Jesus in the temple (Greco)
Well, surprise, surprise! According to a recent archeological report, the ancient temple in Jerusalem was a slaughterhouse that powered the local economy. The animals sacrificed came from both near and far away, which “confirms visions of the temple depicted in historical Jewish texts and suggests the economic heart of the city was its slaughtering operation.”
The Journal of Archeological Science, in the December 2013 issue has an article on “The pilgrimage economy of Early Roman Jerusalem,” by Gideon Hartman, et. al., which (despite the date) is evidently already available. You can find the abstract online (scroll down to see abstract). What is new in this report is not the ancient testimonies pro or con on animal sacrifice, but that modern evidence supports the idea that animal sacrifice was a key part of the first century Jewish economy. Continue reading
My forthcoming book, Disciples: How Jewish Christianity Shaped Jesus and Shattered the Church, will be published
about November 1 probably before Thanksgiving likely by December 9. We also now have a better idea of what the cover will look like (to the left). I’m pleased to get a blurb for Disciples from Kamran Pasha, a Hollywood filmmaker and novelist.
We’re also assembling a list of people to get review copies. If you know someone who might be interested in reviewing the book, let me know.
Here’s the blurb I’ve written for the book: Continue reading
Another part of Chatfield slated for destruction under the proposal
We still have a few more hours to protest the proposal to destroy the heart of Chatfield State Park to the US Army Corps of Engineers. Comments are due by midnight September 3 (that’s today). Send an e-mail to email@example.com. If you can’t think of anything else to say, just say this is a really stupid idea and quote me as your authority.
But I digress.
Last time, I responded to the Denver Post‘s editorial, “Chatfield expansion will benefit public.” In defense of their editorial, they make four points. None of their four points mention the most glaring problem: this project will result in “zero dependable yield” of water, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers. Here’s my response to their points. Continue reading
An insipid, half-baked plan to destroy Chatfield State Park is now going full-steam ahead. Today The Denver Post has weighed in on the side of the “greed” faction. The opportunity to speak out is closing fast – comments are due by September 3. For what you can do, go to the Save Chatfield web site.
I have some news for the Post. Water is quite scarce out here, and no one’s making any more of it! We can only take it away from a place where it already exists. People need to think about this whenever yet another scatter-brained water project that destroys natural habitat is proposed. We need to be able to say “no” to the developers. Continue reading
Secular Cycles. Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov. Princeton University Press, 2009.
Secular Cycles is a phenomenal and important book. It is clearly of interest to anyone who is concerned about things like the collapse of civilizations, and specifically the possible collapse of our civilization. Even though it’s new to me, it’s actually not new — it was published in 2009, and I’m only now finding out about it, and reading it! I first heard of it through Gail Tverberg’s blog, “Our Finite World,” and I hope it finds a wide readership. But a word of warning: this book is not for the faint of heart. You’ve got to love the subject or you’ll never make it through the book. It doesn’t use a lot of technical terms, and is clearly written, just very academic. Continue reading
Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker, in The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Penguin Books, 2011), argues that human violence has declined. Violence was much more widespread in primitive societies than in historical times, and more widespread in the Middle Ages than in the twentieth century — yes, even worse than the First and Second World Wars. After reading his lengthy but quite readable book, I am convinced — violence between humans has indeed declined. It’s an engrossing and ground-breaking book, by the way; everyone from Peter Singer to the Wall Street Journal has praised it.
However, there are a few small points I want to raise concerning the book. Specifically, violence towards animals has increased; and the peace between humans is largely dependent on our relative affluence, which in turn depends on our exploitation of natural resources, which are now seriously depleted. Continue reading
The basic argument against backyard chickens is that allowing this practice creates an entirely new category of urban animal: an animal which may be routinely mistreated in a domestic urban environment.
This is not to say that most people who keep backyard chickens mistreat them. In fact, many consider their hens to be “pets” and will keep them even after they cease being “useful.” But this is not what the promoters of backyard livestock agriculture have in mind. They are promoting backyard livestock as a practical way to obtain food, namely, eggs and meat. Continue reading
When I protested against the proposal to encourage backyard chickens in Denver two years ago, one of the questions I asked was “What do you think is going to happen when owners get roosters from hatcheries? Chicks are hard to sex, and ‘mistakes’ may not be evident until the chickens are six months old.” Most cities which allow backyard chickens (including Denver) allow hens but prohibit roosters.
Well, guess what! We now know the answer to this question, at least for Denver. They will be dumped at animal sanctuaries or at local animal shelters. Continue reading
It has been literally decades since I last heard Ingrid Newkirk (of PETA fame) speak. She is coming to Denver and in fact, by a quirk of fate, speaking at Denver University on Thursday, August 22, just a few blocks from where I live. She’ll be at the Ritchie Center, fourth floor, Gottesfeld Room, at 7:30 p. m. Ingrid’s talks are always controversial and inspiring; they also frequently sell out, so if you are interesting in hearing her, you should buy your tickets soon. You can do that by going to this PETA website.
For several years, the animal rights movement in the Denver area has perhaps not been as effective as it could be, and I am hopeful that this event will generate some new energy that will go in a positive direction to help animals everywhere.
Michael Pollan, while celebrating the virtues of keeping backyard chickens, recently made a comment that chickens are “nasty and stupid” — and therefore, it sounds like, more deserving of being killed. Karen Davis, founder of United Poultry Concerns, incisively responded, “Even if chickens manipulated for meat production were stupid, blaming them for their defenseless predicament is cruel.”
There is another important point to be made, though, and that is the effect of killing chickens on Michael Pollan himself. Continue reading