I'm not a practicing Catholic and I'm not really interested in following the faith. This is a book that would have been deeply inspirational if I hadI'm not a practicing Catholic and I'm not really interested in following the faith. This is a book that would have been deeply inspirational if I had read it as a still-faithful child (for mostly good and a little bit of bad)
Assuming this book is an accurate portrayal of the Roman Catholic Church, then this book shows how nuanced Catholic understanding can be. The questions and confusions and accusations the author addresses are answered incredibly informatively, and even as a non-devout person I deeply appreciate the insight this book gives me into Church history and church doctrine.
Questions of daily Catholic life are less interesting to me than scriptural interpretation and theology, but it's interesting to know the thought processes and interpretations behind daily and lifelong acts Catholic devotion.
I enjoy how this book takes the reader to task to intellectually understand their Catholicism, and that it isn't their job to compare their conduct against others but to act according to their Catholic premise. I am relieved to see this book have a nuanced view of acts and beliefs not endorsed by Catholicism, even if the author cannot obviously encourage them.
The author is charged by the Catholic establishment to explain and encourage the Church's current understanding, and it shows in how the organization and its interpretations are always defended. A significant amount of the book defends the results of Vatican II, and conversations of the understanding of theological evolution is always painted in terms of current orthodoxies and heterodoxies. This reinforces obedience, which is in my opinion a too-embraced theme of Catholic understanding, but is consistent and understandable from the author and his purpose.
Assuming its understanding hasn't changed significantly in the last twenty years, then this book is a really great way to understand both Roman Catholicism as a teaching and as devotional lifestyle....more
I absolutely loved this book. There are at least three moments where I either cried or wanted to and restrained myself because I was in public. I wantI absolutely loved this book. There are at least three moments where I either cried or wanted to and restrained myself because I was in public. I want to touch and caress this book forever, and if I died with it in my arms I'd be happy. There are a lot of legitimate issues with it, though.
At its heart, Habibi is a love story between a woman in an Islamic/Arabian setting and a boy she helped raise into adulthood (and manhood in particular) The world is harsh, of course the "best" way to demonstrate a craptastic world is through rape and slavery, so.... But the two get split and reunite after six years of discovery and tragedy.
Reasons I love this book: * The art is gorgeous. It's one of the most beautifully drawn books I've ever seen. * Having grown up in the middle east and being a person of colour myself, books that centre on people like me are really appealing even if I'm not middle eastern or from northern Africa myself. * I have a soft spot for books that deal with religion, having grown up Catholic in an Islamic world. * The book in many ways covers a lot of women's issues (I don't want to say feminist, it's not my place) and more importantly for me, covers a man dealing with his own manhood in relation to the treatment of women. In some ways the man's narration mirrors, for good or ill, the journey I've had to make as a cis dude of colour who supports feminism. * The subtle revelation of (view spoiler)[the setting, where it turns out this is not set in the past but in the future due to environmental issues (hide spoiler)], is very subtle and very powerful. It's amazing when and how you see it revealed.
Criticisms of the book: * The author is a white North American male. Don't get me wrong, he researched heavily and wasn't just talking out of his ass. But at the same time, even the few parts of the book that dealt with Indian culture, as an Indian I was like that's an interesting spin you have on it, accurate but... * The book is orientalist, it feels like a survey of Islamic features with none of the subtlety that someone who actually lived there (Having lived in Saudi, I can probably say that with a miniscule sense of authority.) Comparing this book to something like Persepolis or Reading Lolita in Tehran shows a lot of nuance from people who understand the day to day rather than an implicit comparison to Eurocentric backings. * As said above, while I sort of get that sexuality was an important part of the book, it felt more like the various rapes in the book were to make men feel uncomfortable in a narratively-sloppy way, in many ways reducing the woman to a story for men to change. While I think that there were some powerful moments, the amount of it felt de-sensitizing. This being said, I'm a pro-feminist dude, so what do I know. * While I get that there were purposeful neologisms in the book to offset the serious tone, some of the casual affections of the African characters seemed a bit ... reductive and trite and reducing people down to a stereotype. * This book gladly displays women nude and vulnerable in all sorts of nasty positions, but the few times it is important for a man to show his penis, nothing (or it's so hidden as to be virtually non-existent.)
All in all, I felt the book was incredibly ambitious and it failed a lot. But at least it tried and I'm glad it can be educational even in a critical form. While it's obviously better of women and people of colour write about their own experiences themselves (and that we as a society support that), for a book written by a white male cis comic book author, I think this book did a really good job....more
Survey material with an obvious spin, but that is to be expected from something given to me for free on the street.
That being said, I learned an imporSurvey material with an obvious spin, but that is to be expected from something given to me for free on the street.
That being said, I learned an important thing about meditation from it: keep your eyes sort of open and always keep the tip of your nose in sight, that will make it easier to dive into meditation without falling asleep.
Other than that, it's a pretty decent survey on the average amount of hinduism a westerner is likely to know. One can pick out the base terms, although the book isn't very good at explaining them ... it's almost as if certain terms were left unexplained on purpose?
It's "join and pay money to the International Society of Krishna Consciousness" factor is actually pretty subtle, definitely included but with most focus of devotion not being to the founder or the society, but Krishna as interpreted by the founder.
Other than that, it has standard tropes of religious philosophy I am not a fan of ... a dualism where the body and physicality is declared terrible, a contemporary degraded age where previous ones were declared way better, an implicit assumption that the reader is male and that femininity is an inferior condition that mostly exists as sexual temptations, stuff like that. Enlightenment is this air fairy thing everyone ostensibly wants but rather than being about one's state of grace it's the reward for devoting one's self to Krishna at all times (renounce your worldly relationships, they are but bodily relationships, but Krishna is mother/father/son/husband (never wife.))