Boise, ID USA
Having listened to 15 Great Courses over the last couple months, I took this course with a little trepidation, largely based on the mediocre Teach Company reviews. Yet something strange happened right from the first lecture: each book was fascinating, his lecture style became more contagious, and most importantly, I began to see the crucial importance of his underlying messages. The first statement of the course title is pretty clear cut and these books have accomplished the claim of making history because they're still around (much to the dismay of many students) hundreds...thousands of years after being written. I can make no universal claims for the second part of the title but I can speak for myself--this part was true as well. Similar to the way I felt after reading the last (to date) of George RR Martin's Song of Fire and Ice series, I grieved to be done with this course. What could top this, I wondered? Thankfully, J Rufus has several titles to choose from, so all is not lost. I loved this course and am wiser for it.
I thought J Rufus was at his best--and most endearing--when summarizing a story by providing the voices of its pivotal characters. His drawl and enthusiasm was comical, fun and surprisingly effective in demystifying and contemporizing often ancient characters...so the Gilgamesh lecture was particularly enjoyable.
J Rufus takes 30+ books and weaves the strands of their shared virtues, overarching themes, and contemporary relevance into critically important message for today's society. That would be a tough feat to duplicate by reading any one, two or dozen of these books on my own. By experiencing J Rufus's course as a whole, I came to understand that so much of what is portrayed in this course seems to be missing--though is seemingly not missed--from our 21st century.
After listening to two of Prof. Cary's courses, I respect and appreciate his style, enthusiasm and knowledge of the material, though I cringe at his frequent usage of seemingly unconscious prompts of, "Right?" after making a point. Most speakers will let slip an occasional 'um,' 'uh,' or in this case, "Right?" but Cary uses the third early and often, which for me at least, proved detrimental to the course as a whole. For this reason alone, I don't think I could endure another of his courses.
Not surprisingly, this course reminded me of the type of things I heard in Cary's "Augustine," course, which was often difficult to listen to as well because of all the, "we're unworthy...predestination...sin...heretic...Satan...hellfire and damnation types of messages from both Augustine and Luther. I feel both courses were similar to those classic books which so many find excruciating to read, yet will (at least one day) admit he or she is better for having done so. Cary's 'right?' usage aside, my primary lack of enthusiasm for each course is more "the message" than the messenger.
Passionate, occasionally playful
I don't understand this question. Whose life? Luther's or The Great Courses? If Luther, I would want to know how he could approach his life's mission with the idea of rooting out corruption in a corrupted institution (which was a good thing) but then end up spewing so much self-loathing and castigation of others to the extent that the 3rd Reich enthusiastically embraced his opinions and suggestions on how the Jews and their synagogues should be treated. What went wrong, Martin? What part of Jesus' teachings were you following here?
I enjoyed the realization of how little I (and probably 90+ percent of US Christians) really know about 1) the figures of the New Testament, 2) the historical contexts of the (ancient) times, 3) how many myths and falsehoods lifelong Christians take for inviolable truth and 4) some of the unfortunate consequences of our faith that have been swept under the rug.
Not only has Mary of Magdala's reputation taken a completely undeserved beating for the last 2000 years, but her enormous contributions to the Christian faith have been grossly understated as well. If there was any justice in this world, she would be named the 13th Apostle forthwith.
Professor Levine's deep reservoir of historical and scholarly knowledge never obscures her passion for this material, and her wry bits of humor never disrespect it. For thinner-skinned adherents to rigid orthodoxy though, enjoyment levels may vary.
There were many wonderful, sad, touching, courageous and tragic moments throughout the lectures, but after listening to this entire course, I keep coming back to one nagging question: "What the heck was 'saint' Stephen thinking?"
Brilliantly organized and told; not a dull moment and very thought provoking.
The most compelling aspect of this course is that I see the world through different eyes now, moving beyond 'tolerating' different religions to actually understanding, appreciating and even adopting elements of others' beliefs to my own, which has expanded my spirituality.
Surprisingly, given my past attitudes, I enjoyed the chapters on Islam the most. Learning more about the true spirit of Islam allows me to see a large percentage of people on this planet in a new, more favorable light.
Learning the meaning--and significance--of the Hindu greeting, "Namaste," is probably the most beautiful custom I've ever found in any religion. From my standpoint, it's literally a life-changing discovery.
Professor Mark Berkson put together a masterpiece with this course, and I'll look to see what else of his I can either listen to or read.
There are many options for Podcast How-To guides but after listening to "Entrepreneur on Fire" creator John Dumas lay out his step-by-step approach, I felt I made the right choice by selecting his audiobook. At just over an hour, Dumas provides busy listeners with a wealth of hard-won knowledge on this subject in an economical--but impassioned--manner that will leave a reader/listener with a confidence and eagerness to say, "Okay, let's start this thing NOW!" His enthusiasm, humility and expertise--not to mention the authority that comes from backing up everything he says with his own results--make this a very compelling guide to jumping into the unknown and intimidating waters of the podcast. Between the book and his online tutorials, you'll be swimming from the get-go.
As a frequent Audible.com customer, I've come to appreciate hearing these books through the voices of professional readers, but made an exception in this case because it was fun to hear how excited he is about this topic.
Since he wrote this book with a pronounced economy of words, there was nothing superfluous here. Having said that, he wouldn't have added any of his How-To steps unless each was important, if not critical. Therefore, I'll follow his suggestions to the letter.
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