Once I decided to take a LOA from Rotary and focus on fewer issues, I did find some time to do a little catch-up reading. Here’s a short list of some completed books:
“Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell: now that Gladwell’s “Tipping Point” has become part of the language, I was interested in reading his latest book published in 2005. Last spring I was traveling around the province for the Ministry of Consumer Safety and Corrections so the travel times and overnight stays gave me some precious reading time. “Blink” doesn’t have the impact or substance of “Tipping Point” but he does make an interesting point about how fast the brain can react to various situations. In fact, the main lesson from this book is that we must learn to appreciate what we are confronted with by forcing our accumulated biases and prejudices to be neutralized so that we can judge the merit of new concepts, ideas and behaviours with fresh and untainted mindsets. Well worth the quick read that it is.****
“The Birth of Christianity” by Joel Carmichael. I have been fascinated by all religions ever since I decided I no longer believed in a deity the way most religions describe that concept. I have reached the conclusion that there is no supra-human, all-powerful, all-knowing entity looking over each and every one of us from somewhere in the heavens. I’m inclined to believe that each of us has a powerful spirit within and this essence is the force that gives us a conscience, an ethical base and the desire to improve in every sense. Of course, you may have noticed that there are some individuals who don’t seem to have a strong spiritual or ethical sensibility and that is generally because of that individual’s deficiencies in the executive function of the brain. Carmichael’s research tells us that the religion of Christianity is simply a man-made construct that has evolved over time and which has borrowed heavily from other cultures and other religious customs. Thus, I have concluded that all the religions I know of have been formed on three foundational pillars: tradition, superstition and mythology. Lots of interesting information here but Carmichael is not the most fluid of writers and could have benefited from some creative editing. ***
“Bible and Sword” by Barbara W. Tuchman was on my shelf for many years without a look-see. Originally published in 1956, this edition had a revised forward from 1984. Considering what has been happening in the Middle East lately, this is an excellent primer on the background leading up to the current stresses and strife relating to Israel, Palestine and that wicked fiasco in Iraq. One of the more amusing aspects of the British interest in creating a homeland for Jews was the notion that once the homeland was a reality, the Jews would be more vulnerable to conversion to Christianity. A fascinating historical perspective on the focal point of the major ongoing conflicts of the last century. ****
Next time I’ll talk about “the Unconscious Civilization” by John Ralston Saul, “the Other 90%” by Robert K. Cooper and “The Canada We Want” by John Godfrey and Rob McLean.