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The Seduction of Religion offers an illuminating and provocative guide to the religions of the world, focusing on the irrationality of religious beliefs. The point of this book is not to preach atheism so much as it is to encourage its readers to reflect more carefully on why they believe what they believe. Every religion, thinks it is the true religion. But clearly they cannot all be right. The Seduction of Religion places each of the major religions in its historical context and examines some of their most important doctrines in the light of reason and common sense. At the same time, it treats its reader to a host of amusing facts and anecdotes about the various religions that make the book enjoyable to read. At the heart of the book is a paradox: All religions claim to be the one true religion, but if any of them is right then all the others are wrong. The Seduction of Religion introduces its readers to the fascinating history of religions--a history that is the outworking of this thought-provoking paradox.
'It is a Lord of the Flies parable with Bhagwan as lord. The book is a fascinating social history, with many celebrities, from Diana Ross to Prince Charles. - Helen Rumbelow, The Times This is the story of a Englishman who gave up a job in journalism to spend fourteen years with the controversial Indian mystic Osho, also known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and frequently referred to as 'the sex guru'. His guru was always controversial with his teachings on sex and spirituality, rumours of orgies and because he owned ninety-three Rolls Royces. Early in 1976, Subhuti travelled to India to meet Rajneesh in his ashram in Pune, became initiated as his disciple and immediately began to have mystical experiences, which he attributed to the powerful energy field surrounding the guru. He stayed for six months, participating in the ashram's notorious Encounter Group and other therapies designed to release suppressed emotions and awaken sexual energy Subhuti would stay to live and work on his master's ashrams for fourteen years, first as his press officer in Pune, India, then as editor of the community's weekly newspaper when Bhagwan and his followers shifted to Oregon, USA, and built a whole new town on the massive Big Muddy Ranch. There Subhuti was a first-hand witness to the scandals and hullabaloo that accompanied the guru, including tales of broken bones in no-holds-barred therapy groups and Tantra groups that encouraged total sexual freedom, and the increasing hostility with the locals which would lead to Bhagwan's attempt to flee America, his arrest and imprisonment. . He was on the Oregon Ranch when Rajneesh's secretary, Ma Anand Sheela, plotted against rival cliques within the ashram as well as a range of murderous crimes against state and federal officials which feature in hit Netflix series Wild Wild Country. Yet, amidst it all, Subhuti could see the profound revolution in spirituality that Bhagwan was creating, leaving a lasting impact on our ideas about society, religion, meditation and personal transformation. According to the author's understanding, it was the controversy itself, plus Bhagwan's refusal to tread the path of a spiritual saint, that became the stepping stone to a new vision of what it means to be a spiritual seeker.
What do you get an atheist for Christmas?
If you're an atheist, you don't believe in the three wise men, so this Christmas, we bring you not three, but forty-two wise men and women, bearing gifts of comedy, science, philosophy, the arts, and knowledge. What does it feel like to be born on Christmas day? How can you most effectively use lights to make your house visible from space? And where can you listen to the echoes of the Big Bang on December 25? The Atheist's Guide to Christmas answers all these questions and more: Richard Dawkins tells an original Christmas story.Phil Plait fact-checks the Star of Bethlehem.Neal Pollack teaches his family a lesson on holiday spirit.Simon Singh offers a very special scientific experiment.Simon le Bon loses his faith (but keeps church music).AC Grayling explains how to have a truly happy Christmas.
Plus thirty-six other brilliant, funny, free-thinking pieces perfect for anyone who doesn't think of holidays as holy days.
All author advances and royalties for The Atheist's Guide to Christmas will go to Terrence Higgins Trust.
In Cyberhenge, Douglas E. Cowan brings together two fascinating and virually unavoidable phenomena of the postmodern world - the electronic environment of the Internet and the emerging world of contemporary Neopaganism - Wiccans and other witches, Druids, Goddess-worshipers and ceremonial magicians - the Internet provides an environment alive with possibilities for invention, innovation and imagination. Neopagans are not only using the Net to provide information and as a vehicle to develop and expand the frontiers of their religious experience. From online Sabbath rituals to an algorithmic I Ching for which one pays with electronically banked Karma Coins, from e-covens and cyber-groves where neophytes can learn everything from the Wiccan Rede to spellworking, to arguments over the validity of online ritual and the authenticity of one's magical lineage, neopaganism on the Internet is an ongoing experiment in the creation and recreation of postmodern religious traditions.
Lethal Spots, Vital Secrets provides an ethnographic study of varmakkalai, or "the art of the vital spots," a South Indian esoteric tradition that combines medical practice and martial arts. Although siddha medicine is officially part of the Indian Government's medically pluralistic health-care system, very little of a reliable nature has been written about it. Drawing on a diverse array of materials, including Tamil manuscripts, interviews with practitioners, and his own personal experience as an apprentice, Sieler traces the practices of varmakkalai both in different religious traditions-such as Yoga and Ayurveda-and within various combat practices. His argument is based on in-depth ethnographic research in the southernmost region of India, where hereditary medico-martial practitioners learn their occupation from relatives or skilled gurus through an esoteric, spiritual education system. Rituals of secrecy and apprenticeship in varmakkalai are among the important focal points of Sieler's study. Practitioners protect their esoteric knowledge, but they also engage in a kind of "lure and withdrawal"--a performance of secrecy--because secrecy functions as what might be called "symbolic capital." Sieler argues that varmakkalai is, above all, a matter of texts in practice; knowledge transmission between teacher and student conveys tacit, non-verbal knowledge, and constitutes a "moral economy." It is not merely plain facts that are communicated, but also moral obligations, ethical conduct and tacit, bodily knowledge. Lethal Spots, Vital Secrets will be of interest to students of religion, medical anthropologists, historians of medicine, indologists, and martial arts and performance studies.
Rudolf Steiner's beautiful meditative verses for the yearly cycle have been used by countless people over the years. Their purpose is to awaken a feeling of unity with nature, and at the same time to stimulate a discovery of self. In listening to the changing language of the year and awakening a profound sympathy for it, we can in turn discover our own individual nature. Steiner's original and unique meditations facilitate this process, leading to a healthy feeling of being at one with the natural world. This edition features Anne Stockton's 52 celebrated and evocative paintings, which are a wonderful complement to Steiner's text. Steiner's words are newly translated for this edition by John Thomson.
2016 Winner of the Gospel Coalition Book Awards A friend of the late Christopher Hitchens offers insight about the promise of faith and the dangers of pride in this one-of-a-kind look into the last days of the world's most famous atheist--now in paper back. "If everyone in the United States had the same qualities of loyalty and care and concern for others that Larry Taunton had, we'd be living in a much better society than we do." ~ Christopher Hitchens At the time of his death, Christopher Hitchens was the most notorious atheist in the world. And yet, all was not as it seemed. "Nobody is not a divided self, of course," he once told an interviewer, "but I think it's rather strong in my case." Hitchens was a man of many contradictions: a Marxist in youth who longed for acceptance among the social elites; a peacenik who revered the military; a champion of the Left who was nonetheless pro-life, pro-war-on-terror, and after 9/11 something of a neocon; and while he railed against God on stage, he maintained meaningful-though largely hidden from public view-friendships with evangelical Christians like Francis Collins, Douglas Wilson, and the author Larry Alex Taunton. In The Faith of Christopher Hitchens, Taunton offers a very personal perspective of one of our most interesting and most misunderstood public figures. Writing with genuine compassion and without compromise, Taunton traces Hitchens's spiritual and intellectual development from his decision as a teenager to reject belief in God to his rise to prominence as one of the so-called "Four Horsemen" of the New Atheism. While Hitchens was, in the minds of many Christians, Public Enemy Number One, away from the lights and the cameras a warm friendship flourished between Hitchens and the author; a friendship that culminated in not one, but two lengthy road trips where, after Hitchens's diagnosis of esophageal cancer, they studied the Bible together. The Faith of Christopher Hitchens gives us a candid glimpse into the inner life of this intriguing, sometimes maddening, and unexpectedly vulnerable man. "This book should be read by every atheist and theist passionate about the truth." --Michael Shermer, publisher, Skeptic magazine
Offering a new template for future exploration, Susan Greenwood examines and develops the notion that the experience of magic is a panhuman orientation of consciousness, a form of knowledge largely marginalized in Western societies. In this volume she aims to form a "bridge of communication" between indigenous magical or shamanic worldviews and rationalized Western cultures. She outlines an alternative mythological framework for the latter to help develop a magical perception, as well as giving practical case studies derived from her own research. The form of magic discussed here is not fantastic or virtual, but ecological and sensory. Magical knowledge infiltrates the body in its deepest levels of the subconscious, and unconscious, as well as conscious awareness; it is felt and understood through the connection with an inspirited world that includes the consciousness of other beings, including those of plant, animal and the physical environment. This is anthropology from the heart rather than the head, and it engages with the messy area of emotions, an embodiment of the senses, and struggles to find a common language of listening to one another across a void of differences. The aim is to provide a non-reductive structure for the creative interplay of both magical and analytical modes of thought. Passion is a motivator for change, and a change in attitude to magic as an integrative force of human understanding is the main thread of this work.
Start Now! offers an extensive and representative sample of Steiner's spiritual instructions and meditative practices, including meditation instructions; mantric verses; daily, weekly and monthly practices for the development of soul qualities; karmic exercises and meditations for working with the dead, the angelic hierarchies and our guardian angel. This is a unique volume in any language. No one serious about spiritual practice--whether beginner or advanced practitioner--should be without it!
In his latest book, William Egginton laments the current debate over religion in America, in which religious fundamentalists have set the tone of political discourse--no one can get elected without advertising a personal relation to God, for example--and prominent atheists treat religious belief as the root of all evil. Neither of these positions, Egginton argues, adequately represents the attitudes of a majority of Americans who, while identifying as Christians, Jews, and Muslims, do not find fault with those who support different faiths and philosophies. In fact, Egginton goes so far as to question whether fundamentalists and atheists truly oppose each other, united as they are in their commitment to a "code of codes." In his view, being a religious fundamentalist does not require adhering to a particular religious creed. Fundamentalists--and stringent atheists--unconsciously believe that the methods we use to understand the world are all versions of an underlying master code. This code of codes represents an ultimate truth, explaining everything. Surprisingly, perhaps the most effective weapon against such thinking is religious moderation, a way of believing that questions the very possibility of a code of codes as the source of all human knowledge. The moderately religious, with their inherent skepticism toward a master code, are best suited to protect science, politics, and other diverse strains of knowledge from fundamentalist attack, and to promote a worldview based on the compatibility between religious faith and scientific method.
Estelle Isaacson is a contemporary seer who has been graced with many visions around Sophia, goddess of wisdom. Part 1 of this book shares a series of fourteen visions which lead the reader into a direct connection with the mystery of Sophia. In Part 2, Robert Powell explores the cosmic dimension of Sophia and her role as bearer of a new spiritual culture: the Rose of the World, a culture founded on love and wisdom.
This book explores the inter-relationship between religious groups and wider society and examines the way religious groups change in relation to societal norms, potentially to the point of undergoing processes of 'internal secularisation' within secular and secularist cultures. Received sociological wisdom suggests that over time religious groups moderate their claims. This comes with the potential loss of new adherents, for theorists of secularisation suggest unique or universal, rather than moderate, truth claims appear attractive to would-be recruits. At the same time, religious groups need to appear equivalent, in terms of harmlessness, to state-sanctioned religious expression in order to secure rights. Thus, religious organisations face a perpetual conundrum. Using British Quakers as a case study as they moved from a counter-cultural group to an accepted and accepting part of twentieth- and twenty-first-century society, the author builds on models of religion and non-religion in terms of flows and explores the consequences of religious assimilation when the process of constructing both distinctive appeal and 'harmlessness' in pursuit of rights is played out in a secular culture. A major contribution to the sociology of religion, The Cultivation of Conformity presents a new theory of internal secularisation as the ultimate stage of the cultivation of conformity, and a model of the way sects and society inter-relate.
Popular music artists are intentionally unoriginal. Pop producers find their inspiration by sampling across traditions and genres; remix artists compose a pastiche of the latest hits. These "mashup" artists stretch the boundaries of creativity by freely intermingling old sounds and melodies with the newest technologies. Using this phenomenon in contemporary music-making as a metaphor, John McClure encourages the invention of new theological ideas by creating a mashup of the traditional and the novel. What emerges are engaging ways of communicating that thrive at the intersection of religion and popular culture yet keep alive the deepest of theological truths.
In the beginning was the word, and...you know the rest. Not like this you don't. In a new twist on a classic tale, Tom Carver re-imagines the Old Testament without the leading character. The Newer, More English Version takes an erudite look at the supporting players of the Pentateuch, with no Jehovah to steal the show. What's left is a varied cast of egomaniacs, revolutionaries, war criminals, genii and perverts: Joseph, smug careerist and part-time psychoanalyst; Moses, a revolutionary firebrand who just wants to belong; Abraham, the world's first and greatest global branding strategist; and one very strange tree...
In his latest book, William Egginton laments the current debate over religion in America, in which religious fundamentalists have set the tone of political discourse-no one can get elected without advertising a personal relation to God, for example-and prominent atheists treat religious belief as the root of all evil. Neither of these positions, Egginton argues, adequately represents the attitudes of a majority of Americans who, while identifying as Christians, Jews, and Muslims, do not find fault with those who support different faiths and philosophies. In fact, Egginton goes so far as to question whether fundamentalists and atheists truly oppose each other, united as they are in their commitment to a "code of codes." In his view, being a religious fundamentalist does not require adhering to a particular religious creed. Fundamentalists-and stringent atheists-unconsciously believe that the methods we use to understand the world are all versions of an underlying master code. This code of codes represents an ultimate truth, explaining everything. Surprisingly, perhaps the most effective weapon against such thinking is religious moderation, a way of believing that questions the very possibility of a code of codes as the source of all human knowledge. The moderately religious, with their inherent skepticism toward a master code, are best suited to protect science, politics, and other diverse strains of knowledge from fundamentalist attack, and to promote a worldview based on the compatibility between religious faith and scientific method.
This volume contains Rudolf Steiner''s leadin g thoughts and letters written for the Anthroposophical Soci ety. In brief paragraphs they succinctly present Steiner''s s cience of the spirit '
'Required reading for anyone remotely curious about how they came to be remotely curious' Observer 'Enthralling' Spectator What is human consciousness and how is it possible? These questions fascinate thinking people from poets and painters to physicists, psychologists, and philosophers. This is Daniel C. Dennett's brilliant answer, extending perspectives from his earlier work in surprising directions, exploring the deep interactions of evolution, brains and human culture. Part philosophical whodunnit, part bold scientific conjecture, this landmark work enlarges themes that have sustained Dennett's career at the forefront of philosophical thought. In his inimitable style, laced with wit and thought experiments, Dennett shows how culture enables reflection by installing a profusion of thinking tools, or memes, in our brains, and how language turbocharges this process. The result: a mind that can comprehend the questions it poses, has emerged from a process of cultural evolution. An agenda-setting book for a new generation of philosophers and thinkers, From Bacteria to Bach and Back is essential for anyone who hopes to understand human creativity in all its applications.
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