California Literary Review

Religion

Believers and Infidels

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June 12th, 2007

For the first time there was a feeling that technologically, economically and politically, as well as culturally, the British had nothing to learn from India and much to teach; it did not take long for imperial arrogance to set in. This arrogance, when combined with the rise of Evangelical Christianity, slowly came to affect all aspects of relations between the British and the Indians.

Be Near Me by Andrew O’Hagan

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June 11th, 2007

This is a broad ranging work as it manages to be poetic whilst drawing on current events in the news, such as the war in Iraq, teenage delinquency and paedophilia in the Catholic Church.

Flannery O’Connor and the Christ-Haunted South by Ralph Wood

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June 10th, 2007

Flannery O’Connor was Catholic and Southern, and that combined with her genius produced a writer whose works have become something of a cottage industry.

What The Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula

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April 24th, 2007

What The Buddha Taught accurately describes itself as a reliable introduction to Buddhism. As a religion with an unrivaled track record for living up to its ideals, Buddhism will certainly be tested as it is absorbed more and more by the West.

Red – by Ted Dekker

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April 24th, 2007

In Red, The Heroic Defense, Dekker’s brilliant utilization of Christian doctrine and pagan myth provides a resilient foundation upon which he injects a hyper-imaginative storyline with simple, yet crisp dialogue, twisting plots, and layered realities.

Democracy and Populism : Fear and Hatred by John Lukacs

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April 11th, 2007

You may not like what he says, you may not agree with his conclusions, but his thinking and his writing are so broad, rich, and in-depth that all but the most iconoclastic, the most radicalized, is forced to consider his perspectives.

An Interview With Biographer Ann Seaman

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April 3rd, 2007

“The three were kidnapped at gunpoint at the American Atheist headquarters in Austin, Texas on a Sunday afternoon…They all thought they were going to live once the ransom money was delivered. It didn’t turn out that way.”

An Interview with Michael Ruse

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April 3rd, 2007

“I do not think it appropriate to teach non-science in a biology class – especially non-science that is really a form of literalist Christianity in disguise. Even if it were appropriate, I would not want the kind of conservative evangelical religion taught, that I think ID represents. But it is not appropriate and in the US is illegal.”

An Interview With Author Mary Roach

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April 3rd, 2007

“Helen Duncan is my favorite. Huge, chain-smoking woman who used to swoon and occasionally pee herself in the frenzy of spirit possession. Helen had the scientists stumped. She’d produce ectoplasm … even though the researchers had frisked her and done a cavity search prior to her entering the séance chamber. Turned out she was a talented regurgitator.”

An Interview with Rebecca Goldstein, author of “Betraying Spinoza”

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March 30th, 2007

“The issue that animated his life and his thought was that of religious intolerance. The Jews who excommunicated him at the tender age of 23 had themselves been victims of a prolonged, horrific exercise in both religious (as well as racial) intolerance. Spinoza uses this history of suffering to reason his way into uncompromising universalism, an outlook that reduces all the contingencies of birth–our religion and race and, by extension, our nationality, gender, sexual orientation–to details of no significance whatsoever in the real process of self-fulfillment.”

An Interview With Biographer James Connor

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March 30th, 2007

“This means that we are a people who now live in that shadow world of quasi-existence. What matters to us is not necessarily what is real, but what is possible given the state of things. This is a big change, and constitutes a fundamental shift in the way we understand the world.”

Dianetics: A Dialogue

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March 26th, 2007

“You clear me? I clear you? It’s not hypnotism, if that’s what scares you. You’re fully conscious. You merely learn how to scan your tapes. Then you’ll be getting full recalls in real time. Visio, sonic, tactilic, and olofactoric. Kinesthetic — which is weight and motion. Somatic — that’s pain. Thermic and organic — your insides. In Dianetics, organic is also emotive. The fact is, you don’t cry because you’re sad. You’re sad because you’re crying. Emotion is physical, not mental like that spooky Freudian stuff.”

Counsel at Crossroads: Job and Arjuna

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March 26th, 2007

The Book of Job and a central section of the Indian epic Mahabharata present interesting perspectives on some timeless questions.

Stemming from … Nowhere?

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March 26th, 2007

To sum up in a phrase the true and deepest character of Lawrence’s genius, it was given by his close friend Aldous Huxley in an introduction to the first collected letters shortly after his death: he was a mystical materialist. And thereon hangs the tale I shall unfold.

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