This extremely informative book should be read by anyone who ever wanted to understand the real reasons why many people do not accept Christianity, anThis extremely informative book should be read by anyone who ever wanted to understand the real reasons why many people do not accept Christianity, and by any Christian with unanswered nagging questions about their own faith....more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. I had not even intended to read it, but after skimming a few pages in the opening chapter, I wI thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. I had not even intended to read it, but after skimming a few pages in the opening chapter, I was hooked. You will not see history--especially Western history--in the same light after reading this book.
The best parts are the ones where he shares little-known facts about historical figure's writings about Revelation and the End Times--and not just figures already known in the study of religion. Understanding how Revelation influenced early explorers, kings, scientists, and politicians (among others) leads to a clearer comprehension of the major events of our civilization's past.
Once upon a time I was a prepubescent teen completely immersed in a fundamentalist Christian world, eagerly awaiting the Rapture and the end of the world. Now, as a middle-aged Jew who views the world through lens heavily influenced by the New Atheists--that is, by the light of reason and a better understanding of psychology and history--I'm amazed to see my old place in a movement and a time that now seem so foreign and utterly distant from me....more
This was a fascinating account of one man's experience of mental illness. Of particular interest to me was the fact that much of the book takes placeThis was a fascinating account of one man's experience of mental illness. Of particular interest to me was the fact that much of the book takes place in the area where I now live: Vancouver and nearby communities. There was much that I related to--his desire for a communal way of living, his impulse to travel and deep religious interests, his grappling with sanity, and of course his struggles living in this part of the world with its marked reduction in sunlight and obscene amounts of rain. As well, I enjoyed, of course, the insights (though few) offered about his father, the late Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favourite authors. Mark Vonnegut's writing style seems a little uneven, and at times I felt like the structure was a bit unorganized, but overall it was a good read, and I would recommend it....more
For anyone who has ever had a "born again" experience, this is a must read. For those who have no first hand knowledge of the evangelical world, thisFor anyone who has ever had a "born again" experience, this is a must read. For those who have no first hand knowledge of the evangelical world, this gives a very clear picture of what that world looks like. I found Marks' story to be gripping in an unexpected way as I felt the suspense rise almost like a novel, as the reader is kept guessing right to the end as to Marks' ultimate response to Christianity. At times too, I felt like I was reading a horror or science fiction tale about a world on the brink of apocalypse. ...more
Armstrong has more than one memoir of her story of leaving the convent and her own search for G-d, so if you are fascinated by the process of creatingArmstrong has more than one memoir of her story of leaving the convent and her own search for G-d, so if you are fascinated by the process of creating biography she's an interesting author to look at. In one of them, she even discusses the different approaches she took to sharing the same story, explaining why certain episodes were left out or embellished, for example. Beginning The World is an interesting read, but may be a little boring for someone looking for titillating tales of nuns gone wild in a secular world. Armstrong's story is more about finding G-d in unexpected places, as much as it is about her journey to find competent medical help. To be sure, there is one sex scene, although it's shocking for reasons other than it involved a former nun's loss of her virginity. My favourite parts had to do with her experiences with graduate studies in English literature and her struggles with mental health, both of which have been major features of my life. At one point, her friend tells her that she should embrace her depression because there is great freedom there, and she would be able to harness the bravery that comes from it to do great things. "Because if you're that depressed then nothing matters any more. You've got nothing to lose. Have you? Name me one thing you're afraid of losing when you're really depressed." (161) I was also struck by the way in which she conceptualized G-d and described her encounters with that Being, since they were similar to my own. Her friend asks her if she feels if she's sometimes "on the brink of something else. Something just out of sight which is absolutely mind-blowing. And terrifying." (161) She says, "I always thought it was G-d." The reader may wonder, along with Karen, when she does have some mind-blowing experiences how much of it is G-d, and how much of it is just the human brain. I know that when I have had psychedelic events they could have been described in the same terms that she uses for her own G-d events. Armstrong's book doesn't preach, but leaves you with a sense of wonder about the human longing for G-d.
The entire last chapter of this book represents my current beliefs about G-d. She says pretty well the same thing that I concluded after my own (muchThe entire last chapter of this book represents my current beliefs about G-d. She says pretty well the same thing that I concluded after my own (much less broad) research. Armstrong has the gift of being able to explain complex things in a way that is entertaining and accessible. ...more