Category Archives: Literature / Publishing

Kate Lawrence on media overconsumption

The Practical Peacemaker, by Kate Lawrence - coverKate Lawrence, author of The Practical Peacemaker: How Simple Living Makes Peace Possible (Lantern Books) was interviewed as part of the “Authors @ Douglas County Libraries” series. This is the third short excerpt from the interview, on media overconsumption and advertising, recently uploaded to YouTube. For more about the book see Kate’s blog.

Kate Lawrence on vegetarianism

Kate Lawrence, author of The Practical Peacemaker: How Simple Living Makes Peace Possible (Lantern Books) was interviewed as part of the “Authors @ Douglas County Libraries” series. I have recently uploaded the following short excerpt on vegetarianism from the interview to YouTube. For more about the book see Kate’s blog.

Moral Tribes — review

Moral Tribes.  Emotion, Reason and the Gap Between Us and Them.  By Joshua Greene.  Penguin Press, 2013.

What’s the best way to talk about moral issues? This is obviously something that activists worry about a lot, whether their cause is veganism, the environment, climate change, or anything.

According to Joshua Greene, the problem is not lack of basic morality, but in competing moralities. There are many different moral cultures or subcultures, which share among themselves certain ethical ideas which, to them, are obvious. But these ideas differ from those of other moral cultures — the “moral tribes” referred to in the title. Anyone who is interested in this problem, or in moral philosophy and moral psychology in general, should at least take a look at Moral Tribes. Continue reading

The Modern Savage — review

The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals, by James McWilliams. Thomas Dunne Books, 2015.

Industrialized animal agriculture is morally and intellectually bankrupt. Society is slowly but increasingly becoming aware of the cruel, unnatural, and environmentally harmful aspects of factory farms. But what is going to replace it?

Well-known food intellectuals such as Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Joel Salatin, and Jonathan Safran Foer have advocated returning to localized, more traditional ways of raising animals. Encouraged by some environmentalists and even some animal welfare supporters, nonindustrial animal agriculture has grown tremendously in the past decade. Continue reading

Norm Phelps (1939–2014)

Norm Phelps died on December 31, 2014. An activist in the promotion of vegetarianism, veganism, and compassion for animals in spiritual traditions, he authored numerous books and articles.

He followed both the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and the Unitarian Universalist tradition — neither of which, he noted, is exclusive. But he was raised as a Baptist and a Methodist and wrote about Christianity and animals as well. Continue reading

Most Popular Blog Posts in 2014

lauren Ornelas with Nicholas at Animal Place

What makes a popular blog post — one that gets a lot of hits? Sometimes I work carefully on a post that seems timely and relevant, and it goes over like a lead balloon. At other times, I just summarize things that I think everyone knows already, and bang, it’s a hit. Thank you, Google, and thank you, Facebook. But for what it’s worth, here are Compassionate Spirit’s top 10 popular blog posts in 2014. Continue reading

Interview on “Main Street Vegan”

UPDATE January 31, 2015: here is the direct link to the recording of this podcast.

I will be interviewed by Victoria Moran of “Main Street Vegan” on Wednesday, June 18, at 1 pm Mountain Daylight time (that’s noon Pacific, 2 pm Central, and 3 pm Eastern). Most people listen to the podcast rather than the live show, but for those who listen in, we will be giving away a free copy of either Disciples or The Lost Religion of Jesus. Call in with questions: 888-558-6489 (U.S.); 816-347-5519 (outside the U.S).  After the show the episode will be posted on the “Main Street Vegan” web site. To listen to the podcast while it’s in progress, go to



Paul and Jesus (review)

Paul and Jesus. How the Apostle Transformed Christianity. James Tabor. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2012.

This is a marvelous little book which is basic to understanding the “historical Paul.” It’s so simple, elegant, and straightforward, that after reading it, one can’t help wondering why someone hadn’t written it earlier. Not only is it important to understanding the historical Paul, but it’s also important to understanding the historical Jesus — because it is through Paul that we have some of our best information about the early Jesus movement.

James Tabor is a key figure in the growing movement to recognize and understand “Jewish Christianity.” Continue reading

Review of Disciples by Stephen R. Kaufman

Stephen Kaufman wrote the following review of Disciples.  It appeared in the May 15 issue of the e-newsletter of the Christian Vegetarian Association.

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Nearly all Christians accept without question the assertion that Christianity started with Jesus. In this remarkable book, Keith Akers argues convincingly that the movement now called Christianity preceded Jesus’ ministry. It regarded Jesus as an exemplary leader, but evidently it did not consider Jesus divine.

Akers focuses on the Jewish Christian movement – those Jews who followed Jesus during his life and honored him after his death. Though they were the ones who knew Jesus best, their understanding of his teachings was eventually deemed heretical by a Gentile church that was heavily influenced by Paul. Continue reading

Review of Disciples in “The Dubious Disciple”

The following review of Disciples appeared in Lee Harmon’s blog “The Dubious Disciple”:

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Wow. I wish I had written this book. Speculative but convincingly argued, it strikes a perfect balance between reason and wonder, as it traces the evolution and demise of Jewish Christianity.

I have both curiosity and sympathy for the Ebionites, that early Jewish Christian sect which probably stemmed from the first Christians in Jerusalem, headed by Jesus’ brother James. Their disagreements with Paul, their emphasis on simplicity, and their primitive Christology have always intrigued me. Continue reading

Review of “Disciples” in “The Metaphysical Express”

Pat Moauro, the editor of The Metaphysical Express (London, Ontario, Canada), has written a review of Disciples, which is posted below. Pat encourages anyone who wants a copy of this journal to e-mail him at patmor123 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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After reading Keith Akers’ newest book, Disciples, I must admit I found some of his information about the origins of Christianity startling and surprising. Although I left traditional Christianity many years ago in favour of metaphysical and New Thought Christianity, I was still somewhat taken aback while reading this book and its conclusions about Jesus Christ, the organization and church built around his name, and the way Christianity has splintered and shattered into hundreds of competing sects and groups, each claiming to be the “True” church founded by Jesus. Continue reading

Talk on “Christianity in the First Century and Today”

If you’re in the Denver area, come hear me give a talk on “Christianity in the First Century and Today” on Sunday, May 4, at the First Universalist Church of Denver, 4101 East Hampden Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80222. It will be held at 12:30 p. m. The event is the weekly “Community Forum.” It is scheduled to be held in the Colvin Commons; I will update this post if the room changes.

The church is at the northeast corner of Hampden and Colorado Blvd.  Their phone number is 303-759-2770. For more information, check the web site of the First Universalist Church.

Interview on Mormon Vegetarian Radio

I will be interviewed by Mormon Vegetarian Radio (BlogTalkRadio) on Thursday, May 1, at 8 p. m. Mountain Daylight time (that’s 7 p. m.Pacific, 9 p. m.Central, and 10 p. m. Eastern).  You can go to the above link and click on Episode 16. They have a copy of Disciples and I will be interested to see what sorts of questions they ask. I will have a copy of The Doctrine and Covenants, section 89. If you want to call in to the program with questions, the number is (347) 324-5516. UPDATE: If you missed the program, you can hear it here.

Review of “Disciples” by Brian Wagner

Here’s another review of Disciples:

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Keith Akers’ latest effort, Disciples:  How Jewish Christianity shaped Jesus and Shattered the Church, is a ground-breaking examination of a largely misunderstood period in Christian history.  Akers’ illumination of primary sources throws into question many long-held beliefs of the trajectory of early Christianity.  His systematic review of the surviving evidence gradually builds a formidable and convincing framework for an understanding of the early faith.  If you are interested in pre-Nicene Christianity, this is a must-read.

Brian Wagner, doctoral candidate, New Testament and Early Christian Studies, University of South Africa.