An amazing look into the history of Buddhism, followed by an indepth look at the Tibetan Buddhist schools. Invaluable for a beginning practitioner, or...moreAn amazing look into the history of Buddhism, followed by an indepth look at the Tibetan Buddhist schools. Invaluable for a beginning practitioner, or anyone who would like to know more about Tibetan Buddhist history, culture, and ritual. (less)
Ven. Chödrön offers a wonderful discourse on Buddha Tara. As a Westerner I found her descriptions of verses, metaphors and iconology indispensable. Wi...moreVen. Chödrön offers a wonderful discourse on Buddha Tara. As a Westerner I found her descriptions of verses, metaphors and iconology indispensable. Without this book my understanding of Buddha Tara would have been very superficial, so I am thankful to have had this guidance. (less)
In The Roots song "Dear God 2.0" they ask, "Why is the world ugly when you made it in your image?" This is one of the primary questions that Thompson...moreIn The Roots song "Dear God 2.0" they ask, "Why is the world ugly when you made it in your image?" This is one of the primary questions that Thompson attempts to address in this book. One illustration shows an angel on top of a pile of garbage asking why the world was given to mankind when they have created such destruction and chaos. The unspoken answer being that surely the angels could have done a better job ruling over God's creation and each other.
I have to give props to Thompson, as a Caucasian Westerner raised in the US, with Evangelical Christianity as his religious foundation - He attempts to show respect and use the beauty of the Islamic world and Arabic to illuminate this graphic novel.
Be that as it may, the book does have considerable issues with stereotyping and adding to the presumption that there is a mono Islamic culture, instead of numerous unique cultures across the globe and over the ages that are unique in their own right, yet connected by different significant threads - Making them Islamic. His illustrations combine Mughal, Ottoman, and other cultural art forms that were separated by time and space, yet the way he has combined them (Much in the same vein as Orientalists before him - Gilliam’s Barron Munchausen is a great example) would make the uneducated assume they are one single culture.
There are also significant issues with his representation of Muslims versus Westerners. When I initially began reading the book I was very confused, as a dilapidated medieval world is portrayed as that of the Muslim world, with the modern Western world behind it. Muslims are depicted as poor, uneducated, backward, greedy, and sexually monstrous beings, where those who are in charge of construction and other modern infrastructure where Western attire, have lighter skin, and are assumed to be more intelligent and educated simply by their positions in society.
But with all of that said, I do not feel that these references were intentional, so much as coming from the uninformed mind of a Westerner who has been berated with these depictions from birth. There is no malice shown towards Islamic cultures, and there is great detail given to the accuracy of Qur'anic verses, legends, folk tales, and the use of Arabic. Obviously, there are some mistakes, but the great effort put out speaks to the intentions of the author. When compared to Frank Miller's "Holy Terror" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Ter... book is banal, and indeed a great work of art that attempts to bring the beauty of one culture into another.
Besides the outstanding artwork, I was very touched by the juxtaposition of the sacred to the profane. Surely, it is in those unspeakable moments of one's life the lessons from scripture and legend come forth to give us strength. If the sexual abuse and decadency had been shown in another context it would not have necessarily been perceived as a stereotype, but as what humanity deals with in one form or another. In the West, are we not constantly bombarded by stories of childhood abuse from those in positions of power? It is sadly a story that is told around the globe, and universal in it's horror.
Overall, I feel that the book is outstanding and worthy of anyone's collection. It is an outstanding book with a distinct message that can speak to a multitude of different people while bringing the beauty of Islam to those who may not have previously known of it's grandeur. (less)
This book not only outlined the life of Theos Bernard from newspaper articles, letters, and other accounts, but it also gave a fairly good history of...moreThis book not only outlined the life of Theos Bernard from newspaper articles, letters, and other accounts, but it also gave a fairly good history of Tibet, it's culture, and religion. I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in Tibet and it's spread to the U.S. (less)