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Posts Tagged ‘This Is My God’

No doubt there is much sanctimoniousness in the world and a lot of empty mumbling is passed off as devotion.  A man of urbanity may feel embarrassed at taking part in ceremonies where that sort of thing can occur.  I am not sure my urbanity is quite up to the mark.  Sometimes, all too often, my own praying has been depressingly mechanical.  But sometimes I have felt a sense of communication with the Force that took the trouble to give me life.  The uncommitted reader will overlook this as auto-suggestion or mental ailment.  Something too much about the author here; but it seemed less than honest to proceed on this subject without a certain clearing of the ground.
  —  Herman Wouk
From his book:  “This Is My God
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On This Day In:
2017 Not Yet That Well-Organized
2016 Probably Whatever Was Sought Yesterday
2015 What We Choose To Divide Us
2014 Peace With Honor
2013 Dangerous Systems
2012 Useful Science
2011 Say It, But Please Don’t Make Me Listen

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Economist know that, contrary to the popular impression, slaves do not work hard.  A slave civilization is slow moving and easygoing; we still have traces of one in the American South.  Take away a man’s rights in himself, and, he becomes dull and sluggish, wily and evasive, a master of the arts of avoiding responsibility and expending little energy.  The whip is no answer to this universal human reaction.  There is no answer to it.  The lash stings a slave who has halted dumbly, out of indifference and inertia, into resuming the slothful pace of his fellow slaves.  It can do no more.  The slave’s life is a dog’s life, degraded, but not wearying, and  —  for a broken spirit  —  not unpleasant.  The generation of Jews that Moses led into the desert collapsed into despair and panic over and over in moments of crisis.  Broken by slavery, they could not shake free of improvidence, cowardice, and idol-worship.  All the men who had been slaves in Egypt had to die in the desert, and a new generation had to take up their arms and their religion, before the Jews could cross the Jordan.
   —  Herman Wouk
From his book:  “This Is My God
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On This Day In:
2015 Centered
2014 Economic Trinity
2013 At Both Ends
2012 Holding Allowance
2011 The Power Of Good

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There has never been any decisive proof either way about God’s existence.  Ours would be a decidedly queer world if the Creator of it were as visible as, say, a playwright at his opening night.  Here is the universe, a dazzle of orderly wonders, which seems to imply a Maker.  Here is human life, full of sadness and disaster and futility, ending always in black death; and it seems to many people to refute any notion that a God could exist.  To assert anything about God — that he is there or that he is not, that we can know him or that we cannot —  is to jump off into the dark, either way.
  —  Herman Wouk
From his book: “This Is My God
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On This Day In:
2014 I Would Be Sillier
2013 It Keeps Happening Anyway
2012 Take Time
2011 A Mother’s Lesson
2010 3rd Pair – Shoe Review (DOA and Final)

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If it seems as if you haven’t read any book reviews here lately – you haven’t.  And it’s because I’ve hardly done any reading (book reading).
Today I completed “Don’t Know Much About The Bible“, by Kenneth C. Davis (1998©).  I picked this book up last summer with the view of learning more about the basis of my Christian faith.  I got it the same day I bought “This Is My God“, which is a book summarizing / explaining the Jewish faith (see that review here).  The latter book was a “highly recommended” book in my review, and this current one is as well.  I can’t recall if I have ever read two books about religion which were as well written and fair handed in both their treatment of faith and of history.
This book, “Don’t Know Much…”, does contain some attempts at “wit” which might put some folks off, but generally, this is an excellent overview of the Bible as historical and cultural documentation.  By “historical” I mean the author attempts to put the historical errors in the Bible in their “actual” or “reasonable” time frame.  By “cultural” I mean, the author also tries to explain why a given writer of a portion of the Bible may have written what he (they) did.  The author does not attempt to explain the miracles described in the Bible, nor does he attempt to explain them away.  Mostly, he simply ignores them.  When that is not possible, he frequently simply states (or implies) that it (the event) probably just never happened that way.  The author uses a question and answer format to try to answer fundamental questions like when were the various books of the Bible written, by whom, and what were they hoping to explain (pass on to others in the faith).
If you are a Biblical Fundamentalist, this book will challenge your fundamental understanding of the universe and that is probably more than the average fundamentalist can stand.  Save your money and your sanity and don’t buy or read this book.  It is not for you.  If, on the other hand, you are an atheist or agnostic, a person of non-Christian faith, or a Christian of confident faith, you will have no problem with reading this book.  Indeed, you will put it down with a MUCH greater understanding of the Bible as a “loose” history book and an appreciation of man’s on-going efforts to try to understand his place in the universe.  In my own case, this understanding is grounded in religious faith and this book did nothing what-so-ever to shake that faith.
Early last year, I made an effort to try to read the Bible front to back.  I didn’t succeed.  Mostly, because I was spending time thinking about what I was reading and trying to figure out whether it made sense – particularly when compared to what I “thought” I’d been taught and / or believed about my Roman Catholic faith.  Concurrently, I was trying to read Isaac Asimov’s “Asimov’s Guide to the Bible“, but struggled with it as well.  As a juxtaposition, Asimov’s “Guide” was useful, but again, requires time for digestion.  Between the two books, and all the thinking, it was relatively easy to find other interests to pursue for more immediate intellectual gratification.
The bottom line is that having read (and having available for reference) these two books, I now feel in a much better position to go back and pick up where I left off in the Bible and Asimov’s work.
Conclusion, if you want to know all (well, maybe only quite a few) of the contradictions and errors of time, place and personage in the Bible, this is the book for you.  If you have faith and want to understand the historical context of the old and new testaments, this work is equally valuable.  This is not because the Bible is historically and scientifically accurate in and of itself.  It isn’t – nor should we expect it to be.  The “point” of the Bible is to explain God’s relationship with man as we have come to understand this relationship over the last 5,000 years.  That, in itself, is quite a challenge and this book makes a reasonable effort to cover this changing understanding / relationship.  Highly recommended!
And, of course, a number of quotes will find their way onto this site in the future…
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On This Day In:
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2012 Charles Carroll Of Carrollton (The Only Catholic Founder)
2011 Life Works
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Prosperity Finds Its Way Up

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The work is not yours to finish; but neither are you free to take no part in it.
 —  Rabbi Tarfon
From: “Ethics of the Fathers
As quoted in: “This Is My God
Written by: Herman Wouk
[The path to equality in America has not been completed.  There is still much work to do until all are able to share in the philosophy that all Americans are equal under the law.  Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2013 Amnesty, n.
2012 Best Resolv’d
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2011 Magic

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There is no use in talking about religion with anybody who is sure that God does not exist.
  —  Herman Wouk
From the Prologue to his book:  “This Is My God
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On This Day In:
2013 Spoiling For Fame?
2012 How Many?
2011 Too Tired To Chat Much
2010 I Must Be Crazy!!

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…I intend to speak of my faith and my people as well as I can, and I will tell the truth.
One note on style: if I sometimes write here with a light hand, it is not because I am the less serious in what I say.  It is no service to the reader to load him with technical jargon to convince him that my words have weight.  I have risked being as clear and pleasant as I could, and I have worked very hard for clarity.
  —  Herman Wouk
From the Prologue to his book:  “This Is My God
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On This Day In:
2012 Working On Reality
2011 Massive Contradictory Changes

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