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since 26/12/2002


Everything that starts with B ... 26/12/2007

Boxing Day blues...

The Cambridge Illustrated History of Religions (Cambridge Illustrated Histories) - John Bowker 26/06/2007

Picture this!

The Cambridge Illustrated History of Religions (Cambridge Illustrated Histories) - John Bowker I use the Cambridge Illustrated History of Religions in a course I teach on World Religions for my university – it has a good breadth of coverage, good detail, wonderful photography, and a very nice colour layout that makes for easier reading. Editor John Bowker provides an introduction and conclusion as well as one of the topical sections. In the introduction, Bowker writes, ‘There is no known society in which religion has not played a part, and frequently a controlling and creative part. This seems to have been true of the earliest societies, but in their case the history of religions is not easy to write.’ Bowker traces the reconstruction and speculation of prehistoric societies, with illustrations of cave paintings, totem poles, Mayan pyramid structures, Native American costumes, and maps of South America and Oceania to help illustrate the diversity of ways beyond the printed word that different peoples have kept alive the religious traditions handed down to them. ‘The attempt to write history according to laws governing human behaviour had an immensely important influence during much of the twentieth century, because it created those disciplines which called themselves ‘the social science’. This is not, however, the only possible way to explore religion, and Bowker and his fellow authors do stretch their reporting and analysis beyond this framework. Some tap into the common core of ideas that seems to permeate the different religions, and some do anthropological ...

Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus - Thomas Cahill 22/06/2007

The hills are alive...

How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization - Thomas Woods 21/06/2007

Ecclesial Highlights

How the Irish Saved Civilisation: The Untold Story of Ireland - Thomas Cahill 17/06/2007

An illuminating document...

How the Irish Saved Civilisation: The Untold Story of Ireland - Thomas Cahill Thomas Cahill has undertaken the project of identifying what he considers to be 'hinge civilisations' or 'hinge event' -- he is planning a series of seven books that focus on relatively obscure contributions to civilisation and history without which everything would be vastly different. Other books published thus far in the series include ‘The Gift of the Jews’, ‘The Desire of the Everlasting Hills’ (about the early Christian movement), and ‘Sailing the Wine Red Sea’, about the ancient Greeks. However, this book about the Irish was first. This book details an Irish contribution, largely during the Dark Ages spanning forward through the Carolingian renaissance (yes, there was a smaller renaissance before the Italian one, under the leadership of the possibly-illiterate Charlemagne) and still further into the broader re-awakening in western Europe. This was largely achieved because the Irish monastic communities had taken up the task of being the librarians for the world. Most of the west slipped into the Dark Ages and the eastern Empire became less interested in the Europe, which was being overrun by barbarians. The Irish, from their position of relative safety on the far coast of Europe, were able to maintain an ordered and stable society which was to keep alive much of the scholarship and learning from the Roman Empire. From the secure island, these Celtic Christian scholars set forth all over Western Europe to bring learning and knowledge back to the people. Cahill ...

Doctors of the Church - Bernard McGinn 14/06/2007

A doctor in the house...

Live from Sweets Ballroom (Live Recording) - Stan Kenton 11/06/2007

Not so mighty Caesar

Live from Sweets Ballroom (Live Recording) - Stan Kenton Recently I saw Jeremy Sisto in a film in the cinema, and as my movie-going friend and I were dissecting the film afterward, we both were impressed with Sisto’s performance, and tried to recall what we’d seen him in before. I remembered this production of Julius Caesar, but only after a while – Sisto’s role in the other film (a light drama with a comedic edge) is very different from the epic, super-serious Julius Caesar. This production is a good one for a straight-to-television production. It is a four-hour miniseries (the television nomenclature equivalent for ‘epic’). It plays a bit loose with the historic progression, but keeps many of the broad strokes intact – Rome’s trouble under Sulla, Caesar’s early difficulties becoming established, his military alliance and familial partnership with Pompey, destined to falter; the conquest of Gaul and the march back to Rome, the fiery oratory of Cato, and the climactic death in the Senate. Caesar is a complex character, one who defies encapsulation in so short a span as four hours. Given that Caesar was surrounded by many equally intriguing characters, it is little wonder that productions about Caesar often fall victim to a particular interpretation. Sisto’s performance, and Edel’s direction, makes Caesar in some ways a walking statue – and this is not a necessarily inappropriate style. Caesar was very conscious of appearances and public perceptions, and took great pains to always appear in a certain fashion that would ...

The Dead Sea Scrolls - Timothy Lim 07/06/2007

The scrolls, briefly

Theology in Stone: Church Architecture from Byzantium to Berkeley - Richard Kieckhefer 04/06/2007

Ex cathedra

Becket (DVD) 02/06/2007

'Humility is hard on the knees...'

Becket (DVD) One of my favourite films of all time, Becket, has come available, at long last, on DVD. This was a film whose masters were thought lost at once, and potential DVD transfers would have then been substandard – a sorry fate for such a magnificent film, one that garnered a dozen Oscar nominations. I place this film in the same league as ‘A Man for All Seasons’ and what may well be considered in some senses the sequel to Becket, ‘The Lion in Winter.’ The film begins and ends in Becket’s tomb in the Cathedral of Canterbury, not far from where Becket was murdered/martyred. Becket became a folk hero, a canonised saint, and the stuff of myth and legend, as useful in politics as in literature – Chaucer’s famous pilgrims telling their Canterbury tales were on their way to the same location as Henry II paid his penance for the death of Becket. The idea of the separation of church and state is an admittedly modern invention, but even in Becket’s time, the intertwining of religious politics and secular politics was seen to have decided drawbacks. The church in most European settings has historically been a wealthy land-owning institution; in England (for much of its history, in fact a rather poor and beknighted land in many ways), the church rivaled the wealth of the monarch for generations. This sets up a background rivalry for Becket and Henry II while they are both on the same side (Henry II appointed Thomas Becket as his chancellor, a position not dis-similar to being his first, ...

The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Definitive International Edition - Marvin Meyer, James Robsinson 31/05/2007

Being in the gnosis..

Six-Pack ABS - Matt Roberts 29/05/2007

'Tis the season to be topless

Six-Pack ABS - Matt Roberts Each spring, as the weather begins to heat up (and I realise that my 20-something metabolism is now another year behind me), I feel the heat of the sun on my layers of clothing, but also wonder about the layers of ‘me’ under those clothes that prevent me from being, well, more revealing. I really don’t relish the idea of people ringing animal control wondering why there is a beached whale. So, each year I fight the battle of the bulge anew; last year was a banner year until I broke my foot and thus couldn’t run any longer. This year, the ankle and foot are still tender, so I am forced to employ a new strategy. Enter this book. Matt Roberts is one of the better known personal trainers in the UK, with many Hollywood connections (he counts Sandra Bullock among his clients). I have no illusions about turning into a Hollywood hunk, but the routines he presents in this book are both do-able as well as effective – after a month, I already can see a noticeable difference. This small book is primarily pictures, which is a DK publishing signature. In it, Roberts presents three different routines, one each to be done each week in an every-other-day pattern. Both incorporate a level 1 and a level 2 number of reps, with a few alternate possibilities to adjust for ease or difficulty. There a few things that would be helpful (warming up on a rowing machine or a cross-trainer is recommended; an exercise inflatable ball is also recommended), but most can be done simply with the body ...

The Economics of Sports (The Addison-Wesley Series in Economics) - Michael A. Leeds, Peter von Allmen 24/05/2007

On the ball...

Nurturing Child and Adolescent Spirituality: Perspectives from the World's Religious Traditions - Karen Marie Yust 22/05/2007

A wide range of possibilities

Nurturing Child and Adolescent Spirituality: Perspectives from the World's Religious Traditions - Karen Marie Yust In the preface, the editors state the question that confronted them at the start of the process for this book - `How do you do justice to the wisdom of multiple religious traditions within a single volume - particularly on a "fuzzy" topic like spirituality?" Even with an idea of being as inclusive as possible, some selectivity had to be put in place - the focus was set on `theological or philosophical perspectives from within religious traditions', those traditions being primarily Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism (with some voices from a few others). This is not intended as a definitive text, but rather as a starting point for conversations between the traditions, cultures, and people. It is unusual in history for cultures to not be concerned about the future (modern political discourse in the West has a very high rate of reference to children and families), and yet the specific concerns of children and adolescents, both in terms of what they need and what they want, are often missing. This is also true in the area of religion and spirituality. `Despite the popular buzz about spirituality, relatively little critical attention has focused on the spiritual lives of children and adolescents. Much of the literature of spirituality has focused instead on adults.' There are various ways in which churches and other religious institutions try to incorporate children and young adults, but they often fall short for various reasons, sometimes due to stereotypes or ...

Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (Classics of Western Spirituality) 20/05/2007

An amazing spirit...

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