Tag Archives | Books

Are We Living In A Secular Age?

Sacred and secularAn interesting piece by David Brooks in the New York Times highlights the 2007 book by Charles Taylor, A Secular Age:

I might as well tell you upfront that this column is a book report. Since 2007, when it was published, academics have been raving to me about Charles Taylor’s “A Secular Age.” Courses, conferences and symposia have been organized around it, but it is almost invisible outside the academic world because the text is nearly 800 pages of dense, jargon-filled prose.

As someone who tries to report on the world of ideas, I’m going to try to summarize Taylor’s description of what it feels like to live in an age like ours, without, I hope, totally butchering it.

Taylor’s investigation begins with this question: “Why was it virtually impossible not to believe in God in, say 1500, in our Western society, while in 2000 many of us find this not only easy but even inescapable?” That is, how did we move from the all encompassing sacred cosmos, to our current world in which faith is a choice, in which some people believe, others don’t and a lot are in the middle?

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Did Dan Brown Kill Michael Baigent?

Da Vinci The last supper detail Da Vinci codeNo one’s suggesting that Dan Brown literally murdered Michael Baigent, but the author of The Da Vinci Code and his publisher, Random House, pushed back so hard against the co-author of Holy Blood, Holy Grail‘s copyright infringement lawsuit that it killed him, says Baigent’s friend Graham Hancock, in The Independent:

Dan Brown and his publisher Random House have been sensationally accused of sending a rival author to an early grave.

Michael Baigent was left destitute after losing the case he brought against Random House for copyright infringement in 2006. Writer Graham Hancock says the protracted legal battle “cost Michael Baigent his life” – the 65-year-old author died earlier this month of a brain haemorrhage. Baigent was the co-author of a 1982 non-fiction book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, which investigated the same conspiracy theories upon which Brown’s later novel, The Da Vinci Code, is based. With Richard Leigh, Baigent’s book explored the theory that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had had a child together.

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Second Century Science Fiction Describes Trip to the Moon

science fiction

Also, it was illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley!

Continuing Disinfo’s love affair with The Public Domain Review, this piece by Aaron Parrett on a 2nd century work of science fiction describing a surreal voyage to the moon:

With his Vera Historia, the 2nd century satirist Lucian of Samosata wrote the first detailed account of a trip to the moon in the Western tradition and, some argue, also one of the earliest science fiction narratives. Aaron Parrett explores how Lucian used this lunar vantage point to take a satirical look back at the philosophers of Earth and their ideas of “truth”.

The Greek-speaking rhetorician and writer Lucian of Samosata, born around 125 CE in what is now known as Syria, has had a somewhat mixed reception through the ages. Scholars agree that his contemporaries and successors viewed him with a great deal of respect. Early Christians were less admiring of Lucian and his pagan and vitriolic pen, though by the time of the renaissance, he had regained favor among learned people.… Read the rest

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Graham Hancock and Lorna Byrne Video Conversation

In this fascinating dialogue, two bestselling authors and leading aficionados of life’s spiritual dimension discuss the major questions at the heart of their latest respective books and personal journeys – from the nature of reality and the spirit world, to the limits of science and the infiniteness of consciousness

  • Is there a battle between Good and Evil?
  • Do we only see a fraction of reality?
  • Do Angels walk amongst us all the time and what would it take to see them?
  • Why are some people drawn to the Dark side?
  • How much do the daily choices we make affect the positive future of the universe?

Graham Hancock – investigator of ancient mysteries and author of Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind, Entangled: The Eater of Souls and several No.1 non-fiction bestsellers – is renowned worldwide for his unorthodox examination of ancient cultures, sacred traditions and contemporary shamanism. Increasingly iconic following US media giant TED’s recent vetoing of his TEDx talk The War on Consciousness, Graham’s latest bestselling supernatural adventure novel War God tells the story of the Spanish conquest of Mexico and explores the powerful demonic forces behind this gargantuan clash of civilisations which was to wreak terror and destruction in the land of the Aztecs.… Read the rest

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The Oldest Known Guide To Dreaming

book of dreamsThe 3,300-year-old Dream Book, via the British Museum:

The meaning of dreams is a subject that fascinated the ancient Egyptians. This hieratic papyrus, probably dates to the early reign of Ramesses II (1279-1213 BC).

On each page of the papyrus a vertical column of hieratic signs begins: ‘if a man sees himself in a dream’; each horizontal line describes a dream, followed by the diagnosis ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and then the interpretation. For example, ‘if a man sees himself in a dream looking out of a window, good; it means the hearing of his cry’. Or, ‘if a man sees himself in a dream with his bed catching fire, bad; it means driving away his wife’.

It is uncertain who the original owner was, but it passed into the hands of the scribe Qeniherkhepshef. The Dream Book was part of an archive, including a wide variety of literary, magical and documentary material, which passed down through [his] family.

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Monsanto vs The World

001-monsanto-dmMonsanto—one of the largest agriculture and biotech companies in the world—creates genetically engineered seeds and food, or GMOs. They’ve also brought the world toxic chemicals like DDT, PCBs and even Agent Orange.

But who is Monsanto really? Why do many see them as one of the most evil companies on the planet—and why did 2 million people worldwide just stand up and march against this single company?

Monsanto vs. the World puts to rest the myths and shows the shocking reality. In this meticulously researched, short ebook, which cites nearly one hundred scholarly journals, books, studies, articles, WikiLeaks and even Monsanto’s own documents.

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Vatican Library To Digitalize Its 82,000-Manuscript Collection For Online Viewing

vatican library

Soon anyone with an internet connection will be able to access millennia-old texts previously available only to 200 scholars in Rome. Are secrets waiting to be uncovered? The Toronto Star writes:

With 2.8 petabytes of storage from global data company EMC, the Vatican Library had to decide where to begin. In all, the collection will take 43 petabytes of storage.

“We start with the most delicate, the books that are in a critical situation for conservation,” said Luciano Ammenti, who is in charge of IT at the Vatican.

They include the Vatican’s 8,900 incunabula (books printed before 1501): the Sifra, a Hebrew manuscript written a millennia ago, a 4th century manuscript of the Greek Bible and the De Europa of Pope Pius II, printed around 1491.

“People often think the Vatican Library is a place where secrets are kept,” said scriptor graecus Timothy Janz. Once digitization opens the library to the world, “many things that remain to be discovered will be found.”

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Sex Manual for Ultra-Orthodox Jews

Jewish Marriage“If you have never seen a movie or read a book, how are you supposed to know what you do?” asks David Ribner, an Orthodox sex therapist explaining the need for his new sex manual to BBC News:

Sex is a touchy subject – not least among Israel’s highly conservative ultra-Orthodox Jews. But a therapist in Jerusalem has written a sex guide aimed specifically at this community.

There used to be a sex shop on the way to Dr David Ribner’s office in central Jerusalem.

The sign is still there – with big red letters spelling out “Sex Shop, Sex, Love” – but you can barely read it because it’s been scratched out.

The shop went out of business. Now there’s just one sex shop left in Jerusalem. No surprise for a city brimming with the pious.

Things are quite different in Ribner’s discreet office. Here, there is a row of boxes packed with lubricants, vibrators and massage oils, and an unusual collection of books on the wall – The Joy of Sex and The Guide to Getting It On sit side by side with volumes of Jewish religious texts.

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