Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Why Don't Men and Women Share Public Washrooms? A Synchroblog

I always enjoy what random and unexpected places a discussion or idea can lead you to. It's a meandering path! You start out here and eventually, end up somewhere surprising!

We're going to try something new – a Synchroblog. One topic, three blog sites and 3 independent bloggers. All with our own take (Although I feel somewhat out of my league with the writing and blogging talents of these two captivating women.) Jewels from According To Jewels, Lydia from On The Other Hand, and of course, myself of The Woven.  Let's see where we end up!

~~  ~~  ~~

Why Don't Men and Women Share Public Washrooms?

This topic isn't new to the blogsphere. I began by surfing around the internet trying to get a general feel of what people thought. The majority of responses fell within 3 groupings: 1) Safety, 2) Privacy, and 3) Culture (as in, it just is culture. It's what we know. It's what we've been taught and conditioned to). And there is an abundance of humour to be found here. I also discovered that, apparently, in Japan men and women share the same public latrine. Which got me thinking whether the first 2 concerns (Safety and Privacy) were really just projections that might fall under Culture.

And there was also a 4th group, but far from a majority. Some believe we have men and women public W.C.'s because of gender-policing. That caught my attention, because for our freedom-based Western values, it sounded a little bit too Orwellian; Totalitarian; 1984-ish (the novel, not the year. I love the '80's).

Is there really a danger of sexual assault or harassment – even being given 'the look', the once-over, being uninvitedly checked-out, if we were to introduce unisex public washrooms?

If we can find examples where mixed public bathrooms are the commonplace and without an increase of cases of sexual assault or harassment (which we have in Japan) then this reasoning becomes more of a cultural projection of fear. (Unless the Japanese are more in control of their 'animal longings' than we are).

Fact is, we are commonly seeing more Family Friendly washrooms and even change rooms. Do we really believe we are all driven by lust and violence?

In our more modern times, there is a significant higher level or awareness and tolerance of gay and lesbian members of society. If gender-based washrooms are based upon safety (from the threat of sexual assault), then with the advent of this relatively new (in historic terms) element we should see this manifest, which I don't believe we do. That could stem over into privacy issues as well. Would I be comfortable using a urinal beside a man I know to be gay? I am not homophobic, but no, I wouldn't.

Privacy? Well, here's my thoughts on privacy. Stalls are private. Some washrooms are single-occupant rooms with proper doors and deadbolt locks. But most importantly, the entire concept of Privacy in a public environment is somewhat of an oxymoron, isn't it?

One blogger posted their concern for poor little Sally walking into a unisex bathroom and seeing Uncle Joe's junk at the urinal. As far as urinals go, I should think the urinal evolved alongside the gender-segregated system. (I know many men who do not like urinals for lack-of-privacy issues).

The fourth option, that I suspected but rarely heard mention, was gender-policing (... I'm afraid this is where it gets heavy...)

~~  ~~  ~~

We Westerners seem to demonstrate a strong habit for gender policing to enforce the binary of “man” and “women”; boys and girls. There's several issues worth establishing here. Although biologically, gender is simple, we know that culturally and sociologically, gender is quite complex. The simple point of view of, Take off your pants; you're either a guy or a girl, is a little bit too shallow. If that were the case, then we would wear clothing purely for practical purposes. We would not have gender-specific articles of clothing nor would we have gender-specific styles (Woman's ski-jacket vs. Men's ski-jacket). This issue greatly transcends public washrooms. Gender is much more than biological or sexual orientation. (Actually, I might argue that Sex and Gender are two different things altogether).

I can't help but wonder if our Western perspectives have it all wrong. If we look at the hijras of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the Fa'afatine of Polynesia, the Two-Spirited people of Native Americans and Canadian First Nation's people, we see old and ancient people who have long since recognized this aspect within humanity. This is not a new or modern idea of tolerance.

In our Western culture, homosexuality was officially considered a mental illness (insanity) until 1972! Let alone any idea of an “other” or 3rd gender.

"So why don't we have them within our culture or communities then?" some may ask; the assumption being, if we don't have them, then they cannot be a regular part of humanity – that they are a product of a tolerant culture that allows them.

I would put this logic in the same category as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (pronounced nut-job) stating to the UN Council that Iran does not have homosexuals. It's laughable. Of course Iran doesn't have homosexuals! They're shot! They're there. They're just quiet and hidden. Maybe even lost.

It is difficult if not impossible to deny their existence within the human condition and experience. Maybe they are an exception, a sort of one-off mutation? A perversion or deviant (from a biological/psychological point of view) of some sort; that they are not a regular or healthy minority but an aberration?

In 2005, Indian Passport forms were updated with three gender options. The Hijra of India are probably the most well known third sex type in the modern world. The Humsafar Trust – a Mumbai-based community Health Organization – estimates that there are between 5 and 6 million hijras in India. That's a pretty big number (Even as a percentage that's still around 0.5%. That's the same as the Black Hispanic population within the USA).

My point simply is, maybe they are a natural aspect of humanity. One in which our Western world-view has attempted to stifle, repress, or snuff-out. Maybe to the determent of our entire society. Is our society guilty of behaviour manipulation?

Western medicine with its symptom-treatment “take-a-pill” philosophy. Fast food, Instant information, instant gratification. Materialism and consumerism run amok. Online social networks at the absolute decay of real relationships. Gender-policing.
The more and more I learn and see of other, non-Western world-views, the more and more I am coming to believe we got it wrong. We got it so wrong.

~~  ~~  ~~

Okay, okay.
A bit too heavy.
Let's bring this back down to a more mundane reality. 
A few of these facts I knew of. Many were eye opening. 
The world as I know it is not the reality of what the world is.

My world's not real. I think it's healthy to keep that in mind.

~~  ~~  ~~

Okay, okay. Even lighter still.
In my journey through the googleverse in search for ideas and pic's for this post, I couldn't believe the urinals that are out there! From the fun to the profane, they'll make you laugh and they'll offend you. (I thought to myself, Holy Crap! Do I live in a bubble?). Here are some that - one way or another - caught my attention.

~~  ~~  ~~

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go to the little boy's room. ;)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Qi: Evolution & Entropy

I believe we are entering a new and uncharted world. A spiritual world some might argue; a world in which answers are needed. And for the first time in modernity, a world in which science cannot provide all the answers.

Recently there seems to be a 'theme' occurring with the books that are falling in my lap; that I am reading and reviewing.

The Enoch Factor, by Brian McSwain, Evolution's Purpose by Steve McIntosh or, A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle to name a few. In one way or another they all share the similar theme of an evolving universe or our relationship to it. This has led me to revisit and reread Yatri's Unknown Man: The Mysterious Birth of a New Species.

In 1988 I read Unknown Man. Much of it I didn't absorb or retain. What little I can remember was that Man was going to evolve and a new human species (homo novus?) was among us. Twenty-five years later I am reading it again. I think I simply wasn't well enough read or versed to take most of it in at the time. I think this marked the solidified beginning of my spiritual sojourney.

What these books (including Unknown Man) all have in common is the idea of the universe evolving in a direction. From the Big Bang to cosmic evolution, to elemental evolution, to a geosphere, to a biosphere, to a social-cultural evolution, and - potentially - to the Noosphere.

Although it is something I believe, I needed to find some way of rationalizing it (from my own knowledge, experiences, and encounters) without resorting to a supernatural answer - without some sort of belief in 'magic'.

I found my answers in Taoism and my personal encounters with acupuncture and my Qi.

The ancient sages of China noticed the whole of creation was reflected in each of its parts. An atom is a miniature solar system. A human body is a miniature universe. The inner world they called the micro-cosmos, the outer world they called the macro-cosmos.

A basic belief of Taoism (and much of Chinese acupuncture) is that the human being is a microcosm of the universe. The living 'life-force' - this Qi - permeates all things living, and flows and ebbs.

What is Qi?
"Qi is the energy that underlies everything in the universe. If it is condensed it becomes matter or if refined it becomes spirit... 
 "Qi is variously called ki in Japan, prana in India and rlun in Tibet. It has been translated in various other ways including 'influences', 'life force', 'breath' or 'vital energy'.    
"If you tried to see particles of Qi through a microscope you would not find it, but the restoration of its balance is vital to restore a patient's health. Everything that is living, moving and vibrating does so because this invisible substance moves through it."Angela Hicks, "The Acupuncture Handbook" Piatkus, 2005, pg. 101-102.
Entropy: Everything in the universe seems to move towards this direction. From order to disorder. Things eventually break, wear out, or breakdown. We don't see things fix themselves.

However, Life seems to work against entropy, or at least challenges it. Living things evolve. Living creatures - living systems  - become increasingly more complex and more organized.
Evolution and Entropy are quite literally the universe's Yin and Yang.

The symbol of Yin and Yang is a beautifully harmonious representation of this flow and ebb and abundance of Qi in the universe, reaching its fullest potential, then transforming into its opposite - like a bellows opening, creating space and filling with air, then closing and collapsing, expelling the air - continually flowing, flexible, and moving.

What is true within a living being is also true within the universe. If this is true on a macro-scale (cosmos) and also reflectively true on a micro-scale (living beings), then there is no reason to believe it cannot be true on a intermediate, or meso-scale.

Qi is simply various forms of energy that flows and ebbs between the two; what allows them to 'move' and 'become'. (Maybe Qi is negative entropy; negentropic energy?)

Qi energy can flow and pass - or a least influence - one another. When or if this occurs and becomes active or 'activated', it will accelerate and amplify.
I believe this action is, or can become, this Noosphere.
This is the next evolutionary step of mankind. (Or from a Taoist point of view, possibly a devolution to return to the Great Integrity - the Tao). 

When James Lovelock as asked by NASA in 1964 to figure out a way of detecting life on Mars, he questioned exactly what was life and how would he look for it? His answer?
"I'd look for an entropy reduction, since this must be a general characteristic of life"
The Noosphere is like a bubble, kind of like a force-field protecting those within from the surrounding entropy; a safe-zone where the local entropy has been reduced to zero, or even a deficit. 
I know there are a great amount of opinions as to what exactly this Noosphere is or might be. From Vernadsky's to Teilhard's definitions, to the Gaia Hypothesis to a world like that in James Cameron's movie Avatar, even to a planet wide Mind with its synapses being the inter connectivity of the internet. 

Many cultures would seem to be aware of it by various names. The Abrahamic Faiths hold onto utopian dreams of Heaven and the past Garden of Eden. Hinduism and Buddhism hold onto Moksha and Nirvana (both being utopian states of mind rather than places), and Taoism has Lao Tzu's perfect moral culture. Even Humanism has the idea that "human beings... can build an enduring citadel of peace and beauty upon this earth" (The World Great Religions, Time Incorporated, New York, 1957).

I'm not sure it's overly important what it might be
It's not here yet; it's coming. It will be what it will be. It can't (or shouldn't) be forced. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Quarantined Church

Ignorance and arrogance go hand-in-hand so I think there should be a degree of awe and wonder – like a child's – as well as humility and open-mindedness. The only way around ignorance is education, not indoctrination, and the only way to become successfully educated is the abandonment of arrogance.

Although many Christians have honed their Humility down to an art form, when it comes to issues of Belief that humility and open-mindedness are replaced with a knowledge-filled arrogance. These rigidly-denominational Christians are the modern day Gnostics. Those that unswervingly and unquestionably follow their denomination's teaching and swear that it is truth and righteous.

And although I've just labeled it “rigidly-denominational Christians” it manifests itself in other less obvious ways. My favourite are the self-titled “Bible Christians” who claim not to follow denominations or traditions but only the bible... please. They are no different; just a little bit more creative and a little bit more dishonest.

At the end of the day, the only thing all these have in common is that they believe in the bible. Where they all differ in what it says or means. With so many interpretations and numerous proper hermeneutics and various doctrines and heretical views accepted and denied, it should become obvious that the simple truth, the answer, is anything but obvious.

In time it becomes a private issue of tribalism and being right over pursuing the truth. Then we enter the realm of ulterior agendas and the Evaginated Christian emerges. (No, I didn't misspell “Evangelical”). Something else is being sold, either instead of, alongside of, or on condition of, the truth. They have done worse than turn it inside-out. They have evaginated it; they have turned it outside-in. There are those on the outside and there are those clearly on the inside.

Historically, we have seen this on a near 500-year cycle. There was the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church (and the purging of the Christian Gnostics) by Emperor Constantine c. 5th century. There was the Schism of the Eastern Orthodox Church c. 10th century. Then there was the Protestant Reformation c. 15th century (and what followed to be The Splintering are numerous denominations. Maybe this Splintering is more of a byproduct of Americanism. “The Church of the Individual”. Maybe these numeral denominations should be collectively referred to as “American Christianity”). Now there's the appearance of the Emergent Church c. 20th century.

I would imagine the real 'church' (community) to be varied and should include non-believers. A place where questions and struggle and doubt are not discouraged or treated with The Stick & The Carrot.
I think Christianity could learn a lesson from Taoism's idea of four types of societies. The lofty idea that a perfect society's people are not motivated by reward or fear of punishment.

The Stick & Carrot vs. Grace & Mercy. These concepts are polar opposites yet both seems predominant within modern Christianity as they preach Grace & Mercy but they practice The Stick & Carrot). Maybe that is what is wrong with Christianity today? The existence of the Stick & the Carrot methodology is a trademark of Religiosity. However, truly unconditional Grace will do away with Religiosity and Religions for that matter. They will be the hallmark of the End of Religion. Christianity comes so close to this, but at the end, at the very last minute, cling to their individual Ego-driven collective identity as a “Christian” and undo the entire process.
You know what? Maybe the church of “True Believers” sitting in their pews, singing their hymns, safely tucked between their church's walls, bound by their unspoken rules and regulations of what you should and shouldn't do and can and cannot be, is a great idea! Maybe they should be quarantined off. I can't think of a better way of stopping the spread of this marketed corporate mentality.

We should strive to be a perpetual student. Always learning, our focus on continual growth, not continual stagnation.

The real questions we much each individually ask ourselves are, Am I only following what I've been taught but never questioned it? Am I following my priest, my minister, my pastor, my Rabbi, or my Imam? If I were born in a different culture would I still believe what I claim to hold a true? Have I looked outside of my quarantined world? Am I loyal to my belief-mechanism or to the truth and wisdom and source behind it?

Am I spiritually in motion in my faith, or am I static in my belief?
Am I a member of The Quarantined Church?

If not, then what are you? Are you a fringe-dweller, existing on the outer frayed edge? Are you a mouse living between the walls of the rooms we call Denominations? Or are you living in a spiritual wilderness? Are you a Wanderer, and if so, are you lost or on a quest?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Irshad Manji's Ijtihad

I have fallen in love with Irshad Manji's concept of ijtihad presented in The Trouble with Islam.

The third source, or root, of Islamic law is called ijtihad (“responsible individual opinion” or independent reasoning). It has been used when an issue was not covered by passage in the Qu'ran; a jurist may then resolve the issue by using analogical reasoning. Such reasoning was first employed when Islamic theologians and jurist in conquered countries were confronted with the need to integrate local customs and laws with the Qu'ran.

It led to the Golden Age of Islam. The Muslim principle of ijtihad (independent judgment) should encourage and be receptive to new ideas. The Qu'ran itself demanded constant revision and self-examination. (Although it is obvious that much of Islam today has lost or abandoned this). Knowledge was not simply a matter of acquiring information but a process of transformation.

There was emphases on the unity of truth, which must be sought everywhere. A seeker after truth must shun no science, scorn no book, nor cling fanatically to a single creed. However, this form of ijtihad existed in the Golden Age of Islam and has unfortunately been abandoned by most Muslims, resorting to indoctrination over education, blind-faith over thoughtfulness. (It is unfortunate that the Gates of Ijtihad have been closed). 

I believe it is the 'moderate' Muslims of the world that need to reclaim Islam back the from extremists. There needs to be some sort of reformation within it. Maybe the gates of Ijtihad need to be reopened.

There would seem to be a crossover in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, where it says, “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” Sounds a lot like placing emphases on truth, which must be sought everywhere. A seeker after truth must shun no science, scorn no book, nor cling fanatically to a single creed

I think there is a good lesson and a great richness to take from ijtihad.

Ijtihad is something I'd like to learn more of and incorporate into way of life. In fact, to some degree, I already have.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A New Axial Age for an Uncharted World

We are entering a new and uncharted world. A spiritual world some might argue; a world in which answers are desperately needed. And for the first time since the Enlightenment, a world in which science cannot provide all the answers.

Are we equipped for this new journey of exploration?

I think there is a certain wisdom to be learned from the Atheist. They clearly see the problems with the fundamental-mindset and lack of open mindedness and prohibition of doubt and skepticism present within some of the world's great religions. (They also, often in error, assume these are necessary prerequisites for the religions).

Hinduism, Buddhism, the Chinese-syncretism (Taoism, Confucianism,Buddhism), Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; the great religions of the Axial Age.

No great new religion has swept into world prominence since Islam some 1300 years ago. Does this mean that the foregoing list completes the roll call of living religions? Yes, and no.”

If we accept Emergence Theory, the existence of cultures and religions are a fluid and evolving thing. It may occur in leaps and bounds and the Axial Age may very well have been a leap or bound, but it cannot be the final word. It cannot be the final step. What will be the next step in their – or indeed, our – evolution?

Through the centuries men have died for the right to believe, but other men equally sincere have died for the right to disbelieve. However we may rate their wisdom, we must credit them with a kind of religious fervor in defense of their faith. For atheism too is a faith, in the sense that it is based on belief rather than scientific proof.

In its narrowest sense the term atheist means one who denies the existence of any and all gods. But it has come to apply to those, including skeptics  materialists and positivists, who do not acknowledge that the world was created by a being or beings of incomprehensibly magnified human intelligence and form, and also an uncounted number of people the world over who would consider that they fit the word's broader implications.

Since pure atheism and agnosticism obviously do nothing towards answering the ultimate riddle of life, some nonbelievers have turned to humanism – a term which has had many varying meanings, but which today, according to Corliss Lamont in Humanism as a Philosophy, “is the viewpoint that men have but one life to lead and should make the most of it in terms of creative work and happiness; that human happiness is its own justification and requires no sanction or support from supernatural sources; that in any case the supernatural, usually conceived of in the form of heavenly gods or immortal heavens, does not exist; and that human beings, using their own intelligence and cooperating liberally with one another, can build an enduring citadel of peace and beauty upon this earth.

And finally there has emerged in contemporary history another great power over men's minds and acts – indeed, a faith – which is at once the denial of all religion and the most potent expression of secular religion ever to challenge the other faiths... Communism.” The World Great Religions, Time Incorporated, New York, 1957, pg. 8

Does our modern age contain within itself a New Axial Age?

I don't see issues with Atheism as an alternative Belief-System, but we have seen the rise of Atheist-fundamentalism, and I do see issues with this 'flavour'. It is the last thing we need.

We also have seen the birth of Humanism (and it's darker brother, Communism).

I think another hallmark of our potential modern Axial Age is a sort of pluralism, or syncretism of faiths. And this gives me hope. I think it's important that we acknowledge and identify their existences. Yes, we have historically seen syncretism in the past, with the Romans and much of Hindu's numerous millennial spanning life is a testament to syncretism. But what is unique today is that we exist in a global society – we live in a much smaller world.
The option of a fundamentalist position now,can only lead to Empire or destruction. And isolationism is no longer an option.

In the New Axial Age, can Pluralism, the New Religions of Atheism, Scientism, Communism, and Humanism (in their various forms) find their place in an ever shrinking global community?
Will they sow the seeds of conflict and destruction? Will they become akin to the religions they so hate by competing for power, human resources, and authority?

Or could these be the tools we need to navigate into this new world?
Personally, I'd like to believe in the latter.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

"Cross Examined" by Bob Seidensticker: Commentary and Review

(By Guest Writer - Michel Weatherall)

Although I do believe there often times is truth in fiction, books like this can prove to be tricky, considering the author – Bob Seidensticken – is an Atheist and supporting the atheist world-view. There isn't anything wrong with this position. I just think it's important to identify this up front.

From a writing point of view there were a few surprising twists in the plot, but at other points, what I would have expect to be more climatic, were glossed over, almost removed to the realm of a footnote. Overall I enjoyed this novel. It captured my interest and held it. The characters were real and I could genuinely care for them.

At some points there seemed to be the theme that Science and Religion cannot mix, yet at other points almost the suggestion that the two are in need of one another.

Although many, if not all, the atheist arguments against Christianity in this book hold water, they are presented nearly exclusively as an argument against Christianity. They might be better served against religiosity instead. At times there seems to be an axe to grind, which concerns me, because if this is true, this form of Atheism is little more than a negative reaction.

I have come to many of the same conclusions (and arguments) the atheist-camp has regarding Christianity. (One of the reasons why I've moved beyond it). However, that doesn't make me an Atheist, nor does it make the Atheist right nor is Atheism the only answer.

Ultimately this fictitious book is about the very real and clandestine warfare of the human resources of the Faiths.

A large and overarching theme in Cross Examined is that of Apologetics (defending one's faith) and debate: the art of debate. Winning a debate does not necessarily mean being right nor finding the truth.

Too often times I have watched debates and it is more like a sparring match with either opponent showing off their debating talents and skills. However, I have found that one's skill at debate and the truth are not necessarily synonymous. We see this echoed by Jim Emerson on pg. 207:

"...let me stress one thing. Your primary goal in any discussion or even a debate must not be to win or even to defend your position. It must be to find the truth”.

I have seen individuals clearly win a debate but actually be wrong. They simply had better debating skills. I think sometimes a little bit too much emphasis is put onto the illusion of truth within Apologetics and Debates. They are not that decisive when it comes to the truth; they are more informative. It shouldn't be about winning. But I think this book addresses this issue in its subtle and elusive way.

Ultimately, I believe there is truth and wisdom within many of the world's many Belief-Systems, including Atheism and this book has potential for us to have a glimpse of it and learn from it. Never lose a healthy sense of doubt, scepticism, and most especially one's ability and permission to question.

But at points it would seem that Atheism is little more than a self-deluded scientism and at other points there's an acknowledgement that science is not all there is.

Science give us an approximation of the truth, nothing more. Science is built on a body of facts that changes, and that's its strength.” pg. 187
I think one of the most interesting and telling points in this entire book is the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 itself. Obviously it is the catalyst for this novel, but it is so much more.
If we look at Reverent Samuel Hargrove (Evangelical Christianity) , Father Mordegreen (Roman Catholicism), Jim Emerson (Atheism), and Abbot Tanaka (Buddhism) and what they did in relation to the earthquake, we begin to see interesting truths in their varied orthopraxies – and action speaks louder than any statement of belief.
Hargrove (Evangelical Christianity) sees it coming, but does little to nothing to help the people avoid it nor offers succour after it strikes. Quite the opposite in fact! He monopolizes the situation and attempts to turn the events to his favour and benefit. (Expand his church, more members, more donations, more money, larger church building, more personal fame) – practices of a corrupt religion.
Father Mondegreen, attempts to offer relief in the only way he knows how; by holding Mass (pg. 95) – by ritual – regardless of its success or failure – practising a rote religion.
Jim Emerson, the protagonist's mentor, as we later find out, is quite rich. What does he do in regards to the earthquake? Well, very little at all. He continues with his own fears and activities and hobbies and interests and obsessions. In fact, his actions would seem to reflect a mechanistic-materialistic atheism; a belief-system without a soul, or compassion. The earthquake is little more than a scientific fact or a news story. It happens. People suffer. People die. Oh well. There's an emotional detachment and even indifference.
And finally there's one of my favourite characters – The Buddhist Abbot Tanaka – Thena's mentor. What does he do in regards to the earthquake? He takes all the survivors the monastery can handle in, and then takes more. My favourite line is “We share what we have. If we don't have enough, we will be hungry with our neighbors”. (pg. 76)
I think Tanaka represents Humanism but with a spiritual edge.
We see the absolute immoral corruption organized and institutional religions can become with Hargrove. We see the mindlessness and rote obedience religion can be with Mordegreen. We see the emotional detachment and soulless emptiness certain forms of Atheism can become. But it is only with Tanaka do we find a harmonized balance.
I've heard an analogy of humanity's search for truth being like a 3-legged stool. Its legs being Science, Philosophy, and Spirituality. The simple fact that there are 'areas' where science cannot (and should not) function, is important.
This is echoed by Paul's old friend, Virgil near the end.
...it seems to me that using logic to take care of your spiritual needs is like slicing bread with a hammer”. (pg. 261)
At the end of the day, this book is ripe for discussion and debate. On an individual level or reading, if nothing else, it should make the reader aware of how sound – or unsound – their beliefs are. This book should prove a healthy read for Christians because it will shake them out of their cloistered, bobble-head (group-think) safety, should they be suffering from it.
I would love to see this book presented for study alongside the Alpha Course Manuel. I think it would keep everyone honest and sober.

~  ~  ~

Great Wisdom: Quotes Worth Remembering:
Your primary goal in any discussion or even a debate must not be to win or even to defend your position. It must be to find the truth.” Jim Emerson, pg. 207

Let me tell you a story. In some parts of Asia, hunters build an unusual monkey trap. They hollow out a coconut and tie it to the ground, then they put rice in the coconut. The monkey can reach in through a hole and grab the rice, but the hole is carefully cut so that it is big enough for the monkey's empty hand to go in but too small for his fist to come out, full of rice. When the hunters come, the monkey refuses to release the rice, and he is stuck. He traps himself... Preconceptions are like the rice. They are attractive, but we must let go to find the truth”. Abbot Tanaka, pg. 99

Well, you're the philosopher, but seems to me that using logic to take care of your spiritual needs is like slicing bread with a hammer”. Virgil, pg. 261

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.