Big (Literally) News out of Tel Tayinat

Suppiluliuma statue found at the Tayinat Archaeological Project excavation site in southeastern Turkey (Jennifer Jackson)

Suppiluliuma statue found at the Tayinat Archaeological Project excavation site in southeastern Turkey (Jennifer Jackson)

Via Live Science:

An international team of archaeologists has unearthed a beautiful and colossal human sculpture, perhaps of Suppiluliuma, at the Tayinat Archaeological Project excavation site in southeastern Turkey.

Both pieces are from a monumental gate complex that provided access to the upper citadel of Kunulua, capital of the Neo-Hittite Kingdom of Patina (1000-738 BC).

“These newly discovered Tayinat sculptures are the product of a vibrant local Neo-Hittite sculptural tradition,” said Prof Tim Harrison, the Tayinat Project director and professor of Near Eastern Archaeology in the University of Toronto’s Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations.

“They provide a vivid glimpse into the innovative character and sophistication of the Iron Age cultures that emerged in the eastern Mediterranean following the collapse of the great imperial powers of the Bronze Age at the end of the second millennium BC,” he said.

The head and torso of the human figure, intact to just above its waist, stands approximately 1.5 m in height, suggesting a total body length of 3.5 to 4 m. The figure’s face is bearded, with beautifully preserved inlaid eyes made of white and black stone, and its hair has been coiffed in an elaborate series of curls aligned in linear rows. Both arms are extended forward from the elbow, each with two arm bracelets decorated with lion heads. The figure’s right hand holds a spear, and in its left is a shaft of wheat. A crescent-shaped pectoral adorns its chest.

A lengthy Hieroglyphic Luwian inscription, carved in raised relief across its back, records the campaigns and accomplishments of Suppiluliuma, likely the same Patinean king who faced a Neo-Assyrian onslaught of Shalmaneser III as part of a Syrian-Hittite coalition in 858 BC.

The second sculpture is a large semi-circular column base, approximately 1 m in height and 0.9 m in diameter, lying on its side next to the human figure. A winged bull is carved on the front of the column and it is flanked by a sphinx on its left. The right side of the column is flat and undecorated, an indication that it originally stood against a wall.

Well dug, Tim, well dug!

Why I still love Jim West

Bob Cargill and Jim West

Bob Cargill and Jim West

In response to Jim’s recent post, I feel compelled to respond in kind.

Jim and I are friends. We have been friends since 2007. And yes, we disagree on a number of issues, including same-sex marriage. And yes, I too have received emails that ask why I continue to debate, joke with, and dialogue with Jim. The answer: we are friends, and we are professionals, and we shall continue to be.

I have sat in a Santa Monica restaurant and discussed the issue of same-sex marriage at length with Jim. (One of us had beer, the other had soda; I’ll let the readers decide who had what.) And I can tell you that while our minds are firmly made up on the issue, we can agree to disagree and remain friends and professionals, even on this very personal issue.

I do not need to agree with someone on all issues in order to remain friends with them. In fact, I cannot imagine a world where all of my friends agreed with me. My closest friends and I all have wildly different opinions on many different issues, and yet at the end of the day, we are friends first and professionals second, never rivals.

I believe this concept is better understood by scholars, who are trained to critique and examine and judge data and arguments without making the disagreement personal. This is not necessarily so in the public arena, where the rejection of one’s ideas is often closely linked to the rejection of the individual personally. (And granted, this does happen in the academy more than it should, but most professional scholars learn how to separate a rejection of their theory from a rejection of them personally.)

I like Jim, and I appreciate what he does for his community in Petros, Tennessee. He is not only a scholar, he is a true pastor who enriches the lives of individuals that, if we’re honest, most scholars would never know. He marries them. He buries them. He celebrates with them. And he mourns with them. He is one of the kindest, gentlest, men I’ve ever met, and he’s given his life to serving his community. We should all hope to do the same.

Yes, Jim’s online blogging personality is often over-the-top hyperbole, but if readers haven’t figured out what he’s doing with this particular iteration of his blog, and why he writes the way he writes, then I’m not going to give it away. (Hint: READ HIS BLOG’S TITLE!)

So yes, we disagree. And yes, Jim is on the wrong side of the same-sex marriage debate. But I value him as a friend and as a professional because we can disagree and still meet up at ASOR/SBL and grab that dinner. We shall continue to work together on many online initiatives, and without sounding too much like Spock, he is, and always will be my friend, no matter how much we may disagree, and no matter how much either of us feels the other has misspoken or pushed a particular agenda.

You can love Jim West, and you can hate him. But you all read him (even if you don’t admit it). And I will continue to disagree with, chastise, and at times poke fun at Jim, BUT we shall continue to work and play together, because that’s what friends do.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some tie-dye to put on and a seizure to induce. And Jim, I’ve got something for you here that may persuade you on our marriage debate. Let’s just say it would make Zwingli proud. ;-)

Cargill with Axe

Cargill with Axe

Forget Same-Sex Marriage: Southern Church Prohibits BLACK Wedding

Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson were banned from having their wedding at the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi because they are black.

Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson were banned from having their wedding at the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi because they are black.

This is UN-FRIGGING-BELIEVABLE!

Forget about same-sex marriage: some southern Christians still can’t get past BLACK weddings!!

ABC News is reporting that First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi has prohibited the wedding of Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson from taking place in its building because they are African-American:

“There has never been a black wedding at the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Miss., since its founding in 1883. According to Pastor Stan Weatherford, some church members objected so strongly to breaking that precedent, they threatened to oust him from his pastorship.”

David Kenney of WLBT News in Jackson, Miss. reported the rationale of the pastor:

“This had never been done before here, so it was setting a new precedent, and there are those who reacted to that because of that,” said Weatherford.

Seriously? This is what is STILL happening in the American South?? This is still an issue?

For the record, this is what we’re dealing with when we talk about racism and homophobia. And this is why people are so outraged about the Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A scandal. Yes, they are different issues, but they are treated the same in the eyes of many fundamentalists. Many of the same “Christians” that are actively campaigning to suppress the civil rights of gay Americans and prohibit same-sex weddings are also still campaigning against allowing African-American weddings. They are different issues, but the hatred and condescension and racist/homophobic fear is all the same.

Think about it: this church REALLY banned a black wedding!!! And yet, for some reason, we are supposed to value their opinion on same-sex weddings???

This is the mentality we’re dealing with in conservative Christianity. Gay weddings are not allowed. Black weddings are not allowed. Only white, straight Christian weddings please.

NBC News reported the frustration of the groom, Charles Wilson:

Charles Wilson said he doesn’t understand the ban. “I blame those members who knew and call themselves Christians and didn’t stand up,” Wilson said.

This is why we must stand up and we must report the absurd behavior of those who seek to use religion to prohibit anything different them themselves.

I’m still waiting for the church to claim that they were prohibited from getting married in the church for some other reason, as racism and homophobia are usually disguised in a something else. It still wouldn’t change the fact that the church has never hosted a black wedding.

Maybe Chick-fil-A can sponsor the next potluck for the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi…

(HT: Jim West)

Chick-FAIL-A: Dan Cathy’s Selective Appeal to ‘Biblical Principles’

It’s funny how selective and subjective the term “biblical principles” can be to some fundamentalists.

Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy recently said in an interview with the Baptist Press that that he aims to operate his restaurant chain “on biblical principles”:

“We don’t claim to be a Christian business…But as an organization we can operate on biblical principles.”

He added:

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. … We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

It always amuses me when Christian fundamentalists cite “biblical principles”, they often select only those that oppress homosexuals. For instance, Leviticus 19:19 quite clearly reads:

“Do not wear clothing woven from two different kinds of thread.”

Nowhere in the New Testament do we find a verse or command that countermands, rescinds, or trumps this injunction from God (like there is in Peter’s vision in Acts 10:9ff ( see esp. vv. 14-15), where Peter is told to “kill and eat” food that was previously pronounced by God to be “unclean”). There is no such verse unbinding the command of God not to mix fabrics in garments, and yet, the online Chick-fil-A store advertises the following:

Biblical principles? Which ones?

Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy said his business is run on ‘biblical principles’. Apparently, however, he’s only interested in the ‘biblical principles’ that oppress gay individuals.

Note the “cotton and poly” blend of the sweatshirt? One must ask: is this sweatshirt produced according to “biblical principles”?

Now, while some might call this “nitpicking”, the hypocritical and highly selective appeal to “biblical principles” is glaring: often times, when Christian fundamentalists invoke “biblical principles”, they do so selectively, and only when they are seeking to suppress the rights of others with whom they happen to disagree. I’ve discussed “cherry picking” and the fallacy of an inconsistent hermeneutic before. It repeatedly seems that fundamentalist Christians will ignore clear “biblical principles” they find inconvenient, but are quick to invoke them when there is a chance to suppress the rights of gays.

And for this egregious, homophobic biblical hypocrisy, I shake my head.

(HT: Found at Addicting Info.)

Remembering Tisha b’Av (The 9th of Av)

Destruction of Jerusalem

The destroyed remains of the Second Temple in Jerusalem

We are presently preparing for the Tisha b’Av (9th of Ab) remembrance here in Israel this weekend. The Azekah students have gone to the Dead Sea for a tour and I am alone here at Nes Harim, watching the Shabbat sun set over Bet Shemesh. All is quiet as it should be for a solemn remembrance of this sort.

The religious mourn the destruction of both the first and second temples in Jerusalem, along with other tragedies that are said to have taken place on the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av. (The defeat of the Bar Kokhba Rebellion and the subsequent leveling of Jerusalem are also attributed to the 9th of Av.) However, even the non-religious here remember with much solemnity the destruction of Jerusalem and its temples. They were tragic, defining moments for Jews in 586 BCE and 70 CE.

And as the state of Israel winds down for this Sabbath, commemoration, and associated period of fasting, I will read and write and reflect on both tragedy and hope for tomorrow.

Because it is good to remember. And it is good to lament for a time. For those who fail to remember the past tend to repeat it.

For more on the 9th of Ab, see here and here.

Dr. Robert R. Cargill at the Western Wall in Jerusalem

At the Western Wall in Jerusalem

God Hates Chick-Fil-A

Congratulations to Chick-Fil-A, the new corporate symbol for Christian homophobia.

Congratulations to Chick-Fil-A, the new corporate symbol for Christian homophobia.

Congratulations to Chick-Fil-A, the new symbol for corporate Christian homophobia.

(I, Robert Cargill, made this mash-up.)

The mash-up below I found on the internet.

Chick-Fil-A: Official Chicken of the Tea Party, American Family Association, and Westboro Baptist

God Hates Chick-Fil-A

God Hates Chick-Fil-A.

When I first read The Onion article (“Chick-Fil-A Debuts New Homophobic Chicken Sandwich: ‘Queer-Hatin’ Cordon Bleu’ Goes On Sale Wednesday”), I simply thought it was a goofy satire on the well-known Christian fried chicken business, which is closed on Sundays.

It was not until this afternoon (I am presently in Israel digging at Tel Azekah) that I realized that the article was a response to comments made by the President of Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy, who was quoted last week as saying he was “guilty as charged” for supporting, what he called the “biblical definition” of marriage as between a man and a woman.

Biblical definition? Really? How fundy is this guy? I’ve addressed this issue before.

The Chick-Fil-A President continued:

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”

Married to our first wives“??? What is he saying? NONE of Chick-Fil-A’s employees are divorced? Only upper management? Apparently it’s not enough to not extend benefits to same-sex couples. It’s not enough to publicly take a position on gay marriage (which is NEVER a good business move). But now we’re going to make an issue out of anyone who has been divorced and/or widowed and remarried??

This is a good business strategy? Apparently, if your business strategy is run by Rick Santorum’s campaign.

It’s no wonder that cities like Boston and Chicago are blocking the expansion of Chick-Fil-A into their major metropolitan areas. Who wants a bunch of fundamentalist-owned businesses opening in major urban areas?

A Chicago Sun-Times story reads:

Appearing on the Ken Coleman Show, Cathy was further quoted as saying, “I think we’re inviting God’s judgment when we shake our fist at him, you know, [saying], ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ And I pray on God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try and redefine what marriage is all about.”

It is “prideful” and “arrogant” to stick up for the civil rights of certain Americans? I seriously can’t tell if this quote is from the present same-sex marriage debate or the Civil Rights movement decades ago.

This is REALLY not helping the image of the South and southern companies as a bunch of fundamentalist, homophobic, Christians makin’ fried chicken except on Sundays.

And as for me, I’ll never eat at Chick-Fil-A again. Done. Let them become the poster child for the Tea Party, the American Family Association, Westboro Baptist, and any other individual or organization that wants to openly discriminate against others based on their sexual orientation.

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