Thursday, August 30, 2012

Journey of the Universe, by Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker

This amazing little book contains a wealth of information -- on the origin of the universe, how it evolved and is still evolving, plus a time-line of significant events from 13.7 billion years ago to the year 2010 and an extensive 45-page bibliography…all within a total of 175 pages!

A concise story of the origin and evolution of the universe and of a vast array of creatures in it (including humans) is told in a fast-moving and easily-read style. The author(s) make the observation that only the humans have not yet found their "place" in creation, that they (we) are restless, always striving. A key could be that humans are the only creatures that have the capability to genuinely empathize, and the implication is that this gift of empathy has not yet been fully developed, that we humans are still in the process of evolving like every other creature. You will find Journey of the Universe a most fascinating read!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger and Impulsiveness, by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

Through his work in Psychiatry Dr. Amen found that many patients resisted treatment, and he wondered what could be done to convince them that they needed help. He found the answer through a nuclear medicine physician who used a new kind of brain imaging known as SPECT. It measures blood flow and activity levels in the brain, and shows in a clear image the difference between the defective brain and a normal one.

When patients saw the images they could no longer doubt their problem and the need of treatment, reinforcing the popular saying that “Seeing is believing.” They could see clearly that the physical condition of their brain was the cause of their deviant behavior and accepted the prescribed remedy. The author claims to be one of a very few psychiatrists in the world who are licensed in nuclear brain imaging, and he is convinced of its effectiveness.

Throughout the book there are clear images of the brain taken by SPECT, and studies showing the results of medication given to remedy the faulty brain function. The author shows how the various functions of the brain work together, and the images clearly show the basic problem. Whether his patients are suffering from depression, angry outbursts, marital problems, or whatever malady, they readily accept the prescribed medication after seeing the brain images, and the rate of success in nearly 100%. The language used in the book is highly technical, but convincing.

The Poisonwood Bible, a novel by Barbara Kingsolver

Acclaimed to be "a powerful new epic" and the author "a gifted magician of words." - Beautifully written." - "Tragic and remarkable" - "Compelling, lyrical and utterly believable - "Abravura performance" - "A novel that brims with excitement and rings with authority."

The story is told by the wife and daughters of Nathan Price, an evangelical Baptist who takes his family on a missionary tour to the Belgian Congo in 1959. Dealing with the natives in an over-strict and uncaring manner, Nathan alienates those he came to convert, and by his severity ends up with a wholesale rebellion on his hands, both on the part of his family and those he came to serve. Worsened by a severe drought, an invasion of ants and other natural disasters, the situation finally becomes unbearable, and the mission totally disintegrates.

This ambitious novel is set against the Congo's struggle for independence from Belgium, one of the most dramatic political chronicles of the 20th Century. It is the story of a family's tragic undoing and remarkable recovery in the course of three decades in post-colonial Africa. The novel establishes Kingsolver as one of the most daring of writers.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Agnus Dei, An amazing account of the Christ, from the words of Maria Valtorta, by R.W. Schoenecker

This remarkable book is a shortened version in novel form of a five-volume work (15,000 pages of hand-written notes) written by an Italian mystic in the 1940's. She recorded the visions and dictations to obedience to Jesus Christ and His Mother--scenes from the Gospels in stories and teachings of Christ. The original work, entitled The Poem of the Man-God, was painstakingly written from the notes that Maria had taken from 1946 to 1947, into a five-volume work of over 4,000 pages. She checked with the Bible and the Catholic Catechism and other sources for accuracy. The facts of Jesus' and Mary's life are presented in a fascinating form, including many conversations between them and other persons in the Gospel accounts, and also descriptions of New Testament times and places.

Maria's mammoth work has been approved by two Popes and has no need of an imprimatur, as it does not treat of doctrine or morals. The author assures the reader that it cannot replace Scripture, but it is a wonderful source for readers of today. It has had a more powerful impact on those who have read it than any other commentary on the Gospels. It gives a clearer picture of Christ, His Mother, the time and places where they lived, miracles and teachings of Christ and credible descriptions of the growth of the new Church that Jesus founded, and on every person in the biblical account. Besides a thoughtful Forward and Preface, the text is divided into 62 chapters, each of them devoted to a "happening" or teaching of Christ. As we read at the end of John's Gospel, there is more of what Jesus said and did and of His life -- more than could fill many volumes. This single volume gives the essence of Maria's writings, is masterfully written, and gives a deeper insight into the New Testament and can strengthen the faith of the reader. According to Italian publishers, over 100,000 copies of Valtorta's works have been sold. Each of the chapters can be read as a coherent unit for anyone who lacks the time to read the entire book. (But once you start, it's hard to stop!) The difficulty of some in reading the rather fine print is worth solving in some way or another.