I put this book down thinking how well read Hitchens was, how well travelled and connected to so many cultures he was. "Who better to have written a b...moreI put this book down thinking how well read Hitchens was, how well travelled and connected to so many cultures he was. "Who better to have written a book which examines the effects of religion on culture," was a recurring thought I had as I read.
I am not nearly as well read as Hitchens was. For me to critique this work would border on the ridiculous. My task, as I see it, will be to compile a list of books from his references and slowly conduct a sort of protracted fact check to see for myself the source arguments he used to back up his claims. This task is made very difficult by the number of impossible to verify personal experiences from which Hitchens seems to have drawn a great deal of his conclusions. I suppose I can only take those at face value.
For the greater part reading this was, if you'll pardon the mangling of a metaphor, like being in the choir listening to the preacher. I was in no way a believer when I picked up this book, and do not necessarily feel as though I have greater 'strength of conviction' having finished it. It read less like an essay aiming to convince believers to abandon their religions and more like a very eloquent and reflective essay explaining 'Why I am an atheist'. But perhaps I read it this way because I am not a believer.
What stood out for me as the cleverest chapter was sixteen: Hitchens' "case" against secularism. Upon finishing it I had the rather dull thought that no case against secularism was made at all. It was much later that I realised his intent and that the commonly referred to "scare quotes" around "case" were actually magical, meaning reversal quotes. His comparison of countries governed by their religion (e.g. Iran) to those which have secular governments (e.g. North Korea) demonstrated so many shared qualities as to render false the definition of being secular.
In all I found this book to be refreshing in its focus on real world examples of the effects of religion on countries and cultures, the use of arguments from philosophy and literature, with only mild references to science. The prose, too, was a pleasure to read. I look forward to reading more of Hitchens' work, and join many others in lamenting his early death. (less)
I've just finished watching the 32 available dvds of Bleach and I'm so ridiculously fascinated (i.e. obsessed) with the series that I'm now going thro...moreI've just finished watching the 32 available dvds of Bleach and I'm so ridiculously fascinated (i.e. obsessed) with the series that I'm now going through the manga. There are a few things that grab me about this series: it's hilarious yet manages a seriousness that is, at once, angst riddled, philosophical, and touching. There is artistic and character ephemera that is giggle inducing and awesome for its ability to hook into and endearing the reader to the varied personalities of the series. Of course, I realize that I write this after being thoroughly absorbed by the anime. So, perhaps I appreciate the extras as a more in-depth look into the characters and plot. I watched a portion of the episode where Ichigo uses his bankai for the first time ages ago and felt a bit cavalier and thought that maybe I'd get into the series sometime. Now that I've gotten into it, well, I'm sorry I didn't pay more attention earlier- there's a hell of a lot of manga to get through! I'm not really complaining...I love it!(less)
I enjoyed this immensely. To my great shame this book languished on my shelf until just a month ago when I said - I will now read this...soon. So I too...moreI enjoyed this immensely. To my great shame this book languished on my shelf until just a month ago when I said - I will now read this...soon. So I took it from the shelf and promoted it to my 'To Read Next' pile (it jumped ranks, skipping 'To Read Soon'). As I began to work on some of my own writing, reading various others from my 'To Read' piles (of which I have a ridiculous 3... and their flow to my eyes is somewhat non sequential), I was drawn to the cover of this one and so I picked it up and didn't put it down until I finished it. Melanie, I do hope my enjoyment of your work atones for the amount of time it took for me to read this gift, you made of your book, to me. One line stood out most of all, "My thoughts are a joke of language." A sentiment I've thought, in reference to me, in no way as eloquently expressed by you. I do hope you plan to publish more. I look forward to every word.(less)