In all the controversy surrounding abortion in American culture- one voice we never get to hear is that of the doctors who perform them. Here is a uniIn all the controversy surrounding abortion in American culture- one voice we never get to hear is that of the doctors who perform them. Here is a unique chance to hear such a voice. Susan Wickland's journey toward becoming an abortion provider began when she herself had an abortion. It was an unpleasant experience for her- the doctor & nurses were cold, did not counsel her or explain the procedure. After that, she decided that women ought to have better treatment as they deal with a terrible decision.
The women that come to her come from a variety of situations and consider abortion for a variety of reasons- poverty, rape/sexual abuse, the stigma of being an unwed mother, medical reasons. She makes extra sure that this is what they really want- asking them several times, carefully explaining the procedure and comforting them before and after.
Ms. Wickland faces many trials as the result of her chosen profession. Protestors crowd around her home, harass her daughter at school, and threaten her over the phone. Often she has to have police escort her into the clinic. The book ends up reading like a spy/adventure novel, as Susan develops various strategies to protect her family. I am amazed by her bravery and dedication. Even if you disagree with abortion, I would hope you can appreciate all the sacrifices and suffering she goes through for something she believes in. Would you do that?...more
I have long been curious about Walpurgisnacht, the eve of May Day (Maitag in German) but there is little information available about it. It is much liI have long been curious about Walpurgisnacht, the eve of May Day (Maitag in German) but there is little information available about it. It is much like Halloween if it was celebrated in spring. I was impressed, this book was surprisingly well researched for a New Age press book. The first portion gives us the history and origins of Walpurgisnacht, discusses witches in German folklore and holiday customs. The second part of the book has recipes, crafts and activities for the occasion. Many of them are simple & easy, including the materials needed, so it is quite family-friendly, as well as fun for adults who enjoy whimsy. All in all, Night of the Witches was fun & interesting, striking a good balance between background information & ideas for celebrating. ...more
This is the handbook for the beginning year-long training program for Ancient Order of Druids in America. I have read many books on Druidism and CeltiThis is the handbook for the beginning year-long training program for Ancient Order of Druids in America. I have read many books on Druidism and Celtic spirituality, so some of it was familiar but there was also some new things to learn from it.
John Michael Greer is part of Revival Druidry- an older tradition that is based more on philosophy and personal inspiration and less on history as contrasted with later Neo-Pagan Druid traditions. After introducing the Druid movement and its history, Greer explains 3 triads- groups of related concepts. The training consists of the Earth Path- connecting with nature and adopting a more eco-friendly lifestyle; the Sun Path- celebration of the solstices, equinoxes and four Celtic fire festivals, and the Moon Path- meditation.
The ceremonies in the Sun Path were shorter and simpler than I prefer. But I found both the information in the Earth and Moon Path sections to be quite useful. He described forms of meditation I'd not heard of before- like discursive, where you focus on a particular theme and see where that leads your thoughts.
This book would be of interest not only to those following Druidism (and Revival in particular) but any form of nature-based spirituality....more
The Druid Renaissance, retitled Rebirth of Druidry in this new edition is an anthology featuring essays from a variety of types of Druidry: Pagan, ChrThe Druid Renaissance, retitled Rebirth of Druidry in this new edition is an anthology featuring essays from a variety of types of Druidry: Pagan, Christian, revival/philosophical, and neo-shamanic. The history of modern Druidism in both Europe and the U.S. is explained. Though I was familiar with U.S. druidism, and to some degree British, it was very interesting to learn about the emergence of Druid groups in continental Europe (France in particular) Another section was about ceremonies- both for holidays and life passages. I have read extensively on history and customs surrounding the solstices, equinoxes and 4 Celtic fire festivals, but these essays still had new things to teach me. One unique essay compared the 8 holidays with the symbols of the I Ching. Erynn Laurie and Mara Freeman discussed the connection of druid to nature and poetry, and nature imagery in mythology. They argued that druidism can help us overcome our modern alienation from nature. Those were among my favorite essays. Another essay (can't remember author) compares the history of Druidry and Witchcraft. One key point she demonstrates is that while Witches position themselves as being secretive, and alternative or oppositional to the dominant culture, including Christianity, Druids tend to be public and identify more with the establishment. They reconcile more with Christianity, at least in its Celtic-influenced varieties.
Some of the writers espoused beliefs & theories that I don't buy into such as ley lines and the idea that Jesus & Joseph of Arimathea journeyed to Britain. But I enjoy reading about different viewpoints, even those I disagree with.
All in all, Rebirth of Druidry serves as a good survey of different forms and aspects of Druidism, informative and insightful both for the curious seeker/beginner or the experienced Druid/Celtic Pagan. ...more
Wow, this book is really old! Both when it was published (early 1900s) and the particular copy I have. The introduction, history and religion chaptersWow, this book is really old! Both when it was published (early 1900s) and the particular copy I have. The introduction, history and religion chapters are outdated- there is a bit of a Noble Savage framing of the Celts and he takes seriously the fabricated "Barddas" of Iolo Morganwg that was claimed to be ancient Welsh Bardic wisdom. However the re-tellings of the myths seem like they are good. There are even a few myths that I haven't seen before, like the story of Tuan Mac Carell. The edition I have also has nice Art Noveau illustrations. Actually this is the most extensive collection of Celtic myth and legend I have seen in one book- that is the best reason to buy, borrow and read this book....more
After watching and enjoying the Dinotopia miniseries (set in a later time period, by the way) I remembered that I had a Dinotopia book so I picked it After watching and enjoying the Dinotopia miniseries (set in a later time period, by the way) I remembered that I had a Dinotopia book so I picked it up. In this scenario, Sylvia has gone off on a quest and her fiance, Will Denison follows her into the wilds of the Amu River Canyon. The officials of Canyon City refuse to help, but they insist on sending Chaz, a protoceratops to accompany him. After finding Sylvia, she reveals that she is searching for the legendary Hand of Dinotopia, an object said to show a safe sea route away from Dinotopia. (The island's isolation has been previously explained as being surrounded by impassable ocean currents) Though Will is convinced that this may be worth a try, Chaz thinks it's a wild goose chase.
I thought this was a fun and suspenseful adventure. Foster gives very rich descriptions of the natural world and Dinotopian culture(s). Obviously he (and/or James Gurney the creator) did a lot of research on prehistoric plants and animals. Many species of dinosaurs were mentioned that I'd never heard of, so it was neat to learn of them. As for the characters, the most interesting ones were the dinosaurs- Chaz for one had a lot of personality. Sylvia is kind of cool, but Will is a somewhat bland protagonist. Dinotopia is also a little too perfect to be believable, though any Dinotopia fan is already capable of plenty of suspension of disbelief! There are still many natural dangers that the characters face, but no true villain. So if you prefer complex human politics & conflict, this probably won't be your cup of tea.
Note on reading order: I definitely would recommend reading the original Dinotopia book before this one. It is also set after the World Beneath and Dinotopia Lost, while there are slight spoilers for the latter I don't think the order matters as much....more
While race is a frequent topic of discussion and activism among UU's, socio-economic class is all too often ignored. Personally I have encountered claWhile race is a frequent topic of discussion and activism among UU's, socio-economic class is all too often ignored. Personally I have encountered classist attitudes among UU's, so this was of great interest to me. Beginning with Unitarians in Britain, Harris shows that they had more humble origins as skilled workers and small merchants, who rose in status through their own efforts. After coming to America, Unitarians became a more elite group particularly in Boston. Their churches often excluded people of other classes and races. Universalists, while stereotyped as rural and working-class, actually were more economically mixed.
I was shocked by some of what I read in this book, including many Unitarian's advocacy for eugenics. At the time it was seen as progressive! All in all, I believe this is essential reading for anyone interested in Unitarian Universalism, liberal religion or the intersection of religion and class....more
Note: this is the 7th in the Young Wizards series Nita, Kit and Dairine are hoping for a break from the craziness of their lives. Dairine signs up forNote: this is the 7th in the Young Wizards series Nita, Kit and Dairine are hoping for a break from the craziness of their lives. Dairine signs up for a wizardly intergalactic exchange program- Kit & Nita head for the planet Alaalu, while 3 wizards come to stay at with Dairine & her father. But this turns out to not be as much of a vacation as they'd hoped. Nita & Kit relax on the peaceful planet, getting to know the friendly family they stay with. But they slowly begin to realize that this is too good to be true. Meanwhile, Dairine contends with various cultural clashes, including with an arrogant prince. But he may hold the key to saving Earth from disaster...
As usual with the Young Wizards books, this is a fun and fast-paced adventure, amusing as well as thoughtful about philosophy & ethics. I found some of the ideas & technical concepts in it hard to understand, but you don't need to understand all the details to follow and enjoy the story.
One criticism I do have, is that I think it would be more interesting if the wizards had an enemy other than the Lone Power (roughly equivalent to Lucifer/Satan in their universe) S/he suffers from the "Sauron/Voldemort" problem- too abstract & distant to be a really interesting villain. Human-like enemy(ies) would be better, a great antagonist that the reader loves to hate....more
Note that to some degree, this is a review of the whole trilogy, since it is really one long story (rather than 3 related episodes)
The Two Towers starNote that to some degree, this is a review of the whole trilogy, since it is really one long story (rather than 3 related episodes)
The Two Towers starts to get darker as the war with Sauron progresses. The Fellowship has been separated into 3 parties: Frodo & Sam, taking the Ring to Mount Doom in Mordor; Pippin & Merry, who have been carried off by Orcs; Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, who are searching for Merry & Pippin. Gandalf also shows up again, though he plays a more distant role in this one. I enjoyed seeing the development of some of the characters, mainly Sam and Gollum. Many of the characters in LOTR aren't very fleshed out, but I think those two are among the more interesting. Gollum's struggle between his baser and better nature is a very profound theme, and it's great to watch Sam grow in courage and confidence.
Overall, the trilogy is very detailed- this is either good or bad depending on how much description you like of landscapes and history. A friend said this is what she like about it: that it was one long camping trip! The writing style has to be appreciated for what it is- a saga, rather a novel. ...more