Karen Armstrong makes some strong points against religion being the primary cause of violence in the world. Anyone who kills in the name of God doesn'Karen Armstrong makes some strong points against religion being the primary cause of violence in the world. Anyone who kills in the name of God doesn't really understand God, and their beliefs are tainted by interpretations that favor a type of militant divinity (which seems like an oxymoron to me). In this book she gives a broad outline of the history of wars that are commonly thought to have been caused by religious differences. Many crusades and jihads are touched on, while major wars like World War I, World War II, and Vietnam are barely even mentioned. Her strongest point is that these wars- the worst three of the 20th century- had nothing at all to do with religion, which is enough evidence for me to show why the neo-Atheist crusade of making religion the culprit behind all warfare is unsound. Another point she makes is that religions have always started out as peace-bringers to civilization, but have continuously been corrupted by those with the interest of using their sociological powers to gain leadership. Typically the people who flock to these leaders are uneducated "warriors" who haven't even read the sacred texts on whichever religion they claim to follow. They're only using corrupted beliefs to convince themselves that the violence they want to unleash on the world is blessed upon and justified.
There are many logical inconsistencies in Thomas Aquinas' reasoning but that doesn't make this an uninteresting read. It's one of the few philosophicaThere are many logical inconsistencies in Thomas Aquinas' reasoning but that doesn't make this an uninteresting read. It's one of the few philosophical classics that are rooted in one specific religion. His theology had a profound impact on the development of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, and he was one of the most famous philosophers of his time, even though he didn't consider himself one. Personally it challenged me to bring out the philosopher in myself, the erudite know-it-all who likes to refute statements and formulate new ones so that the next thinker can come along and delineate the axiomatic algebra served up by pedantic fools like myself.
Even though it's a sexist work, Sjoo does a brilliant job of uncovering the dusty remnants of pre-Christian Goddess religions, and exposing the male dEven though it's a sexist work, Sjoo does a brilliant job of uncovering the dusty remnants of pre-Christian Goddess religions, and exposing the male dominated Christian forces that either stole from Pagan tradition or outright disposed of them for heresy. While reading this I often felt that my manhood was shriveling into a tiny little ball, but then I found it justified after realizing that for centuries male-engineered societies have repressed women and are now destroying the sacred womb of planet Earth....more
Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomenei famously issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie for a blasphemous passage in The Satanic Verses . The passage made iIranian leader Ayatollah Khomenei famously issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie for a blasphemous passage in The Satanic Verses . The passage made it appear that verses from the prophet Mohammed had really been issued from the devil in disguise. This outraged many Muslims around the world. Considering the book’s difficult subject material, one has to wonder how many of them actually read it, much less understood its contents. The verses were spoken by a (debatably schizophrenic) man who thought he was the archangel Gabriel, so I don't think Rushdie actually meant to offend anyone.
The Satanic Verses has some fascinating religious imagery, and a full serving of Rushdie's unique wit. It begins with an explosion in the sky. Two diammetrically opposed human beings fall from an airplane. Both of them survive the fall, but their ensuing adventures are riddled with supernatural changes that are on par with Biblical themes like Satan's fall in Paradise Lost, which, along with The Arabian Nights, must have inspired this book. Interspersed with the main plots are vivid dream sequences that don The Satanic Verses a masterpiece of magical realism. Some of Rushdie's prose in this book is gorgeous; one of my favorite things about it is the delirious illumination. Who can forget the poetic surrealism of the first chapter, the butterflies after the storm, Allelulia Cone on Mt. Everest, the metamorphosis of London, and all those heads disappearing under the Arabian Sea? Sure it digressed a lot, but with the way Salman writes, who cares?
The following is my interpretation of everything (spoiler alert). Gibreel the actor becomes possessed by the archangel Gabriel- the Islamic Gabriel, not the Christian one- after the plane crash, as does Saladin become possessed by Satan (or Shaitan). A near death experience can theoretically do this- while you are temporarily dead, your body can be prone to paranormal assault. The dreams that Gibreel have are memories from his past incarnations, each of which are parallel to the rise of monotheism. In the first dream, which is set during the Islamic revolution, Mahound represents Muhammad and Jahilia represents Mecca. Mahound's slaying of the pantheon of Goddesses in Jahilia illustrates the beginning of female repression in the Arab world after the birth of Islam. In this past life Gibreel was Mahound, not the archangel that appeared to him. It might be construed that his dreams are from the point of view of the angel’s, but I think Salman did a brilliant job of making it seem like both. Since Gibreel is possessed by the angel his own memories are interspersed with his, making the dream more convoluted as it mixes the present with the past. As Gibreel's soul fights the archangel for possession, there is a slow psychological deterioration that presents quite an awesome climax in all three plots. This theory is further strengthened by the other dream sequence- the grand pilgrimage to Mecca, which is oddly represented by the India salt march of 1930. In this dream, Gibreel appears to be Gandhi, yet has the appearance of Ayesha, who looks like a fantastical version of Allelulia Cone, his lover in the present. This dream is even more convoluted than the first; it confuses the salt march for a pilgrimage and Gibreel’s lover for Gandhi. The battle for possession in this dream really messed with Gibreel’s head, and we know what happened next....more
Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders. Two young jews facing each other during a heated ballgame, two of the brightest minds to ever come out of Brooklyn.Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders. Two young jews facing each other during a heated ballgame, two of the brightest minds to ever come out of Brooklyn. Malter can calculate mathematics & gematria in his head faster than a calculator, Saunders can read books faster than a freight train crosses Arizona. Brought together by a baseball injury, torn apart by Zionism, then reunited after the founding of Israel, both young men learn a lot from each other during their emotional friendship. Danny's father has ignored him his whole life, and Reuven is the one only one who can bring them back together. Very deep story with profound dialogue. Instant classic....more