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Friday, May 27, 2016

Undeniable - Bill Nye

Mechanical engineer Bill Nye, better known as "The Science Guy" is best known for his appearance in the television series back in the 90s that taught children all about science in a fun and engaging way.

In this book, Nye gives an updated reading of evolution and what we know about it today. The book also talks about theories like the 600 year earth, dinosaurs, climate change, genetically modified organisms (better known as GMOs), and even racism.

Narrated by Bill Nye himself, the audiobook is packed with his personality and wit. Religious people may find themselves challenged as he directly approaches the idea of intelligent design from multiple angles. Entertaining and educational this is an excellent book serving as a primer or review of our current knowledge of earth and its species.

Recommended Reads:
The Origin of Species - Charles Darwin
The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins
The Dragons of Eden - Carl Sagan

Friday, May 20, 2016

Blood Magic - Edited by Thomas Buckley, Alma Gottlieb

With the first chapter, A Critical Appraisal of Theories of Menstrual Symbolism, Thomas Buckley and Alma Gottlieb set the tone for this collection. In short, they state that seemingly negative taboos in various cultures are not negative when taken into the cultural and religious context and encourage readers to read with open minds. Unlike many books of this nature that draw vast comparisons across cultures, the chapters in this book are confined to studies of individual areas that ensure a more comprehensive understanding of menstruation in the unique society.

Part I, titled Menstrual Images, Meanings, and Values contains three studies. Alma Gottlieb, one of the editors, presents Menstrual Cosmology among the Beng of Ivory Coast, where she explains the maturation of young women and men and how the view of sex, not just menstruation, is seen as a pollutant in certain cases and not in others.
In Mortal Flow: Menstruation in Turkish Village Society, Carol Delaney explains how a "natural" process like menstruation carries many taboos even on into menopause for women. Menstruation among the Rungus of Borneo: An Unmarked Category explores the casual attitude this society has toward menstruation.

Sociology of Menstrual Meanings, Part II, explores how taboos effect society as a whole. Menstrual Politics: Women and Pigs in Rural Portugal by Denise L. Lawrence explains the complex challenges that arise when menstruation keeps women from participating in certain activities, but are unable to talk about it openly. Vieda Skultans interviews a number of women to explain the Menstrual Symbolism in South Wales and the surprising theme that arises in individual women's attitudes towards menstruation and their lives. Emily Martin visits a commonly pondered topic with Premenstrual Syndrome: Discipline, Work, and Anger in the Late Industrial Societies.

Part III are fascinating studies in Exploratory Directions: Menses, Culture, and Time. Thomas Buckley, one of the editors, Menstruation and the Power of Yurok Women, which speaks of the more commonly known pollutant nature and power of menstruation in women and how those in the same household would cycle together. Frederick Lamp tells of Heavenly Bodies: Menses, Moon, and Rituals of License Among the Tmene of Sierra Leone complex set of rules and traditions both sexes learn upon reaching the right age. Menstrual Synchrony and the Australian Rainbow Snake by Chris Knight is a fascinating study into the practice surrounding menstruation and the religious tales of this people.

One of the more interesting points to me that was brought up in the introduction is that our ancestors were unlikely to have menstruated monthly, due to nutritional needs (fat percentage). It also notes that women menstruating with the moon is actually a fairly new concept as of the writing in 80s. Because this was written in the 80s there are also multiple references to an old study with college students' cycles syncing over a period of time that subsequent studies have determined is merely coincidence.

The majority of the studies were firmly expressed in the words of the peoples themselves, with the exception of Lamp, which presented a lot of conjecture for his part. This particularly bothered me with how the introduction implored readers to listen to the words of the people, rather than through the lens of our own ideas.

Even with its age, this is an excellent collection because it speaks of in specifics, rather than generalizations, like so many books of this nature do.

Recommended Reads:
Priestess, Mother, Sacred Sister - Susan Starr Sered

Friday, May 13, 2016

Rosicrucian Principles for Home and Business - H. Spencer Lewis

The idea of thoughts creating reality is an idea that has been around for longer than is recorded. How to utilize this power of the mind is a point of contention among many in the metaphysical community. In this classic work, Lewis presents the Rosicrucian way to take advantage of the God-given ability to create reality.

In the first chapter, Lewis reveals "The Truth in Affirmations", giving the reader a firm understanding of what they are and how they work before moving on to the more complicated concepts. "The Cosmic and You", "Mental Alchemy", and "Commanding Cosmic Help" build on the first chapter, explaining how affirmations should effect our decision-making and behavior. In the chapters that follow, he explains how to gain wealth in a plethora of ways, whether that's through an employer, customers, or other means.

Throughout the book, Lewis emphasizes to be on the lookout for the universe offering means of achieving goals through avenues unconsidered. Sometimes clinging hard to a preconceived notion of how things should happen will keep people from recognizes their true goal. Lewis provides ample examples to assist the reader in understanding these concepts throughout the work.

Despite its age, this work continues to be a fantastic guide for those who want to invite abundance and health into their lives. This is one of the best books I've read with instruction on how to best use the power of will.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Wisdom of the Shire - Noble Smith

Tolkien's Hobbits have been inspiring people ever since the release of The Hobbit in 1937. The simple country folk who share bravery and ingenuity in peril, while having never faced danger in their lives inspire people to imagine who they could be. In 20 chapters, Smith reveals the wisdom we can learn from Hobbits through their lifestyle and habits at home, as well as adventures outside of the Shire.

Is your home cluttered or dirty? Perhaps you are hanging on to things that make you feel bad. "How Snug is Your Hobbit-Hole?" and "The Party Tree" may help you relieve some of that tension you have around the house.

"Eat like a Brandybuck, Drink Like a Took", "Sleep like a Hobbit", and "Sing like a Hobbit" will help you on your merry way to being fed, rested, and in good spirits.

Then there are, of course, lessons on how to manage the troubles in your life with chapters like "Your Own Personal Gollum", "Dealing with 'The Big People', and "Bearing the Burden of Your Ring".

These are only the few bits awaiting readers who wish to delve deeper into Tolkien's philosophy and ideas with this book. Whether a fan of Tolkien's books or Peter Jackson's movies, readers will enjoy this Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life.

Source Material:
The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings Trilogy