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James Michener, writing in his book, The Source, tells the story of a man named Urbaal, who was a farmer living about 2200 B.C. He worshiped two gods, one a god of death, the other a goddess of fertility.

One day, the temple priests tell Urbaal to bring his young son to the temple for sacrifice—if he wants good crops. Urbaal obeys, and on the appointed day drags his wife and boy to the scene of the boy’s “religious execution” by fire to the god of death.

After the sacrifice of Urbaal’s boy, and several others, the priests announce that one of the fathers will spend next week in the temple, with a new temple prostitute. Urbaal’s wife is stunned as she notices a desire written more intensely across his face than she had seen before, and she is...

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