Every now and then, it's good to see all kinds of people -- religion-beat professionals included -- using social media to celebrate a major news report.
Let me be clear: I am not saying that other journalists celebrated the contents of the story -- "Crypt Believed to Be Jesus’ Tomb Opened for First Time in Centuries" -- as in celebrating its theological implications.
No, I'm saying that lots of people simply celebrated the fact that the New York Times ran a nice, solid news feature on efforts by priests, monks, scientists and construction workers to study and repair the shrine surrounding the tomb of Jesus. To be honest, however, some would say that they celebrated the fact that the story mentioned that millions of Christians do, in fact, believe in that whole "Up From the Grave He Arose" thing.
In other words, we do not have a new entry in our occasional GetReligion series on the Gray Lady offering the opposite point of view, as in our recent post: "Believe it or not: The New York Times has quietly returned to its 'Jesus is dead' theme."
Still, there is one rather strange thing, in terms of journalism, about this news story (emphasis on the word "news"). Let's see if you can spot it. Here is the overture:
JERUSALEM -- The only mystical power visible was the burning light from seven tapered candles. And yet for ages, the tomb that sits at the center of history has captured the imaginations of millions around the world.
For centuries, no one looked inside -- until last week, when a crew of specialists opened the simple tomb in Jerusalem’s Old City and found the limestone burial bed where tradition says the body of Jesus Christ lay after his crucifixion and before his resurrection.
“We saw where Jesus Christ was laid down,” Father Isidoros Fakitsas, the superior of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, told me. “Before, nobody has.” Or at least nobody alive today. “We have the history, the tradition. Now we saw with our own eyes the actual burial place of Jesus Christ.”
For 60 hours, they collected samples, took photographs and reinforced the tomb before resealing it, perhaps for centuries to come.
Need another hint? The next sentence adds: