Describes the Biblical basis for a panentheistic understanding of God. Explains clearly how our images of God influence how we relate to God, one anot...moreDescribes the Biblical basis for a panentheistic understanding of God. Explains clearly how our images of God influence how we relate to God, one another, and the natural world. Argues for a plurality of images of God and for a "new" understanding of Christianity that is less exclusivist and more focused on individual relationship with God, one another, and the world. (less)
You can't look at "your" government the same way after seeing how many of your fellow Americans' lives were written off for the sake of weapons testin...moreYou can't look at "your" government the same way after seeing how many of your fellow Americans' lives were written off for the sake of weapons testing.(less)
"It is on the question of interpretation of internal experiences that Wilber's system falters. Wilber fails to defend the validity of his practice of...more"It is on the question of interpretation of internal experiences that Wilber's system falters. Wilber fails to defend the validity of his practice of interpreting these internal experiences as epistemologically sound means of gaining access to valid knowledge about the true nature of extra-pyschic reality. Similarly, he fails to provide convincing arguments to explain why his interpretation of those experiences should be considered more valid than the theist's quite different interpretations of the same internal experiences. Finally, he fails to demonstrate why the non-dualist religious experience should be considered superior to the religious experience of theists, an experience which asserts and values the otherness of God. From this epistemological issue, other issues follow: the de-valuation of the personal, the separation of the ethical and the spiritual, Wilber's selective, non-representative use of sources, and others. The future status of Wilber's work and the field of transpersonal psychology will in part be a product of how successfully Wilber responds to these and other challenges from non-transpersonalist commentators." - George Adams, "A Theistic Perspective on Ken Wilber's Transpersonal Psychology,"Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 17, No. 2, 2002(less)
I purchased this book right after I finished reading Borg's *The God We Never Knew,* and it complements that book nicely. The first half provides insi...moreI purchased this book right after I finished reading Borg's *The God We Never Knew,* and it complements that book nicely. The first half provides insight into how our images of God influence how we relate to ourselves and one another, and suggests that all the received images of God as wrathful and bloodthirsty miss the point that Jesus was trying to make about a radically re-imagined God. The mainstream doctrine of substitutionary atonement (with its image of God as a psychopath who must kill his own son to forgive me for being the way God made me) falls short of what I'd consider "good news," and this book provides an alternative understanding of the Gospel. The second half of the book provides a more in-depth Q&A where the authors provide reputable sources for some of their more unorthodox assertions about Christian theology. This book is definitely a keeper. (less)
I first received The Lord of the Rings as part of a four-book boxed set, complete with The Hobbit, for Christmas in 1985. I also received a boxed set...moreI first received The Lord of the Rings as part of a four-book boxed set, complete with The Hobbit, for Christmas in 1985. I also received a boxed set of the first four Dune books. I was 13 and in 8th grade.
Like many 13-year olds, I loved The Hobbit but I thought The Lord of the Rings was simply awful. For one thing, the plot was not immediately obvious to me. (Keep in mind that at the time my enjoyment reading primarily comprised Doctor Who novelizations and Choose Your Own Adventure books.) Instead of the short chapters of plot and dialogue to which I was accustomed, Tolkien provided page after page of exposition, describing the local color and history with any "action" provided almost as an afterthought. And then there is what may have been the biggest problem of all with The Lord of the Rings: the scores of strangely named characters and places, some of whom are central to the story and others of whom are purely peripheral and which is which is unclear. I mean, sheesh, who names their two main villains Sauron and Saruman, names that differ by only one syllable?
It should be here noted that while I loved reading at age 13, I was also not the best reader. Memories of reading what I managed to of the trilogy consist mainly of reading a single page over and over and over again just to follow the main thread of the story. Somehow I managed to finish The Fellowship of the Ring and made it a few dozen pages into The Two Towers before I threw up my hands and abandoned Tolkien to the realm of "authors I think are overrated." I still have a vague recollection of giving a a pretty worthless presentation on the first book in front of Mrs. Fox's English class, the same class I was in when the Challenger exploded. (I also have an even vaguer memory of reviewing some disposable piece of genre SF called Dushau), but that's another story.) In short, I never thought I would ever read this book again, and considered all those folks who worshiped Tolkien to be little short of fools.
Fast-forward sixteen years. It's Christmas time in Champaign, and I'm attending The Two Towers with my coworkers, mainly because the bosses gave us cinema tickets for the holidays. As the movie begins to unfold, I remember those few dozen pages that I read at 13, and I slowly begin the journey of reappraising Tolkien. While I agree with those who urge reading the book as well as simply seeing the movie, I think that in this case I could not have done the former if I had not done the latter. Peter Jackson's trilogy allowed me to familiarize myself with the overall story arch (something that was hard for me to do from within the perspective of the novel, at least at first) and also helped me to handle the enormous cast of strangely named characters. (Finally Saruman and Sauron were decidedly distinct characters in my mind's eye, and the logic behind their naming, based as it is on Tolkien's invented languages, became more apparent.) So in fall of 2007 I finally decided to give the damned book another chance, mooched the one-volume "trilogy" (apparently Tolkien always considered it one big novel) through BookMooch, chose it over the New Testament for 2008's "big book" (sorry Mom), and devoured it in January, 2008.
In short, I loved it, particularly the exposition and the bizarre names for characters and places. Strange, huh, how the passage of time will do that to one's sensibilities? The very features of the novel that I found off-putting in 1985, I found absolutely ingenious in 2008. The names and locations in The Lord of the Rings all figure into a much-vaster cosmology and narrative history, and this becomes more apparent when the reader peruses the voluminous appendices. All the details that seemed arbitrary and distracting from "the action" were in fact anything but arbitrary, deriving as they did from a comprehensive mythology (of a world that did not exist until Tolkien wrote it into existence!). Take for example the appendix on the "translation" of the text explaining why Tolkien chose English words like "elf" and "dwarf" and "halfling" to "translate" the "original" Elvish words. Apart from the implication that there is really an original manuscript written in Elvish, this appendix also implies that the "elves" in this story aren't really elves, the "dwarves" aren't really dwarves, etc., but that these are the closest analogs that the translator could find in fantastic literature.
That these 1,000+ pages, with all their hyper-detailed exposition, are merely the tip of the iceberg of Tolkien's invented world, makes the novel all the more amazing. This really is a masterpiece of storytelling and myth-making. I can understand now why so many people love this book. I am now one of them.(less)
An honest-to-goodness synthetic mythology that is 10% raw tedium and 90% sheer genius. It took me a while to build up the confidence to read this, but...moreAn honest-to-goodness synthetic mythology that is 10% raw tedium and 90% sheer genius. It took me a while to build up the confidence to read this, but it really isn't that daunting once you make it past around page forty. At that juncture, the mythical narratives of rise and fall become hard to put down, even with all the hard-to-remember names and places.(less)
The function of This Department is to seek precise, comprehensive, synergetic, ethnomethodological, sociobiological, neurogenic, quantum-mechanical models that will prove useful to both Behaviorists and poets.
We operate here by the precisely calculated juxtaposition of idea and image, rapidly altering focus from myopia to presbytopia, looking now through the telescope and then through the microscope... (29)
Satirical, SF short stories bookend (are juxtaposed with) a collection of short essays, interludes, asides, and experiments in cut-up/surrealist techniques. This is one of the better of R.A.W.'s books. Scratch that. This is neither one of the better of R.A.W.'s books, nor is it not one of the better of R.A.W.'s books. What would I have learned from his ontological anarchy if I implied that I had that level of absolute knowledge, as to which of his books was good, better, best for all readers in all places at all times? Instead I can honestly say that, at this time and place in my life, in the context of other things I am reading/watching/doing/listening to/learning from, I enjoyed and got more from this book more than I have some of R.A.W.'s other works. Even the cut-up stuff, which tried the patience of other reviewers, went from being tiresome to stimulating, even engaging, after enough (pharmacologically enhanced?) persistence.
[T]he human nervous system, properly programmed, can edit and orchestrate all experience into any gestalt it wishes. We encounter the same dismal and depressing experiences over and over because they are repeating tape loops in the central programmer of our brains. We can encounter ecstasy over and over by learning the neurosciences that orchestrate all incoming signals into ecstatic tape loops. The contact has already happened right where you are sitting now. Whether it is tuned-in or not-tuned-in depends on your skill as metaprogrammer. (182)
As a work of futurism, now written 30+ years ago, some of the predictions seem a bit too optimistic (e.g., still no space colonies, life extension, or flying cars--we don't even have alternatives to fossil fuels worked out) but others, especially those involving information technology, are spot on or even conservative in retrospect.
Philosophies all tend to be nostalgic, stoic, cyclical, or existential, she said. They long for a past Golden Age, or they tell us to endure without telling us why, or they say it has all happened before and will all repeat again endlessly, or they just tell us to create our own meaning in a meaningless universe. None of them are future-oriented. None of them answers our cosmic yearning, like those religious visionaries who, in Hubbard's term, remember the future. (38)
In his inimitable, polymathically perverse style, Wilson plays the Gonzo journalist and takes on the Three Mile Island meltdown, the "Transition 21" futurist conference, and an American Association for the Advancement of Science inqui(sition)ry into the pseudoscience-by-definition of parapsychology . He explores the power of language and metaphor in shaping reality, especially in relation to pornography, freedom, and censorship. He ponders the "neurogeography of conspiracy," the transhuman possibilities of genetic engineering, life extension and space migration. He is interviewed about conspiracies and paranoia. He waxes poetic, in free verse. He espouses a heart-breakingly honest and compassionate credo. He even has salient things to say about religion and God, beyond his usual (and wonderful) model agnosticism:
Thus, IT [God] can be metaphorically be considered as an intelligence and even as possessed by "personality" (or the cosmic analog of "personality"), in the manner of the traditional theist; or IT can be considered as a giant machine, as the traditional materialist prefers; IT can be seen as a mesh of energy or four-dimensional grid of energy of a "dance" of energy, which are metaphors from early 20th century physics; or IT may be visualized as an Information System, which is the current model I happen to like; but in any of these cases, we are in the realm of metaphor, and we are talking only about A, what we understand (or think we understand) now, and we haven't included, and can't include B which is by definition what we don't understand yet. (132)
To the extent that you need scapegoats, you simply have not got your brain programmed to work as an efficient problem-solving machine. (124)
Of course, I still believe that we are in the current global financial crisis in large part due to the machinations of a small group of finance capitalists, but I wonder if that is scapegoating or empiricism...
I think of this book as a machine, in the sense that Le Cobusier described a house as a "dwelling machine." These lines of words and images are a mechanism, a crafted tool, to disconnect the user from all maps and models whatsoever. The machine doesn't care who you are or what you think. Plug it in and it does its job. The job here is to put you in the head space where an ouija board predicts the future; where you are living in a foreign country and it all begins to seem normal to you, so that a visitor from your home country suddenly looks alien and strange; where a new scientific theory begins to make sense; where a work of art that had seemed a hoax or a barbarism abruptly becomes beautiful and full of meaning; where you are first waking up and can't remember who you are or where you are ...
The machine does its job. It doesn't care whether you like the trip or not. (122)
It definitely does not care about my feelings in the section on "Pop Ecology" and "eco-mysticism," which pushed my buttons more than any other chapter (with the exception of the cut-up stuff). I am apparently a firmer believer in Malthus, the Club of Rome, and the Limits to Growth people than was R.A.W. Partly, this is because I am neither as optimistic as him, nor am I as much a believer in human ingenuity. I agree with his argument that "known resources" are not given by nature, but are instead a function of nature plus human brilliance, creativity, and inventiveness. That said, my other reading (e.g., Richard Heinberg, John Michael Greer, and Dmitry Orlov) suggests that there might be more inflexible natural limits--specifically the lack of an energy source to replace fossil fuels on the scale we have come to expect--to our possible trajectories than we anticipate, regardless of our innovation and ingeniousness. Nonetheless, R.A.W. makes a very good point which must be taken seriously by those of us who consider ourselves Green or ecological:
[T]his ideology [of settling for lower expectations] has one major social effect: people who are living in misery and deprivation, who might otherwise organize to seek better lives, are persuaded to accept continued deprivation, for themselves and their children. (138)
Reading this section definitely makes me want to investigate the works of R. Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller and to learn more about his notion that "it is now possible to be a success, for everyone."
On [t]his planet, the domesticated primates maintain pack-taboos by barking and snarling at those who violate the semantic grids that control thoughts, feelings, and (apparent) sense impressions. (189)
[W]e have a hundred years of social science that demonstrates that any model of the universe will make sense eventually if we share space-time and conversation with people who believe in that model. (193)