Fascinating book, Aaronovitch starts off by showing how a widespread adherence to an extremely far-fetched conspiracy theory laid the ground work forFascinating book, Aaronovitch starts off by showing how a widespread adherence to an extremely far-fetched conspiracy theory laid the ground work for the holocaust and how humanities propensity to buy into crack-pot conspiracies lead to the USSR's reign of terror. The rest of the book then sought to show how ridiculous many popular conspiracy theories are, though the consequences of people believing in them were never as severe as in the first two cases. This is a much needed book, I am sure Alex Jones is sure that the book itself is part of a conspiracy and was produced by the Bilderbergs in order to deceive and muddle simple people like me. ...more
This book didn't really seem a case for the crusades, but more an attempt to set the records straight; giving a more rich, complex and balance look atThis book didn't really seem a case for the crusades, but more an attempt to set the records straight; giving a more rich, complex and balance look at these "religious" wars. He definitely shared the good, the bad and the ugly, the crusaders were by no means pure as the wind driven snow.
Stark showed the Crusades were justified in the sense that they were a response to the Muslims brutal conquest of north Africa, the middle east and Europe, all land former belonging to Christians was now under Islamic tyranny. But it wasn't until Muslims started to desecrate the holy tomb in Jerusalem and killing and oppressing Christians on pilgrimages to the holy lands, that Christians were stirred up enough to take up arms and try to win back the land. But though, the crusades were response to Islam aggression and barbarity, Stark still gave me the impression that the crusades were not necessarily a good idea, for one, they were extremely costly, Jerusalem was a long ways away and there was little hope of maintaining control of the city since Jerusalem was surrounded my millions of Muslims hell-bent upon stealing back the land they had stolen from the Christians so many years before. I am glad to learn that the crusades was not an attempt to spread Christianity by the sword. Stark mentioned, that after the westerners took control of Jerusalem, much of the population in the city were Muslims, some of them found it better living under Christian governance than under Islamic rule. They, nor the Jews were forced to convert. There were some crusaders that did killed Jews, but the church condemned this when they learned of it.
It is sobering to learn about the cost of going to war, how many sold lands and went into debt to support the war effort, how many knights would die from starvation and disease before they even arrived at the battlefield and how hard it was for the leaders to manage a large group of men with "war fever".
D'Ambrosio is a good writer, the book moved along at a nice pace. I did quickly discover the book is written from an overtly catholic perspective andD'Ambrosio is a good writer, the book moved along at a nice pace. I did quickly discover the book is written from an overtly catholic perspective and was likely intended for a catholic audience. The main emphasis of the book is how concepts like apostolic succession, Transubstantiation, prayer to saints, the emasculate conception, the elevation of Mary to the "Mother of God", paying penance, infant baptism, etc... were taught by the church fathers, and therefore, it should be assumed that they originated from the Jesus' apostles. However, some of the church fathers arguments, for these doctrine listed above, in response to the damnable "heretics" who opposed them, sounded absolutely illogical, silly and ridiculous, yet D'Ambriosio presented them as knock down irrefutable proofs for Catholic doctrine... but just because a beloved Saint says 2+2=5 doesn't make it so Joe. But yeah, overall, I did enjoy the book and I liked D'Ambrosio's high admiration for the church fathers, it helped bring the history to life. ...more
I thought this book contained much of importance and though it comes from a bias, it is a good counterbalance to "dark ages" narrative that we're allI thought this book contained much of importance and though it comes from a bias, it is a good counterbalance to "dark ages" narrative that we're all so familiar with, but sadly, I think it was somewhat dryly presented. A few things that Woods covered was found in David Bentley Hart's more lively and excellent book "Atheist Delusions: the Christian revolution and its fashionable enemies" and the science sections was covered in great detail by "Genesis of science" by James Hannam. What is good about "How the catholic church built western civilization" is that we find a summery of the churches positive influence on many aspects of western civilization all in one place. Woods touches on how Catholic theology influenced architecture. How the church funded and supported science and how as I have heard many times elsewhere, it was the Christian worldview itself that made science possible, and as I heard Hart mention, how it was actually a move away from Greek Philosophy towards a more Christian mindset that freed science. Woods touched on how the church establishment and supported the universities and how if not for the monks copying and preserving ancient pagan works they would all be lost, also he shared the churches place in the origins of international law which grew out of Catholics being so disturbed by the Spaniards treatments of the Natives in the new world. Wood also touched on the origins of the rule of western law being found in the church, which was mentioned "the origins of political order" by Fukuyama. Hearing how it was Catholics that first expressed economic theories now found among Austrian school was a first for me. It was inspiriting to hear about the Christian charity, hospitals and concern for the poor, orphans and the widows throughout the medieval age, it was news to me that the Reformation may have undermined the Catholics welfare system, leaving a void that eventually the incompetent and impersonal State filled, with all the adverse consequences. If true, this is quite interesting, something I want to look more into. ...more
It was interesting to hear the history and traditions surrounding good ol' St Nick and it is something how many legends formed around this man duringIt was interesting to hear the history and traditions surrounding good ol' St Nick and it is something how many legends formed around this man during the medieval period. The last half of the book concerned the many traditions of gift givers throughout Europe, the raucous winter solstice and the reaction against the saints by the Protestants. Later on how a Poem, a Cartoon artist and Coca-Cola Advertizements played a role in American traditions and also about the melding of Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, St. Nicholas and Santa Clause in the US. All of this was rather complex, and thus a bit hard to follow and Bennett quickly covered it. ...more
I listened to this audiobook a few years ago while riding up to Washington DC, it would definitely be worth listening to again. The primary thing I stI listened to this audiobook a few years ago while riding up to Washington DC, it would definitely be worth listening to again. The primary thing I still remember is how Sowell didn't only write about the bad and the ugly, but also about good consequences of Empires. He says we should not do a "Cost/benefit analysis" and claim England for example was justified in her Empire building, because the goods that ultimately resulted in the nations conquered (the rule of law, stability, greater productivity, civilization, etc...) out weighed the terrible negatives. No matter how many good things result in the long run from England conquering much of the world, doesn't mean they had a moral right to do so, or even if one claimed they did, they they did everything right. But yeah, in a Liberal climate, it is political incorrect to even acknowledge that many places England conquered are now better off. Scotland for example was completely illiterate waring tribes, relentlessly butchering each other, a Scottish life at the time was "poor, nasty, brutish, and short". But once Scotland was conquered, it wasn't long until Scotland had some of the most prestigious universities in the world and was producing the greatest intellectuals. If it was not for the evil England expanding itself, there wouldn't have been an Adam Smith or a David Hume. But yeah, it was interesting....more
This was an excellent book, showing the founders arguments in favor of the articles of constitution and the opponents fears, concerns and arguments agThis was an excellent book, showing the founders arguments in favor of the articles of constitution and the opponents fears, concerns and arguments against certain parts. Because each part of the constitution had to be defended and shown not to compromise state sovereignty or give to much power to the Federal government, the meaning of even the most vague sections are pretty clearly hammered out. If this was not so, certain states NEVER would have ratified it, yet American history has shown Congress, Judges and Presidents doing the very things that that the founders insisted never would be allowed. It is indeed painful to see what the Founders intended, considering the present state of things. It's horrible seeing judges legislating from the bench, presidents on the right and the left assuming powers which the constitution didn't give them, and how those who choose to ride rough trod on the constitution largely get away with it and often becomes heroes, Lincoln, Theodore, Wilson and FDR come to mind.
Considering some of the horrific things Federalist John Marshall and Hamilton did so soon after the ratification of the constitution, fulfilling some of the prophesies of anti-federalist like Patrick Henry, one is tempted to think that some of the more vague clauses in the Constitution were intentionally put there, to leave a small crack in the door. So Federalist after getting the people to consent, by subduing their fears and promises goodwill, could then come and swing the door open and claim more central power and the destroy state rights that they promised to protect. One has to hope that this is not the case....more
I was preparing to teach on Abraham and I recalled that this book by Fretheim was in my wishlist on Audible. I listened to it in a day and found FrethI was preparing to teach on Abraham and I recalled that this book by Fretheim was in my wishlist on Audible. I listened to it in a day and found Fretheim's perspective quite refreshing. He brought to light God's concern for the "outsider" within the story of Abraham. God speaks, makes promises and provides for those who are not the "Chosen" people of God. Also, in the text, some outsiders appear to fear God even more than Abraham and Canaanites and Egyptians are not demonized. I appreciate that Fretheim has a similar understanding as I do concerning how relational God is and how He works through natural means to bring about his will. I liked how he shared God choosing Abram was an example of Exclusive means for Inclusive ends, it was Election for the sake of Mission. Abraham was to be blessed to be a blessing to ALL the families of the earth.
Fretheim does seem to be open to some of the more liberal scholarly opinions, for example he mentions how the story of Sodom and Gomorrah may have been made up in an attempt to explain the landscape where Sodom was and Lot's wife--to explain the salt pillars. Though there are little mentions like this here and there, it's not excessive enough for those who have a strong opinion concerning the historical accuracy of every story in the OT, to avoid the book. Fretheim definitely appeared to me to have no agenda to undermine someones high view of the scripture.
At the end of the book, He did a nice summery of how other Jewish text spoke about Abraham, and the OT and the NT references and understanding of Abraham that followed.
all in all, it was a really interesting book, Fretheim has a wonderful perspective and will help you love this story all the more. ...more
I came to the book hoping for a flowing narrative, but instead, I discovered it was topical and at times, rather tedious, like the chapter that just lI came to the book hoping for a flowing narrative, but instead, I discovered it was topical and at times, rather tedious, like the chapter that just listed an endless succession of Salvation Army Generals. I suppose Gariepy wanted to be thorough, and thus had to be extremely brief on the interesting parts of the history in order to include the dry uninteresting parts.
I do want to learn more about Mrs. Booth, she sounds like an incredible lady, and well, Mr. Booth seemed pretty cool as well. I want to find a good biography on their lives. ...more
Well, this was the book that lived by the toilet over the last several months. I figured while I was downloading into the pot, I might as well be downWell, this was the book that lived by the toilet over the last several months. I figured while I was downloading into the pot, I might as well be downloading some names, facts and ideas into my head. Overall I found the brief sketches of the names, facts and ideas to be dry and uninspired. From the titled I hoped it would present the information in more of a lively and interesting manner, as if they not only were TRULY GLAD I asked, but hoped to respond to the questions in such a way that would encourage me to ask again....more
I have heard little about the horrific eugenic programs in the united states, so I decided to listen to this audiobook. It's disturbing how many steriI have heard little about the horrific eugenic programs in the united states, so I decided to listen to this audiobook. It's disturbing how many sterilizations happened in one state alone. Belle shares a few stories of these poor individuals, whose lives go to show how misguided those who thought it was "public good" were. There is no way to foretell with perfect accuracy who will be bright or dull, productive or a drain on society and the fact that science was being used to do such a thing should give us pause and cause us to question science when it is motivated by political and ideological concerns (global warming comes mind presently).
Concerning a value for human life, I am wondering if Belle is consistent. At one point in the book I got the impression (hopefully a wrong impression) that Belle was against legislation that reduced abortions in North Carolina. If this is so, I find it severally ironic, for this is the one form of Eugenics that is still promoted and practiced, instead of sterilizing unwanted children to prevent them from having unwanted children, it was found much more convenient to just to kill them right off. Margaret Sanger, the founder of planned parenthood, was a strong racist, promoter of negative eugenics, and wanted to see the black population exterminated. Is it any surprise that a majority of the abortion clinics in America are in African-American neighborhoods? It just amazes me that people who can recognize that sterilization of innocent people is wrong, can't remove their ideological blindfold to see that millions upon millions of unwanted babies are being slaughtered "For the Public Good". Of course since these children have been murdered, we can't necessarily even consider ways of compensating the victims of the silent genocide.
Concerning the part of the book about compensating those who underwent forced sterilizations. I don't know if taxpayers should foot the bill for something that former generations did. Belle tried to make the case for this, but it didn't seem to me persuasive. What should be done then? I dunno, these people under went a terrible injustice, I do think their story needs to be told. And honestly, we should continue to fight eugenics in all it's forms, especially in it's new disguised and accepted form of abortion. ...more
An interesting history of the huge role that the discovery of and the manipulation of materials has had in the the progress and stagnation of civilizaAn interesting history of the huge role that the discovery of and the manipulation of materials has had in the the progress and stagnation of civilizations throughout mankind's story. I liked the author's many references to biblical examples of various materials that effected the Israelis and their relation to their neighbors. There was some more technical chemistry stuff throughout the book that was completely beyond my comprehension, I am sure those with a basic chemistry education could likely get more out of it. ...more
A year or so ago I endured the verbose diatribe—Hitler's “Mein Kampf” which gave me a glimpse of Hitler's disturbing ideology that drove him. This booA year or so ago I endured the verbose diatribe—Hitler's “Mein Kampf” which gave me a glimpse of Hitler's disturbing ideology that drove him. This book gave me a glimpse of the man; his personality and how he interacted with others. Hitler definitely was not a psychopath or some diabolical sadist, but instead he was a strong-willed idealistic genius and thus we learn the sheer power and consequence of ideas. If Hitler was influenced and embrace a wholesome ideology, he could have been a great force for good instead of evil.
Hitler's understanding of leadership was that the supreme authority must be absolute, a leadership style that (sadly) many still embrace and employ throughout the world. He also embraced a Machiavellian practicality (as so many politicians still do today). There indeed was logic to his system and an end which he perceived to be so good, that he was morally obligated and justified in employing any means to achieve it, no matter how terrible it would seem to others in the present. He was quite sure history would vindicate him. Indeed, and chillingly if he won, it would have... for the victors would have written the history books.
So yeah, though Hitler was capable of showing tenderness, compassion and pity on some, still his ideology which was so strongly influenced by social Darwinism, racism, German Nationalism and a Nietzschean understanding of ethics all clearly shaped how he lived and interacted with others. ...more