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June Book Review: The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails edited by John W. Loftus

“In their most inner thoughts, even the most devout Christians know that there is something illegitimate about belief. Underneath their profession of faith there is a sleeping giant of doubt….In my experience, the best way to conquer doubt is to yield to it.” – Dan Barker, pastor-turned-atheist

The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails edited by John W. Loftus, a former Christian preacher turned atheist, is a brilliant compilation of fifteen arguments written by various distinguished atheists, and in my opinion, is the best critique of the Christian faith I have ever read. I was astounded by this book! I have never encountered a more compelling and thorough reading that covered an incredible amount of information with solid refutations of claims made from top Christian apologists.

The essays in this book cover and refute the claims and belief that modern society has Christian foundations; they cover the lack of solid evidence to show the Resurrection as true; they show that scripture does not portray God as good; and they argue that it is foolish to believe the Bible is the word of God, and much more. Using anthropological, archaeological, cultural, psychological, philosophical, ethical, cognitive, scientific, historical, and cosmological criticisms, this book destroys Christianity. The rest of the essays cover why Jesus cannot be the son of God, why morality did not originate in the Bible, and the problems with biblical scholarship. The arguments presented are compelling and exemplary.

I recommend The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails to those who are seeking the truth about Christianity’s many illusive, nagging questions, or if you are a Christian having “never-ending doubts” because something does not make sense. This collection of arguments is thorough, well-presented, well-documented, and very-well argued. I would say it is the go-to book on why Christianity absolutely fails. Anyone trying to argue against what is found in this book, well…good luck with that!

John W. Loftus, editor

A bit about the contributing writers of The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails:

Hector Avalos, Ph.D., professor of religious studies at Iowa State University and author of Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence and The End of Biblical Studies.

Edward T. Babinski is the editor of Leaving the Fold: Testimonials of Former Fundamentalists and his writings are available the Secular Web, Talk Origins, and Debunking Christianity.

Richard Carrier, Ph.D., is philosopher and expert historian of antiquity, is the author of On the Historicity of Jesus Christ, Sense and Goodness with God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism, Not the Impossible Faith: Why Christianity Didn’t Need a Miracle to Succeed, and other books.

David Eller, Ph.D., is the assistant professor of anthropology at the Community College of Denver and is the author of Natural Atheism, Atheism Advanced: Further Thoughts of a Freethinker, and a college textbook, Introducing Anthropology of Religion.

John W. Loftus, M.A, M.Div., Th.M., is the author of Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity and founder of Debunking Christianity blog. He is editor of The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails.

Jason Long, Ph.D., is the author of Biblical Nonsense: A Preview of the Bible for Doubting Christians and The Religious Condition: Answering and Explaining Christian Reasoning.

Valerie Tarico, Ph.D., is the author of The Dark Side: How Evangelical Teachings Corrupt Love and Truth and of Leaving the Fold: Testimonials of Former Fundamentalists.

Paul Tobin is the author of The Rejection of Pascal’s Wager: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Bible and the Historical Jesus.

To purchase The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, visit Barnes and Noble.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 


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May Book Review: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

It’s 5 a.m. It’s quiet, and it’s my favorite part of the day.

Introverts love quiet: quiet mornings, quiet afternoons and a contemplative walk, quiet evenings with a great book and an animal (or two), quiet workplaces so they can create. I am an introvert. I’m a lucky introvert because I stumbled upon Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, a book that thoroughly demonstrates that not only is it okay to be introverted, but there are so many advantages to being one. Are you an introvert?  Did you know that you are okay as you are? If not, look no further – read Cain’s book!

Susan Cain in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, begins by explaining how extroversion became the norm in society (even how extroversion is preferred over introversion) followed by considerable evidence demonstrating how collaboration or “group work” actually kills creativity. Even though most of our workplace is designed for extroverts, evidence shows that working alone cultivates and sustains creative thinking. According to research psychologist Anders Ericcson, it is when we are alone that we can engage in deliberate creativity and practice; it is only then that we can identify knowledge just out of our reach, strive to upgrade our performance, monitor our progress, and improve. Working in a group setting, he advises, is counterproductive because it reinforces current cognitive mechanisms. But, how many of us have the capability of working alone, and why is society set up to value extroversion? Susan Cain discusses these important questions.

Cain discusses how charismatic leadership in our business world is a myth, and that introverts actually fair just as well, if not better, than extroverts in all areas of study and business. One out of every three people is introverted. Research shows that creative individuals became masters in their work by consistently spending time alone immersing themselves in their craft. Who are some of the world’s creative introverts? How about Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, George Orwell, J.K. Rowling, Marcel Proust, Charles Schutz, Steven Spielberg, George Orwell, Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Steve Wozniak, Frederic Chopin, W.B. Yeats, and the list goes on. Can you imagine life without this list?

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking also discusses temperament and the biology of introverts and extroverts, nature vs. nurture theories, different cultures in regards to introversion vs. extroversion, how to best communicate with both temperaments, when an introvert might have to act more extroverted and why, and finally, how to cultivate and sustain the introvert in an extroverted world. Cain ascertains that the world needs a better balance between extroversion and introversion. Her book is very well researched and a pleasure to read.

I highly recommend Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. This book is rich with valuable information, and this blog has only reviewed part of it. I recommend this reading to anyone interested in this topic but especially to introverts.  It will help you see that there is nothing wrong with you, that it is okay to be introverted. I also advise this reading to business owners or managers so you can better support your staff with their development and company goals.

A bit about the author, Susan Cain:Susan Cain

Susan Cain is the co-founder of Quiet Revolution and the author of the bestseller Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts in addition to Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, which has been translated into forty languages and has been on the New York Times bestseller list for almost three years. Susan is also the co-founder of the Quiet Schools Network and the Quiet Leadership Institute. Her writing has appeared in the The New York TimesThe AtlanticThe Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. Her record-smashing TED talk has been viewed over 17 million times (which is where I discovered her!). She received Harvard Law School’s Celebration Award for Thought Leadership, the Toastmasters International Golden Gavel Award for Communication and Leadership, and was named one of the world’s top fifty Leadership and Management Experts by Inc. Magazine. She is an honors graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School. Lastly, Ms. Cain prefers listening to talking, reading to socializing, and cozy chats to group settings, like a true introvert.

To learn more about Susan Cain, or to purchase a copy of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, visit QuietRev.com.

I leave you with the Quiet Revolution Manifesto found on Susan Cain’s website, QuietRevolution.com:

  1. There is a word for “people who are in their heads too much”- thinkers.
  2. Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.
  3. The next generation of quiet kids can and must be raised to know their own strengths.
  4. Sometimes it helps to be a pretend-extrovert. There is always time to be quiet later.
  5. But in the long run, staying true to your temperament is the key to finding work you love and work that matters.
  6. One genuine relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.
  7. It’s okay to cross the street to avoid making small talk.
  8. “Quiet leadership” is not an oxymoron.
  9. Love is essential; gregariousness is optional.
  10. “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 

 

 

 

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April Book Review: The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks

An absolutely compelling read, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks (she does not capitalize her name) urges us to reclaim feminism for men as the result of patriarchy maintaining its power over their lives. I have to admit that this reading left me in awe. I had not thought of the implications of patriarchy in regards to men this extensively, and I could not stop reading this book! The author addresses the damage patriarchy causes to men – the inability to be in touch with their emotions, to love wholly (themselves and others), and to truly know themselves.  Her writing is courageous and visionary.

bell’s book begins with a chapter defining patriarchy, and she states,” Patriarchy is the single most life-threatening social disease assaulting the male body and spirit in our nation.”  She explains how boys are indoctrinated detrimentally, the role media, society, and women play in harming men, and male sexual relationships and sexual violence.  hooks also examines the roles men play at work and in their relationships with women, other men, and their children. The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love explains how the men’s movement against feminism is critical of women but makes no effort to address the damage patriarchy incurs on men. The book concludes with an unapologetic denunciation of patriarchy. It suggests how to heal the male spirit, how to love men properly, and how men can reclaim their integrity, wholeness, and authenticity. She also urges feminists to fight for men as victims of patriarchy. In hooks’ words, “We have yet to create a world that asks us to stand by a man when he is seeking healing, when he is seeking recovery, when he is working to be a creator.”

I highly recommend The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks to anyone who is interested in feminist theory, women’s studies, patriarchy, male and female relationships, male violence towards women, gender studies, misogyny or sociology. It is truly intriguing and a well-balance argument.

A bit about the author, bell hooks:

bell hooks

bell hooks is an acclaimed intellectual, feminist theorist, cultural critic, artist, and writer. hooks has authored over three dozen books and has published works that span several genres, including cultural criticism, personal memoirs, poetry collections, and children’s books. She covers gender, race, class, spirituality, teaching, and the significance of media in contemporary culture.

Born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, bell hooks adopted the pen name of her maternal great-grandmother, a woman known for speaking her mind. hooks received her B.A. from Stanford University, her M.A. from the University of Wisconsin and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz. In addition to The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, some of her books include Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom, Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope, Where We Stand: Class Matters, and We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity.

To learn more about bell hooks or to purchase The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, visit her website, bellhooksinstitute.com, or Indiebound and Amazon.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 


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March Book Review: Lying by Sam Harris

As a young, impressionable girl in elementary Catholic school in sunny California in the 1970’s, I learned to lie. Yes, you read that correctly: I learned to lie.

Every week, I was required to attend confession, where I was to tell a priest what my sins were for the week. As a very shy youth, I hated confession because I did not like having to tell a stranger what I did wrong. One time, I could not think of a single sin to disclose, so I lied and told the priest I had lied to my mother when I actually had not. I believe I did this to avoid embarrassment (as silly as it was). Ridiculous it was, but confessing our sins was a weekly, unavoidable occurrence, and I felt I had to say something, so I lied. This blog, however, is not about my adventures as a Catholic school girl. My point is that telling a lie, like Sam Harris succinctly explains in Lying, can sometime be arduous. I should have told the priest I could not think of a sin instead of lying to him, and we all might agree that lying is wrong, but is it wrong in all circumstances? Read Lying to find out!

Lying by Sam Harris is a short summary of the lies people tell and how they can and do negatively affect us on personal and societal level. Harris explains the two different types of lies: acts of commission and acts of omission, the differences between the two and how they affect us and the people we hurt with these lies. Sam discusses white lies, giving false impressions, false praise, keeping secrets, extreme lies, living a life of lies, when corporations or governments lie, and more. In his short book, he also includes an interview with his former professor from Stanford University, Dr. Ronald A. Howard, in which he discusses very thought-provoking, difficult questions regarding the act of lying. Harris sees lying as a refusal to cooperate with others and finds the act very detrimental to the health of the individual and our society at large. I agree with him.

I found Sam Harris’s Lying, very stimulating, and I recommend it to anyone who is a student of philosophy or ethics. A personal reflection or an introspective discussion with friends will ensue after this read!

A bit about the author, Sam Harris:

Sam Harris is an author, lecturer and neuroscientist with a degree in philosophy and a Ph.D. in neuroscience. He is the author of five New York Times bestsellers. His other books include The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, Free Will, Waking Up, and Islam and the Future of Tolerance (with Maajid Nawaz). The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction. His writing and public lectures cover a wide range of topics including neuroscience, moral philosophy, religion, meditation practice, human violence, and rationality. Harris’s work has been published in more than 20 languages and has been discussed in The New York Times, Time, Scientific American, Nature, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and many other journals. Mr. Harris is also cofounder of Project Reason, a nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values.

To learn more about Sam Harris, or to purchase Lying, visit his website: SamHarris.org.

 

 


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February Book Review: Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein

What humble words mumbled by one of my all-time, favorite geniuses, Albert Einstein. I highly doubt anyone on this planet thinks that Einstein was “no special talent;” however, Einstein viewed himself as a kid in a sandbox when he daydreamed about the universe and its intricate details and workings. Work was play. Thinking, figuring and wondering was his unabashed enjoyment. He worked alone and frequently relied on his intuition. Einstein was the ultimate example of tapping into the creative intelligence. His curiosity and unwavering drive for answers would eventually lead him to become one of the greatest minds of all time. Oh, the lessons we can learn from him!As a lifelong, passionate fan of Albert Einstein, I knew a bit about him, but after reading Walter Isaacson’s biography, Einstein: His Life and Universe, I saw the genius from a different perspective. The book is a detailed summary of all aspects of Einstein’s life. Isaacson not only chronologically explains Einstein’s work in regard to his theory of special relativity, quantum physics, and his involvement in the creation of the atomic bomb, but he also tells a compelling story about the geniuses’ personal life, his anti-war activism during WWI, and more. Professor Einstein, known as the Father of Cosmology, believed in a universal intelligence and wanted a one-world government for ultimate peace on Earth. As a self-absorbed scientist, he would sometimes spend months ignoring his family. His first wife, a physicist and intellectual colleague, found herself having to compete with him in a male-dominated profession and would eventually become resentful, depressed, and physically ill. A bitter divorce ensued and Albert Einstein remarried. Isaacson brings to life the humanity behind the genius.

I recommend Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson to anyone who is curious about the man behind the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics. It was a pleasure to read this book and to learn more about this incredible man.

A bit about the author, Walter Isaacson:

Walter Isaacson is an American writer and journalist. He is the President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. He has been the chairman and CEO of Cable News Network (CNN) and the Managing Editor of Time Magazine. In addition to writing Einstein: His Life and Universe, Isaacson has written biographies of Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin and Henry Kissinger. In 2012, he was selected as one of the Time 100, the magazine’s list of the most influential people in the world. Mr. Isaacson has honorary degrees from Tufts University, Cooper Union, William & Mary, Franklin University Switzerland, University of New Orleans, University of South Carolina, City University of New York , Pomona College, Lehigh University, Duke University, and Colorado Mountain College and has received numerous awards throughout his lifetime.

To purchase Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson, visit Amazon.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 


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January Book Review: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

In her ninety years young, Louise Hay has transformed millions of lives with her simple message: “What you think and what you believe is what will come true for you. Your thoughts create your life.”

She is absolutely correct!

You Can Heal Your Life by powerhouse teacher and lecturer, Louise Hay, is a profound eye-opener and one of my favorite books of all-time because it is a life changer!  Louise explains thoroughly how every thought that we think in the present creates our future.  She discusses how guilt, criticism and resentment are very damaging patterns that cause a state of disease in our bodies and how releasing these patterns will heal us.  She tells the story of her fight with cancer and how she healed herself without conventional medicine (including chemotherapy or radiation) but instead used alternative healing methods, incorporated new beliefs and released anger and resentment from a horrific childhood.

Although I do not agree with some of Louise Hay’s conclusions, I do believe without a doubt that we are what we think, or in other words, what we think in the present does create our future. I have lived it: Having been ignorant of how the mind works in the past, I created a difficult life; however, when I worked to eliminate the untrue beliefs and thoughts I had for years and replaced them with the truth, I created and lived a beautiful life.  Having recently read You Can Heal Your Life and after incorporating Louise’s suggestions, I have seen positive changes in myself and in my life, once again! The most important lesson that Louise teaches is how to accept and love ourselves wholly.

I highly recommend You Can Heal Your Life by pioneer Louise Hay for anyone who is struggling with understanding why your life never improves or for anyone interested in holistic health,  metaphysics, or living an authentic, beautiful life. Her suggestions do work and they will change your life!

A bit about the author, Louise Hay:

Louise Hay is an internationally renowned lecturer, metaphysical teacher and best-selling author of many books, including Heal Your Body from A to Z and Empowering Women. Her books have been translated into twenty nine languages in thirty five countries throughout the world. Since the beginning of her career as a Science of Mind minister in 1981, she has assisted millions of people in discovering the full potential of their own creative power to heal and transform. Louise Hay is also the founder of Hay House Inc., a self-publishing company that distributes books, audios and videos that contribute to personal healing and the healing of our planet.

To learn more about Louise Hay or to purchase You Can Heal Your Life, visit her websites, LouiseHay.com and HealYourLife.com.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 

 


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December Book Review: Obasan by Joy Kogawa

“If I could follow the stream down and down to the hidden voice, would I come at last to the freeing word? I ask the night sky, but the silence is steadfast. There is no reply.” – Joy Kogawa, Obasan

Obasan, Joy Kogawa

Obasan by Joy Kogawa, written in 1981, is a stunning work of fiction depicting the life of Japanese-Canadians during World War II, including their internment and persecution. Set in Cecil, Alberta, Kogawa beautifully tells her story from the perspective of a child. She uses deep, powerful metaphors of water, streams and stones to portray the emotions experienced (or not able to be experienced) during this time of persecution and prejudice. Masterfully written, Obasan (the word for “aunt” in Japanese), weaves the present and the past with dreams and memories into beautiful prose that will remind you of the undeniable pleasure of reading well-written literature!

Kogawa’s main character, Naomi, attempts to understand the sadness and secrets within her family and culture.  The death of her uncle leads Naomi to visit and care for her widowed aunt Aya, whom she refers to as “Obasan.” During her brief stay with Aya, she tries to reconstruct her painful experiences as a child during and after World War II. Eventually, Naomi learns that her mother, who had been in Japan before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, was severely injured by the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Her perspective on the war then changes as she recalls these difficult memories. The story essentially interweaves the past and present with the themes of time, memories, prejudice and injustice. The last chapter weaves the entire book together when Naomi discovers the secret her family has been keeping.

I recommend this fictional piece to anyone who is interested in Japanese culture or World War II (including the ramifications of the dropping of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki) and the persecution and ill treatment of Japanese-Canadians during the war. Furthermore, if you love metaphor in literature, this book is first rate!

A bit about the author, Joy Kogawa:7069_orig

Joy Kogawa is a writer and poet and has worked to educate Canadians about the history of Japanese Canadians. Joy has studied at the University of Alberta and the University of Saskatchewan. Her most recent poetic publication (2003) is A Garden of Anchors. Her long poem, A Song of Lilith, published in 2000, retells the story of Lilith, the mythical first partner to Adam. Kogawa has also published other books: Itsuka, The Rain Ascends and Naomi’s Road.

In 1986, Kogawa was made a member of the Order of Canada; in 2006, she was made a member of the Order of British Columbia; and, in 2010, the Japanese government honored Kogawa with the Order of the Rising Sun. Joy Kogawa is also known for her contribution to the understanding and preservation of Japanese Canadian history. Obasan is usually required reading in college literature or ethnic studies classes in Canada and the United States.

To learn more about Joy Kogawa or to order a copy of Obasan, visit: joykogawa.ca.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com. Musings and Inspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings from One Creative Being