I seriously don't understand how she gets published, let alone has a following. This book was sloppy, sloppy, sloppy and her logic is specious at best...moreI seriously don't understand how she gets published, let alone has a following. This book was sloppy, sloppy, sloppy and her logic is specious at best (e.g., "I can find no evidence that he was in the area at that time, therefore he did it"). Apparently, every homicide and most accidental deaths that occurred anywhere within the islands of Great Britain from about 1887 through the next 20 or 30 years were all committed by Jack the Ripper - no matter the victim or M.O. I'm sure I'd have an apoplexy if I tried to read another one of her books, "fact" or fiction. Generally regarded with scorn by Ripperologists. (That said, she did make contributions to the field with her research, but her analytical skills are non-existent.)(less)
I'm almost finished with this, so I can start to talk about it. This is a collection of many different essays (and one comic story) about various reli...moreI'm almost finished with this, so I can start to talk about it. This is a collection of many different essays (and one comic story) about various religions, factions of religions, details in religious literature (Bible, Q'uran), art and some truly fucked up people doing crazy things in the name of religion or in the name of greed. I wish it had the normal dimensions of a regular book, though. (Although Neil Gaiman & Steve Gibson's comic was already reduced in size; it would have been really hard to read if it were smaller.)
Want to read about the goof ball who built a mechanical Messiah in 1854? Did you know that bowling was originally a religious game? (I guess thunder really is angels bowling...) It's even got snapshots of the lives of some of America's (and the world's) greatest composers.
There's a chapter that discusses the known facts and the theories on who wrote the gospels and when. (It's common knowledge among Bible scholars that it was not the men they are named for.)
One thing I find utterly fascinating is religious folk who try to come up with actual physiological reasons for miracles (the water Jesus walked on had flash-frozen, the Red Sea was parted by wind, etc...) Isn't the whole point of magic and miracles that it isn't a natural phenomenon? If you can explain the miracles in the Bible scientifically, then they aren't miracles. What's the point in that?
Some people try to take the Bible too literally - and I don't just mean religious folk with cognitive dissonance regarding the contradictions in the Bible, I mean my fellow atheists who rip into every little detail with no regard as to context. And honestly, if you believe in a magical man in the sky, there's no problem with a virgin birth any more than there's a problem with Harry Potter flying on a broomstick.
Then there was the coverage of the plaigarism trial for The Da Vinci Code (the guy who wrote it had a touch of the context problem I mentioned above). This was pretty good, and really the only really unbelievable thing about The Da Vinci Code is how a hack like Dan Brown (or rather, his publishers, since they were the ones on trial) wasn't found guilty to the Nth degree.
I drew a line when it came to the chapter on poopies of the gods. I don't care what American Indians, holy rollers, Jesus, Roman or Egyptian gods did (or was done) with their excrement, I'm just passing through. (This chapter was written in the 19th century, FYI.)
Most disturbing wasn't the story of a man giving his young daughter and another man's wife to a crowd to rape and murder (rather than raping and murdering the aforementioned man, who was his guest, a story from Judges 19) but the highlights from the Philadelphia Grand Jury Report On Abusive Priests. Brrrr.
This was (largely) a fun book with much information, definitely a keeper for future reference.(less)