This book is one of the most powerful collections of spiritual discussion that I have ever read. MacDonald writes about the gospel and about what it mThis book is one of the most powerful collections of spiritual discussion that I have ever read. MacDonald writes about the gospel and about what it means to be a Christian in a way that only a man who spent his life trying to understand it possibly could.
It's full of truths that are simply stated, and profoundly introspective such as,
'Who truly owns a house? The man who owns a hundred mansions scattered throughout the countryside? Or the man who owns no house, but a knock on any door in his village would bring instant jubilation from those within?'
There's another book by MacDonald, "Getting to Know Jesus", which has several repeated essays. I'm not sure what the details are on why these two books were published separately when their content crosses over.
It's a fantastic premise for civilization. One of the funny things about reading this book is that you often find yourself musing, "Oh, of course, PlaIt's a fantastic premise for civilization. One of the funny things about reading this book is that you often find yourself musing, "Oh, of course, Plato. That makes sense already, and the world already works like that..." Then you stop and realize that the reason the world works in that particular way is because Plato laid down the reasoning for it, and then you smack yourself in the forehead with amazement.
The one thing I didn't like about this book was Plato's call for censorship. At one point he even claims to a certain extent that art ought to be extirpated from civilization. While he rightly illuminates that a dishonest artist can mislead his viewer/audience, I think it's wrong to say that because of the character of some artists that no artists should be allowed to create—only except they create according to a certain set of rules. In my opinion, both the audience and the artists need to work through the practice of admiring or creating art until they find a path that they find to be uplifting. ...more
As an introduction to the world of medieval literature the audiobook does a passable job, but it fails to either take the reader to a level of deeperAs an introduction to the world of medieval literature the audiobook does a passable job, but it fails to either take the reader to a level of deeper appreciation or to tell the books in a light enough way that we can enjoy them.
Professor Shutt's explanations and readings are difficult to follow. He has long, awkward pauses in his narrative pacing, which often left me discombobulated.
I would say that it could be more effective if I had time to study each piece he lists in great detail, but in that case I don't think the course would provide enough introspection into the listed medieval work.
I may go over it again in the future, but not before actively reading medieval literature....more
As an overview of the eastern religions I think this course does an okay job. Professor Prothero keeps a good perspective on all the religions from anAs an overview of the eastern religions I think this course does an okay job. Professor Prothero keeps a good perspective on all the religions from an academic angle.
Three stars for its thorough research and clear presentation....more
With the exception of Ovid and Virgil, on the whole I loss more interest in Roman Mythology than I gained by reading this audiobook. Professor MeineckWith the exception of Ovid and Virgil, on the whole I loss more interest in Roman Mythology than I gained by reading this audiobook. Professor Meineck narrates a little too fast as well.
For the most part, and from what I understand, Romans seem to have simply "hacked" or hijacked everything around them including the architecture, sculpture, mythology etc. of the Greeks and Etruscans. Furthermore, they apparently did it for the sole purpose of creating an imperious image so as to gain political power over the people.
The Greeks on the other hand, seem to have been more the exploring type, searching through the human heart and mind in hopes of finding virtue and truth.
The only reason I gained interest in Ovid and Virgil was that I did think that they brought together the myths of the past with an intriguing and unique voice.
The audiobook lecture series was a terrific introduction to the world and philosophy of theological giant, Thomas Aquinas.
Thomas is renowned for havinThe audiobook lecture series was a terrific introduction to the world and philosophy of theological giant, Thomas Aquinas.
Thomas is renowned for having reconciled the intellectual reasoning of the ancient philosophers, such as Aristotle and Plato, with the doctrine of Jesus Christ. He was so prolific at expounding on theological principles that the church ended up assigning several scribes to him so that he could philosophize verbally and allow them to record it for him––thus speeding up the process. In all, he made some one-hundred thousand pages of philosophical thought.
As a record of maintaining a clear political mind and one's search for strong character I enjoyed this book. Concerning his spiritual searches, I thouAs a record of maintaining a clear political mind and one's search for strong character I enjoyed this book. Concerning his spiritual searches, I thought they were interesting to read, though I disagreed with him and, often times, found his point of view quite difficult to accept.
I must mention one thing which is not in the book before I continue, but is relevant to this biography, and that is that it could be said that Gandhi was a pedophile. He was known to sleep with his niece naked, and there are differing reports as to how far his behavior went. He also had a covey of teenage girls that surrounded him always, and there are accounts, perhaps apocryphal, related to his pedophilia therein as well. Supposedly he did these things in the name of 'strengthening his self-control over lust.' If that was his motivation, I don't think it is an excusable one.
I mention these things only because I think it relevant to place the autobiography into context. The autobiography was written during the time of the above mentioned events, and there were also accounts surfacing as well about a supposed romantic affair between Gandhi and Sarla Devi. Who can say whether this influenced his writing in the process?
That being said, I believe his writing is full of an honest voice. His thought process and judgment are intriguing, naturally. He states at the end of the book that he has written it as he believes that insomuch as it helps another to find Truth, it is valuable. His memories of how he learned to be honest in his relationships are particularly valuable, as he often explains how he came to understand and admit when he was wrong, what words he used to express his apology, and how he accepted the answer--which was nearly always met with kindness.
His attitude towards his wife, which he explains in this autobiography, is often criticized as being abusive. I agree with that. It can also be understood that the Hindu religion sees women as servants and subjects to the husband. It seemed to me that, as he continually developed his point of view on how to treat his wife, he did seem to value his wife's natural rights more and more.
For those who do not speak Hindi, you will find it difficult to keep track of characters, names, and places. It's good to have access to the internet nearby in order to understand the meaning behind words such as "brahmacharya," "ahimsa," and "satyagraha."
I had to disagree strongly with his opinion that Christ was either just a spiritual teacher, or that the Bible is just a metaphor for finding the divine God. Anyone who reads the Bible honestly will realize that it does not leave either of those two options to the reader. Christ claims to be the son of God, not a spiritual teacher. Either he was a blasphemer, a lunatic, or, in fact, the divine Son he claimed to be. Secondly, the Bible claims itself to be a historical account. If it is not, it is based upon a lie as well, and in that event it could not be said to be capable of leading one to ultimate Truth.
I give the book three stars for its clarity of thought and effective voice....more
I think this book has a lot of great merits, yet I cannot rate something such as this higher when it has so strange a premise:
Tolstoy postulates thatI think this book has a lot of great merits, yet I cannot rate something such as this higher when it has so strange a premise:
Tolstoy postulates that Christ didn't live, that we don't need a living Savior, and that Christianity is two-thirds deception, and then he says that the principles which Christ taught are going to save the world.
It's a remarkable example of throwing the baby out with the bath water.
If there is any reason to live the gospel of Christ at all, it is because Christ lived, and that what he taught is so completely non-fiction that we ought to spend our entire lives developing faith and understanding in it.
Tolstoy had a penchant for rejecting everyone and everything. From my limited impression of his work, there's not a thing in the world he accepted other than his own--and self-proclaimed as ever insufficient--perspective on truth.
Now, all that being said, I think his application of Christian virtues is beautiful. He gives strong encouragement to his reader to chose to live the gospel "right now," to recognize that all of the accomplishments of man can and are washed away in the blink of an eye, and to focus on developing compassion.
The book also was one of Gandhi's most influential sources for the development of Non-Violence, and when you read this book you will notice the massive foundation it laid for Gandhi.
It was not well-received when it was written--being banned by Russia and, when Germany printed it, it never sold very heavily--and I believe that was because of the fact that he let go of Christ's hand in his writing in order to have more room to hold onto Christ's lesson scrolls, but it's definitely worth the read if you have the time.
This was totally worth the time it took to read it. Augustine's understanding of the gospel and remarkable rhetorical skills make for a compelling breThis was totally worth the time it took to read it. Augustine's understanding of the gospel and remarkable rhetorical skills make for a compelling breakdown of the fall of Paganism, the rise of Christianity, and the eternal value of surrendering ourselves to our Heavenly Father in order to gain entrance into his city (after which the book was named).
I would heavily recommend reading it on audio first. This is because there are long sections of the book that, while germane anciently, are now completely irrelevant. The said sections were long expatiations on the political movements and philosophical questions of the fifth century. They would, however, be interesting subject matter to a serious student of history.
Many of Augustine's insights were wholly new to me, such as his understanding of numerical symbolism. I'll outline one example briefly:
'God worked 6 days, then rested the 7th. 6 here represents completion of this mortal life. This is shown in that the fundamental base numbers of 1, 2, and 3, can be either multiplied together to reach the number 6 (1 X 2 X 3 = 6), or added together to also make 6 (1 + 2 + 3 = 6). Therefore, 6 is a number that is complete in this life. 7, then, is the transcendence of the number 6. Upon the finishing of this life, we then enter into the rest of the Lord (symbolized by the Sabbath Day), thus transcending at the completion of this life.'
He also explains the numbers 8 and 12, but in order to find out, you'll have to read the book:)
Double five stars for Augustine's theological understanding wisdom, and rhetorical mastery....more
This book breaks down the underlying beliefs and motivations that underlie faith in Christ. I enjoyed C.S. Lewis' honest and open approach. His abilitThis book breaks down the underlying beliefs and motivations that underlie faith in Christ. I enjoyed C.S. Lewis' honest and open approach. His ability to engage the reader's mind so that he sees himself in the writing and then to help the reader lift his mental view point up to a higher level is one reason why this book remains so popular. ...more
I went into this book with wary expectations, but by the end of it was fully enthusiastic about Augustine's account of his conversion.
There were two tI went into this book with wary expectations, but by the end of it was fully enthusiastic about Augustine's account of his conversion.
There were two things that always kept me from reading this book: the first was that I read only part of his quote "Lord, give me chastity, but not yet," when I was younger and so it didn't settle with me. I mistakenly thought that "The Confessions" were Augustine's attempts to confess a sin in order that he could keep doing it, and that seemed like a waste of time. But I was completely wrong on that account. My quote above is inaccurate, and the full quote is much better, but I'll leave it to the reader to discover.
Secondly, I was skeptical that an autobiography about "How I became Holy" would be sincere. But, my skepticism revealed more about my own lack of abilities than about Augustine's; the book walked the fine line of avoiding pretentious display while writing about our dependence on God so perfectly that my eye soon stopped looking for his personal errors. Instead, I became completely engaged in visualizing his life, recognizing the times when I too have shown the same foolishness, and feeling enlightened with how he found a way to turn his heart towards divine love.
I highly recommend this book. It was inspiring to read the account of a man so distinguished in rhetoric yet so able to recognize his own lack of distinction as the creation of a heavenly creator. It was, from beginning to end, beautiful.
* Read for the fourth time 15 January, 2011...more
* Update: 06/23/12 I came back and re-read/finished this book. It was better than I remembered it. I think last time I decided that because of the maso* Update: 06/23/12 I came back and re-read/finished this book. It was better than I remembered it. I think last time I decided that because of the masochistic philosophy, inspired by medieval theological thought, present in this book made it not worth reading. However, I had some free audio-book-listening time and gave it another go. This time around I'd say that I can recommend it a little; there's some beautiful, inspiring thoughts about God and the meaning of life. Still, I would say that there are other books out there that are better, such as Augustine's Confessions.
* I gave this book three stars only because I'm assuming the Modern-English translation I have is poorly executed. Even still, the book was a little too masochistic for my tastes. There were parts and thoughts that were beautiful, and observations on humanity and faith that were enlightening. However, the book frequently advocates violence towards earthly material--including your own flesh--then condones this life as miserable and calls it saintly to relish sorrow and misery. I think it's incorrect and supercilious in that regard: God created all things--including our bodies--and for that we can be grateful, not miserable.
I listened to it for a little while longer simply out of interest, because it does give a good portrait of the mindset of those Catholic monasteries, particularly of the 15th century (in which it was written)....more
I was able to read the first quarter or so of this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I've taken it off my shelf simply because I don't see myself beingI was able to read the first quarter or so of this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I've taken it off my shelf simply because I don't see myself being able to come back to it within the next year or so.
It's a collection of page-long quotes from a plethora of amazing people who gave us great examples of how to serve God in the name of Christ. I loved it, and if you get the chance I'd recommend taking a look through....more