the High Priest, was fearful for his job, and Christ was a major threat to his continued role in this position. The interpretation by some modern historians that Pilate was indecisive and wishy-washy in his decision whether to free or crucify Jesus, and that he had given in to the demands of Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin was contrary to descriptions of other writers during this era. For example, Josephus, who was a 1st century (C.E.) historian, and Tacitus, who was a 1st century (C.E.) Roman historian, described Pilate as inflexible in his lack of concern for Jewish sensibilities that were accompanied by brutality and corruption. There were also other accounts of hundreds of Pilate’s executions of Jews without trial by writers such as Philo of Alexander, who was a contemporary Jewish philosopher and wrote of the hostilities of Pilate. These descriptions of Pilate were in contrast to those of Christian writers who portrayed Pilate as reluctantly having Jesus executed, as described in the Gospels, or as having no role in the decision to execute Jesus, as described in Peter’s Letters. It should also be noted that many modern historians point out that the Gospels were written at a time when the authors were trying to please the Roman authorities and they would be inclined to make their writings more pleasing to Roman readership.
Pilate had several choices other than crucifixion, if he believed that Jesus was innocent of a capitol crime. Pilate had the authority to free Jesus, to return him to the Sanhedrin to be dealt with, or bound him over for trail elsewhere, which would seem to be the more logical choices regarding someone he thought was innocent. Perhaps the single most revealing fact in deciding who was responsible for Jesus’ death is to recall that crucifixion was the Roman way of putting outcasts to death, and that Christ was executed under Roman law, not Jewish law. Although the Sanhedrin recommended the death penalty (but had no authority to carry out such punishment), Jews were not responsible for Jesus’ death as Jewish law would have dictated that he die by stoning. The flogging of Christ, his being forced to carry his cross (albeit, according to the scriptures, he carried it only briefly) and the guarding of Golgotha by Roman legionnaires were also characteristic of Roman executions and were executed under Pilate’s command.
Gibson may not have intended to make a movie with anti-Semitic overtones. However, after an examination of the events surrounding the last 12 hours of Christ’s life, it is difficult not to understand the impact of the movie’s depiction of Jews as the Christ-killer.
Many New Testament scholars now believe that Christ also played a major role in his arrest, conviction and crucifixion wherein his execution fulfilled the prophesy of the Old Testament about the Messiah. Jesus’ behavior, by entering Jerusalem and performing acts that would most certainly be upsetting to the Roman and Sanhedrin authorities prior to his arrest, was contrary to someone who only days before had triumphantly entered the City being hailed as the King of the Jews. Such behavior would bring enormous attention to this troublemaker who would have to be dealt with. Furthermore, Jesus’ behavior at each of his trials by not responding at the inquisitions during his first trial (only to acknowledge that he was King of the Jews which led to him being charged with blasphemy), during his second trial to Herod Antipas’ mockery of him, or during his third trial to Pilate’s requests to give cause why he was innocent, strongly suggested that he was not someone trying to avoid the death penalty. In addition, the Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot, which was found in the late 20th Century and translated in the early 21st Century, reveals Judas as Jesus’ closest disciple who was asked by Jesus to betray him to fulfill his role as the Messiah. The Roman Catholic Church, when its officials selected the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the 4th Century, C.E., chose these four and discarded (destroyed) numerous other writings that had been written about Christ’s life and ministry at, or about, the same time as the four Gospels. Perhaps, in the event more ancient books are found and translated, we can piece together a better understanding of Christ, his ministry, arrest, trials and crucifixion. There is no doubt that Christ believed he was the Messiah and gave his life for all others. Unquestionably, this man has had greater impact on mankind than any other living person.

Word count: 2,291 of text.

The Pamplona Bull Run
by Dolph Hatfield

Ernest Hemingway did it in 1924, along with his writer pals John Dos Passos and Don Stewart. In 2004, Dennis Rodman, actress Rosario Dawson, and a handful of European soccer stars were among the many who braved the annual “Running of the Bulls” Hemingway made famous in The Sun Also Rises. And then there are the thousands of thrill-seekers, adrenalin-junkies, or just plain curious who flock to Pamplona each July for the San Fermin Fiesta.

The Fiesta occurs every July 7-14. The “Running of the Bulls,” known as the “encierro” in Spain, is the major event of the Fiesta and takes place on each of these days. The origin of Pamplona’s present-day encierro dates from 1867, but some records suggest that it began in the sixteenth century. Initially, it served as a means of transporting the bulls from the outskirts of town through the city streets to the Plaza del Castillo, where the bullfights were held. Legend has it that the bulls were herded by horseback to the bullring, accompanied by several men running alongside. When those who ran were not injured, the locals thanked San Fermin, the patron saint of Pamplona, for protecting the runners from harm. Even today, participants ask San Fermin to watch over and spare them from injury during the event. Other cities in Spain and France have their own bull runs, but none can claim the popularity of the annual San Fermin event.

The San Fermin Fiesta is a sea of red and white, as the bull runners, along with many of the spectators, wear red scarves and sashes with white shirts and pants. The run commences each morning when the clock on the San Saturnino Church strikes 8:00. A rocket is launched to announce the opening of the gate releasing the six bulls from the corral where they are kept during the previous night. About a half-dozen steers also exit the holding pen at the same time. A second rocket is launched shortly after the first to let the runners know that the large mass of beef is now in the street, rapidly advancing up the course. Once they leave the corral, the bulls usually take between two and three minutes to reach the stadium. A third rocket is launched to signal that the bulls have entered the bullring. A fourth and final rocket informs everyone that the bulls are safely in their holding pens within the stadium. The six bulls in each day’s run will meet their demise in the bullring on that same evening. These are huge animals weighing between 1,000-1,200 pounds, bred only for bull fighting.

The course
On Wednesday morning, July 7, 2004, Brad Carlson, my traveling companion, and I, met up with our friend, Javier Martin-Romero, at the Madrid Airport. We drove 395 km north to Pamplona and checked into our hotel. That evening we walked the course of the bull run. Though the distance from the holding pen to the bullring is only about 800 meters, the course winds through Pamplona’s streets and plazas. The only paved section is the first part, the Cuesta de Santo Domingo that proceeds uphill for 280 meters before passing through the Plaza Consistorial where the Town Hall is located. The course then turns to cobblestone, twising to the left onto a short street, Calle de Mercaderes, before abruptly turning 90 degrees to the right onto Calle Estafeta, the longest and straightest portion of the run. The course then enters the section known as the Telefonos. Here the route widens and then narrows into a funnel-shaped, gentle downhill slope called the Callejon, which sweeps bulls and bull runners alike into the bullring.

The streets are about 25 feet wide, for the most part, and are lined by small businesses and storefronts, or by a double fence put up each morning. The first and second fences, which consist of horizontal railings, are separated by several feet. The spectators sit on the top of the second fence, while the small open area between is left largely vacant during the run except for the medical-aid teams, police and marshals. Runners can dart quickly into these “open” spaces to avoid the oncoming bulls.

Running with the bulls
The next morning, Brad and I decided to run, while Javier wanted to photograph the event from the relative safety of the fences. Runners do not have to register, but are advised to arrive at the course no later than 7:30 AM to participate. Brad and I entered the crowded course at the Plaza Consistorial at about 7:00 AM and waited shoulder to shoulder with the other participants as they began singing a homily to the statue of San Fermin. The song goes “A San Fermin pedimos, por ser nuestro patron, nos guie en el encierro dandonos su bendicion,” which in English means “We ask Saint Fermin, as our Patron, to guide us through the bull run giving us his blessing.”

About five minutes before the start, the police opened the municipal gate at the end of the Plaza Consistorial. This gate marks the starting line for the participants. Once the gate was opened, we slowly advanced up the track. When the first rocket went off at 8:00 AM, I began to walk and then run up the course for about 30 to 40 meters. The crowd was now running very quickly and I tucked myself into the first available doorway that was not occupied, just as most of the bulls were passing. It proved difficult to pinpoint exactly when the bulls were coming due to the mass of people running in front of them. Brad had remained in the Plaza Consistorial and plastered himself against the fence near the Town Hall. Since the Plaza was the widest part of the course, Brad felt rather safe as the bulls were running at their fastest through this section and they quickly passed him. However, Brad and I had far more exposure to these rapidly charging animals than either of us had wanted. We learned on the first day that one way to avoid injury is never to stand along the sides of the course. There, participants are fully exposed to the passing bulls. If one prefers not to run, but wishes to be on the course and watch the bulls pass, the safest bet is to seek the protection of a doorway or climb under the fence and let the charging animals pass.

Although deaths are rare, 15 fatalities have been recorded since 1924, along with some 200 goring incidents. The local morning newspapers carry a complete account of the previous day’s run, including the number of injuries. In 2004, there were 56 hospitalizations with 16 resulting from gorings. There are no firm data on the number of participants, but the locals say that there are more than a 1,000 runners each weekday and roughly double this figure on weekend days. Thus, the relative number of recorded injuries are not that high. But don’t let this proportionally low number of wounded participants be deceiving as the vast majority of runners either stand along the course and are passed by the bulls, secure themselves in doorways or enter the stadium long before the bulls arrive. The more daring a participant is of course the higher probability of being injured.

Entering the bullring
On day two, we arrived at the course about 5:30 AM. Brad wanted to video the event and Javier wanted to find a good spot to install himself near the bullring to take more pictures. When the gates opened at the Plaza Consistorial, I hurried up the course and positioned myself about 30 meters outside the stadium. When the rocket sounded, the crowd yelled feverishly. After about two minutes, a wave of runners was moving up the track, but the fear level did not seem to be high enough among these runners for the bulls to be close. I waited next to the fence while a second group of runners came. The panicked look in their eyes suggested that the bulls were close behind, so I began to run. The adrenalin rush I felt carried me quickly into the stadium. The bulls followed several seconds later.

Once the bulls and steers entered the ring, the doors were closed. The bulls and steers were herded into a holding pen across the bullring floor from the entrance. A younger bull, weighing about 500 to 600 pounds, was then released from another pen to chase the participants and entertain the spectators in the stadium. The young bull remained in the ring for about an hour. A number of people were hit, and some very hard, by the young bull.

On our last day, Saturday, July 10, the Plaza Consistorial was much more crowded than on the previous two days. Attendance at the San Fermin Festival–and the number of runners–more than doubles on weekends. When the rocket went off, signaling the release of the bulls from the holding pens, we had already made our way up the route to about 25 meters before the entrance of the stadium. But as the crowd neared the stadium, we were forced along by the mass. Just before we entered the stadium, we waited along the right wall until a wave of fast moving runners arrived, joined this group and ran into the arena. The bulls arrived about 20 seconds later. The crowd on the bullring floor was enormous and the stadium was completely filled with spectators. The bulls were herded into the pens and the younger bull released. There were so many participants in the bullring that the young bull had no problem making contact with numerous runners. Brad and I stayed in the bullring for about another 30 minutes, keeping a safe distance from the young bull. We then climbed the fence and made our way out of the stadium to meet Javier.

Would we do this again? Dave Freeman’s 100 Things to Do Before You Die: Travel Events You Can’t Miss lists the Pamplona Running of the Bulls as a “must” experience, right up there with Carnival in Brazil, the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, and the Cannes Film Festival. Brad, Javier and I would have to agree— “Yes” we would do it again. Like Hemingway and all the countless others who have been felt the thrill of the wildest few minutes imaginable, we had a most wonderful experience and one that we shall always cherish. We hope that you will participate in this international event, enjoy yourself, run an intelligent race, and above all, be safe.

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