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on April 11, 2007
Beware! The photo of the author on the book jacket is deceptive. It pictures a soulful, Quaker like grandfather--when all the time the contents of his book are loaded with intellectual hand grenades aimed at the very heart of our culture!

I began writing this review in the usual manner, underlining a phrase here, a word there, scribbling little notes at corners, on the edge--you know, the usual. But after a couple pages I saw that practically every word, every phrase was highlighted, and that there were copious notes all over the place. The book contains so much knowledge, so much insight, and addresses so many of the most vital subjects of life--that to attempt restricting myself to a few ideas here and there seemed almost sacrilegious.

And in the most positive sense this book IS sacrilegious.

In his call for humans to approach the next step of evolution, JC Pearce challenges us to overcome the greatest obstacle to that evolution--our very culture based on organized religion and orthodox science, that in turn arise from humanity's apparent need for PREDICTION and CONTROL. The author is such a master of phraseology that he'll have you convinced in a matter of a few pages that, yeah, they really ARE holding us back.

Pearce is no mere iconoclast--he skillfully demonstrates that the natural replacement for these cultural misconceptions exists and has existed all around us from the beginning of our collective jump from chimp to human (via the common shrew we are now told.) The author illustrates the power & biological source of both the individual & collective creative process, and how they interconnect in "fields of mind." We go along with the author on a developmental human journey from pre-natal conditions, thru birth and from there to the many stages that, where they should release ever higher levels of freedom & pleasure, in reality bind us ever tighter to conformity, frustration & social violence.

And never fear--just because THE DEATH OF RELIGION is a mental revelation, it's a pleasure to read. The writer's source material is life itself & is a record of every day situations and their evolutionary potential.

Reading THE DEATH OF RELIGION allegorically feels like lifting a boulder from one's very soul.

This is one of the most relevant books of our time.

It's a stunning achievement.

Do your Mind a favor & read this book!

The Origins of Psychic Phenomena: Poltergeists, Incubi, Succubi, and the Unconscious Mind
Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld
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on July 2, 2007
I ordered this, Pearce's latest offering, together with his preceding 2002 effort, "Biology of Transcendence" and read them back to back, in chronological order. This is the one book, in his output so far, Joseph Pearce needn't have written.

Given that Pearce's incentive for writing this book (p. 190) was triggered by an altogether demonic experience, that behold-and-become function stressed so often in his authorship has here become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Really, a previous reviewer put it mildly in saying "Death of Religion" shows the author retreading familiar ground. In fact, this is an about 80% rehash or rewrite of his previous title "Biology." The very same material has been reorganized, rewritten - sometimes expanded upon a bit, sometimes contracted. I would not say the presentation of it has improved, it is merely a different version. It even uses the same batch of quotes from a select number of, to Pearce's mind, outstanding thinkers.

So because the bulk of the contents is yet again the discussion of the "New Biology," the title of the new book is a bit of a misnomer. The post 9/11 impetus to writing a book on "violent culture" is a thin veneer, a couple of dozen pages bracketing the older material. Pearce carries over not only his favourite quotes but even repeats a number of his own punch lines already used up in "Biology."

Some mistakes slipped through editing: using cases from, to some, controversial para-psychology, one would expect facts to be absolutely in order. Still famous French explorer Alexandra David-Neel turns into an Englishwoman (and gets her name slightly misspelled). From where Pearce got the etymological explanation that "sin" originally meant "separate" (p. 166) baffles. See [...]resource for more trustworthy facts. From "Biology" one remembers Pearce explaining "existence" as "to set apart" (p. 78), e.g. separate, so perhaps he misread his old notes while revamping them.

Commenting upon the ability to live without food (p. 178) without previously having introduced the subject, is another hint this book was hardly the fruit of that "Heureka! effect" Pearce is rightfully fascinated by. Presumably a paragraph was lifted out from an early draft and this reference to supernatural non-food eaters remained in place.

I heartily recommend the previous "Biology of Transcendence" as a great reading experience, upon which this rewrite has nothing substantially more to offer. The book gets three stars given the intrinsic value of Pearce's observations and if you have not read "Biology," nor intend to, you may consider this a very thought-provoking read. But as Pearce devotes quite a number of pages to describing a theory of Julian Jaynes' (The Origin of Consciousness) - a summary not present in his previous work - I really recommend you to go for Pearce's previous "Biology" and also Jaynes' 1970s classic in its entirety instead. That would be a crucial reading experience.
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on May 12, 2007
I have been reading Joseph Chilton Pearce for years beginning with "Crack in the Cosmic Egg". His work has been very valuable to me because he explains the spiritual search in ways that are understandable and not all woo woo. This book seemed to me to pretty much cover territory that I was familiar with from previous books. His ideas about the proper birthing and raising of children are important and probably will never have a wide following because of the strength of cultural ways of doing things (another topic that he is very good on). I think this book would be very interesting to someone who had never read any other of his works.
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on November 21, 2007
I have followed Pierce's work for decades. This book and his preceeding one, The Biology of Trancendence clearly shows us that we are simply the products of our cultural beliefs. Yet we can begin to see through the veil without blame, shame, or guilt and do it differently. The book made me want to reparent my four children yet understanding that I was so imprinted by the culture I couldn't have done it differently. Choosing to restory our lives & assist our children to parent our grandchildren differently is crucial if we are ever to break the cycle of war and violence.
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on June 8, 2007
The Death of Religion and the Rebirth of Spirit: A Return to the Intelligence of the Heart could've been featured in our New Age column but deserves wider mention here for its far-reaching survey blending philosophy, religion and sociology. The study begins with a survey of violence in human society and the question of whether cruelty is part of human nature - and argues that the roots of human behavior aren't violent, but a cultural imprint. Chapters use recent neuroscience, cultural anthropology and brain development research to explore the violent trends, spiritual understanding, and how to reverse violence to achieve a higher level of being. It's a pick recommended for any spirituality collection - particularly at the college level - strong on added cultural analysis.
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on November 4, 2009
Not having read any of Pearce's works, I was not aware that it was a "rewrite" of his earlier works, as critics have suggested. My guess is that the book's another angle of seeing a revelation, bringing a kind of binocular focus to it. The results of scientific experiments vary depending on the intent of the scientist; Christians value the different views presented by the books of the New Testament; mathematicians enjoy finding more than one way to solve a problem. So writing this book may be Pearce's way of demonstrating the creativity of spirit, which he calls "life longing for expression," with what may seem to some to be wasteful redundancy.

After years of trying to find meaning in both organized religion and orthodox science, and having experienced "resonance" with the frequencies of life in my work as a composer and a teacher, I found something to underline in almost every paragraph of the book. The title itself was designed to upset people, but also to attune them to the notion that we are meant to find joy and meaning, if we can give up our fears and our lust for prediction and control.

Nature asks, "Will we be able to move into the higher realms of intelligence this time, or must we defend ourselves again?"
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on August 30, 2009
This book was chosen for our book club of 8 participants in part due to the title and my previous eye-opening experience reading "The Crack in the Cosmic Egg" and "Exploring the Crack..." (over 30 years ago). I had also heard Pearce speak, and agreed with many of his assertions. Either I've matured or Pearce has galloping senility, but this was the first book our group unanimously decided to drop and not finish. It was a terrible experience trying to glean something useful from Pearce's meandering style of name dropping, announcing headlines, and commercial cross promotion with the Institute of HeartMath. The essence of the book can be summarized by reading the last paragraph of chapter 15 (page 238). I won't reprint it here. In retrospect, one way of viewing this book, along with many similar books of the New Age genre, is that it is a example of trying to create a new cultural myth to replace the modern materialistic scientific-technological myth that overthrew the pre-modern Medieval worldview. I had previously purchased (but had not yet read) Pearce's "The Biology of Transcendence." As another reviewer indicated, the current title is a rehash of the previous book. Looks like I won't waste any time opening that one. But what's with that: plagiarizing yourself to publish another book under a different title. When writing becomes a business, it seems that integrity suffers. Don't take just my word for it, take my word as the voice of a group of 8 professionals who voted on the death of this book, and the birth of a new book for our club!
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on October 20, 2009
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on April 20, 2009
For the scientific types, this book will be a major disappointment. Pearce mentions lots of works by others, but often neglects to include precise references. Further, he misquotes several important points, the biggest is his misquoting of Darwin's second book: The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. (Darwin's first great work is Origin of Species). In The Descent of Man, Darwin applies theory to human evolution, and details his theory of sexual selection, not the evolution of the brain.
On almost every page there are statements that do not seem correct and after checking out several in detail, I came to the conclusion I can not take for granted anything this author says. That makes for very tiring reading of this rambling book.
His main point is that both science and religion leave our children spiritually starved. Pearce advocates the cultivation of the "dynamic of the heart-brain-mind relationship." Interestingly, he uses scientific studies to support his theory.

Pearce has a Master of Arts degree from Indiana University and did post-graduate studies at Geneva Theological College. He does not have any published record of original scientific research. Thus, it seems that Pearce has no particular strong background in any of the topics he discusses: He is outside his field of expertise. The one star is for getting this published.
If you really want to get an update on body-mind relationships I have a much better suggestion: Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain, by Antonio Damasio.
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on April 1, 2008
His cosmic egg cracked long ago. Incomprehensible gibberish here, that contributes nothing to the world of thought. One star for getting it published!
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