Friday, June 25, 2010

Reading Challenges: Science and Religion: Let There Be Light!

Let    der       B LIGHT!


The subjects of Religions and Science are naturally conjoined in my mind in a dynamic dance that is often a struggle something like a WWF wrestling match so it seems natural to combine my announcement of joining these two reading challenges into one post.



World Religion Challenge 2010

From the host:

The rules:

The Challenge will run from Jan 1st 2010 to Dec 31st 2010. There are four categories to the Challenge:

I decided to lift a note from Taoism by calling these Paths (Tao means “way” or “path”) to Reading Challenge Enlightenment:

1. The Bare Bones Path (Also Know As: The *Technically* There’s Only Three Path): Read something about what are *technically* the only world religions, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. (These are considered, by some scholars, to be the only World Religions because while Judaism and Hinduism have the numbers, they don’t proselytize or really invite other people to join, making it more of an ethnicity).

2. The Penthouse Path (Also Known As: The Five Biggies Path): Read something about the five major world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

3. The Universalist Path (Also Known As: The Above and Beyond Path): Read something by all five of the major world religions PLUS more books about any or all of the following: Shintoism, Animism, Taoism, Confucianism, Wicca, Mythology, Atheism, Occult, Tribal Religions, Voodoo, Unitarianism, Baha’i, Cults, Scientology, Mysticism, Rastafarianism, Jainism, Sikhism, Zorastrianism, Agnosticism, Gnosticism, Satanism, Manichaeism, Deism, Comparative Religion, Religious Philosophy, Jungiansim, Symbolism, Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, etc., etc. etc. (you may also read about another aspect of one of the 5 Biggies)

4. The Unshepherded Path (Also Known As: The Don’t Tell Me What to Do Path): Read as many books as you would like about whatever religions you want.

What to read?

Nonfiction
fiction
religious texts
poetry

Since I have been reading in comparative religion, mythology and cosmology for nearly twenty years I have already been on paths 1-3 for nearly 20 years so I'm declaring myself on the Unshepherded Path for this challenge.

My current interests are in the fundamentalist sects and cults of any of the religions and especially in first person accounts of conversion into and/or out of them. Both because I have my own related story and because I'm writing a novel in which such experiences are featured.

Along that theme I'm currently reading William Lobdell's Loosing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace, and have lined up Frank Schaeffer's Patience With God: Faith for People Who don't Like Religion (or Atheism). Both are library books and tho I may not finish before they have to go back this time I intend to finish them by the end of the year.

The rest of these are just a sampling of the possibilities--no promises:

I own and thus could possibly choose John Shelby Spong's Here I Stand and/or Sue Monk Kid's The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (which would be a reread but I've wanted to read through it again taking notes this time) and/or Susan Isaac's Angry Conversations With God.

Also have Robert Eisenman's James the Brother of Jesus checked out of the library but it has to go back next week and I haven't even opened it yet. I made it over halfway through this 1000+ page book in 2002 and kept meaning to get back to it. I'm sure I will have to start it over now but I'll be waiting until after my return from my six week visit to Longview WA in late August to send for it again.

I also own the four volumes of Joseph Campbell's The Masks of God in which I love to browse but have never completed any of my attempts to read straight through any of them so I may target one or more of them. I've also been hankering to re-read Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces but would have to send for a library copy.

There are also novels that might qualify that are on my current high-interest TBR lists: Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed; Anita Diamant's The Red Tent; Philip Pullman's The good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ.

Also out of the library are Resurrecting Eve: Women of Faith Challenge the Fundamentalist Agenda by Roberta Mary Pughe and Paula Anema Sohl and an anthology of myths and legends of the Pacific Northwest, and Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will transform Your Life and Our World by Michael Dowd.

Which is a nice segue into:

Science Book Challenge 2010

The challenge is to read 3 (or 3.14) books on science, scientists or that which they examine and then contribute a brief note to the scienticity.net site sharing your experience of encountering that book as though with a friend you are trying to convince to give it a try (or a pass).

The only one I'm listing here now is the one that I just got from the library this week: Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer.

I want to leave myself open for the other 2 (or 2.14) as I never know when I'm going to encounter an enthralling science read. Take the above Proust title. It came up in a library catalog search for the novels of Proust and I was intrigued by the concept that many of the discoveries of modern neuroscience had been anticipated by artists from the previous couple of centuries from novelists to painters to composers to chefs. I'm excited about this one on so many levels. The essay on Proust's discoveries about memory is going to help me as I wade through the text of his Remembrance of Things Past in the ebook I created last month. And that's just the least of it. As a writer and story aficionado I've been fascinated by the differences and similarities between the way a scientist and an artist experience their encounters with the world. My earliest memory of that interest is of reading a biography of Madame Currie while in sixth grade.

You can follow my progress in these and other 2010 challenges in the Reading Challenges Portal.

1 tell me a story:

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