One of the joys of writing this column is the wealth of material that comes to my attention. Yet this also necessitates limited coverage. This month I offer several briefer than usual items. Regard them as appetizers!
* For the past 20 years, Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting The Last Supper has been encased in scaffolding while experts restored it as much as possible to its original condition (though much has been lost). The restoration is now complete.
First finished in 1498, the work is a wall painting in the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. The restoration has brightened the painting and revealed much new detail, such as specific foods on the table. But it also scraped away previously restored layers, leaving some blank spots. Experts disagree on how long the famous painting will last.
* French photographer Frederic Brenner is near completion (in 2001) of a lengthy project photographing enclaves of Jews in unusual locations. For Chronicle of Exile, he traveled to Hong Kong, for example, to capture images of that city's approximately 1,600 Jews and four synagogues.
Altogether, Brenner has visited 42 countries in his quest to document these small communities.
* Today many of us are so focused on videotapes that we can forget the pleasures of listening to audiotapes, while driving, for instance, or to bring to a friend in the hospital. A source for interesting audiotapes with religious themes is Mars Hill Audio.
Mostly conversations, the tapes cover topics from bioethics to why books on spirituality are becoming best-sellers. For a catalog write to: P.O. Box 7826, Charlottesville, VA 22906-7826, or call (800) 331-6407.
* An aid for people who love to sing hymns but can't attend church for various reasons is a CD of organ accompaniments to 26 popular hymns: Faith Sings (Concordia Publishing House, $15.95; 800-774-0274). The CD might also serve congregations without an organ or where an organist is ill or on vacation.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers