Thoughts:  Thematic Reviews

By "Thematic Reviews" I mean items that are not better described as part of a "Places" page or a "Thoughts" or "Book Review" page  (see links for these items listed below).  I had a difficult time sorting out some of my Thoughts pages (which usually involve reading a book or two, but are not simply reviews) and my Thematic Reviews pages which involved multiple books, typically.

Nevertheless, here goes an attempt at listing just the thematic reviews based on multiple book readings.

[Note that the above link takes you to a review based on a number of books read by 2001.  In 2013 I also read Eben Alexander's Proof of Heaven, A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife, a book review written while in detention for 24 hours for a visa violation in the transient lounge at Samara airport, Russia (see 2013 Yearbook page).  This is a book I had promised my recently deceased brother (late 2012) I would read, a promise made a month or so before he died, and a promise kept seven months later.]

Healing and Mind

Souls and Relationships

Courtly Love.  Two of the novels I have read by Zoe Oldenbourg, a true master of Medieval history, embedded Courtly Love into their plot, with very different effect.  This is a review of the Courtly Love subplots as played out in The Cornerstone and in Cities of the Flesh, with a historical introduction taken from Oldenbourg's Massacre at Montsegur.

Courtly Love in the lives of Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland. (Link takes you to Part Two of a Three-Part look at these two highly creative lives, their expression of courtly love, and their teachings).

Three books read in the Summer of 2013 with hints of courtly love:

"New" Physics (a critical appraisal [using many other sources] of a Gary Zukav book called The Dancing Wu-Li Masters which I called "Naked Woolly Dancers," just for fun: it attracts MANY hits -- to the first page only!)

Earliest Christianity: a series of book reviews (a 2003 effort with a 2008 update of one book # 23's review, a book by Dan Kane, since then it was web-based, and now it is a published book)

In 2015 I return to the religion theme (Judaeo-Christian) with three books that happily bolstered my state of unbelief:  Paradise Lust, Searching for the Garden of Eden, by Brook Wilensky-Lanford (Grove Press, 2011);  101 Myths of the Bible, How Ancient Scribes Invented Biblical History, Gary Greenberg (Sourcebooks, Inc., 2000); and Zealot, the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, by Reza Aslan (Random House, 2013).  Each of these books was fascinating and revealing.  I recommend them highly.  Aslan's book has much in common with Eric Zuesse's Christ's Ventriloquists (see next link).

Paul, Jewish Christianity, and Islam.  A Thematic Review using multiple source books and reflecting back on the theme of Eric Zuesse's Christ's Ventriloquists.  [Augmented after its first posting to respond to an email from Eric Zuesse.]

Mary Magdalene and her role in early Christianity. Two books reviewed at one time, and one book reviewed summarily earlier on my "Divine Feminine" page, with photos.

An exploration of art work showing a penitent Mary Magdalene in a cave or grotto (a part of the myth about Mary having finished her life in France, conflated with the myth about Mary of Egypt).

The West and Islam. This thematic review begins here, and then branches to commentaries on a book by Ayaan Hirsi Ali called "The Caged Virgin," by Serge Trifkovic called "The Sword of the Prophet," and by Asra Nomani called "Standing Alone in Mecca."  My favorite of the three was Nomani's, my second favorite was Hirsi Ali's, and Trifkovic does not get an honorable mention in this review (although his review is the longest of the three).  At the very end of my readings I also ran into, and quoted just a little from, Iman Feisel Abdul Rauf's "What is Right with Islam."

Four years later I ran into this book by Reza Aslan: Beyond Fundamentalism, Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization (Random House 2010, originally published as How to Win a Cosmic War).  I found this book to be filled with a hope that I can't connect with, not at this time.

A series of Book Reviews on reality, existence, consciousness, God, religion.

A review of 5 books on recent developments in physics, cosmology and the meaning of life  Authors reviewed inlude Lisa Randall, Paul Davies, Michio Kaku, David Darling, and Joel Primack & Nancy Abrams.  I really liked and recommend the Primack and Abrams book, # 3 in my list. (The book by Tipler in the Book Reviews listing ought to have been added to this series of readings but it came too late).

In 2010 I read yet another book on this topic: Frank Wilczek's The Lightness of Being; Mass, Ether and the Unification of Forces, a truly readable overview of progress in modern physics by a Nobel Laureate (published in 2008).

A discussion of our human experience being a result of historical developments involving a hierarchy of emergent properties.  Reference is made to a book on primitive religion by the "father" of the science of sociology, Emile Durkheim.


21 November 2012 , an essay invoking portions of three books:

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, A History of Nazi Germany by William Shirer

Hitler's Willing Executioners, Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust by Daniel J. Goldhagen

WHY The Holocaust Happened, Its Religious Cause & Scholarly Cover-Up by Eric Zuesse

Bloody Hell !!! LEBENSBORN, the program to detect and remove Aryan blood from conquered lands and bring it home to Germany, among other things.


What to think of the visions of Bernadette of Lourdes: a short look into her life and her contributions to mystical knowing, if any. Books read and consulted include the historical novel The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel, and Bernadette Speaks, A Life of Saint Bernadette Soubirous in Her Own Words by René Laurentin.

A medley of thoughts from reading books by Mary Doria Russell, including her latest Dreamers of the Day and her foreword in a new edition of A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.  Mention is also made of Uranium by Tom Zoellner.

Overcoming the "natural" programming in our DNA:  I thought these three books would have no real relationship to each other.   But I was wrong:

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