The great thing is to last and get your work done and see and hear and learn and understand; and write when there is something that you know; and not
The great thing is to last and get your work done and see and hear and learn and understand; and write when there is something that you know; and not before; and not too damned much after. Let those who want to save the world if you can get to see it clear and as a whole. Then any part you make will represent the whole if it's made truly. The thing to do is work and learn and make it.
I bought this book because I cannot imagine any self-respecting literature enthusiast who does not own Hemingway's major works. Admitedly, however, I did not know what to expect from the book. I had a vague notion that Hemingway discusses bullfighting - onto page one.
The title itself seems to suck all fear and sentiment from the notion of death. It implies a certain casual approach to the concept - or its crafty entrance onto a lively scene. Keep reading.
Immediately, Hemingway prefaces the book by dictating, in no uncertain terms, his trademark intentions as a writer - to write honestly of what exists as truth, mercilessly; the central ethos of his style. He insists that the writer must serve as a simple conduit between an event and those who read about it so the event can dictate its own inspiration to emotion, not the writer. He need not add any stimental embellishments lest the reader alternate his focus between their emotions and the writer's emotions and displace themselves from the stirring in their own soul, or censor any aspect of an event and deny the reader the full emotive experience. Hemingway obviously possesses a deep insight into the essence of bullfighting and has coupled that insight with a sturdy writing philosophy. Preach on.
I particularly appreciated Heminway's distinction between qualifying the moral implications of bullfighting according to feeling and as a unity of circumstances into one tragic, beautiful event. A spectator may sympathize with the horse, bull or matador which would lead to negative or positive feelings about the fight, depending on the outcome. If the matador wins and the spectator desires an example of Man triumphing over nature, he might argue for a certain moral high ground in bullfighting. Yet if a spectator sympathizes with animals, they might see only a dispicable scene of grotesque barbarity. Yet both of these spectators would miss the terrible trajedy, in all its beauty and truth, within the whole event. The bullfight, arguably, represents a dance - the unavoidable snare of Death and the proud defiance of Life - in all its terrible beauty or gallant victory.
When understanding Death as an imminent fate, one might find themselves viewing life through a rather unpleasant nihilistic lens. Such a pessimistic respect for death might ultimately render all of life's happiness as meaningless, which would explain the moral dread felt by some who witness the bullfight. Who wants to feel that way? In the bullfight, these majestic and terrible beasts exist to die. But, nihilistically speaking, does not man exist for the same reason? Perhaps the bullfight somehow imparts Man's dread or, perhaps, his inability to accept his own meaninglessness - born to die, a tragic existence now shared with the strongest of beasts who cannot, like Man, stave off the end.
On the other hand, Man has always imagined himself as a grandiose being capable of altering his own fate. Even today, people essentially apply all manners of sciences to disarm and shackle Death. We thrive on defiance and worship those who rise from the dead. Matadors do not rage against nature but spit in the face of charging Death. And yet, amongst all the pomp in the performance lies the art of the dance. The trajedy of the bullfight is not that the bull, or matador, dies but how he dies. Neither creature can control anything more.
One will see the brilliance and majesty of bullfighting when one sanctifies the seemingly contrary and combative executions of truth rather than abhoring the apparent neglect of cozy morals. To restrain one's actions to align with what one can qualify as the right and true thing, though it may mean the end for something else on the stage, is to devote oneself less to the outcomes of those players and entirely to the vision of real essence. Morality cannot exist purely based on the sustainability of life because death will never cease to exist. Therefore, have confidence in doing the right thing and respect the presence of Death.
Whoa, Hemingway...careful now.
Hemingway talked at length about many of the noteworthy matadors practicing in Spain through the early twentieth century. He talked about one known as Maera. During this short biography of a John Wayne fighter brought up under one of Spain's immortal masters, I felt a certain emotive quality but struggled to explicitly identify the reasons behind the emotion or to find any moral justification for it. At least Hemingway offered none. I simply felt the dull bliss of human connection between two unrelated people separated by all matter of space and time. Any moral implication or lesson in truth, the desire and subsequent search for them within the story, faded and left me with an indefinable contentment in knowing the true actions and essence of someone without distracting myself with the hopes of being bettered by such an acquaintance. I felt this same emotion propelling me through The Sun Also Rises but couldn't make sense of it. After reading Death In The Afternoon, a book centering around a "sport" I care nothing about, I somehow feel that I've come closer to appreciating and understanding the essence of Hemingway's ethos.
I only wish Hemingway had performed more laudibly in his craft. Look back to the epigraph at the beginning. Tell me he could not have written such a beautiful idea better....more
A nagging sensation has pestered me incessantly through recent years. As I have not yet reached 30, I hope this sensation does not signify a mid-lifeA nagging sensation has pestered me incessantly through recent years. As I have not yet reached 30, I hope this sensation does not signify a mid-life crisis. However, I have recently felt a bit hopeless, that I will never find the American version of success through any profession or medium from which I experience a deep sense of passion or fulfillment.
Listen, Ben...you gotta toughen up. The world's mean and doesn't care about you. Sure, your art was cute when you were a kid and I'm glad you had so much fun making books out of paper and tagboard in elementary school - it makes for great family reunion material. But, now, let's make sure we're obsessing over music at a reasonable level. And good Lord you read a lot!
I can only imagine these words have reached the ears of many introverts as they come up in the world. To the listener, I have to assume that such words immediately translate into a dichotomous perspective of superiority and inferiority - valuable and wasteful. Of course, the listener instinctively categorizes themselves on one side of the split. Unfortunately, one might feel that their passions will never come to successful fruition in American consumerism because introverted tendencies and aspirations are just so darn undesirable - despite evidence to the contrary!
Take music out of the schools! Those introverts need to learn how to make themselves note-worthy despite all the commotion of people competing to generate the next economic bubble! We would let them down if we did otherwise! Then quietly, someone suggests how music increases math and science scores. But the loud guy wins because that makes more sense than reasonable ideas.
You want to be an art teacher?!?!? Good luck finding work.
So on and so forth. But I'll quiet down now.
Cain's book first inspired an emphatic resonance for me when she described the rise of personality over character - the evolution of American values from defining personal quality according to character and ethics to the sometimes shameless promotion of economic success as the determining factor for personal worth. I felt like a man at a rally speech violently shouting my fielty to Cain's message. Of course, all this happened in my head.
Yet by deconstructing our current value system, showing how those values have shifted as described above, and exposing illogical idolization of extroversion as the means to American success, the introvert can confidently abandon feelings of low self-efficacy in a world that continually purges them to the outside rims. An introvert may find comfort on such fringes of parties, but I cannot concede that an introvert finds comfort in feeling unwanted, purged, worthless or diagnosable.
Cain wields a wide variety of psychological and sociological research to make her point - introverts not only have value, but suffer under unfair stereotypes illogically associated with their preferences. Many of the reasons western culture idolizes extroversion make little sense. And along the path to this cultural sentiment, we've lost a sense of value for things previous generations would have died for: honor, integrity, etc. These qualities have not passed into extinction, but we have redefined their value according to what they can produce. And extroverts portray such characteristics as well! Cain made every attempt to describe the ideal of social and psychological balance between the traits; though I imagine many skeptics chastising her thesis anyway. If one were to read her conclusion first, it may sound as sentimental fluff - but her research! It lends unlikely credence to feelings expressed by many who have already considered the personality imbalance.
To those who love quiet nights with a book with classical music blaring (I mean, subtly humming in the background), working in the office alone, who feel ashamed for wanting to avoid the party or "going out" in college (seriously...they talked about "out" like it was place down the street!), rediscover yourself through this book. Just because the status quo idolizes something, does not mean the disenfranchised should value themselves accordingly. After all, what group dynamic or sickness - racism, gender discrimination, etc - has not endured a similar enlightenment?...more
Growing up, I obliterated our VHS copy of "Field of Dreams". I knew I loved the movie but never paused to appreciate why. Looking back, I can only gueGrowing up, I obliterated our VHS copy of "Field of Dreams". I knew I loved the movie but never paused to appreciate why. Looking back, I can only guess that the combination of baseball magic and youthful wonder set my sensations ablaze. But Moneyball touches a completely separate nerve and yet sparks the same sensation. My love for the game has waxed and waned over the years but has never extinguished. Of course, my story may sound reminiscent of millions of others - stories of people who played and romantically courted this sport.
As I reached young adulthood, baseball all but vanished along with my childhood innocence. Then I had my son and baseball resurfaced with the fury of obsessive compulsion. Nothing from my own conscientious intentions brought on this re-invigoration for the game. Years after his birth, I can speculate that a subconscious yearning awakened within me; that unique father-son time in the late afternoon playing catch, building the foundation of an enduring relationship despite a lifetime of disappointments and failures which would inevitably smudge out his idolization of me. Or maybe something else transfixed my mind.
Michael Lewis' book, like so many great hero stories, depicts a man bold enough to inject new life into a cultural institution captivated by an ancient nonsensical status quo. Never in any baseball book or film have I felt as familiar with players, characterizations derived by Lewis from behaviors on the diamond! Perhaps the character of a man bares itself most transparent on the diamond. Yet never have I considered the game's drama off the field. I mean, I know how it works. But I never considered how the same mystique, the same flux of life flowed from the front office.
After watching the film, then reading the book, I found myself bent on one powerful idea. One office led by one man, offended in his own life by a system that misjudged his quality by compartmentalizing it in flawed terms, maniacally scrounged for scientific manipulations to control desired results.
Baseball is life.
Not because it consumes our every waking hour, but because no other sport symbolizes the marathon, the ups and downs, the endurance, the coping, the willingness to adapt, the need for introspection, the grind, the quality of character necessary to reach the goal of life. To win. To reach the goal we set for ourselves even when the odds tower over us. And despite Billy Beane's efforts, and the efforts of his office, to control his team's fate, and the monumental success they manufactured in the regular season, life still happens. The goal one seeks slips away - an effect autonomous from the cause he hoped would lead to it. Within the story lies this tragedy of failure, as if the baseball gods pat Billy Beane on the back while simultaneously gutting him. But within the dramatic representation of Beane, a sort of calm endures. Perhaps the goal may not have been a specific outcome, but rather to live, I mean play, the best way possible to whatever outcome may lie ahead.
All the same, a status quo should never go unchecked and the grind never abandoned. Otherwise such realizations may forever slouch on the horizon. A lesson well learned and hopefully one day embraced by my son. After all, my son brought new life into mine.
Through the eyes of Guy Sajer, I have rediscovered the putrid horror of war and the interminable depth of the human soul. Such a juxtaposition concernThrough the eyes of Guy Sajer, I have rediscovered the putrid horror of war and the interminable depth of the human soul. Such a juxtaposition concerns me. In the flowing filth of destruction, can one glimpse the shimmer of the human quality? So many people allude to war as the pinnacle of evil within human nature. Undoubtedly, the mystifying magnitude of our destructive tendencies overwhelms our vision and guides us into stereotypical cognition of ideological evil and discontent. However, does this focus distract us from the humanity of it all?
People fight wars. Hitler and Stalin and Roosevelt and Churchill had their agendas. But make no mistake, soldiers on all sides fought for one thing - their lives. Ideology burns like frail tissue paper under the fire of machine guns and anti-tank weaponry. On the field, men fight men. The war between Nationalist Socialism and democratic capitalism stayed in warm strategy rooms in the capitals. Set men against each other, and allow nature to take its course.
Ultimately, Sajer tells of a soldier's epic psychological journey. Beginning with a fearful innocence facing interminable threats, it culminates into the carnal void of his existence. Sajer beautifully renders his story with the wisdom of his age and through the eyes of a young man faced with inhumane devastation. He offers insights into the human condition which, unfortunately, may not have surfaced outside of wartime circumstances. As the dread swelled, the man endured.
What bliss to see a man survive the depths of hell on earth!
What pride to know what the human soul can survive!
Or, perhaps, Sajer remains on those battlefields, lying face down; his nose half submerged in a block of ice which has settled in the gasp of his open mouth. Perhaps the man who now walks among us entombs a deathly void in his bosom and only hears the agonized squealing of a newborn child entering a life of suffering. The psychological impact and emotional drought of war will not leave him and no federal counseling will heal him. He has become war. And in his sojourn, we, too, feel war; our own personal decay with him at Memel and on the Dneiper, the beauty of delusion regarding a lost love, a visceral sense of isolation at home because the man who called it home was left mummified in the snow....more
Never have I read an autobiography that defied my expectations as much as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. And so beautifully.
I imagined an explosiveNever have I read an autobiography that defied my expectations as much as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. And so beautifully.
I imagined an explosive indictment against the segregated South during the Depression era. Instead, I discovered the simple brilliance of a child's perspective wrestling with the circumstances of her upbringing. Of course, the violent dichotomy between white and black America shrouded Angelou's world and this story reflected her conceptions of that world. Whatever impressions the reader owns after reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings belong to them, free of any "preachy" influence from Angelou. The reader simply finds themselves wrestling with her experiences as she did.
She narrates a tale of growing up. Nothing more. The racial sentiments play a crucial role in her story similarly as any other circumstance would play a role in others' stories. She talks about enlightening mentors, innocent friendships, religion, paternal iniquities, maternal strength and brotherly devotion. Yet the segregated South and American distaste for Black permeates all of these things. And Angelou's brilliant prose style, in which she employs all the right words rather than the pretty ones, reflects the simple and innocent perspective of a growing girl. Angelou restrains from talking about her childhood from her mature perspective but lets her young mind lead the story. She naturally reacts to her life's circumstances as anyone else would.
For those people in modern America who feel race is a card, something for which they should not feel responsible and cringe at as if Death itself hovered over their beds, how can one deny the feelings of a child? How can one see her natural reactions and think stereotype has justifiable reasons? Understanding the plight of another does not inherently convict someone of guilt or self-deprecation. For me, I hear this story and feel that my own character would have crumbled at the prospect of this childhood. I admire her for her strength, not her race. I understand my own integrity as inferior to hers but not because of race or guilt.
My parents tell me the same thing. "Don't take revenge. Don't stoop to their level." But never in my life has an experience justifiably sparked an allMy parents tell me the same thing. "Don't take revenge. Don't stoop to their level." But never in my life has an experience justifiably sparked an all-consuming, searing desire to fiercely and mercilessly avenge myself. Savo Heleta has experienced such horror to warrant that vengeance.
And he chooses his future over violently avenging his past. He listens to his father, the head of a remarkable family, and, by emerging a man of rare quality, proves to his readers that behaving hypocritically, acting monstrously and barbarously as his oppressors acted, would have been far more detrimental to him than to his potential victims.
In this war-torn tale of destruction and fear, akin to those of Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel, Heleta tells us of neighbors and friends who morphed into bitter enemies because a political system decided that segregation and ethnic cleansing would enrich their lives. Before the political upheaval, Bosnian citizens of Serbian, Muslim and Croatian descent generally coexisted peacefully and perhaps even blissfully; the envy of America. Perhaps the over-used cliche, "Birds of feather flock together", should be rescinded from public consciousness, because when the cliche was imposed, all hell broke loose. War. Death. Destruction. Horror. Fear.
The truly majestic strength of Savo's book put me to shame. Even in a life relatively painless, I, like so many others, search for something responsible for the evil which blinds me to the good. Heleta's narrative, though horrific and more tense than Hollywood historical fiction dramas, counters savage terror with humanitarian altruism and God's interference. These simple affections and "timely luck" inspire those who suffer to see God while those who have comparatively little reason to complain curse Him for the evils in their lives.
To paraphrase Heleta, the divide between ethnic groups are illusions. There are good, bad and indifferent people. I cherish his perspective and I am inspired by it. Perhaps we can learn a little more about how we treat people from reading this book; the tale of a man whose integrity and character exemplify the best in humanity....more
"Hello political laymen and ignorant ideologist. This is Bob Woodward. Here's what's going on".
Bob Woodward's account of the political and military co"Hello political laymen and ignorant ideologist. This is Bob Woodward. Here's what's going on".
Bob Woodward's account of the political and military conduct during the wars on terror is captivating, even for those of us with little war-time governing acumen. The book is strikingly nonpartisan in its approach, which is to be expected from the likes of Woodward; though the account is not without its sympathies or specific player perspectives. And the narrative is so thorough that it leaves virtually no space for readers to insert their own skeptical assumptions and "common sense" prejudices.
This understandably anti-climactic drama unveils a government at odds with itself. In the center ring is Pentagon vs. White House; a monumental battle royale. The fighters come meet, pound their gloves together, and, to the surprise of everyone in the arena, simultaneously turn to face the same outside crisis. They swing mercilessly, and seemingly aimlessly, at the seminal threat a world away while sparingly dispensing jabs at one another.
The book unveils a setting outside of political pop culture; beyond the television ads, town hall meetings, debates, talk shows, etc. While reading, I hardly imagined these people as the characters selling domestic policy issues to the American public. These people cranked the machine, a cold machine, without sweeping poetics and political rhetoric.
I found myself thinking not about the redundant strategic meetings in the Situation Room, the hard-nosed positions of the uniformed and political advisers ironically isolating Obama to decide how to proceed in the AfPak region, the spineless "options", but rather about the nature of the conflict they were trying to fight.
When Obama took office, it seemed that no one knew what the objectives were in Afghanistan, how Pakistan was involved, and most importantly how to wage war on a terrorist enemy. Like Vietnam, not only in its potentially interminable escalations, the fight in Afghanistan was against an enemy who didn't follow "civilized" rules of engagement. Woodward described a one-on-one conversation he had with President Obama's National Security Adviser, retired General James L. Jones, U.S. Marine Corps:
During an hour-long conversation mid-flight, he laid out his theory of the war. First, Jones said, the United States could not lose the war or be seen as losing the war.
'If we're not successful here,' Jones said, 'you'll have a staging base for global terrorism all over the world. People will say the terrorists won. And you'll see expressions of these kinds of things in Africa, South America, you name it. Any developing country is going to say, this is the way we beat [the United States], and we're going to have a bigger problem.' A setback or loss for the United States would be 'a tremendous boost for jihadist extremists, fundamentalists all over the world' and provide 'a global infusion of morale and energy, and these people don't need much.'
Jones went on, using the kind of rhetoric that Obama had shied away from, 'It's certainly a clash of civilizations. It's a clash of religions. It's a clash of almost concepts of how to live.' The conflict is that deep, he said. 'So I think if you don't succeed in Afghanistan, you will be fighting in more places.
'Second, if we don't succeed here, organizations like NATO, by association the European Union, and the United Nations might be relegated to the dustbin of history.'
Third, 'I say, be careful you don't over-Americanize the war. I know that we're going to do a large part of it,' but it was essential to get active, increased participation by the other 41 nations, get their buy-in and make them feel they have ownership in the outcome.
Fourth, he said that there had been way too much emphasis on the military, almost an overmilitarization of the war. The key to leaving a somewhat stable Afghanistan in a reasonable time frame was improving governance and the rule of law, in order to reduce corruption. There also needed to be economic development and more participation by the Afghan security forces.
It sounded like a good case, but I wondered if everyone on the American side had the same understanding of our goals. What was meant by victory? For that matter, what constituted not losing? And when might that happen? Could there be a deadline?
I think about other countries which have lived under the ominous threat of terror for decades. As modern technology progresses, terrorism is no longer tribal, national, regional...it's becoming global. Obama is in a position, as Bush was, to either watch America be enveloped into that global union of terror-stricken nations, or to lead the fight against it. But his enemy is not a person or government; it's a world, an idea. The enemy in the ring manifests itself as a phantom; a freezing, cancerous mist of horror. It's little wonder that these men and women running the American government can't seem to agree, compromise or even describe the same enemy!
Unfortunately, if we are to learn from the mistakes of history, someone has to make those mistakes from which we learn. I fear that the novelty of fundamental extremism permeating the modern, global world will test President Obama's resolve and, more importantly, the American people's ability to understand the real issues....more
Discovering the historical Jesus is pertinent to the development of one's faith. But is this really Him? Bart D. Ehrman argues that Jesus was no moreDiscovering the historical Jesus is pertinent to the development of one's faith. But is this really Him? Bart D. Ehrman argues that Jesus was no more than an apocalyptic prophet of the first century; no different than the several men who have claimed the imminent end of the current world order in our own time. His historical methodology is reasonably irrefutable. His logic and critical assessments of our available sources in reconstructing a reasonable image of Jesus is solid.
I have no illusions about bringing my own beliefs to the table in this discussion of the historical Jesus. Undeniably, this plays a large part in my pondering of Ehrman’s presentation; similarly as anyone else would bring their different beliefs to the table as well. Considering the controversial nature of the subject matter, I think current biases are a stumbling block Ehrman expected.
Again, Ehrman’s methodology is reasonably flawless and he has a gift of accessibility when presenting his arguments. I won’t outline all the details of his assessment guidelines. Suffice it to say, they work. I did, however, have a few questions. And I think Ehrman may have stumbled by not anticipating these questions, at least not including his responses in this publication.
First, he claims that the apocalyptic culture of first century Judaism helps us understand Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet of the same variety as previous Old Testament prophets. However, wouldn’t this culture help us understand the perspective of the Gospel authors as well? Or, if the authors were Greek Gentiles, as Ehrman reasonably argues, wouldn't their sources, even if by oral tradition, have that same first century Jewish bias? Wouldn’t it be just as reasonable to assume that the author of Q, for example, brought his belief of an imminent world end to his interaction with Jesus’ words and deeds? If so, perhaps the theological developments weren't religiously coercive but rather a spiritual realization; finally getting the point.
Secondly, Ehrman argues that some of Jesus’ apocalyptic phrases used a very specific future tense, understandably negating the idea that the Kingdom of God was a present manifestation of the spirit in Jesus as the Christ. But rather than consider the present tense apocalyptic phrases and teachings as indications to the opposite, Ehrman interprets them in the imminent political and economic establishment of the Kingdom for which he already argued. Let’s also consider how Jesus taught mostly in parables. How is it unreasonable to consider that his apocalyptic teachings were parabolic of the renewal of the spirit? Ehrman makes a compelling argument for why a spiritual apocalypse is unlikely, mostly because the later Gospels were the ones to profess this, not the ones closer to Jesus’ time, but again, this is unlikely not impossible. And it is just as reasonable to assume that the Gospel authors were products of an apocalyptic culture, including Gentiles converted by Jews of the this culture, as Jesus was.
From my own estimation, I find it quite sensible that God would likely establish a Kingdom of the heart since his first try, even with Eden and eventually Jerusalem, did not fare so well. What’s to say that a new political, economic and earthly Kingdom wouldn’t crumble, even by abolishing evil? The world is relatively transient. It will eventually crumble. If God is spirit, and infinite, isn’t this the only way to establish a Kingdom of God? Of course, this is a theological analysis, and according to Ehrman, one that John and the later Gospel writers would have employed as the religion spread and grew. But wouldn't Jesus, an acknowledged wise teacher in the Jewish tradition, consider this as well?
There are other such discrepancies which I, as a relatively novice reader in these matters, found troubling. But as I said before, I commend Ehrman on his excellent analysis of the material. Both believer and skeptic have to admit to the quality of Ehrman’s presentation. So it’s not Ehrman who I find troubling. So what is it?
Any picture of Jesus has ramifications for a world of believers. For scholars who paint him as the Son of God, believers sigh in relief and most likely store up those arguments in their arsenals. And perhaps skeptics do the same when seeing an image of a man whose identity was manipulated and generally constructed to serve a purpose other than what was intended.
For me, it’s troubling to see an image of Jesus as a crackpot who could have easily been on the 2012 bandwagon in our day. Fortunately for the believer and the skeptic, these assessments cannot absolutely prove Jesus’ essence. We are limited, as is the historian, to the tools of reason and logic. Yes, limited. Ehrman himself claims that his discussion is simply portraying what is most likely. When establishing his criteria of dissimilarity, he acknowledges that if a historical claim does not pass this criteria, it doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t happen, just that it’s harder for us to believe. Or consider this:
Finally, I should emphasize that with respect to the historical Jesus, or indeed, with respect to any historical person, the historian can do no more than establish historical probabilities. In no case can we reconstruct the past with absolute certitude. All that we can do is take the evidence that happens to survive and determine to the best of oru abilities what probably happened. Scholars will always disagree on the end results of their labors. But nothing can be done about this. The past an never be empirically proved, it can only be reconstructed. p. 96
If historians consider only what they can believe beyond a reasonable doubt when reconstructing history, then we are only privileged to a portion of the picture. Just because a historian can't prove something by historical methods, it doesn't mean it didn't happen. Therefore, I think it of the utmost importance for both skeptic and believer alike to consider this limitation when drawing their conclusions from this book.
I have always felt that there is an absolute power in this world, outside of our influence. If human beings are the climax of worldly power and understanding, how did the Earth get on for so long without us? The existence of things, supernatural or not, do not hinge on our ability to understand them or prove them.
But, alas, I must remember that this is simply a reaction to a book and not my own personal treatise on the integrity of Christ. The book is excellent. There’s no denying it. Ehrman is persuasive, accessible and reasonable. But by his own words, he is not trying to prove anything, but paint the likeliest picture of the historical Jesus. He achieves his goal impeccably. It would be unwarranted to attack or embrace Ehrman as a source of spiritual truth. For skeptic and believer alike, this is a good read....more
Welp, so much for grabbing that homeopathic remedy off the shelf at Walgreen's this afternoon.
I would recommend this book to anyone. I've never made mWelp, so much for grabbing that homeopathic remedy off the shelf at Walgreen's this afternoon.
I would recommend this book to anyone. I've never made much consideration, or even shown much interest, in alternative medicine before. And for those of you like me, this book is perfect. The authors speak plainly yet authoritatively to the leymen among us.
I found the brief histories and consistent approaches to the major alternative therapies appeasing and trustworthy.
Singh and Ernst begin the book validating the steadfast and infallible nature of the scientific method. Of course, this is necessary for the reader to give them credibility as they use it to break down the lack of efficacy in alternative medicines. Without touting the scientific method as the "harbinger of truth", we may question their conclusions. Though the authors' assessment is by and large negative regarding acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic therapy and herbal medicines, they are just as ready to tell us which ones may have credence (Saint John's wort, Echinacea, etc).
I do think the authors go a bit overboard in their deconstruction of alternative therapies and their practitioners. Not only do they discredit their scientific validity, but they continue by assessing homeopaths as profiteers and even chiropractors as likely sex offenders. Keep in mind, all of their claims are based on evidence - clinical trials, systematic reviews, meta-analysis, surveys, polls, etc. But their passion and zeal FOR science is proportionately mirrored in their disgust with aspects of alternative practices. I found some of the economic and characteristic bashing unnecessary in proving their claims. Yet they don't discredit the authors' findings either.
I know I wouldn't want to get in an argument regarding anything OUTSIDE of science with these men. In the introduction, they taunt readers to return the book to the bookstore if they are close-minded and denounce science as the only method of truth-seeking. Ironically, I would think Singh and Ernst close-minded if arguing anything that the scientific method can't assess. For example, they mention clinical studies that attempt to prove the efficacy of prayer for recovering patients. These studies, which used the tools and methods of evidence-based medicine, found that prayer cannot save patients. However, God is not a vending machine that we extract whatever it is that we THINK we need. Many people of faith ascribe to this idea, so using the scientific method to test prayer as something it's not, the quarter we pop in the vending machine, can lead to misconceptions and erroneous conclusions. Yet it is worth noting that patients who also see prayer as the quarter we pop in the vending machine are going to be grossly disappointed when it can't replace the effects of conventional medicine. So, Singh and Ernst can discredit prayer as a medicine, but I hope they wouldn't discredit it as a means of communication or meditation simply because the scientific method can't prove its validity as such.
In as far as the subject matter of THIS book is concerned, if one can put aside the passionate, zealous, even condescending tone of the authors, the material and its presentation is fantastic for those who have no background in alternative medicines but are vulnerable to their availability in our medical marketplace....more