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Don Smith (Calgary, Alberta, Canada)

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Symphonies 1-9/10 Adagio
Symphonies 1-9/10 Adagio
Price: CDN$ 55.57
31 used & new from CDN$ 37.16

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Mahler set I own!, Nov. 18 2013
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I have had this Mahler box set for over 5 years now and listen to it repeatedly.

The sound is clear and precise.

Bertini's interpretation of Mahler resonates with me.

Recommended.

The Immense Journey: An Imaginative Naturalist Explores the Mysteries of Man and Nature
The Immense Journey: An Imaginative Naturalist Explores the Mysteries of Man and Nature
by Loren Eiseley
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.83
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5.0 out of 5 stars Eiseley is amazing, Dec 2 2011
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I had never heard of Lorne Eiseley until Thomas Berry in some old video lectures started mentioning him as someone who had the same depth of connection with Nature as Thoreau and others.

Some of his thinking about how arrogant humans are insofar as having the world "under control" and "all figured out" is brilliant.

Recommended.

A Sense of Wonder
A Sense of Wonder
Price: CDN$ 18.19
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5.0 out of 5 stars Emotional and Personal, Oct. 28 2011
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This review is from: A Sense of Wonder (DVD)
A great film adaptation of a one woman play portraying the life, work, and ideas of environmental author Rachel Carson.

Recommended.

Journey of the Universe
Journey of the Universe
by Brian Thomas Swimme
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 17.87
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small Book - Big Story - Even Bigger Message!, June 15 2011
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Having just completed this wonderful short (117 pages) book, I am awestruck at the ability of the authors to tell "The Journey of the Universe" in so few pages and yet evoke a deep new awareness of what it means to be human within the Earth Community and Universe today.

I have read Swimme's previous books and much of Thomas Berry's writings and perhaps the best way to describe this book is as a distillation and re-focusing of the best of this previous work. Although not as involved as "The Universe Story" by Berry/Swimme, it brilliantly captures its essence and expounds insights without bogging down in detail. I was amazed at the writing style which is so concise and informative and packs deep and thought-provoking insights into every paragraph. Yet it is a joy to read and what I would call an "easy read" probably requiring not much more than 2-3 hours! The collaboration of Mary Evelyn Tucker (editor of Thomas Berry's later books of essays) and Brian Swimme has created a book which could (and should!) well become one of the most widely read in the English-speaking world.

Although the authors outline the cosmological history of our Universe it never bogs down in scientific jargon and always keeps the reader firmly focused on what this all means for us today. They do, however, paint an awe-inspiring picture of the Universe out of which we have emerged and the cosmological forces which have shaped this emergence.

The essential focus of the book is not at all scientific in nature - most of it is concerned with subtly raising our awareness of the human species' place or role within Earth Community now that we understand all that modern cosmology has revealed. Note that this is subtle. Nowhere do the authors present a dogmatic or ideological agenda for what humans should now do. The book is first and foremost an awareness-raising exercise using only the most established mainstream science and cultural history.

Yet, once you read the book, if you are like me, you will be stunned with the breadth and depth of what this awareness means for our personal, national and cultural lives. It is indeed quite brilliant that the authors leave so much to our own conscience and discernment without beating us over the head with their own conclusions. The wisdom contained in this book needs to be disseminated and discussed much like the sacred scriptures of the world's religions.

This book is written at a level which kids in their early teens could easily assimilate. It would be my hope the "Journey of the Universe" would become a standard part of school curriculum across the globe. Everyone should read this amazing book.

Highly recommended.

If Darwin Prayed: Prayers for Evolutionary Mystics
If Darwin Prayed: Prayers for Evolutionary Mystics
by Bruce G. Sanguin
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 26.22
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Timely, and Necessary, June 8 2011
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The Reverend Bruce Sanguin, an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada, currently serving with them at Canadian Memorial Church in Vancouver, British Columbia, has written one of the best and long overdue books of our time. The title "If Darwin Prayed" provocatively brings together two, apparently irreconcilable, forces: Darwin and Religion. Yet the author is able, in a series of prayers generally based on the Christian liturgical cycle and the profound couple of pages of prose found at the beginning of each chapter, to deeply and mystically show how Evolution and Spirituality can and MUST be intimately linked.

The subtitle of the book is "Prayers for Evolutionary Mystics" and this sounds "New Age" enough to scare the be-Jesus out of most fundamentalists. But this is the essence of what this work is all about - Sanguin cannot abandon either his deep mystical (Christian-centred, but non-exclusive) spirituality NOR his embrace of the the scientific reality of evolutionary cosmology. This is what the late Thomas Berry emphasized when he argued that we must tell "The New Story" (of the origins of Universe, Earth, Life and Human) in new, creative, and artistic yet sacred ways. Bruce Sanguin has done what has yet to be seriously attempted systematically - a FUSION of Christian spirituality and themes with modern cosmology. In these brief (usually one page) prayers, a well known Bible story (such as the Ascension, Jacob's wrestling with God, The Empty Tomb) is re-imagined within our contemporary worldview - not the three-tier ancient worldview (Heaven above - Hell below - us in between).

I have to applaud Bruce for doing a "new thing" with this book. This is always risky. Literalist Christians, who think that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that God placed the dinosaur bones in the strata to "test our faith" will be unmoved and unappreciative of this work. This is shown by some of the negative knee-jerk reviews of the book here and elsewhere. On the other hand, the Rev. Sanguin will not please the folks at the opposite end of the spectrum, like the fans of Richard Dawkins, who see any remnant of spirituality, religion or mysticism as irrelevant or just plain ignorant.

However, this book will appeal to those, like me, who are drawn to the awesome wondrous story of contemporary evolutionary cosmology and the sacred (in a secular sense - not supernatural) dimension therein AND the best of the Christian tradition. Sanguin has been inspired by the ideas and writings of folks like Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme and now courageously seeks to infuse this wisdom into Christian meditative life to appeal to our hearts and mystical centres with these amazing prayers.

There is a little too much God and Jesus talk in these prayers for me, but I understand that they are meant for communal Sunday worship in a Christian church setting so no big deal. I would attend church again if these kind of prayers were used each Sunday!

Finally, I think that this book will eventually be seen for the classic that it is. There is a global emerging awareness that the role of the human species within the Earth Community is far more noble and sacred than being narcissistic consumers. It is also clear that rational science, by itself, cannot and will not persuade human culture to change. Religion and spirituality, for all its warts and downsides, still has a role to play in the cultural transformation necessary for our species to survive, thrive, and continue on its journey to fullest potential. Bruce Sanguin's book is a brilliant, timely and necessary step in this process.

Highly recommended.

PS This book was awarded a Gold Medal for Excellence in the category of Inspirational/Spirituality by IPPY (Independent Publishers) in 2010

The New Universe and the Human Future: How a Shared Cosmology Could Transform the World
The New Universe and the Human Future: How a Shared Cosmology Could Transform the World
by Nancy Ellen Abrams
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.56
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh, Necessary, Scary, Inspiring, Transcendent, and Hopeful, May 24 2011
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Abrams and Primack have created a book which can and SHOULD be read by everyone.

They give credit to the ideas, thinking and writing of visionaries like Thomas Berry, Matthew Fox and Brian Swimme (among many others) but the approach they bring is FRESH, clear and resonant adding in several new notions of significant value such as human "inflation" (the notion that humans are exponentially detrimentally affecting Earth's biosphere - an analogy to the exponential cosmic inflation theorized to have launched our Universe). This ecological imperative makes the book NECESSARY now - we do not have another 10,000 years to figure out what the human species is about in the Universe.

There is no shortage of ecological doomsday books out there but what the authors have done to make the prospect of a man-made (I don't blame the women of Earth! ;^) ) apocalypse really SCARY is to explain, coherently and perhaps for the first time, how truly precious we foolish wonderful humans really are in the Universe. Much of the book explains just exactly how humans fit into the modern cosmological understanding of the Universe. Unlike my hero Carl Sagan, who postulated that Life and Intelligence were abundant within the Galaxy, let alone the Universe, Primack and Abrams, emphasize our uniqueness, perhaps within the entire Multiverse (Universe of Universe). Human self-awareness/consciousness, and the "garden planet of the Universe" (Thomas Berry) which sustains us, may be the rarest gift/miracle within all Creation. To snuff this out in a frenzy of greed, war, consumerism and just plain human ignorance is indeed SCARY. To snuff out a Life is a sin/crime - to commit genocide/biocide (extinction of species) is a greater sin/crime - but how do you measure the loss of billions of years of never-to-be-repeated Cosmic evolution? SCARY indeed.

Yet, the book does not dwell on apocalyptic possibilities, it, like the work of Berry/Swimme, weaves an INSPIRING sacred (in a secular sense!) narrative ("Story") of what our amazing unfolding Universe is really like and where we humans fit in. They left me with a re-affirmed sense of the absolutely miraculous story of our origins which literally blows away all traditional "creation myths" like so much smoke and vapour. Yet, this narrative/story is deeply INSPIRING and intensely sacred in its depth, breadth and meaning - literally TRANSCENDENT.

Unlike Richard Dawkins and his "new atheist" pals, Abrams and Primack spend little time directly confronting the narrow, quaint and mostly unprovable claims of the religious traditions of the world. They merely expound their thesis and let you, the reader, decide where it is that you choose to find meaning for your personal and our corporate (and planetary) future. The authors, in fact, suggest that religious communities which adopt and explore their ideas will be most helpful in what they call the transition of human culture into a "Cosmic Society" - one which thinks in terms of millions of years and entire Cosmos - not just personal ambition and the next Quarterly Earnings Statement!

Referring to the work of Paul Hawken, Primack and Abrams suggest that in tens of thousands of places on the planet, the transition from tribal, ethnic, national and religious human communities is ongoing as the need for humans to start thinking as a species and for the entire Earth Community is underway. They are HOPEFUL that as the Story of the New Universe penetrates into our children and grand-children's education and awareness that a new human "Cosmic Society" will emerge which will slowly transition from what we have today to something more far-sighted and more deeply aware of our true place in the Universe. This cultural transition will neither be easy or quick but is NECESSARY.

They conclude the book with a short essay - an excerpt from the far future, written by humans of that time - explaining how it was that a courageous band of rebels organized and worked to transform human society in the 21st Century averting planetary collapse and launching the Cosmic Society which has endured for a million years.

Not just a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED book - a MUST-READ book!

The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era--A Celebration of the Unfol
The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era--A Celebration of the Unfol
by Brian Swimme
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.16
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Story - One We All Need to Experience, April 6 2010
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Written nearly 20 years ago, The Universe Story is the single most articulate book describing our place in the Cosmos.

Thomas Berry's followup book, The Great Work, is a worthy companion book.

Both these books are necessary reading for anyone who wishes to help move humanity into a more ecologically sustainable and spiritually fulfilling Earth.

Highly recommended.

The Great Work: Our Way into the Future
The Great Work: Our Way into the Future
by Thomas Berry
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.99
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OUR Great Work, Dec 12 2009
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Thomas Berry is one of those rare people who can see beyond existing paradigms and synthesize new and necessary ones. The people who rate this book poorly appear trapped in an earlier paradigm and see the ideas of Berry as "New Age" or "pagan". Remember, Jesus was killed by those who opposed his new paradigm!

The Great Work of our time is re-imagining our primary role as humans NOT in terms of human-human or even human-divine relationships but in human-Earth relationships. Seeing the Divine anywhere requires seeing the Divine everywhere.

This is not just a book about ecological spirituality - that is too limited in scope. Thomas Berry challenges us (humans) to work towards re-inventing ourselves as a sacred manifestation of the Universe.

One of the best books written in the past decade. Highly recommended.

With Or Without God
With Or Without God
by Gretta Vosper
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.77
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Book...Hopeful, Prophetic and Bold!, July 20 2008
This review is from: With Or Without God (Hardcover)
This is not a book for someone who's "comfortable" with their traditional understanding of church, God, Jesus and Christianity. Don't bother reading it - you'll just get angry.

For those of us who are NOT "comfortable" with the traditional understandings of these things this is an amazing book. For those of us who are still active in church it is challenging, even to those who might consider themselves liberal or progressive (as I do).

Vosper builds on the work of recent scholars and theologians such as Spong, Borg, Crossan, and Geering, to boldly state not only what most liberal Christians believe/doubt (God is not a being, there is no heaven or hell, the Bible is not inerrant - it has good, bad and ugly bits, Jesus was not God, Jesus was not a blood sacrifice to wash away sin, etc...) but to challenge us to envision what a "faith" could look like once it jettisons all the "unnecessary" dogmatic and institutional baggage we've accumulated on our 2,000 year journey.

Some of this "baggage" is as comforting as Linus' "security blanket" and will be just as hard for some people to live without! Can we no longer pray and expect God to respond? Can we no longer expect to go to heaven and see our dog Fluffy and all our loved ones? Can we no longer assume that we are the "one true" religion? Isn't Jesus the saviour of the world??

Vosper's great insight, in my opinion, which is perhaps not original to her, but she expounds the principle well, is that things like love, relationship, compassion, justice, and community have intrinsic value of their own - they don't need divine sanction to have worth. A group of humanists, working to provide better access to government services for a disadvantaged group is doing sacred work according to Vosper. God IS compassion, not some gray-bearded man in the sky.

Vosper goes way beyond where I thought progressive Christianity could go in my lifetime, but that's what separates the prophets from the rest of us.

This book is recommended for anyone who still holds out hope for the human community and our ability to work together "faithfully" holding to shared respect for common values such as dignity, justice and integrity. When the Christian church becomes such a community the "heaven on earth" world envisioned by Jesus will be a step closer to reality.

The Gospel of Mary of Magdala
The Gospel of Mary of Magdala
by Karen L. King
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.95
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book - more like it are needed!, Nov. 12 2004
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Harvard Professor Karen King has done an amazing thing with this book:
She has provided a scholarly in-depth review of a lost Christian text using language that I can understand!
Not only that, she has provided a brilliantly compact yet broad perspective of how this text fits in with canonical and other non-canonical Christian texts - theologically, historically, and contextually. In addition, Dr. King is able to survey the profiles of the main characters in the text, Peter, Mary, Andrew and Levi throughout the ancient Christian literature. Finally, she is able to place the key issues developed in the Gospel of Mary into today's perspective - these are not "dead" issues.
Pretty good for about 200 pages of prose!!
Professor King appears to believe that the Christian path of faith will only be enhanced and enriched by having as complete as possible an understanding of its earliest days. Ignoring or attacking a Christian text just because it did not make it into the canon of scripture is narrow-minded. I, for one, want to know everything I can about Christian origins.
As a practicing Christian, I learned much about our faith story by reading this book. I would dearly love to see similar books written on other non-canonical Christian texts in so clear, fresh and relevant a fashion as Karen King has done.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in early Christianity.

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