Monday, December 18, 2006

History Channel: Inside the Volcano

The History Channel presented a film on Dec 3, 2006, "Inside the Volcano" (2 hours), with a survey of major volcanoes around the world, with particular emphasis on their effects on world climate, such as two huge eruptions in Indonesia in the 19th Century, one of which led to the "Year without a Summer" in 1815, in which it snowed a middle latitudes in every month. There is discussion of Vesuvius and Pompeii, and a sobering discussion of Yellowstone and the cataclysm that it would cause if it went off. Here is the main link for the press release (PDF).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

History Channel: Sodom & Gomorrah

Dec 7, 2006: History Channel presents one hour Sodom & Gomorrah, a documentary of the Bible story in Genesis 19, often cited as a justification for condemning homosexuality. The documentary presents the story fairly, with angels visiting the city, and Lot offering his virgin daughters, but the angels being "attacked." The deeper meaning of the fable is that the townspeople was not hospitable to the visiting poor. In ancient Jewish law, communal awareness and ability to answer when called to was a major virtue.

There is a similar story in Judges, where the daughters and even a concubine are offered.

The natural disaster may have been an earthquake or volcanic eruption of some kind. There definitely was destruction of two towns on the Dead Sea around 2500 BC. Lot's wife turns into a pillar of salt, in a moral sense because of idle curiosity. There are plenty of pillars along the Dead Sea. But if someone looked at a nuclear blast or even a huge conventional blast, they could be instantly burned to death. Rabbi Wolpe comments.