I first read this book in seventh grade, and although I enjoyed it I can't claim I really understood it. It was a gorgeous read...moreSuch a beautiful book.
I first read this book in seventh grade, and although I enjoyed it I can't claim I really understood it. It was a gorgeous read then, and is a gorgeous one now. The story is a beautiful myth, an exploration of Buddhism and Hinduism that was written before either one was thoroughly understood by the West.
The introduction and the analysis offered at the beginning of the book both enhance the reading of the actual story, and reading Joseph Campbell I can even further understand the text itself. I think this is the sort of book that the more one reads it, the later in life one reads it, the more thoroughly it can be understood and appreciated.
I can't recommend this book enough, but I do know why not everyone would enjoy it.(less)
Can't get enough of that textual criticism and early Christian history. Yeah, I know how that sounds. Nope, I don't care. I'll continue to litter ever...moreCan't get enough of that textual criticism and early Christian history. Yeah, I know how that sounds. Nope, I don't care. I'll continue to litter everyone's update feeds with my occasional forays into these topics.
Zealot by Reza Aslan got ridiculously popular in a short period of time. I was reading arguments on the internet about its history and sources, hearing occasionally it being touted on popular television shows. It changed lives, or people claimed it did. They used it as an argument for the oft-repeated centurion hypothesis of paternity and other such poorly researched finds. It was inevitable I eventually read it, and lo and behold, the library just happened to have a copy sitting right there.
All in all, I actually enjoyed Zealot. I didn't find it as well researched as much of Bart D. Ehrman's works, nor as in depth. I nearly stopped reading when he argued that authorship wasn't necessarily worth questioning as people often wrote under other's names to imply they were further espousing their ideas (false) and that there was no definitive concept of history at the time (also false.) The idea that a lot of what was written would be known to be historically inaccurate and was meant as metaphor - that could gain better ground. The other two points though... we really need to excise them from our minds. They are patently untrue, and history just doesn't work that way.
Zealot shines not in its early bits, but far far later when his arguments come in about Jesus, his relation to Rome and Paul and James and their arguments for what early Christendom should mean. The book truly shone in the Pauline arguments and James refutation of them. The book would be good reading for anyone interested in Christianity, or simply Christian's themselves. It offers at once a more literal and metaphorical view of what was done, and a more concise view of what Jesus said and meant at the time in which he lived. Bart D. Ehrman's works are a better source of textual criticism, but Zealot was a better way to get a true feel for the history of the times and just how much the Jews went through during the Roman occupation.
The two authors, and their respective works, complement one another wonderfully and together offer a more comprehensive understanding of a vast and heated topic.(less)
I think this book would serve far better as a standalone than as a proper part of the Wrinkle in Time movement. Aside from Sandy and Denny, the other...moreI think this book would serve far better as a standalone than as a proper part of the Wrinkle in Time movement. Aside from Sandy and Denny, the other characters are pretty much only mentioned. It isn't as involved with Meg and the family as A Swiftly Tilting Planet managed to be, and really only tangentially dealt with the science aspects that dominated the other three books. The idea of something only existing when it is observed, however, is one that's fascinating and worth a bit of a think.
So, Many Waters basically has Sandy and Denny travel back in time to hang out with Noah and his family in antedivulian times and deal with Seraphim and Nephilim. Yeah, it is overtly Biblical fiction, and although the author butchers Neanderthals a bit in her depictions of them all in all the ideas of how people survived in that time aren't terrible. It would do to interest people in prehistoric times, perhaps?
I didn't like it as much as I enjoyed the other books. I did enjoy the fact that as a coming of age story it dealt more directly with ideas of budding sexuality and how sometimes what you want isn't necessarily what you should have. The importance of family is emphasized, as well as the importance of following one's instincts and in general doing the right thing even if it isn't the easy thing to do. The ending felt a bit rushed, and I think the book would have done better to not be written for a YA audience, but that might just be the fact that I'm older now.
This used to be my favorite installation in the Wrinkle in Time series. I adored Charles Wallace, enjoyed the trip through history and seeing differen...moreThis used to be my favorite installation in the Wrinkle in Time series. I adored Charles Wallace, enjoyed the trip through history and seeing different time periods... Rereading it, some of the twists were rather obvious and a bit insulting. The repetition of the rune got trying. Realizing when it was written, what was happening... well, it gave the book a context that made its message rather clear. It would have been interesting to see what kids thought of it at the time it was released with the very real threat of nuclear annihilation looming.
Good to see some Welsh mythology creeping in, as it doesn't tend to get looked at nearly often enough. The witch hunt was a bit annoying, but so it goes.(less)
Out of what I read of the Time Quintet originally this was the book I had the scantiest recollection of. I reread A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilt...moreOut of what I read of the Time Quintet originally this was the book I had the scantiest recollection of. I reread A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet many many times, but this one? Not so much. My memory of it was very shaky and I think it got mixed somewhere over the years with some Magic School Bus episodes.
Nevertheless, rereading the book I found a lot of charming parts of it. I don't feel that it was nearly as strong as A Wrinkle in Time, but poking around I discovered that for a great many people this book was really their favorite. The author's speculative biology was both misinformed and predictive, interesting and thematic. It's a bit heavy, but all of her books are. I think my main problem was that the book came off as more rushed than the others for me.
Progonoskies is a fantastic character, but Blajeny and Sporos both didn't seem fully developed. Calvin could have been emphasized a bit more, too, considering what part he and his family play in A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet but that might just be my own bias speaking.
Man, I wish this universe had been more fully fleshed out.(less)
I previously reviewed Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy and found both books interesting and informative. I thought the style was somewhat simplistic, but overall they were interesting and decent starting grounds for people who want to look deeper into history. This book, however? It didn't even really serve that purpose. It was just... very, very strange.
Being George Washington wanted to be a biography while also wanting to be a legitimate history book, political history, and a self-help book. It wanted to prove that Washington was religious while also wanting to show how Washington bettered himself by simply being civil and persistent. Essentially? It wanted to be way too many things.
I think an editor needs to go at this book with a machete, restructure it, and find out where the book wants to live. I think the purpose of the book would overall be better served if it simply rested comfortably in the arms of a dramatic narrative such as Killing Lincoln did. I think the book would be better served by relying on primary documents without editorial asides trying to emphasize Christianity over Deism or any other religious point of view.
Just... it was a bit like reading through someone's scribbled notes in a textbook this way.(less)
I received this book through the GoodReads first reads program.
Ricky Maye's book is a concise examination of Christianity and the problems that he has...moreI received this book through the GoodReads first reads program.
Ricky Maye's book is a concise examination of Christianity and the problems that he has with the current incarnation of the faith. He explains how Christian's should strive to be more... well, Christian. What emerges is an understanding of the faith that incorporates the understanding, empathy, and altogether open-mindedness of the faith that existed when the religion first came into existence. I've no problem whatsoever with this message, and indeed, think it is altogether quite a good one.
The book didn't receive more stars from me because altogether this message is one that I've read/heard many times before. I didn't feel that this book brought anything to the table that other authors have not previously thought about and/or wrote about or spoke about in other mediums. Indeed, I thought some other books (such as Jesus for President) did it a bit better. This book, however, may reach a larger audience as it is readily available through more mediums and might catch someone else's eye.
It's a pretty good quick read, in other words. :)(less)
A rabbi's cat eats a parrot and gains the ability to speak in 1930's Algiers. Thus begins arguments on theology, philosophy, and simple social proprie...moreA rabbi's cat eats a parrot and gains the ability to speak in 1930's Algiers. Thus begins arguments on theology, philosophy, and simple social propriety.
The artwork for this is beautiful, especially the scenes of Paris in the rain. The writing is hilarious, and perfectly capture's what I'd imagine a cat's perspective to be... All in all, a great set of comics, none standing out hugely from the others instead all being a uniform level of greatness. No complaints here. (less)
I'm a bit torn between how many stars to give this book.
I read it in just a small handful of days, and indeed did find it interesting. I feel the titl...moreI'm a bit torn between how many stars to give this book.
I read it in just a small handful of days, and indeed did find it interesting. I feel the title was a bit of a misnomer, as only a handful of chapters actually described Don Piper's experience in heaven. The bulk of the book was focused upon the injuries sustained during the accident that killed him, and how it affected the rest of his life. So, as I said, the title was a bit of a misnomer. Nevertheless, the time he spent dead and in heaven did severely affect how his life went from then on.
This book was pleasant, and indeed inspirational. Regardless of how one feels about the religious aspects of it Don Piper is an inspirational man, someone who truly practices what he preached. While he acknowledges his faults, the time he spent talking to those who had the same treatments he did (to regrow the missing bones in their legs. Seriously, did you know we can do that?) was huge. It means a lot, to have a mentor who has been through what you have.
All in all, I'd look at this as a book similar to Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a short, inspirational read that would be well suited for holiday or time at the beach. Not a great book, but certainly a good one. Also, by no means a bad read at all. Gives you something to think about, and another small reminder to do what good you can each and every day.(less)
I won this book from a giveaway a while ago, and finally got around to reading it. This collection of short-stories was very well written, and quite c...moreI won this book from a giveaway a while ago, and finally got around to reading it. This collection of short-stories was very well written, and quite compelling. As the title implies, the book revolved around issues of the Jewish religion, history, and identity.
Not being Jewish myself, I was unfamiliar with some of the traditions that the book discussed. Nevertheless, some of the stories were rather universal and did speak to me. In particular, I enjoyed the story about the Author, the title story, and the story about the camp.
The stories were very well written, and I was torn between giving it three and four stars, but ultimately decided upon three as the book didn't quite strike me as amazing. I did enjoy it, it just wasn't precisely to my own taste. Others, I know, would quite love it.(less)
I won this book through the GoodReads First-Reads giveaway.
I wasn't entirely sure what I expected to get from this book. The title, of course, intrigu...moreI won this book through the GoodReads First-Reads giveaway.
I wasn't entirely sure what I expected to get from this book. The title, of course, intrigued me as did the description. Nevertheless, I don't entirely feel that either quite does the book justice. The book is more than just a treatise on what it means to be a Christian in the modern world and it's a bit more than what it means to be involved in the world in a positive way. For me, the book seemed to be more about what it means to live a full life, according to your own values and expectations.
While the book did drag on in a few places, notably when talking about faith, the words jumped off the page in a few other places. I was surprised by the selflessness with which the authors acted, and the honesty which their children showed. Patience and perseverance were likewise in evidence, and altogether the book served as a good reminder that now and again we all could slow down a bit and perhaps compromise a bit less on what matters most to us. If we want something to happen, we need to take the first step. If someone we love wants something to happen and takes the first step, it would do to help them make it a reality, too.(less)
I won this book through the GoodReads first reads program.
I wanted to enjoy this book far more than I actually did. I had not read anything on Bonhoef...moreI won this book through the GoodReads first reads program.
I wanted to enjoy this book far more than I actually did. I had not read anything on Bonhoeffer prior, beyond a brief reference to him in a book on philosophy that I read years ago. Jon Walker did a decent job of explaining his most basic beliefs throughout the book, but never went in depth in regards to it without it being directly related to horrible events within the authors life.
The basis of the book is admirable - essentially explaining that the hard times we go through are meant to define us and help us fully develop our character and faith. The trouble I had with the book was that I never fully felt that any change occurred. Jon Walker went through tragedy, and says he has come to terms with it but still, the tone was altogether rather bitter. Rather than feeling as if the book had helped me or enlightened me in terms of philosophy and theology, I came away from the book downright depressed and confused.
The book would be better served by framing the stories around Bonhoeffer, rather than tragedies within the author's life. By framing it with the philosophy it would have enhanced the events; by framing it with the events, the philosophy was lost in what seemed like self pity. I understand that others thoroughly loved the book, and took a great deal from it. Unfortunately, I simply wasn't one of them.(less)
This is the sort of book that more people need to read. Timothy K. Beal is the reasonable sort of person who needs to speak out about Christianity.
The...moreThis is the sort of book that more people need to read. Timothy K. Beal is the reasonable sort of person who needs to speak out about Christianity.
The first two thirds of the book are divided into a brief history of Christianity itself, and more interestingly, a history of the Bible. Timothy K. Beal takes the time to dissuade any reader of the Dan Brown styled notions that things are cut and dry, and instead explains the lack of consistency throughout the Bibles many incarnations. This is fascinating stuff, and moreover, it is important stuff to know when people tend to be hardlining notions that The Bible Says X when it reality that may not be the case.
The final third of the book is spent discussing how one can move forward with the knowledge they have. Like Bert Ehrman or even Karen ArmstrongTimothy K. Beale takes the time to explain that turning anyone to atheism is not the message of his work. If it happens, it happens, but nothing is explicitly stated within his piece that says God is Dead. Rather, the book is a celebration on the lack of a univocal Bible and a reminder that one can peel back the layers of these books to make their own meaning.
This book is a throwback to the deeply intellectual religions that Karen Armstrong celebrated and Bert Ehrman spends so much time focusing on. These are the intellectuals who find that knowledge itself is a form of worship and questioning the very basis of life. Some things don't require clean-cut answers, and for may things answers do not exist.
I won this book through the Goodreads first-reads program. :)
This book was utterly delightful. Preeti Gupta takes a casual look at the different philo...moreI won this book through the Goodreads first-reads program. :)
This book was utterly delightful. Preeti Gupta takes a casual look at the different philosophies of various religions in order to convey her own views of what spirituality entails. While a heady topic, Preeti Gupta writes with all the humor of a book such as He's Just Not Into You and it comes off as more a casual conversation than a book. The asides are hilarious, the perspective no-nonsense, and the message a truly wonderful one. I have to admit, I laughed a great deal.
The book suffered from a few typos, easily enough fixed, and a questionable cover - but we don't judge a book by that, right? I think this book is an excellent primer for anyone interested in spirituality and wanting to ponder what they believe and why. This isn't a book for someone more interested in the scholastic side of theology, the debates about meaning and intention and all of that. This is a book for the practical person, one who wants to learn how to actively invite a more fulfilling life based upon.. well, hedging your bets. Want to learn how to invoke more good Karma than bad without meditating? Well, this book has some good ideas. ;)(less)
I was a bit torn about this book, as aspects of it I thoroughly enjoyed. Emily's trip to Florida, and...moreI won this book through the first-reads program.
I was a bit torn about this book, as aspects of it I thoroughly enjoyed. Emily's trip to Florida, and overall online dating experience were worthy of a romantic comedy - as were aspects of her relationship with Jerry. The evolution of Emily's relationships (familial and non) are worth a book in their own, as are her spiritual pursuits.
While I found the book delightful, in spite of the misfortunes encompassed therein, I found the balance between the sacred and profane a bit jarring. A little rearranging of some of the events in the book would have served to balance it a little better pacing wise.
I would certainly pick up the second book in this series, and actually would have appreciated something along the lines of a biography on the sacred texts that are referenced several times in the book itself. Eastern philosophy fascinates me, and not being too well read in it.. well, this book is a fine gateway to rekindle ones want of Buddhist teachings.
I reviewed the previous book in this series, though right now I can't find a copy of the third one.
This book was much the same as the previous one, th...moreI reviewed the previous book in this series, though right now I can't find a copy of the third one.
This book was much the same as the previous one, though the content has changed now to encompass the War of the Roses period and the general political climate that that encompassed. The stories were interesting, and the bibliography at the back rather good. I quite liked the fact that Robert Lacey included both Museums and Gardens, books and websites - primary sources are great. I sent several recommendations based upon the bibliography to my parents, who will be in England soon. Talk about good timing, right?
This book offers a very nice introduction to the stories and legends that shaped England into what it is today. The bibliography is a very good resource for finding out more information, and the family trees in the beginning help sort out some of the more complicated lineages (here's looking at you, Henry VIII).
I previously read Robert Lacey's first and second installment in his Great Tales of England which I also reviewed here. I was mildly disappointed to c...moreI previously read Robert Lacey's first and second installment in his Great Tales of England which I also reviewed here. I was mildly disappointed to come across many of such tales in the reading of this book, and the tales worded as similarly as they were in the books I've read, but what can one truly expect? It makes sense for the tales to serve as summations of larger books, after all. At he very least I respect his retelling of Canute bringing his throne to the shore. Promoting the correct 'full' version of the tale and its moral (that the power of a king is limited by that of nature and god) is worth however many times it needs to be retold so people will stop using it to illustrate kingly arrogance. It's a disservice to Canute's memory.
Anyway, the book is divided by month, complete with the illustrations from the Julian calender and each illustration is explained within the chapter. The result is a very good look at the year 1,000 and how little it differs from where we are now. Human nature hasn't changed that much, and Robert Lacey is quite good at showing the human side of things. He acknowledges that the analogies are not perfect - in particular when it comes to medical acumen - but at the same time it's heartening to see just how lusty and ridiculous people were... and still are. The riddles were a particularly nice touch.
So, to sum it all up, this is a very good overview, though I wouldn't use it as a primary resource. I shall leave you with this riddle from over 1,000 years ago:
I am a strange creature, for I satisfy women... I grow very tall, erect in a bed, I'm hairy underneath. From time to time A beautiful girl, the brave daughter Of some fellow dares to hold me Grips my reddish skin, robs me of my head And puts me in the pantry. At once that girl With plaited hair who has confined me Remembers our meeting. Her eye moistens.
So, what's the answer?
Yeah, the other riddle they included was even worse. Now I'm just waiting for one of you to ask me to type it up. (less)
This is technically a first-reads book, an advance short section of a book to be released later this day or next. Luckily, it's up on Good Reads for r...moreThis is technically a first-reads book, an advance short section of a book to be released later this day or next. Luckily, it's up on Good Reads for reading, review, and all things good.
This is an interesting book, and one that more than piqued my interest to read the rest of it once it is offered. The story is strange, the sort of weird-fiction that one doesn't see too often these days. The ghost story may be purely psychological, historical, or just straight up real. It's uncertain.
As I said before, it is just a small snippet, but man, it's cool. I'm looking forward to the rest. Daniel Clausen has a fine ability to write poetic sentences that intrigue and fascinate. I'm looking forward to the rest, and hoping we hear more about "Silence" in the future.(less)
I received this book through the first-reads program.
This is a very well-made, and well researched volume. I didn't list this book under the 2012 shel...moreI received this book through the first-reads program.
This is a very well-made, and well researched volume. I didn't list this book under the 2012 shelve for the simple reason that it is a reference volume, rather than a book that one can read from cover to cover.
In terms of accessibility, this book is very easy. The pages are thin enough that the book isn't, say, a doorstop; the pages are thick enough that it doesn't feel as if it would tear from too quick a flip. The book is arranged in alphabetical order, similar to a dictionary, with the biblical passages referenced for each of the words. Very easy to find whatever you need to find.
The book is solid, with beautiful end-pages. I would like if it was bound a bit more beautifully. I felt that the covers were a bit too plain, considering all that is included within it. I've seen better bound volumes of a similar nature.
Still, quite a beautiful book. It'd make a lovely gift, even!(less)
I won this book through the first-reads program, and my copy came both autographed and with a lovely letter from the author himself.
I was rather torn...moreI won this book through the first-reads program, and my copy came both autographed and with a lovely letter from the author himself.
I was rather torn about this book. I'm a bit of a history buff, and particularly drawn to religious history and how it has evolved overtime. Being as focused as I tend to be on religious history (and having recently read Unholy Night which took care to mention Qumran and the texts published there) I was a bit thrown when the verses that were quoted seemed to be lifted from the King James Version of the Bible, which would not be released for quite some time. I felt it would have better to use an older translation, or at the very least, a translation not wrapped up in medieval language quite so noticeably.
At first reading the book I thought that it would have been better suited to having been written as a historical, non-fiction text. I found the facts about Christian worship during this time interesting, and the attention paid to Roman life at the time was similarly interesting. Philip Bulman took time to explain some of the practices of the scribes and some of the finer points of Roman architecture, as well as some facts about the emperor's personal life that I wasn't familiar with at all. A straight non-fiction book about this period would be very interesting indeed.
Once I became a bit more accustomed to the fact that this book was a story taking place during the time period instead, I was thrown a bit off by the more fantastical elements of it. The story would have been compelling enough without the added side-messages about the heavenly host, and Asmodeus. The asides regarding what was happening in Heaven and Hell respectively were a bit jarring compared with the real facts of the persecution itself. While unusual things do happen, and arguably miracles as well, I feel that writing with an eye towards realistic events with a mysterious person intervening (as Raphael did in one scene) would have been more striking than asides about the host talking about their future plans. This would ground the story a bit better, and allow for a greater emotional response to the characters within the story.
I enjoyed the discussion about Marcellinus after he what he did, and the struggle of Linus was similarly compelling. The very idea of what early Christians struggled with - acting Christ-like in the face of such horrible persecution, and continuing to not hate those killing their own - is something I struggle to imagine. It's incredible, what people have gone through, and the very remarkable nature of the story itself is something that can shine without fantastical additions.
While I struggled with this book at times, it is a subject that is fascinating and the characters were good ones. The book could easily be fleshed out more, and I think that most readers would enjoy it if it were. There is a lot to be said about this topic, and it would be grand to see more written on it.(less)
This book is a collection of sermons of sorts, all based upon the line in scripture that the title of...moreI won this book through the first-reads program.
This book is a collection of sermons of sorts, all based upon the line in scripture that the title of the book itself comes from. The sections are labeled by topic (i.e. Self-Discipline, Stewardship, Holiness, Thanksgiving, etc.) and each topic is discussed for a number of pages.
The book is a highly personal project, and may of the topics are referenced with anecdotes from the author David Barton's own life, or the life of others that he has met within his parish. This gives the book a bit of a confessional quality, and also a certain level of comfort. 'Ah, so someone else has gone through this trouble' one might think.
The first two thirds of Section I of the book I quite enjoyed. The book had a message that was both religious and secular, and essentially was there to remind one to do good for good's sake. Don't worry too much, but don't slack off. The advice was good, and David Barton deferred to common sense above all else for the most part. I found a great deal of comfort in this section. My trouble with the book arose in the final third of Section I where the book took up a more religious message, which is to be expected.
Section II of the book is divided in a similar fashion to the first, and contains the basis of lesson plans based around the different topics. This way, a Bible Study course, or an action person of religious authority could build their own preachings off of it. These outlines were well thought out, and I would like to hear what some would come up with based on them. It'd be entertaining to listen to, and as I said previously, the message of doing good for good's sake is one I enjoy.
All in all, this book was quite solid. I took a good deal of comfort in it, and in the Further Thinking questions found some aspects of my life that I would much like to improve.(less)