Taking a Bill Bryson approach, Greenside describes his culture shock at buying a house and living in a small town in France. While his lack of speakinTaking a Bill Bryson approach, Greenside describes his culture shock at buying a house and living in a small town in France. While his lack of speaking French and unfamiliarity with French culture provide some of his disjointedness, much of it seems to come from two more common sources that having nothing to do with France 1) small town life and 2) home ownership. In the last few chapters, he uses a lot of French without translation, leaving the reader baffled as to what the point of whoe converations was. An OK read, but not as culturally enlightening as I thought it might be....more
A lot of books have been written in the last few years exploring whether or not there is a God. This is not one of them.
Refreshingly, Greg Epstein stA lot of books have been written in the last few years exploring whether or not there is a God. This is not one of them.
Refreshingly, Greg Epstein starts a step further down along the line of debate. His premise, stated simply, is this; However they got there, there is now a significant portion of the population who simply do not believe in God. And yet most of them (including himself)live what would be thought of by most as perfectly "good" lives, raising their children, taking care of their parents, helping out in the community, and the like. They are people you would like to have as neighbors. So if they don't believe in God, why do they act in this way? Why aren't they all out marauding, looting and pillaging? If not God, what do they believe in?
Of course, there is no one answer. But in a straight-forward, learned, yet conversational style, Epstein takes us on a brief tour of the history of non-religious based thought and ethics (which extends back as far as religious history.) He then turns to explaining a simple, rational, functional basis for exploring morality and ethics in society, and how one can do this by synthesizing the lessons of history and human experience, aided by science and research. But Epstein's emphasis is on the story of the human experience. He recognizes there are needs beyond cold rationalism to find out what is important in life. There is a place for a sense of awe, for humility, for art and nature. But he finds it in places other than a belief in God.
Epstein knows that atheism is a negative statement, that is to say, a statement of what is not believed rather than what is believed. This leads him to spend the later chapters in an explanation of Humanism, a "lifestance" (his word, which I like immensely) rather than a religion, encompassing a view of life in which compassion, joy, service and human interaction is lived and celebrated for its own sake. One of the strengths of the book is that this Lifestance is not presented in a confrontational mode. He does not shape this explanation in terms of "this is better than religion" although it is clear it makes more sense to him. Rather, it is presented as a "here is what I believe, and more importantly, why it makes sense to me" fashion. He is quick, and even eager, to point out that many of the ideas that shape Humanism are recognizble in religious traditions as well. These lessons are not to be tossed out just because one doesn't believe in God. Some still make sense, some do not. His emphasis throughout is that the important thing is what people do and how they behave to each other.
The books of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens argue that belief in God makes no sense. If your question is whether there is a god, then read those authors (and their religious counterparts.) But if you are now at a place where that question is settled, the question that then presents itself is- how do I live my life? Greg Epstein provides an answer in this excellent book, which is sure to be a work that will resonate for years to come.
The subject is fascinating - how the music industry has transformed itself from a CD industry dominated bya few big labels and major radio conglomeratThe subject is fascinating - how the music industry has transformed itself from a CD industry dominated bya few big labels and major radio conglomerates into an internet based, digital, file sharing anarchy. The book explores, briefly,how this happened, and touches upon what it could mean for the future. But most of the book is spent presenting cases studies, but the author spends more time writing about the music itself than how the band fit into the new ways of doing things. I would have found the book more interesting if the case studies focused more on the new technology, how it shaped what the bands did, what about the technology frees up today's bands, what are the new challeneges presented by the huge number of bands who suddenly have access to nearly free and universal distribution,and their thought processes in going that direction. Still an interesting read, but not as focused as I would have liked....more
A story of a man coming to terms with his less than loving parents, and how it plays out in his own marriage. Not as good as Russo's best, but as RussA story of a man coming to terms with his less than loving parents, and how it plays out in his own marriage. Not as good as Russo's best, but as Russo's best are fantastic, it is still a pretty good read, if a bit melancholy....more
The preface is fact filled and engaging. It posits with numbers and facts the argument that today's society is reaching a new level of social unrest,The preface is fact filled and engaging. It posits with numbers and facts the argument that today's society is reaching a new level of social unrest, unhappiness, and inequality. After reading the preface I couldn't wait to read the rest.
Unfortunately, the rest is a meandering argument full of hazy remembrances of the sixties and seventies, rememberances that do not conform with my memory of those times. And don't look for one single fact or number to support his hazy memory and the argument he tries to construct on it, an argument that seems to come down to "things were so much better then."
A true disapointment for what could have been a timely, fascinating, invigorating subject....more
Funny, funny, funny! If you like Christopher Moore, you'll like this book. Eleven year old Samuel Johnson and his dachsund happen upon his neighbors'Funny, funny, funny! If you like Christopher Moore, you'll like this book. Eleven year old Samuel Johnson and his dachsund happen upon his neighbors' house who have accidently cracked open the gates of hell and quickly are inhabited by otherworldly creatures. But no one believes Samuel - except his two best friends and a few scientists at the CERN super collider who have noted an aberration in their experiment they can't quite explain. But when demons start spreading mayhem around Samuel's quiet English village, with results varying from hilarious to frightnening to an odd mixture of the two, Samuels' story becomes much more believable. Can the gates of hell be closed back up by and eleven year old and his tiny dog?
You will laugh out loud every few pages. A great, great read!...more
An excellent history of a city that was center of learning and culture for 500+ years. It is amazing to see just how much had been learned and thoughtAn excellent history of a city that was center of learning and culture for 500+ years. It is amazing to see just how much had been learned and thought through, and how it almost all fell by the wayside and was lst for almost a thousand years....more
An elegant, well written book about the prospect of our own mortality. The approach is one of a novelist, rather than a scientist or philosopher (althAn elegant, well written book about the prospect of our own mortality. The approach is one of a novelist, rather than a scientist or philosopher (although he consults his brother throughout, who is a philosopher), and most of the book is his own musings and thoughts of imminent mortality. Starts witht he intriguing line "I don't believe in God, but I miss him." if that line alone intrigues, so will the rest of the book....more
Mildly interesting read. The author seems to think and hope that religion will meld into some sort of middle ground spirituality. But he thinks so basMildly interesting read. The author seems to think and hope that religion will meld into some sort of middle ground spirituality. But he thinks so based on his observations, and doesn't deal with what the actual numbers seem to show, which is that views on religion are actually more and more split. Says nothing about the figures that show non-belief is the fastest growing segment....more