Best American books, part 3

PART 1     PART 2 THE EXECUTIONER’S SONG, Norman Mailer Norman Mailer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning and unforgettable classic about convicted killer Gary Gilmore now in a brand-new edition. Arguably the greatest book from America’s most heroically ambitious writer, THE EXECUTIONER’S SONG follows the short, blighted life of Gary Gilmore who became famous after he robbed two men in 1976 and killed them in cold blood. After being tried and convicted, he immediately insisted on being executed for his crime. To do so, he fought a system that seemed intent on keeping him alive long after it had sentenced him to death. And that fight for the right to die is what made him famous. Mailer tells not only Gilmore’s story, but those of the men and women caught in the web of his life and drawn into his procession toward the firing squad. All with implacable authority, steely compassion, and a restraint that evokes the parched landscape and stern theology of Gilmore’s Utah. THE EXECUTIONER’S SONG is a trip down the wrong side of the tracks to the deepest source of American loneliness and violence. It is a towering achievement-impossible to put down, impossible to forget.   THE FATEFUL TRIANGLE,  Noam Chomsky… Continue reading

– Freedom of choice –

   Have you ever thought about why you have the religious beliefs you have? What made you choose to be Protestant rather than Catholic, or Muslim rather than Jewish?  There is an expression: “Hobson’s Choice” meaning that you take what is offered or nothing at all. I heard that this expression came from horse lender Hobson, (rent-a-horse), who would not allow riders to pick and choose among his horses, but offered them the first horse in the stable or none at all. What has this got to do with religion? Quite a lot for most people! Children brought up in a Christian family usually become Christian, often within a few weeks of birth, those who are born into a Muslim family usually become Muslim, those born into a Jewish family are  Jewish. Even worse: if your parents are a particular denomination such as Catholic or Protestant, Sunni or Shia, then their children will almost certainly follow their parents. You are, it would seem, born into the “one true religion“. Where was your choice? You were given Hobson’s choice. Did you ever examine the other religions/ philosophical beliefs without looking through the eyes of your religion? Did you ever consider another… Continue reading

– The Earth is the temple for our bodies –

When I was 15 years old, and before the current generation of Scientific Pantheists were born, I became a Pantheist. Secretly, and sometimes publicly, I declared myself to be a Pantheist. No one knew what I was talking about. Pan means including everything, Theist means God. Everything is God, there is nothing outside of God/ All that is. I am still a Pantheist, yet I find the ground has shifted under my feet. I was, and still am, a “mystical” Pantheist. I do not fit in with the new Scientific branch. Let us not respect something merely because it is old, or because it is established, or because a lot of people believe in it, or because our friends, President, parents, children, believe in it. Let us not respect it because the Church told us it is fact, that it was given to us on gold tablets, by angles, by mediums, written by the hand of God, or passed down from benevolent aliens. Still with me? Good. When I was 15, I started reading a book called: Advanced Course in Yogi Philosophy, by Yogi Ramacharaka. That was his pseudonym anyway. I read it on the way to work, and like… Continue reading

– 59 Seconds Think a little, change a lot –

This book takes a look at a number of commonly held beliefs, especially from the self-improvement industry. Professor Wiseman then examines them with the aid of scientific tests to see if they are true or false. He examines things that are important to us: happiness, persuasion, motivation, creativity, attraction. He breaks down each topic into what is commonly believed, and whether tests prove the beliefs to be true or false. In one example, he carried out tests with charity boxes on display in bookstores. All the boxes asked for donations for a charity, but each one carried a different message. Please give generously Every penny helps Every pound helps You can make a difference. Surprisingly Every Penny Helps worked best collecting 62% of all the money. Every pound (100 pennies) came last with 17% of the collection. It is thought that putting a small amount into the Pound box, looked mean, cheap, or insulting; whereas putting a small amount into the Penny Box, was fine. It was also revealed that a red painted box got a lot more donations than other colors. Maybe you are not going to be collecting money, but you will certainly be involved in some of… Continue reading