“The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth”
A recent visit to the Colorado History Museum led to a fascinating exploration of a recently opened exhibit featuring the original restored Jefferson Bible. This is not a grand exhibit that we have come to expect in major art museums but a small darkened corridor lined with display cases of the original Jefferson Bible and a few of the religious texts, written in English, French, Greek and Latin, that Jefferson had snipped sections from to “cut and paste” into his own book. Two videos explain the history of the bible and the painstaking process of the restoration by the Smithsonian Institution. Reprinting meant that we could purchase our very own copy, which we did.
Jefferson began assembling this book while he served as president, although he did not finish his quest to clarify and distill Jesus’s teachings, which he believed to provide “the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man” until 1820. By removing all references to “superstition and the supernatural,” Jefferson honed in on Jesus as a great teacher and moral philosopher, leaving behind only the “authentic” story of Jesus and reaffirming his belief in the power of reason as the basis for understanding life and the natural world.
Based partly on his experience living abroad, Jefferson came to have a profound belief in religious freedom and later hailed the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom as among his greatest contributions. Jefferson believed God meant to reserve the matter of religious belief to individuals to resolve: “No man can conform his faith to the dictates of another. The life and essence of religion consists in the internal persuasion or belief of the mind.” While kings and bishops might coerce religious fealty from their subjects, history revealed inward conviction as another matter.
Jefferson suffered from “strident, bitter, and very public attacks” on his supposed views on religion. He was charged with being an infidel, atheist and anti-Christian. He argued that neither unorthodoxy nor outright disbelief posed any threat to a society: “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
The Smithsonian purchased the volume from Jefferson’s great granddaughter in 1895 and in 1904 the Government Printing Office had each page photographed and published 9000 copies to be distributed to the two chambers of Congress. It can be read as a history book or as a thoughtful compendium of the New Testament composed for his own purposes by Jefferson.
Jeepers – look at all the peepers! . . . .
New baby chicks are a sure sign of spring, and I could not resist buying a short dozen of these little beauties. None of our animal menagerie “produce” anything, but the plan for these chicks is to have some farm fresh eggs a few months from now. Our experiment raising guinea fowl has been riotous fun and an educational experience, however we do not attempt to eat them or their eggs, when we can find them. Any serious country person needs to raise a few animals for eh, er . . . Consumption. My grandmother would get 100 baby chicks each spring and kept our chicken hotel full of laying hens which produced such a volume of eggs that she sold them by the crate full. I’m not sure I am going to follow in her footsteps, but I couldn’t see any harm in putting my toe in the water for the sake of a few fresh eggs. Besides, 20 guinea fowl hardly make a dent in the newly refurbished chicken hotel.
“Hey, it’s a little crowded in this corner – make way!” . . . .
I did not do any research, but simply picked the chicks by their color and characteristics. I ended up with a real mixed bag: Black Australorp (English); Barred Rock; Blue Laced Red Wyandotte (American); Silver Laced Wyandotte (American); Red Star Sex Link; and White Crested Black Polish (Continental). The clerk at the local ranch supply where I bought the chicks steered me to the cage of “pullets” which are supposed to be female and steered me away from “straight run” which means both sexes??? Much as I would love having a rooster around, my idea of fresh eggs for the kitchen does not include fertilized eggs. If I end up with a rooster in my little clutch of chickies, that will pose a problem. Once bonded with a pet, it is impossible to eat it. (Just ask Feed Lot, our yearling steer!)
We prepared a couple dozen pickled beet eggs for Easter dinner tomorrow, and next year with any luck we will be pickling eggs from our little chickens. Can’t wait.
“Got lunch?” . . . .
These scruffy little fawns look as though they are on their last leg of survival. Our deer herd of a dozen or so appeared to be wintering fairly well, but March is telling the tale. We were shocked to see how they had declined in recent weeks, and are praying that spring brings some relief for them, and soon! March has been cold and windy, and what little snow we received has little moisture in it. After the severe drought of last year, we are keeping our fingers crossed that we will have a wet spring and a decent amount of moisture throughout the summer. Without it, all the wildlife will suffer.
It is unlawful to feed the deer, however Wyoming ranchers have been feeding them de facto on their hay meadows for the last century, along with antelope and elk. It has contributed to the rise in populations of these ungulates, who have benefited greatly from the wintertime hay for feed. Deer are browsers and they keep our lilacs, willows and chokecherries free of small branches and twigs at the lower reaches. When that food supply is gone, they appear to browse for dry grasses, leaves and whatever they can find on the ground.
We have had only one fatality this winter and it appeared to be a perfectly healthy young doe we found down in the creek bottom. There were no marks on her and she obviously died of natural causes. I hope she is the last.
“Did you see what Bleu just did to me?” . . . .
Rosie is one of my best friends and a constant companion wherever I go, whether in the house or outdoors. On a recent visit inside she had to endure the attentions of Bleu, the in-house cat (not to be confused with Mouse, the outhouse cat). Bleu is always the extrovert in these situations, and rubs up against Rosie, sniffing every inch of her, and generally making a nuisance of himself in her eyes. She stifles her instincts to nip, herd, chase and generally whomp on this cat who has the effrontery to approach her in such a familiar way. None of my photographic attempts to capture Bleu in the act survived the “delete” button, but this shot of Rosie seems to express a mixture of patience, latent scorn and beseeching appeal to remove “that cat” from her presence, “puleeeeze!”
“I’m just keeping your lawn chair warm for you!” . . . .
A better mood prevails here as Rosie sunbathes in my ancient patio chair. From the look of her nose she could use some sunscreen! On one of our trips to the vet I asked what I could put on her nose that would: a) protect her from sunburn; b) wouldn’t lick off; c) wouldn’t make her sick; d) would’t have to be applied 20 times a day. The vet shrugged and suggested the only thing he could think of was a tattoo. I never have figured out if he was being serious or not.
the week before spring begins . . . .
The promise of a garden is hard to see under a frosting of snow. Somewhere down in the ground things must be stirring, and spring will become a reality once again. In the interim, I dream of flowers and remember last summer’s bounty.
luscious lilies . . . .
colorful coleus . . . .
joyful johnny jump-ups . . . .
white on white . . . .
a patriotic mix . . . .
day lillies . . . .
irresistible iris . . . .
pink peonies . . . .
cheerful columbines . . . .
Ah, but the garden must wait . . . . until the snow melts.