Is Doctor Who a Religion?

I’ve heard of people trying to twist Twilight into a religion and Star Wars‘ fans listing Jedi as their religion so why not Dr. Who? I will say that I think the dude in the video needs to go with decaf in the future.

Review: Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day

Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day:
Learn the basics of: Islam Buddhism Hinduism Mormonism Christianity And many more…
by Garry R. Morgan
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (September 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0764210033
ISBN-13: 978-0764210037

(Barry’s score 4 stars out of 5 — link)

From the Back Cover

A Concise, Easy-to-Understand Overview of the World’s Religions

What religions are represented in your neighborhood, your workplace, and your children’s school? Things seem to be changing every day, and it can be hard to keep up. You may know a little about some of these religions. Others are new to you. You’d like to learn about them and how they differ from your beliefs, but who has time to do all the research?

In Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day, cross-cultural expert and professor Garry Morgan explains the key beliefs, histories, and practices of more than twenty religions, including the familiar–Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism–and some of the lesser known–Baha’i, Sikhism, and New Age religions. Broken into forty short readings, each chapter is engaging and easy to understand. In just minutes a day you’ll soon have a better understanding of the world’s beliefs.

My thoughts:

It’s been three decades since I had my “Religions of the World” course and my now 53 year-old brain struggles to pull up the various religions on command. The little gray cells need a kick-start and a brief reminder is all that it needed to get the ball, or in my case, brain rolling.

Symbol of the major religions of the world: Ju...
Symbol of the major religions of the world: Judaism, Christianity, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day, Morgan covers a religion in about 4 pages to a chapter. Some religions have multiple chapters, Islam has six chapters and Christianity has five. I really liked that Secular Humanism was included as a religion. I imagine that a few professors’ heads exploded reading that!

All in all, I think that Morgan has put together an instructive book covering the broader aspects of the world’s religions. It should make for a solid introduction for those wanting to learn the basics or in my case a quick refresher course. I give Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day 4 stars out of 5 and I recommend it.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review: Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters: Real-Life Stories of Supernatural Events

Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters: Real-Life Stories of Supernatural Events
by James Stuart Bell
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
ISBN-10: 0764209582
ISBN-13: 978-0764209581

From the Back Cover
There’s more going on in the world than meets the eye.

There is an unseen spiritual realm, and occasionally God allows us glimpses of it. Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters offers a fascinating look at the supernatural world. It includes more than forty true stories of miraculous provision, encounters with angels and demons, near-death experiences, and incredible rescues.

You’ll marvel at how God and His angels are working behind the scenes to protect and guide us. And you’ll be comforted by glimpses of the peace that awaits us in heaven. The God who pulled back the curtain for a moment in the lives of these writers is the same God who works all things together for our good.

Whether you’re simply curious about the supernatural world or longing for a fresh experience of God’s presence, these amazing stories will touch your heart and strengthen your faith in the God of miracles.

My thoughts:

As you can tell from the title, Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters is a myriad of supernatural tales told from a Christian perspective. A couple stories teared up big bad Barry, a few got a laugh, still others got a shake of the head, and ultimately I finished the book disgusted. If you are a skeptic this book will have you pulling out your hair, because there is no effort to debunk the stories. Having said that, the book is clearly targeted for those Christians who are open to the supernatural.

The book is edited by James Stuart Bell and ends with his own story. I have to say that I wouldn’t want Bell as a guest at my house. He believed that a fallen wardrobe was a sign of evil spirits and the cure was to burn the books of “… paranormal activity, Eastern religions, and occult books” of a future in-law.

The next morning we gathered up the books, snuck out of the side door, and created a small conflagration in the field behind the house. I figured if we got caught, I’d be packing my bag back to the States.

Nice work James, what do you plan on burning next? Maybe some of those nasty witches or pagans.

There are some good short stories in Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters but I really don’t think that I can recommend the book of a man who burns other spiritual books. I would suggest to Mr. Bell that he would be a better man if he read more books instead of burning them! I will not score the book; I will just say that I do not recommend Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters to anyone.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review: Wicca: What’s the Real Deal?

Wicca: What’s the Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions
by Dayna Winters, Patricia Gardner, and Angela Kaufman
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN-10: 0764339087
ISBN-13: 978-0764339080

(Barry’s score 4 stars out of 5)

Product description:

Witches are everywhere! You can find them in your local schools, workplace, or community. They are your friends, colleagues, neighbors, and sometimes family members. But what do you really know about them? Break through your misconceptions with this groundbreaking, comprehensive guide showcasing Wicca and Witchcraft, written in a simple myth/truth format. Three Witches, elders in the pagan community, take on wiccan-related fallacies still present in society today. They invite Wiccans to come out of the broom closet and they encourage understanding of the tenets of Wicca by those just interested in learning about the basics. This book will serve as a tool for parents and family members who seek to appreciate a loved one s religious choices, and it will help those seeking to separate the truth about modern Witchcraft from centuries of misinformation.

My thoughts:

The authors of “Wicca: What’s the Real Deal?” attempt to tackle the impossible task of changing hearts and minds. While this book is an excellent resource for those who want to learn more about Wicca, I wonder how many readers will have an open mind and heart? At any rate, I really enjoyed it and I see it as an important learning tool for those seeking to understand the faith of a loved one.

As is my usual habit, I thumbed to the back of the book to look at the Glossary, Resources, End-notes, Bibliography, and Index. I was really impressed, however, I might suggest moving the Glossary to the front of the book. Having said that, I was really impressed with the documentation. “Wicca: What’s the Real Deal?” is an excellent springboard for further study.

The book takes popular myths about Wicca and gives clarifying responses. It’s really a clever technique to dispel odd, but not uncommon, beliefs about Wicca. In a few cases, the answers begged to be explained in more depth and at other times smacked of a little straw-man. I suppose the one that stuck out in my mind was the 3am alleged Devil’s hour. I would like to see some documentation of 3am as the Devil’s hour, from what I have found the 3am time is based on nothing more than popular Fiction like ” Exorcism of Emily Rose,” and TV shows like Paranormal State.

All in all, “Wicca: What’s the Real Deal” is excellent. I recommend it and give it a solid 4 stars out of 5!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Schiffer Publishing at the request of the author Dayna Winters. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

In my mailbox, June 30

A pair of great looking titles landed in my mailbox this week.

The Kingmakers (Vampire Empire, Book 3)

Expect to see this little steampunky horror gem about September. I’ll let you know if it’s a good bang for the buck long before it hits the bookstores.

Wicca: What’s the Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions

I’ve thumbed through this one and it looks awesome. I can’t wait to read it.

Book Description
Publication Date: July 28, 2011
Witches are everywhere! You can find them in your local schools, workplace, or community. They are your friends, colleagues, neighbors, and sometimes family members. But what do you really know about them? Break through your misconceptions with this groundbreaking, comprehensive guide showcasing Wicca and Witchcraft, written in a simple myth/truth format. Three Witches, elders in the pagan community, take on wiccan-related fallacies still present in society today. They invite Wiccans to come out of the broom closet and they encourage understanding of the tenets of Wicca by those just interested in learning about the basics. This book will serve as a tool for parents and family members who seek to appreciate a loved one s religious choices, and it will help those seeking to separate the truth about modern Witchcraft from centuries of misinformation.

If you are interested in this title, it is already out (link).

Saudi man beheaded for witchcraft

(source)

Mareeh bin Ali bin Issa al-Asiri was executed (murdered) because he had, “books and talismans from which he learnt to harm God’s worshippers”. If the price for esoteric books is death, I’m screwed. In addition to sorcery Mareeh had admitted to adultery with two women. I wouldn’t last long in Saudi Arabia.

This isn’t to be confused with the over 20 elderly people murdered in Mozambique for witchcraft in 2011 (source).

And man, whose heav’n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn, –
Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!

—- Robert Burns

New Spiritual Books

The esoteric minded person should be interested in a pair of new books to hit the bookstores.

Jesus Through Pagan Eyes: Bridging Neopagan Perspectives with a Progressive Vision of Christ

For Pagans and Christians alike, Jesus Through Pagan Eyes offers a provocative portrait of  Jesus—as a compassionate, life-affirming, nature-inspired spiritual teacher, freed from the limiting ideology of the Church. Rev. Mark Townsend sets the stage by exploring the historical evidence of who Jesus was as a human being before delving into the realm of metaphor and mythology, the notion of Christ, and the Church’s conception of Jesus as Christ.

The heart of this unique book lies in the thoughtful and deeply moving collection of stories, essays, and interviews about Jesus from today’s most respected Pagan, Wiccan, and Druidic leaders. Contributors such as Maxine Sanders, Christopher Penczak, Janet Farrar, Diana Paxson, Philip Carr-Gomm, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, John Michael Greer, Selena Fox, and Raven Grimassi explore the historical figure of Jesus in relation to Witchcraft, the tarot, goddess worship, and shamanism—while illustrating how this god of the Christian church blesses and inspires those who embrace non-traditional spiritual paths.

Whether you envision Jesus as an ascended master, a human teacher, or a mythic god-man, this remarkable book will introduce you to a Jesus who fits fully into the Pagan imagination.  (link)

Jesus Through Pagan Eyes sounds like an interesting title, but I know a lady who really needs the next title.

The Magickal Retreat: Making Time for Solitude, Intention & Rejuvenation

When was the last time you took a break from the busyness of everyday life and worked magick just for your own delight? The more hectic life is, the more important it is to take time to refresh and recharge your spirit.

This easy-to-use workbook walks you through the process of creating a personal and rejuvenating magickal experience. Using Joseph Campbell’s model of the hero’s journey, this inspiring book helps you identify your intention and tailor a retreat to meet your needs. You’ll also find individual retreat plans for specifically focusing on:

—Magickal Skills

—Pathwork

—Home Arts

—Arts and Crafts Green Magick

—Physical and Magickal Wellness

—Psychic Arts Cosmological Practices

—Ceremonial or Ritual Magick Dark Arts

—Science and Technomagick

With this guidebook, you’ll set your goal, choose a format—seclusion, sanctuary, vigil, or vision quest—and determine the time, place, and activities desired. You’ll return from your retreat renewed and energized, with a clear vision of how to integrate the wisdom you learned into your daily life.

Packed with creative ideas, you (or your group) will want to use this book over and over again—anytime you feel the need to slow down, step out of the ordinary, and revive yourself in your own private, sacred, magickal space.(link)

Death of a Tokoloshe

A Tokoloshe is a mischievous evil spirit that can cause misfortune, illness, and death (link). Recently, a South African family believed that a Tokoloshe was on their roof. What do you do? Quicker than you can say Josh Gates, you stone it to death, of course (source).

Ramadzhiela said that, as it was still dark, they did not want the animal to run away, so they had to guard it until the morning, with the help of the community. “We struggled to get it off the roof, but it resisted and I was left with no choice but to hit it with a stone on the head and it died,” he said.

As it turned out, the creature was an endangered (I wonder why) Bush Baby (link).

For me there are a couple of things to take away from this little debacle. Don’t assume that the locals are familiar with all of the indigenous creatures. The argument that the natives know the animals is a total fallacy and any cryptozoologist that makes that argument is a bonehead. But, I think the biggest lesson to take away from this is that we need to spend more time trying to understand those things that are different and less time throwing rocks at it.

While I have not thrown a literal rock, I have, to my shame, thrown a rock at things I feared and didn’t understand. Were I to suffer some punishment for my earthly deeds, I imagine it would be rolling a Sisyphus-like bolder of my own making. A bolder I created from my hate, fear, and selfishness.

Having said that, I take comfort in knowing that I will not be alone.

Meanwhile, it is not known where the creature ended up as the family could not shed any light on its whereabouts. Rumour has it that women are celebrating in the village, saying that now that the creature is dead,

Review: The Book of Enoch the Prophet

The Book of Enoch the Prophet
by R.H. Charles
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Weiser Books; New edition edition (June 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1578635233
ISBN-13: 978-1578635238

Product description:
This new edition of The Book of Enoch, banned by Christian authorities and thought lost for millennia, features a new introduction by bestselling author and expert on mysticism and the occult, Lon Milo DuQuette. “The Book of Enoch is important more for what it is rather than for what it says,” explains DuQuette.” It could be argued that it, more than any other single document, is responsible for western civilization’s most dangerous and nightmarish neurosis — war in heaven, fallen angels, heaven and hell.”

This superlative translation by noted scholar and theologian R.H. Charles is one of the best and most complete available. An introduction by noted esoteric scholar and antiquarian bookseller, R. A. Gilbert, places The Book of Enoch in historical context and dispels many of the dubious interpretations previously attributed to it.

The Book of Enoch’s vision of the Apocalypse takes a very different view than that of western Christians, although it is part of the biblical canon for Ethiopian and Eretrean Christians. According to Enoch, the wicked shall be cast out and the good will realize a literal heaven on Earth. The prophecies also contain the lost “Book of Noah,” early references to a messiah as “Christ,” and an accounting of the angels and subsequent creation of demons.

My thoughts:

The Book of Enoch really isn’t for everyone. There are reasons why the book was not included in the regular canonical Scriptures. Having said that, I have to admit that I had a enjoyable and somewhat nostalgic time re-reading Charles’ “The Book of Enoch the Prophet.”

Back in the ancient history of my 1970’s academia, my religion professor lectured on The Books of Enoch by Jozef Milik. Sadly, I couldn’t lay my hands on a copy, and he directed me to Robert Henry Charles’ translations and commentary. The memory of a fellow InterVarsity member storming from the room screaming, “That book was written by SATAN!” as I read aloud from the Book of Enoch still brings a smile to my face.

On the downside, the book is a little dry and scholarly in places. This edition has an introduction by R. A. Gilbert and Lon Milo Duquette. While there are some newer translations of this work, I feel like I can trust the accuracy of Charles” translation because it has “stood the test of time.” I think it is an essential book for your esoteric home library and I highly recommend “The Book of Enoch the Prophet.”


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Weiser Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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