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The Good Book: A Humanist Bible Hardcover – March 29, 2011
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Praise for The Meaning of Things `Deeply humane and subtle in its thought as well as being imbued with a rare spirit of enlightenment' * Financial Times * `Grayling writes with clarity, elegance and the occasional aphoristic twist...straight alpha material' * Sunday Telegraph * 'An enthusiastic thinker who embraces humour, common sense and lucidity' * Independent * --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
A.C. Grayling is professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the author of the acclaimed Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan, Descartes: The Life and Times of a Genius, and Toward the Light of Liberty: The Struggles for Freedom and Rights That Made the Modern Western World. A fellow of the World Economic Forum and past chairman of the human rights organization June Fourth, he contributes frequently to the Times, Financial Times, Economist, New Statesman, and Prospect. Grayling's play "Grace," co-written with Mick Gordon, has played to full houses in London and New York, starring Lynn Redgrave; its central debate over the virtue of religion gives Grayling a strong platform for The Good Book. He lives in London.
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This book is not a compilation of work. You will not open it up and find passages from various works called out by author. It is truly written in the style of the Bible - Grayling has taken the collected wisdom of hundreds of secular philosophers and melded it together in the flowery prose form typical of the Bible. There is no reference list at the back to tell you where anything came from, he has taken the ideas and the texts and melted them together.
The Good Book begins with Genesis, where you can see the ideas of Darwin laid out in an inspirational way. Reading through this I was really pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. I'm used to this language being peppered with things I don't believe in, and listening to it at weddings or funerals generally gives me a lump in my stomach. Here was the same kind of lofty language, but saying the things I believed! I didn't realize how much I would enjoy hearing Darwin's theory of evolution told as a beautiful story of how we began and the cycle of life.
As you make your way though the book, you can clearly see where he has incorporated Plato's dialogs, but without specific references. Characters are mentioned in the same way as the Bible, introduced without preamble, just snippets of conversation or story which attempt to showcase an idea. There are passages on grief and death as well.
If you are looking to learn the works of these philosophers in an intellectual way, this is not the book for you. This book is meant to absorb the ideas they upheld in a more spiritual feeling way. I wish this book had been published before I got married, I would have looked for a passage from it to read at my wedding. I could see reading it at a funeral, there really is something cathartic about having grief and death and moving on with life written in this way.
I feel in some ways as an Atheist this may have been what I was missing and didn't realize it. I didn't have anything to help me find a way to feel good about my place in nature's greater story, I just felt the absence of the belief in an afterlife. I also feel like this is a book I could read to my kids to help them figure out how to be a good person in a world which is not always good and in which you cannot rely on a all powerful being to save you from your problems. The language is flowery and poetic, but its also much more accessible than say Kant's Metaphysics of Morals. I minored in philosophy in college, I'm by no means an expert, but I have read some of these works and they are by no means easy to absorb.
So, I think for what this book is trying to accomplish, what it says it is in the description, it is a great work.
Love how so much of what we are reading are things we have studied in history so far, it's wonderful to make all these connections with my children...even my four year old is getting into it! which is amazing because he is so hyper! (we read at mealtimes, it helps the boys not bicker, and gives us something to talk about besides pokemon, or minecraft - hahaha)
Wow, I am so impressed with this hefty tome! It's everything religious text should have been and are not. This version of Genesis is realistic, amazing, and awesome. It's written with stark awareness, an interconnection with nature and reality, and optimistic poignancy. It voices what so many of us had thought about, but articulates it all in a delightful poetic manner, as gorgeous as nature itself.
I'm not a fan of poetry and never have been, but this book touches me deeply. I see how Grayling has tried to stay in similar style to how the Christian bible was written, but his writing far exceeds anything in the bible, his words resonate so deeply and beautifully . . . I keep tweeting awesome quotes and sharing on FB.
This book is so well done, a pleasure to read, to page through, picking out verses, or reading page by page. It's a book I will refer to often, enjoying chapters, picking out lines. A wonderful tome that should be in the hands of everyone on the planet!
BTW, I recommend the hard copy and no Kindle, as it's just wonderful to page through, to put sticky notes in, or highlight lines. Buy it, ready it, savor it, and share it. Well done, Grayling. Wow!