Dr. Robert Goodland died on December 28, 2013. He is best known as the lead author (with co-author Jeff Anhang) of “Livestock and Climate Change” (WorldWatch, November / December 2009), which made the case that livestock agriculture is responsible for over half of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. He worked at the World Bank for over two decades and was sometimes referred to as “the conscience of the World Bank.” Continue reading
My new book, Disciples: How Jewish Christianity Shaped Jesus and Shattered the Church (Apocryphile Press, 2013) has now been published. You can order it on Amazon here. (I will not be selling it through my website.)
A book about the disciples of Jesus would typically start with Jesus himself: first there was Jesus, then he had disciples. Disciples suggests a fundamentally different story: first there was a movement, then Jesus emerged as its leader. This movement was markedly different from both rabbinic Judaism and gentile Christianity. It became known to history as “Jewish Christianity”— Jews who followed both Jesus (as they understood him) and the Jewish law (as they understood it).
These first disciples affirmed simple living, nonviolence, and vegetarianism, and rejected wealth, war, and animal sacrifices. Some two decades after Jesus was crucified, they split with their most famous missionary, Paul, over the issues of vegetarianism and eating meat from animal sacrifices. These events become clear through examination of the letters of Paul and the Jewish Christian literature: the Recognitions, the Homilies, and testimony about Jewish Christianity in the early church fathers. The history of Jewish Christianity takes our understanding of Christian origins into a completely new realm. Continue reading
By Michael Skriver
Carl Anders Skriver (1903 - 1983)
Dr. Carl Anders Skriver has been a leading figure in the vegetarian movement during the last 60 plus years. Born on December 8, 1903 – 110 years ago – his view of the world changed forever at the age of 17 after reading texts on the teachings of Gautama Buddha. As a consequence he was no longer able to contemplate the killing and eating of animals. He studied classical Indology for his doctorate in philosophy (The Idea of Creation in Vedic Literature).
On encouragement of his Buddhist friend Hans Much, Professor of Medicine, he then studied theology. Another challenge was posed by the question: Was the love of Buddha greater, and much more inclusive, than the compassion of Jesus? Continue reading
Methane is a lot worse than we thought, but there is some good news about the climate as well, already well publicized. Al Gore has gone vegan. In the past many people have complained about Gore’s lack of interest in combating a key cause of climate change. Well, now our hopes have been realized: Gore is a vegan. The “revelation” has been confirmed by The Washington Post.
This is a hugely interesting fact about which quite a bit of ink has already been spilled. The most interesting facet of this story is how amazingly little we know about Gore’s veganism. Continue reading
Harder than it looks
There’s bad news on the climate front. Methane emissions are quite a bit worse than previously thought. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science is now all over the internet and in the news. It shows that methane emissions are 50% greater than previous estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s not only our consumptive lifestyle overall, but specifically meat consumption, which is the problem. Continue reading
Reza Aslan’s Zealot provocatively places Matthew 10:34 as the book’s motto: “I bring not peace, but the sword.” What was the attitude of the early followers of Jesus towards violence?
One might conclude from the title and the motto that Zealot would be a rehash of the “Jesus as violent revolutionary” idea. S. G. F. Brandon, Robert Eisenman, and others have all made the case that Jesus was a militant Jewish nationalist. But Aslan’s book is more sophisticated than this; Jesus was a “zealot” with a lower-case “z,” not a member of the Zealot party. Continue reading
Anyone who has tried to access this site in the last two days has probably gotten some unsatisfactory results: an old page,”internal server error,” page not found, a very different looking web site, links that don’t work, or something like that. The problems have now been fixed and the web site is back to normal.
It’s a pleasure to encounter a book about Jesus that acknowledges the critical importance of Jesus’ disruption of the animal sacrifice business in the last week of his life; that acknowledges that Jesus was a Jew and tries to understand him in terms of the Jewish thought of the time; and that understands the historical importance of the shattering of the early church due to the dispute between Paul on the one hand, and James the brother of Jesus and the other disciples on the other.
Such a book is Reza Aslan’s Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Random House, 2013). This book is sufficiently interesting that I will devote two blogs to issues which it raises, even though there is no mention of vegetarianism or the Ebionites. In this first one, we’ll look at the incident in the temple, to which Aslan attributes central importance. In the second, we’ll look at the early Christian attitude towards war. Continue reading
Back and front of the cover for "Disciples"
Disciples will likely be published by Thanksgiving. In the meantime, here is the revised cover for the book, and the terms which we will have in the index. The page numbers, of course, will mean nothing to you because the book isn’t out yet, but it does give you an idea of what is being covered.
It’s great if we can get Disciples widely reviewed. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to contact me either privately (keith “at” compassionatespirit “dot” com) or through the comment section of this blog. A number of readers have already made some excellent suggestions as to who should get review copies, and these people have been added to the list. Thanks!
The BP oil spill
Drama! Don’t you love it! The debt ceiling and government shutdown debates illustrate that what the government lacks in problem-solving ability, it makes up for in entertainment value. The government is running again, the debt limit has been raised, and once again things are back to “normal,” whatever that is. But the problem has not been solved, because the real problem has no solution. This is a “limits to growth” issue which no political leader has acknowledged even exists. Continue reading