February 16th, 2006


A lot of books at once?

Well, yes ... it would, to the untrained eye, appear that I am blazing through my unread books shelves, but the fact is a bit more mundane. First of all, I typically keep 2-4 books "in rotation", some taking more time than others, and from time-to-time these end up finishing pretty close to the same point. Also, every now and again I hit a very quick read, like the ICR Monograph (at a whopping 32 pages) reviewed in my previous post. Then, there are "situations" where a book that I'd have guessed would have taken me a week gets read in a day or so due to my having found myself having to hang out to wait for The Girls, and managed to think to bring a book with before heading out ... the next post is about one of these.

I will also, on occasion, change the order I read things so that there won't be any huge (cover bending) size jumps on the shelf on which the books will eventually be filed ... the book that is likely to show up in here tomorrow is a funky little 6x6" format thing that would be difficult to put in next to the 8x11" museum book that I was thinking of hitting next. As I'm also currently in a book that is likely to take me at week or two to plow through, and I'm looking for stuff to "tread water" with before getting into some of those larger-format books ... so as much as I like to "read a theme", often my choice for "next book" is based on how short/long it is and how its format relates to the books around it! Am I just being OCD again here?

Yeah, I'm sure you're thrilled to get all this "library minutia", but, frankly, I didn't want to start off my next "review" with all this navel-gazing!

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A long time coming ...

I attended the Parliament of the World's Religions back in 1993. It was, in many ways, a "watershed" event in my life. Going into it, I was a Vice President in a Public Relations firm, who had recently started a side-project of a publishing company, largely to put out my own poetry on a wider scale than the occasional chapbooks I'd self-published over the previous decade or so. At that point I had spent the better part of a decade working with Shamanic teachers, and so gravitated to the neo-Pagan elements in attendance.

The day after the Parliament, The Wife and I were taking a little driving vacation, intending to head over by Galena and swing up into south-western Wisconsin to possibly look for some "non-farmable" land to buy for a vacation home. Unfortunately, on the way into Galena, our car started to hydroplane downhill, and we got T-boned by an SUV, landing me in the hospital for months (with pretty much everything broken), which ended up as the coup de grace for our PR firm, which led me to the decision to jump into the publishing biz full time, using the contacts I'd made at the Parliament to assemble Eschaton's first bunch of authors, landing me in our current state of near-bankruptcy!

Actually, Eschaton's first non-poetry release was a collection of the "Your Voice" newsletters from the Parliament. The PWR was interesting because it was so multi-faceted, there was all the "official" stuff going on (much recounted in this book), but there were all sorts of "community" stuff happening as well, including a newsletter which was published as frequently as three times a day! I have stories to tell about that, but they belong in another post, another day.

Anyway ... about A Global Ethic: The Declaration of the Parliament of the World's Religions, the book comprises both the "official statement" from the Parliament, and essays by Hans Kung (who was instrumental in writing the Declaration), and Karl-Josef Kuschel, about how this came to be, and the historical context of the Parliament. Frankly, reading the Declaration a dozen years down the pike is a bit of a bittersweet experience ... it's supposed to be a statement that all religions could (and pretty much did) subscribe to, but 90% of it would probably cause riots in "the Arab street" these days. It's hard to feel hopeful about a common humanity when a big chunk of that "humanity" is acting like psychotic animals, and isn't much looking to change that any time soon!

I wish that Kuschel would write an update of his "geo-political" analysis of the Parliaments (the first one had been a century previous in 1893, and there have been "regional" ones since), as I feel, at this remove, that those are the most useful parts of the book. Sure, for me there were all sorts of things here which were "a trip down memory lane", having been there to experience it ... but it's a way different world in 2006 than it was in 1993, and a lot of what's in the Declaration sounds like it came out of My Little Pony land, and not from any semblance of Reality.

A Global Ethic is still in print, but you can also get it used for a few bucks. I'd recommend it to those who are cynical, or who would like to be. So many things in here are "telling" (like how all the major "evangelical" Christian groups refused to sit down with Buddhists, Hindus, and neo-Pagans, and so boycotted the Parliament), and so many things hint of best intents crushed by Human idiocy.

Ah ... like I said, I have "stories" about this all ... and I'm trying my best to not wander off into them right now.

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