dr. jacob wright comments about the cyrus cylinder in the huffington post

Cyrus Cylinder

Cyrus Cylinder

There is an excellent article in the Huffington Post by Dr. Jacob L. Wright of Emory University on the legacy of Cyrus the Persian and the ideology of his reign.

Dr. Wright offers some comments about a recent TED lecture by the director of the British Museum, Dr. Neil MacGregor, about the 2,600-year-old clay object known as the Cyrus Cylinder.

Dr. Wright points out that much the view of Cyrus is skewed and influenced by favorable references in the Hebrew Bible (cf. Isaiah 45:1, where the Persian King Cyrus is referred to as the Jewish Messiah!) Dr. Wright correctly points out that since much of the Bible was written and/or redacted during this period, we should expect a favorably flavored text regarding Persia.

The fact that Persia preferred to rule its provinces, including עבר-נהרה (Avar-Nahara), the Persian province Yehud (known previously as Judah) through temples and religious leaders (and governors, rather than risking the rebellion of foreign kings), should not disguise the fact that it was just as authoritative as Babylonian and Assyrian empires that preceded it. In fact, Persia went the extra step of promoting a single national tongue – Aramaic – an issue that is just as controversial today in the US as it was then in Persia.

Give it a read!

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a ted talk by julia bacha on palestinian non-violent peacemaking

If you’ve ever asked the question, “Where is the Palestinian Gandhi? Why aren’t Palestinians using non-violent means to achieve peace in Israel/Palestine?,” here is your answer:

They are. The media simply aren’t covering it, and neither the Israeli or Palestinian (nor the US) governments want to recognize it because they are too busy ramping up their military theater actors to look good for the thirsty media, play to their fundamentalist bases, and attempt to force a settlement.

Fortunately, there are people participating in nonviolent protests on both sides (Palestine and Israel) and together, and there are journalists in the media like Julia Bacha, a documentary filmmaker, who are attempting to change this. Her recent TED talk highlights Palestinian nonviolent peacemaking. You should watch it and ask: is the situation on the ground accurately reflected on TV and what we’re hearing from politicians?

are we the only earth?

According to a recent TED lecture by astronomer Dimitar Sasselov, there may be other planets capable of sustaining higher forms of life. And they’re not in some far off place, they’re right here in our own Milky Way galaxy.

Check it out.

michael specter on the danger of science denial

you absolutely must watch this ted video. michael specter discusses the danger of denying what science offers us. (spoiler alert: it’s not about religion. watch.)

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