A friend bought this for me because he loves it and wants me to read it. I'm reading this with another friend and doing the lessons.
The first day weA friend bought this for me because he loves it and wants me to read it. I'm reading this with another friend and doing the lessons.
The first day we read the 4 forwards, the 2 prefaces, and the introduction. They were generally good. I disagree with the Ciceros about the definition of religion that they use when they talk about the difference between magick and religion. The relationship between magick and religion is complex and I don't have the time or space to discuss it here.
I was not familiar with Lon Milo DuQuette, and now I want to read his book "Low Magick-- It's All in Your Head... You Just Have No Idea How Big Your Head Is".
I can tell that this is going to have a lot more Kabbalah in it than I prefer. But that is one of the reasons I have never been into Ceremonial magick.
The second day we read the first lesson. The author recommends doing one lesson per month. Lesson 1: keep a dream diary; keep a ritual dairy; get a Golden Dawn compatible Tarot Deck; Relaxation Ritual (I would call this an exercise not a ritual); define magick; Tarot Contemplation Ritual (once again not really a ritual); a lot of stuff about Tarot; the difference between "fortunetelling" and "divination" (He recommends saying that you are doing "psychological counseling" p28 in places where divination is illegal. Do not do this. It is called practicing psychiatry without a license, and more illegal than divination. Where I live the Tarot readers all say that they are doing readings for "entertainment only" because anything else is illegal. But you can say that you are offering "life coaching", so far that does not seem to be a regulated industry.); a Split Hexagram Tarot Spread; Introduction to the LBRP; Tools and altar for the LBRP (I disagree with the tools and associations); "Tau" Robe (basic ritual robe); How to draw a Banishing Earth pentagram; review questions; Bibliography.
I should have read the description more carefully. This is a supplement to a textbook.
My first surprise was how thin this book is. It's not intendedI should have read the description more carefully. This is a supplement to a textbook.
My first surprise was how thin this book is. It's not intended to stand on its own, it is a collection of source material with introductions and reading questions intended to supplement two text books Ways of Being Religious and Eastern Ways Of Being Religious by the same author.
This is a very thin academic overview of the history of Shinto intended for beginning students of philosophy and comparative religion. The author defines religion in terms of organizational structure and salvation, features that are typical to the Western Christian experience but not typical of other religions, geographically or historically. Because I don't agree with the author's definition of "religion" a lot of the features of Shinto that are problematic for him are not problematic for me. But the source material on Japanese history, beliefs, and practices is sound and I can still use it for my studies.
I was pleasantly surprised that there is a chapter on women in Shinto. The role of women historically in Shinto is discussed, both in how women affect Shinto and how Shinto affects women.
This is a reasonably good source for students interested in the academic study of Shinto religion. It is not intended for the general public, the casual reader, or the spiritual seeker....more
I had heard that this was a really awful story. So I read it myself to see. It's not bad. It's what we in the religious studies field call "apologeticI had heard that this was a really awful story. So I read it myself to see. It's not bad. It's what we in the religious studies field call "apologetics". Not in the sense of apologizing but in the sense of defending a position.
This is a story about a Mormon missionary to an alien race successfully defending his congregation members from a crime that is not considered a crime in their culture.
My problem with the story is that it is spiritually uplifting (if you happen to be Mormon) but very intellectually thin. I like my stories to have a bit more meat and heft. The characters have no depth and even though their lives are at stake I never felt particularly moved by their plight.
This book is fantastic! I think everyone should read it.
---------------------------------------- I just started reading this book, and it is what peopThis book is fantastic! I think everyone should read it.
---------------------------------------- I just started reading this book, and it is what people say it is - a very scholarly discussion of how polytheism is different from monotheism.
What he says is the truth but it is not the whole truth.
He doesn't seem to be aware of the Pagan Monotheism of classical Rome and Greece. Personally I think the recent spate of books on the subject misunderstand classical pagan monotheism.
But there is evidence that classical pagans did believe that their many gods were "representatives" of a much higher universal God. Part of the understanding the Romans had with the Jews (that gave the Jews a waiver from honoring the gods of Rome) was the idea that the Jews worshiped the one highest God, who was also the God over the Roman gods. The Romans agreed that the Jews' one God was the same universal God their gods reported to, that all gods reported too.
This is a sort of syncretism that Greer and many modern polytheist reject. Which is OK. It doesn't bother me, or God.
The distinction he makes between the characteristics of the monotheistic God and the polytheistic gods are valid.
Personally, I believe that there are two distinct ways that human beings experience divinity. One is as the universal, omniscient, ubiquitous, omnipotent, all loving presence that wants nothing and does not intervene in our lives. And the second is as the more limited powerful beings, persons, that Greer describes. The many gods and goddesses and spirits.
My main criticism of monotheism is that human beings are not well suited to worship the One God. We want intervention so we always end up worshiping the lesser beings that can actually do something for us.
Christianity fell into worshiping Jesus just a few centuries after he died. And then the Catholic church "solved" the problem of not having enough gods to meet everyone's needs by calling their many gods "saints".
Protestantism, by rejecting saints, has created a real problem for itself that seems to be only solvable by creating a new sect that worships a different version of Jesus every time they have a disagreement.
Buddhism has the same problem with worshiping The One True Reality, their many gods are called Bodhisattvas. Like Catholic saints they are officially not gods but they serve the same function and are as Greer defined gods: entities who are the proper object of human worship (or veneration).
He briefly mentions Wiccan dualism but declines to elaborate because he is not a Wiccan. As a Wiccan I guess I should write a book on that.
Wiccan dualism isn't really about gods. It comes up when we talk about gods but it has less to do with any doctrine about all gods being manifestations of one god or goddess than it does with the importance of balance. Most pagan religions aren't "about" gods. We have gods, but our religion is about life. Wiccan sophiology (the study of wisdom not the study of gods) is about maintaining the balance between complimentary forces. It has more in common with the Taoist idea of ying and yang than anything else. Wiccans are not required to believe anything in particular about the nature of the gods. But Wiccan ritual and Wiccan sophiology encourages us to try to maintain a balance.
I like to contrast the masculine/feminine duality of Wicca to the good/evil duality in Christianity. Christianity adopted the Zoroastrian belief that the world is a battleground between two opposing gods, one good the other evil. Two men fighting for possession of the world. Wiccans on the other hand like to view the world as the combination of two complimentary forces seeking union. A man and a woman having sex. The Great Rite, a central ritual action in Wicca, the union of opposites as an act of creation. ...more
I got off to a bad start because I was offended by the pretense that this really happened. I know that all fiction pretends to be true. But this book I got off to a bad start because I was offended by the pretense that this really happened. I know that all fiction pretends to be true. But this book started off with an author explaining how he met Pi and learned this story and wrote this book. It just put me off.
This was tougher read than I was expecting for a popular book. The middle boggs down a lot. It is really boring to be lost at sea. But it picks up a bit at the end.
This is a religious book, in a non-denominational way. The main character is a practicing: Hindu, Catholic, and Muslim. People from all three faith keep telling him that he isn't supposed to do that. But he does it anyway. And his faith does comfort him in his ordeal. As a Wiccan I'm OK with that. I can really relate to the Hinduism.
The theme, as opposed to the plot, is that religion is a better story than dry, yeastless factuality. Although he does praise Atheists, over Agnostics, as at least having faith in something. Although I doubt any Atheist would thank him for that. Ironically, Atheists like to think that they are strong in their faith in the non-existence of God and would never sincerely convert in times of stress. I think he got Atheists and Agnostics backwards.
"I can well imagine an atheist's last words: "White, white! L-L-Love! My God!"-- and the deathbed leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, yeastless factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him by saying, "Possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation of the b-b-brain, " and to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story." (p 64)
"To look out with idle hope is tantamount to dreaming one's life away." (p 169)
"Doesn't the telling of something always become a story" "The world isn't just the way it is. it is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn't that make it life a story?" (p302)
"I know what you want. You want a story that won't surprise you. That will confirm what you already know. That won't make you see higher or further or differently. You want a flat story. An immobile story. You want dry yeastless factuality." (p302)
"So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can't prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with the animals or the story without animals?" "And so it goes with God." (p 317)
"If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams." (p xii)
"Sometimes I got my majors mixed up. A number of my fellow religious-studies students--muddled agnostics who didn't know which way was up, who were in the thrall of reason, that fool's gold for the bright--reminded me of the three-toed sloth; and the three-toed sloth, such a beautiful example of the miracle of life, reminded me of God" (p 5)
"But religion is more than rite and ritual. There is what the rite and ritual stand for. Here too I am a Hindu. The universe makes sense to me through Hindu eyes, There is Brahman, the world soul, the sustaining frame upon which is woven, warp and weft, the cloth of being, with all its decorative elements of space and time. There is Brahman nirguna, without qualities, which lies beyond understanding, beyond description, beyond approach; with our poor words we sew a suit for it--One, Truth, Unity, Absolute, Ultimate Reality, Ground of Being--and try to make it fit, but Brahman nirguna always bursts the seams. We are left speechless. But there is also Brahman saguna, with qualities, where the suit fits. Now we call it Shiva, Krishna, Shakti, Ganesha; we can discern certain attributes--loving, merciful, frightening--and we feel the gentle pull of relationship. Brahman saguna is Brahman made manifest to our limited senses, Brahman expressed not only in gods but in humans, animals, trees, in a handful of earth, for everything has a trace of the divine in it. The truth of life is that Brahman is no different from atman, the spiritual force within us, what you might call the soul. The individual soul touches upon the world soul like a well reaches for the water table. That which sustains the universe beyond thought and language, and that which is at the core of us and struggles for expression, is the same thing. The finite within the the infinite, the infinite within the finite." (pp 48-49)
"People move because of the wear and tear of anxiety. Because of the gnawing feeling that no matter how hard they work their efforts will yield nothing, that what they build up in one year will be torn down in one day by others, Because of the impression that the future is blocked up, that they might do all right but not their children. Because of the feeling that nothing will change, that happiness and prosperity are possible only somewhere else." (p 79)...more
I am a Pratchett Fanatic. I buy all his books. This one is near the top of my list of favorite Pratchett books. I recommend it to everyone.[return][reI am a Pratchett Fanatic. I buy all his books. This one is near the top of my list of favorite Pratchett books. I recommend it to everyone.[return][return]I describe it as The Catholic Church meets the Golden Age of Greece. The Catholic Church is represented by the Omnian Religion, Brutha, and the Great God Om (in the shape of a turtle). The Omnians believe that the Great God Om is the only True God and that the world is a sphere. The problem is that they are wrong on both points. There in fact lots of gods and their world is a flat disk on the back of four elephants on the back of a turtle. [return][return]Golden Age of Greece is represented by Ephebe . The Ephebians recognize many gods and have a lot of philosophers running around the streets looking for towels. [return][return]"Chain letters," said the Tyrant. "The Chain Letter to the Ephebians. Forget Your Gods. Be Subjugated. Learn to Fear. Do not break the chain -- the last people who did woke up one morning to find fifty thousand armed men on their lawn."[return][return]"That's why it's always worth having a few philosophers around the place. One minute it's all Is Truth Beauty and Is Beauty Truth, and Does A Falling Tree in the Forest Make A Sound if There's No one There to Hear It, and then just when you think they're going to start dribbling one of 'em says, Incidentally, putting a thirty-foot parabolic reflector on a high place to shoot the rays of the sun at an enemy's ships would be a very interesting demonstration of optical principles."[return][return]It is a wonderful book that has a lot to say about organized religion and gods. And most of it is true....more