Monday, September 28, 2015

Books read in 2015: No. 22 -- How to Know God

by Deepak Chopra

Started: Sept. 15
Finished: Sept. 28

Notes: This was a book left behind by my father, no doubt part of his eternal search for truth, a search not unlike my own though his was more desperate and even disturbing. I admit I'm highly skeptical of these New Agey, feel good spiritual books and their gurus, but since I'll read about anything, I thought I'd give it a chance. Besides, one can learn from just about anything, and as a writer I'm always willing to search for story ideas while stretching my boundaries.

Mini review: Truth be told, the first half of this book seemed like a mess, even juvenile. It reminded me of those COEXIST bumper stickers, like a form of spirituality created by an under grad student with good intentions in which all beliefs are equal and true, including atheism. I'm not promoting one version of faith over another here, but I've always felt uneasy about these can't-we-all-just-get-along versions of religion and spirituality, if for no other reason than they seem more wish fulfillment than anything. Also, after reading the first half of this book, I found it quite disheartening the number of supposedly intelligent people who gave great blurbs at the beginning of the book. However, the second half of the book is somewhat better, and I found it of interest when it worked to reconcile faith and science and when it focused a little on how to work spirituality into one's daily life. Still, even here I was somewhat frustrated. My biggest frustration is that the author never, not once, offers any evidence or real arguments for any of the beliefs he is suggesting or even pressing. Admittedly there is not (or can not be) any empirical evidence for what might lie within spirituality, but there are philosophical arguments that can be made, and the author ignores all of them. He offers a few anecdotes, personal and historical, but otherwise, nothing. We are just supposed to believe what he tells us based upon ... what? Intuition? The author's popularity? The fact he wrote a book? Also, though this book starts off mixing all forms of religion, it eventually comes down to a version of Hinduism (the author's native religion, if I understood correctly) with a touch of quantum science. Maybe the author is correct, but it seemed a little convenient to me that the spiritual guidance he offers is at heart based upon the system of religion he had been exposed to the most. I'll admit I myself am approaching this from a Western and Judeo-Christian point of view, so I have my own biases, etc., but still. All in all I felt this was mostly feel-good popular spirituality at best, the kind of thing that gets promoted on all the daytime talk shows, but I did not find it overly deep or insightful. The likes of Kant, Kierkegaard, and Hegel would have had a field day with this simplistic material, probably with a few laughs thrown in.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

At Wizards of the Coast closing forums

Wizards of the Coast has announced it will close its forums for Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering, so this week my article over at Nerdarchy takes a look at alternatives.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

At The power of Amazon Prime

This week my Nerdarchy article takes a look at the Amazon Prime program and all it has to offer for only $99 a year, such as unlimited movie and music streaming, one free e-book a month, free shipping on many products, and more.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Books read in 2015: No. 21 -- Medieval Romances

edited by Roger Sherman Loomis and Laura Hibbard Loomis

Started: Aug. 13
Finished: Sept. 15

Notes: I've read some of the material here before, such as "Tristan and Isolt," or at least one version of such tales. However, being a fantasy writer, I think it a good idea for me to occasionally delve into early material related to the genre. Besides, though I consider myself fairly well read in ancient Western literature, I always feel as if I'm not well-enough familiar with Renaissance and Medieval literature. Also, I picked this one up at a used book store some years back for only a nickel, so you can't beat the price.

Mini review: Despite being originally written down during the Medieval period, translated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, then edited and published in the 1950s, most of the text here reads pretty smoothly and pretty modern. Some stories are better than others, and most focus around the Knights of the Round Table. I'm glad to have read this. Anyone who wants to study Medieval literature without getting overly deep into the subject should find this a decent read.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Lily pics to save


Early this morning my beagle Lily passed away after suffering a seizure. I am devastated. She was my baby. I might talk more about her eventually, but for now ... I just can't.

Nerdarchy article: Review of Revolution: Virtual Playspace

This week over at Nerdarchy, I review Revolution: Virtual Playspace, 3-D virtual tabletop software for all you role players out there. Below is a screen grab from Revolution.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Another Nerdarchy article: My favorite fantasy artist, Daniel R. Horne

Yep, it's Wednesday, which means I've another article over at the Nerdarchy site. This time I write a little about my favorite fantasy artist, Daniel R. Horne.