Augustine tells the story of his life up until his conversion to Catholicism (from Manachee beliefs) in this book which is considered by many to be on...moreAugustine tells the story of his life up until his conversion to Catholicism (from Manachee beliefs) in this book which is considered by many to be one of the first true autobiographies of the western world.
We read this book for an English literature class in University, and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by it. What I expected to be a slow, sluggish read weighed down by too many old religious references was... well, it was that. But in between the bible quotes you could get a glimpse of what his life was perhaps like before he joined the church, of what the time was like, and best of all, a glimpse of what seems like a brilliant mind behind the curtains of religion.
This is perhaps best seen in the last four chapters -- or books as they're referred to -- after his autobiographical story is effectively finished and he has gone on to discuss philosophy regarding such things as memory and time. Despite the fact that earlier in the book he speaks out against scholarly types who take pleasure in learning about and teaching about the world as "fornicating against god", he shows a great interest in such pursuits himself.
Unfortunately though, it IS bogged down with layer upon layer of bible reference (which will make it a difficult read for anyone unfamiliar with Christianity or at least judeo-christianity in general), and is thick with passages that mindlessly praise god without adding to the content of the book, or passages in which he belittles himself before god, again adding little valuable content. This lessens later on in the book, but remains an issue throughout.
I don't think I would recommend this to most people, whether or not Christian, but I might offer this as a recommendation to anyone interested in 5th century philosophy, who has sufficient background experience to understand all of what Augustine goes on about.(less)
This book seemed to have a decent plot, but I found that the exposition was really poor. It felt more like I was reading through a long summary of the...moreThis book seemed to have a decent plot, but I found that the exposition was really poor. It felt more like I was reading through a long summary of the story rather than the story itself; each element was introduced and then resolved without much emotion in the writing at all. Characters' moods and opinions changed however the story needed them to with little realism or explanation. Problems tended to be resolved very simply and quickly, but rather than seeming to have "Mary Sue" characters, it felt more like the problems weren't that big of a deal to begin with. If the writing had a voice, I would say that it was monotone. The book could have been good, but it needed more life.(less)
I picked up this book from the library on a whim, and am glad that I did. As someone who debates religion from time to time, I appreciated some of Com...moreI picked up this book from the library on a whim, and am glad that I did. As someone who debates religion from time to time, I appreciated some of Comte-Sponville's points on tolerance, such as the difference between the rational religious and fanatics.
The book is divided into three sections, and the first two make an excellent read. The first attempts to tackle whether we can do without religion, either as individuals or as a society, and the second is the reasons for being an atheist. Even in the second section, however, Comte-Sponville writes about tolerance of the religious, that they are entitled to their beliefs, and that only fanaticism (in the forms of fundamentalism, obscurantism, terrorism or otherwise) need be fought with vigour.
The third section of this book, however, was not at all the same quality -- nor even the same nature -- as the first two thirds. Comte-Sponville attempts to explain his version of spirituality here, and perhaps was a bit too personal with it. This section is overly verbose and overcomplicates what for most is a simple, personal subject. He also goes into topics such as mysticism (describing mysticism as the mysteries of the universe) which could be said to be eclectic. Perhaps the real problem with this section is that it simply doesn't mesh well with the rest of the book; it feels like it goes off on a very long and drawn off tangent, on a topic most people usually have their own answers to.
While I can't fairly give this book a four star rating overall, I do recommend it to anyone who debates on the topic of religion (as a theist or atheist) as it gives perspective on one side of the argument, and also makes some excellent points regarding what to debate, why to debate, and where to draw the line. I would simply recommend skipping the third section, or perhaps just skimming it over.(less)
For fans of historical fantasy, especially fans of Norse mythology this is an excellent read. Thater does a great job of capturing the feel of the myt...moreFor fans of historical fantasy, especially fans of Norse mythology this is an excellent read. Thater does a great job of capturing the feel of the mythical era. In the limited pages of this story the characters that seem at first to have cliché styles and traits by the end prove themselves to be more than just that.
True to the era, the action is very hack-and-slash, and does a good job of being so. Along with the horrors described in the story it was almost reminiscent of Diablo II, only with much better description than the game had graphics.
Overall the story is a treat for fans of the genre, though I can't recommend it for anyone who doesn't enjoy a bit of hack-and-slash mythology. For those who do enjoy this sort of story, The Gateway shines.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in eBook form for review. (less)