After seeing the way he handled Fox News ignorance, I was looking forward to reading Aslan's book. I can't say that I was disappointed, but I can't say that I was overly impressed, either. People who have never been exposed to literary/historical biblical criticism, or those who have never looked into the historical Jesus really would benefit from reading Zealot. But for those who are part of mainline churches, there's not too much here that's completely new.
I suppose what underwhelmed me was the author's seeming lack of realization that there are millions of Christians who are continually confronted with the tension between (as he differentiates them) Jesus the Christ and Jesus the Zealot. It is this very tension that causes our faith to grow and thrive, and the doubt it creates forces us to be tolerant of other viewpoints.
As all authors do - even in scholarly works - Aslan manipulates words, research, and data to prove his point. One point in the book stands out, and that is his treatment of the baptism of Jesus. He very cogently examines how this event in the life of Jesus is dealt with in each of the four gospels, moving from an explicit reference to John being the baptizer to no direct connection at all between Jesus' baptism and John. I found it very thoughtful and meaningful until Dr Aslan suddenly referred to Christianity's "frantic" attempt to disassociate John from the baptism of Jesus. Does he not realize that this is nothing new to mainline Christians, that we don't see anything "frantic" about this phenomenon, and that we are well aware of the greater popularity of John and the possibility that Jesus started out as his disciple?
In closing, there's nothing about this work that I find incorrect. After all, Dr Aslan is a greater scholar than I'll ever be. But I would just advise the reader that even excellent scholars can choose subjective words to manipulate the reader's (or listener's) opinions.
Laypersons reading this book would do well to discuss it with their pastor. In so doing, may would discover that much of what the author talks about has already been incorporated into the thinking of their denomination (especially if it's the UCC, ELCA, PCUSA, UMC, ECUSA, ABC etc).
Stephen Fry's snide narration was complete overkill and did nothing to make listening to this classic enjoyable.
This novel falls short in two ways. First, King is a master of horror. And yet, the horror found in Revival is mediocre (and that's being generous), and ill explained at that. But worse than the low-grade horror is its utter lack of grace. This is the second area in which King usually excels: Resolving the tragedy and redeeming the horror, finding good in the end. But this book is all bleakness and hopelessness in the end. I can't imagine that I'll hold to my current conviction, but if you asked me right now, I'd tell you I'd never read another Stephen King novel, so bad was this one.
I was very much looking forward to the final book in this series. I'm glad I read The Magician's Land, but was a bit disappointed. The characters were further developed from who they were in books 1 & 2 in the series, but I felt the plot got a bit too fantastic for my tastes. Some fantasy readers like "in-you-face" magic, but I'm a fan of a bit more subtlety than this book offers.
One of the highlights of the book is more of a filling out of the prehistory of the Chatwin family.
Regardless of any criticism, this book is a must-read: If you've read the first 2 books in the series, you have to close the deal with this one. If you're a fantasy fan and haven't read the first 2 books, then you need to. Either way, all roads lead to The Magician's Land.
You'll be surprised at what you learn in this book. Most westerners are more or less ignorant of Genghis Khan and the Mongol empire, and what we think we know is based on negative assumptions. This book brings to light the ways the world was positively impacted by Mongol expansion, and in several places highlights ways in which Mongols were far more advanced than their European counterparts at the time. Some of these include freedom of religion, the equality of women, and the importance of free trade.
The only criticism I might give the book is the author's introduction which was read at the end. It was very interesting and not to be missed, but much of it seemed to be anticipating what we would read rather than reviewing what we'd already read.
All in all, I'm glad I listened to this book and would recommend it to anyone who's into history, biography, sociology, political science, comparative religion, or anthropology.
This is a very engaging story, and it is admirably narrated by Simon Prebble. The sensitive reader needs, however, to be warned that it was written in the 19th century, and reflects that era's attitudes toward elephant hunting (a noble pursuit that could be carried out by English gentlemen) and, worse yet, Africans. Though the writer clearly admired Africans, he also tended to view them as less than Europeans, and also used the occasional racial slur to refer to them.
I admit I'm a fan of epic fantasy, and though this work isn't typical of that genre in many ways, its scope is broad and it's quite lengthy. Despite its length, however, it's very readable. I never felt that the narrative was tedious, and the writing was fresh, descriptive, humorous, and fitting to the story. If you're a fantasy reader who also likes Dickens/Austen/Brontë, then you'll love this book.
You'd think that a book by Billy Crystal narrated by the author himself would be truly entertaining. Unfortunately, its moments of entertainment are rare, and made all the more ephemeral by Crystal's rushed and emotion-free delivery. Much more glaring are his frequent references to his own genitalia, his lack of compassion for others, and his utter lack of respect for others' religious views. His die-hard fans just might make it through this one with a thirst for more. The rest of us had to force ourselves to finish the book.
This work of non-fiction is not only informative, but it also offers the drama of a novel. It's impossible to stop listening once you start.
If I'd read the print version of this book, as opposed to listening to the audiobook, I'm not sure I'd have finished it. It's a book which, perhaps, the author needed to write in order to justify his own belief system. It's mildly interesting, but not particularly inspiring. I will not state whether or not this was a work of faith on the author's part, but it did nothing for my own faith. I admire some of the methods he used to write symbolically of how Mary has been imprisoned by the church and forced to be somebody she is (or was) not. I appreciate the psychological exploration of what might have gone through a mother's mind when her son died. But overall, I don't recommend the book itself. I do, however, recommend the performance. Streep is artful, sensitive, clear, and dramatic in her rendering of Toibin's words. The book may not have been inspired, but Meryl Streep's reading of it was.
Once you start listening to this classic, it's hard to turn it off. I found myself looking for excuses to put my earphones in - my dog got longer walks, the kitchen got cleaned more often, the TV got watched a lot less. Having finished it I want to listen to it again.
Every word of this book carries a certain weight, and it's impossible to remain unmoved by ten Boom's faith and the power of God to bring light to dark places.
The narration was also very good, though it was difficult to hear the repeated mispronunciation of of Scheveningen :-/
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