last Sunday was Crissy’s birthday, and after e had lunch with my parents we hooked up with some good friends and ended up wandering around Southwell and having a look around the cathedral. Disconcertingly, everyone noticed the books for sale at the back end of the building before I did.
Unsurprisingly the books on offer all had a religious theme and most were of little interest to me, but I did manage to find a few books that tickled my fancy. The technical side, so to speak, of faith really interests me, the arguments for and against, and three of those books fit the bill.
The fourth book has a wonderful title Modern Art and the Death of Culture, and of course its all doom and gloom hating on modern art whilst talking about the Christian way being the way forward as a potential to reverse the trend. I think the premise is interesting and it sits forlornly on my work desk begging to be read as I go about my daytime work. Continue reading “Wholly Consistent Haul”
With five weeks of training completed at the Open University – the main reason for my sparse posting of late – I can finally turn my attention to showcasing all the awesome free stuff that you can get your hands on courtesy of the O.U.. This week it’s something mentioned previously on this blog and frequently engages me through on my breaks and before work starts.
OpenLearn is a resource I had spent a bit of time with before I started this job and now I recommend it to everyone. The site offers courses, downloads, videos, and up coming programmes with the BBC. Each course is an extract from our degree modules, and with almost 1000 samples here you can indulge in many various learning exercises.
There are courses for everyone over such varied fields as Languages, Nature & Environment , Money & Business, and my personal favourite History & the Arts, which has plenty of literary goodness but never fails to entertain with a speculative punt either.
“Religion”, according to Bataille, “is the search for a lost intimacy.” In a brilliant and tightly reasoned argument he proceeds to develop a “general economy” of man’s relation to this intimacy: from the seamless immanence of animality, to the shattered world of objects, and the partial, ritual recovery of the intimate order through the violence of sacrifice. Bataille then reflects on the archaic festival in which he sees not only the glorious affirmation of life through the destructive consumption but also the seeds of another, more ominous order – war.
It’s been a while since I dipped my toe into the world of Philosophy and it was extremely fortuitous that I decided to start here. It’s hard to know what to expect from Bataille, a writer on such diverse subjects as mysticism, the surreal, poetry, and erotica.
Bataille was an atheist so naturally a book entitled Theory of Religion was always going to pique my interest. The title in in itself is misleading, this is not about organised religion as we would think of it today but something more ancient, an innate need to separate the physical from the spiritual.
The more naturalistic elements of understanding the divine are explored, The severance from our animal ancestors through evolution, but with a wish to retain a connection despite community being favoured over the competitive singular. Continue reading “Theory of Religion – Georges Bataille”
Good Friday promised a leisurely start, especially as the citizens of this country run on ‘Filipino time’ which generally consists of being late at ever opportunity so if you want people to show up at your desired time, its accepted that you tell everyone to arrive at least an hour earlier. The opposite happened, of course. The rush was then on when word came through that we were going now, Right Now. You can’t plan anything in advance, I find it best to go with the flow.
The whole weekend was glorious sunshine, especially after a cooling thunderstorm had hit us the day before. Off we went to Quezon province. Around about forty of us piled into cars and a lorry, and as usual the lovely countryside sprawled out for my viewing pleasure.
Rolling into our resort, the air con going 24/7 in the rooms was the best thing since the bread before sliced bread. The first order of business was to go on a short pilgrimage up the Kamay ni Hesus. Not being a Catholic, I still chose to wander up its 300 steps for the experience. Thankfully it wasn’t too busy, last time my Filipino fam came the queue was three hours long. Continue reading “(F)easter”
Mary Anne’s story is both ordinary and extraordinary. Ordinary because she was searching for the same things many of us search for: love, understanding and purpose; and extraordinary because she had to go through hell to find them.
Her life was turbulent. Born in a decaying northern town to a dysfunctional family in the 1960s, Mary Anne had to endure mental, physical, and sexual abuse and cope with the devastating effects of parental alcoholism and suicide. She had her self-esteem and confidence crushed by two disastrous marriages, and she lives with the emotional and physical scars caused by a surgical procedure which has become the medical scandal of our age: mesh implants. But, despite everything, she always remained determined to endure and to find something better.
It’s not often I get to post about a book on the day of its release but it’s always nice to be able to do so and feel like I am a bit special.
From the very beginning the reader will find this memoir to be an unflinching and brutally honest read. Within the pages of TGoaN you will find a range of instances of abuse, both physical and mental, it’s a relentless and a challenging read.
At the heart of the book is one woman’s attempt to make sense of events, and of the motivations for said events. The repetitive cycles of cruelty and abuse, endemic both inside and outside the family, and worst of all having this dismissed by others, or feeling so sidelined that Willow felt she couldn’t approach those in authority. Continue reading “The Grace of a Nightingale – Mary Anne Willow”
How did the cult around an obscure spiritual teacher from Nazareth in the first century come to be the world’s biggest religion, with a third of humanity its followers? This epic, acclaimed history follows the story of Christianity around the globe, from ancient Palestine to contemporary China. encompassing wars, empires, reformers, apostles, sects and crusaders, it shows how Christianity has brought humanity to the most terrible acts of cruelty – and inspired its most sublime accomplishments.
Any book starting off with some etymology between Hebrew and Greek words automatically tell me that this was going to be a good book, and so it proved over 1016 pages of small print. Its dense on facts but in a good way and has some gorgeous photos. I learned a lot and have a lot more questions.
Is it a complete history of Christianity? No, as MacCullough is quick to establish. I wonder if there can be such a thing, like a complete history of the Mediterranean, it just seems way too complex for a single volume, or even a single lifetime of work. What the reader does get though is a fair, balanced and comprehensive view between supposition and fact, by a good historian who occasionally drops in a bit of dry humour along the way.
There is plenty of depth here, hundreds of names and dates, and bouncing around between time frames but it never feels overwhelming and with short chapters focussing on specifics – of both Eastern and Western churches, then beyond – it is an easily readable if turbulent book. Continue reading “A History of Christianity – Diarmaid MacCulloch”
There exists in my house a shelf which I call The Bookshelf of Guilt. It’s reserved for all those really thick tomes that I usually avoid, not because I don’t want to read them but because they are so Big. It’s easy to spend years shying away from these massive books that sit judging you every time you pick a ‘normal’ sized book.
Reason suggests that reading shorter books will allow you to experience more now, and will also mean more time to read the longer books ‘sometime later on’. Let’s be honest it won’t happen, with that reasoning.
I set myself a goal to read one such big book a year, mainly because people gravitate to the largest book on a shelf and without fail ask if I have read it. That was half the reason I got around to reading War and Peace. Choosing this time was fairly easy. The Brothers Karamazov, and The Mysteries of Paris were in the early running, to name but two but I finally I narrowed it down to a couple of philosophy books in the end.
After so many recent fiction reads it seemed sensible to mix things up a bit. My next read was chosen from the non fiction pile, and finally came down to either: Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy or Diarmaid MacCulloch’s A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years.Continue reading “Murdering Books”