Saturday, September 26, 2020

Homer: The Odyssey (1993) retold by Geraldine McCaughrean, Book Review

 

Homer: The Odyssey (1993) retold by Geraldine McCaughrean

Many years ago, I try to finish reading Homer’s original English translations of Iliad and Odyssey (found 1 volume in the library), but I failed. Probably I wasn’t that interested in mythology before or my English wasn’t that good, or I thought it was a boring long-poem. Maybe, all. But perhaps what I need was not to know the whole story behind the poem but a retold that keeps the essentials and yet fun to read (and that may include reading children’s books). That is exactly what McCaughrean did to Homer’s Odyssey. Homer (presumably) was the first Greek writer whose works survive – perhaps the first Greek writer there was. In the Iliad, considered to be the earliest of the two, he wrote about the last few weeks of war between the Greeks and the Trojans, the imminent death of Achilles and the fall of Troy, the drama between mortal men and the gods.

Like something of a sequel, the Odyssey told the epic journey of Odysseus, warrior-king of Ithaca (fairly means “victim of enmity”), who sometimes known as Ulysses, sail back home after 10 years of war at Troy. But along the way, he and his soldiers encounter all kinds of enmities, dangers, and adventures, from Polyphemus the greedy one-eyed giant (son of Poseidon, the sea god), from the cannibal King Lamus of Laestrygonia, from the sorceress Circle, Scylla the six-headed sea monster and even the wrath of the gods themselves (how dare!) before he united with his wife, Penelope, and son. The journey takes another 10 years. “’Your son will be a big lad now, captain,’ said Polites. ‘Eleven! Almost eleven! He was only a baby when I left Ithaca. A fine help I’ve been to his mother, leaving her all alone.’ ‘Ah, but such a lady, captain! Such a lady never knew the meaning of impatience!’ Odysseus looked into the distance with unfocused eyes. ‘Indeed, yes, Polites. Such a woman.’” 

One of the main questions that I have when I read this book is this:
Why they encountered with these monsters and gods on the way back home to Ithaca and not when they went to Troy? Well, myth is a myth πŸ˜…πŸ€«πŸ“–#ServeToLead #1Book1Week #HomerOdyssey #GreekMythology

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Friday, September 18, 2020

Altar of Eden (2010) by James Rollins, Somewhat Review



Altar of Eden (2010) by James Czajkowski a.k.a. James Rollins

 Rollins is one of my favorite novelists. He is brilliant! The Order of Sanguines Series, a trilogy, his collaboration with Rebecca Cantrell, and SIGMA Force Series, are among my top three novel series.  In the past, whenever I feel like I want to read fiction, I used to entertain myself with Nicolas Sparks’ heart-melting romanticism (author of A Walk to Remember) and Arthur Conan Doyle’s mystery genius (author of Sherlock Holmes Series). But as my interests grow wider, I stick with Rollins. His ability to mixing cutting-edge science and theories, advanced technology, and ancient history, romance, and action, is one of the kinds. He is very good with frictional stories like Eminem in the rap industry. “His books have everything…” one of the praises says, “Yet it works, because Rollins is a master of controlled chaos.” I couldn’t agree more.

Altar of Eden, a stand-alone novel, is a good read. Probably because the characters are new and fresh to me (I mean, different from SIGMA Force Series characters) and the story includes something that I’ve done some personal research about. Not much, but at least I can keep up with the basic arguments. Without going into spoiler alert, I must say, if you have pondered about our scientific discoveries and technologies of the 21st century and the mystery of our DNA – or the creation, in general – you’ll be thrill by this novel. Plus, most of the facts that go into his book(s) are true. At the end of every novel, he will outline “Author’s Note to Readers: Truth or Fiction.” Of course, the characters, conclusions, and implications are made-up. It doesn’t claim “historical accuracy” like Dan Brown does to The Da Vinci Code.

 #ServeToLead #1Book1Week #LetsMakeReadingCoolAgain #LeadersAreReaders #JamesRollins #ThrillerNovel #AltarOfEden

 To read my other novel-book reviews, CLICK HERE: https://www.richardangelus.me/search/label/Novel

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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Forbidden History: Prehistoric Technologies, Extraterrestrial Intervention, and the Suppressed Origins of Civilization (2005), Book Review


Forbidden History: Prehistoric Technologies, Extraterrestrial Intervention, and the Suppressed Origins of Civilization (2005) edited by J. Douglas Kenyon

Fascinating! My curiosity on these subjects sparked by a British writer and journalist, Graham Hancock, author of Fingerprints of the Gods and Magicians of the Gods, where he outlines from archaeological and geological findings, astronomy and historical monuments, current science and old myths, that there is an unknown prehistoric ancient civilization(s?) with advanced technologies and scientific knowledge. I’ve listened to at least four of Hancock interview sessions with Joe Rogan in The Joe Rogan Experience podcast (mind you, each session is about 2-4 hours) and also have spent a great amount of time, say, about 6 hours+ of YouTube videos of any documentaries related to this topic – those who support and disapprove of this theory. I’m still skeptic but I must admit, this kind of theory and all the subjects above (see subtitle), really open my eyes to explore other alternative arguments as well.  

During my research, I remember I have bought a book many years ago that also discuss these subjects. So, I dig boxes in my mini library and joyfully, I found it – Forbidden History. Just what I expected, the book mentions this theory, Graham Hancock, other theories, and those who have played leading roles in challenging the entrenched scientific establishment, assumptions, and status quo. I’m thrill! This book consists of 42 essays by 17 key thinkers taken from the bimonthly journal Atlantis Rising. The aim, writes J. Douglas Kenyon, is to “put forward such evidence, and to propose ideas and theories concerning the origins of life and the human race itself that may very well be more in accordance with reality than currently prevailing orthodoxy.” It is divided into six (6) parts:

Part 1: The Old Model Don’t Work: Darwinism and Creationism Under Fire
Part 2: Making the Case for Catastrophism: Earth Changes, Sudden and Gradual
Part 3: Exploring the Greater Antiquity of Civilization
Part 4: Searching for the Fountainhead
Part 5: Ancient High Tech
Part 6: New Models to Ponder

What interesting about Part 1 is that the co-authors explain what I suspected for so long that Darwinism doesn’t just have a missing link but there are lots of missing links. Search for missing links is “futile” said Hill Hart. On the other hand, Creationism also encounters a problem “not in the idea of intelligent design, but in its dogmatic and inflexible interpretations of the Bible [or religion texts] concerning the debate over human origins,” explain David Lewis. We don’t have to choose between Darwinism or Creationism as it is known in the scientific community today, there is probably another alternative. Part 2 on Catastrophism, I think, is a very good case. One needs to study the works of Immanuel Velikovsky and Robert Schoch to see the plausibility of this theory. The global flood told in most of the ancient myths may be true. Part 3, 4 & 5 brings back my wonder about the extravagance of Egyptian Sphinx, the mystery of Great Pyramid, astronomic knowledge of ancient Mayan, the legend of Atlantis, the unexplained monuments around the world, and many more. Part 6 requires true believers. It explores the possibility of visitors from beyond (aliens), space artifacts, and complex/intelligent signals from another galaxy.

I’m almost convince - but not yet - that there is a prehistoric ancient civilization(s), maybe before the flood in Genesis 7; I’m still processing the implications of extraterrestrials to my belief in the God of the Bible (it seems impossible in a vast universe, we – human beings – are alone?); but overall, I’m still skeptical. It appears that the co-authors of Forbidden History have good evidences and somewhat fair in their assessments. Two scientists, for example, may look at the same evidence, but their conclusion can be different. My advice: read the current, standard history and – at the same time – forbidden, untold history.

#ServeToLead #1Book1Week #LetsMakeReadingCoolAgain #LeadersAreReaders #ForbiddenHistory #PrehistoricTechnologies #OriginOfCivilization #AlternativeTheories  

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Hitler (2012) by A. N. Wilson, Book Review



Hitler (2012) by A. N. Wilson

What's good about this book? Two things: it is a short biography (190 pages) and easy to read. But what's bad about it? Well, Adolf Hitler is a complex and perplex figure, a short biography will surely somehow reduce rich historical stories into some oversimplified ones (probably that's why I love the large volume of Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs. One of the finest biographies). Having said that, I enjoyed reading this book as a whole. I always wonder why and how Hitler rise to power from unimpressive failed-artist to der FΓΌhrer ("the leader") of German. This book - briefly - explained it.

Hitler was born on 20th April 1889 in a city named Braunau am Inn in the country of Austria. His family moved around some, living a short while in Germany and then back to Austria. Hitler did not have a happy childhood. Both his parents died fairly young and many of his brothers and sisters died as well. He came from a broken family, very few good relationships, and an average (almost to untalented, physically weak) man. But he had few abilities and it was these which carried him along. Wilson writes, "Chief and greatest of his gifts was the capacity to speak in public, a gift which had laid dormant throughout his tongue-tied youth." Along with that, he also has a "skill at political manipulation" and a "taste for violence." After he joined the Nazi he was elected Chancellor of Germany, and then after a few years only, he became the Dictator. To the Germans, at first, he was thought of as the saviour

Hitler was responsible for some of the most horrible crimes committed in human history, namely, the Holocaust and ethnic cleansing. He hated Jewish people and wanted to exterminate them from Germany. He forced Jewish people to go to concentration camps where about 6 million Jews were killed during World War II. It was the dark history of European anti-Semitism. He also had other people and races he didn't like killed including handicapped people. He became more violent, and thus created more enemies. At the end of his life, he has no peace and he died as a failure. Nowadays, if you think evil, you'll think of Hitler. A false saviour

[Ps: Mein Kampf ("My Struggle") is a 1925 autobiographical manifesto by Adolf Hitler. A bible for the Nazis. This is the only complete book that he wrote. It is filled with anti-Semitism, meaning "hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group." It was the most prevalent sentiment in Europe during his time. In 2016, Mein Kampf became a best-seller. And guess what? Our own Popular Malaysia Bookstore is selling many copies of this book... My question is this: Why Popular intentionally print Mein Kampf, Hitler's book? And why Popular desire to sell to the masses? (If Popular just sells the book, no problem. But why purposefully print it under Popular?)] πŸ˜πŸ˜’πŸ˜‘

#ServeToLead #1Book1Week #LetsMakeReadingCoolAgain #LeadersAreReaders #AdolfHitler #Biography

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Blessing or Curse: You Can Choose (2006) by Derek Prince, Book Review



Blessing or Curse: You Can Choose (2006) by Derek Prince

Last week I didn't post anything on my social media, so I have lots of time (and works too, but I'm able to manage my work very well) to read books. I finished two books. One by N. A. Wilson on the life of Adolf Hitler and this book. Now can you see how much time we wasted on social media weekly? Monthly? Yearly? Except for WhatsApps, I don't even have active personal social media accounts! You can be a reader - all of us can - if only you reduce your idle time on social media. Join my #SocialMediaSabbath every week. To know more, visit LEGASI.tv Instagram.

Okay, about this book. If I want to understand the Bible better, I refer to David Pawson; but if I want to learn more about spiritual warfare, I go to Derek Prince (don't be confused with Joseph Prince ya). There are invincible forces influencing our lives today. Some recognize it, some just simply ignorance. "The Bible speaks plainly about these forces," writes Prince, "In fact, it has a great deal to say about them. It calls them respectively blessings and curses." The word “bless” or “blessing” occurs more than 410 times in the Bible; the word "curse" occurs nearly 160 times. Both are absolutely real —so real that our Lord Jesus had to be made a curse so that we might be redeemed from the curse and receive the blessing (read Galatians 3:13).

Prince explains, "Some people are inclined to think that blessings are real but curses are imaginary, or hypothetical. That is an illogical idea. If we consider any pair of opposites, it stands to reason that if one is real, the other must be real. Take day and night, for example. If the day is real, then the night is also real. Heat and cold — if heat is real, then cold is real. Good and evil — if good is real, then evil is real. We cannot accept one and ignore the other. So it is with blessings and curses. Blessings are real, and so are cursed." I think the questions from the back cover are very telling: Are you or your family experiencing repeated sickness or accidents? Do you feel under mental, emotional, or financial pressure much of the time? Are your closest relationships in turmoil? Do you wonder why success comes easily to others but seems to elude you? If you say YES to most of the questions (there are very good questions outline in the book to identify it), probably, you're intentionally or unintentionally, is under a curse.

Don't be discouraged if you think you do. The good news is that God has provided the means to overcome it. From the beginning, God desires for you to receive His blessings and not curses through Jesus Christ, His Son. In my life, relationships and ministry, I sense that something is not right and believe that spiritual warfare and curses were in operations. Only when I acknowledged what's going on, I then bring it in prayer to my Father in heaven. Now I know that I'm free and experience God's blessing in my life. The best is yet to come! I really recommend this book. Or, you can start by watching YouTube video How to Pass from Curse to Blessing by Derek Prince. Would you pray this prayer:

"Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that You are the Son of God and the only way to God; and that You died on the cross for my sins and rose again from the dead. I give up all my rebellion and all my sin, and I submit myself to You as my Lord. I confess all my sins before You and ask for Your forgiveness — especially for any sins that exposed me to a curse. Release me also from the consequences of my ancestors’ sins. By a decision of my will, I forgive all who have harmed me or wronged me — just as I want God to forgive me. In particular, I forgive [say the name of the person]. I renounce all contact with anything occult or satanic — if I have any 'contact objects,' I commit myself to destroy them. I cancel all of Satan’s claims against me. Lord Jesus, I believe that on the cross You took on Yourself every curse that could ever come upon me. So I ask You now to release me from every curse over my life — in Your name, Lord Jesus Christ! By faith, I now receive my release and I thank You for it."

😊⚡✔ #ServeToLead #1Book1Week #LetsMakeReadingCoolAgain #LeadersAreReaders #DerekPrince #BlessingsAndCurses #SpiritualWarfare

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The Art of Thinking Clearly (2013) by Rolf Dobelli, 2nd Book Review



The Art of Thinking Clearly (2013) by Rolf Dobelli, 2nd Book Review

I have read this book twice. First was 4 years ago in 2016 (to read my first review, CLICK HERE). I love this book so much for three main reasons: 1) It’s about thinking; 2) I’m very interested in social psychology and decision-making; and 3) Each chapter is short, concise and easy to read. It is about cognitive biases, namely, systematic errors in thinking that occurs when people are processing and interpreting information in the world around them and affects the decisions and judgments that they make. The bad news is that all of us - even the most self-aware people - cannot avoid all of these biases. But the good news is that we can begin to understand why we do what we do and by deliberate practice - we can make better (not perfect) choices. Dobelli outlines 99 cognitive biases, let me share top 3 biases, in my opinion, that we always make in our day-to-day thinking:

#1 Confirmation Bias. It is the idea that people seek out information and data that confirms their pre-existing ideas. They tend to ignore contrary information. This can be a very dangerous cognitive bias in business and especially, religion. Let say you just started a business selling Faith Fleur hair serum because your friend says it’s an excellent and the best serum in Malaysia. You post some testimonial pictures on your social media and then few hours later, you observe (due to algorithm) that there are others in your circle of social media who also sell the product with very positive testimonies. You thought, “This product is really the best!” Is it really the best? No. There are other products in the market. Faith Fleur hair serum is popular, safe and good product but not the very best there is. Your friend says it’s the best, you believe her, and so you interpret everything based on that existing belief or conviction. As you can see, if you apply that bias in religion, it can be misleading, even dangerous. “The confirmation bias,” writes Dobelli, “is the mother of all misconceptions.”

#2 Groupthink. It is a phenomenon that occurs when a group of individuals reaches a consensus without critical reasoning or evaluation of the consequences or alternatives. Let me give an example in Christian setting: during a Bible Study on the Book of Romans, the leader expounds the Scripture and conclude that Calvinist doctrines of predestination and election are the most biblical and faithful to the Scripture. When you heard it, you’re skeptical and doubtful. You wanted to respond and ask questions but since almost everyone nodded in agreement, you become reserve. Not wanting you cause division, you suppressed your opinions, and say to yourself, “Oh well, since nobody disagree with him, maybe I’m wrong.” And you say “Amen” all the way. If you want to decide with your friends where to eat for supper (Malaysians culture ma), then subjecting yourself to groupthink is harmless. But when it involves ethics or morals (and eternal consequences), groupthink can be disastrous.   

#3 Halo Effect. Simply put: it is when one trait of a person or thing is used to make an overall judgment of that person or thing. It is also known as the "physical attractiveness stereotype" or the "what is beautiful is 'good' principle." I love this example by Dobelli: “Dozens of studies have shown that we automatically regard good-looking people are more pleasant, honest and intelligent. Attractive people also have it easier in their professional lives - and that has nothing to do with the myth of women ‘sleeping their way to the top.’ The effect can even be detected in schools, where teachers unconsciously give good-looking students better grades.” Men, do you accept Facebook friend requests by a stunningly beautiful girl right away even though you never knew her before? Woman, do you think all the BTS members are angels from heaven? (Okay, maybe not all men or women like that). We love to think that we are fair and just, not stereotyping and anti-racism, very kind and ‘never judge a book by its cover’ but on a subconscious level, we do. We are irrational. Why anime-fans think that Son Goku is the good guy? Because when he died, he has a halo and angel’s wings. Oh, halo effect dies hard.

I recommend this book for beginners and for those who want to get the big picture of cognitive biases or fallacies. If you want to study deeper, I recommend reading books by Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow (haven’t finished it, so no book review yet), Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan (use it as reference), Robert Cialdini’s Influence (my review, CLICK HERE), Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational & The Upside of Irrationality (my review, CLICK HERE), and Steven D. Levitt’s Think Like a Freak (my review, CLICK HERE). But before I finished, I’m fully aware the controversy that Rolf Dobelli is accused of - or actually, shown that - plagiarizing other authors especially his once a good friend, Nassim Nicholas Taleb... I think it’s true.

#1Book1Week #ServeToLead #LeadersAreReaders #LetsMakeReadingCoolAgain #TheArtOfThinkingClearly #SocialPsychology #CognitiveBiases

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