April 1st, 2006

Books!

Sorta taking a break ...

OK, so every now and again I get "overloaded" on a particular theme ... and while I still have a couple of nice thick books on the subject beckoning me from my to-be-read shelves, I really had to take a break from the Mayan/archaeology books that I've been plowing through of late. What I needed was some "fluff", and I figured a book or two on Angels might just be the thing! Actually, this book (and its follow-up, which I started this evening) "suggested themselves" more on format than subject ... these have been "flopping" out of stacks of other unread books due to their approximately 8x8" size, and as the most recent Mayan book (a hardcover) was also nearly square, I figured that it would "work on the shelf" to get to these at this point.

Now, if that's not a glowing recommendation, I don't know what would be (hah!). Actually, I was surprised that Sophy Burnham's A Book of Angels wasn't a total newage fluff-fest. Frankly, the first 2/3rds of the book are a quite interesting, the first section dealing with the author's interface with metaphysical realities and the second section being a decent survey on the history of "angels" both in varied cultural settings and how the concept has developed in the Judeo-Christian tradition (most of what the majority of people would recognize as "angel lore" comes from fictional, rather than scriptural, contexts, Dante's The Divine Comedy and Milton's Paradise Lost specifically, to the extent that the "Shavian Satan" says of the latter, in Shaw's Man And Superman, "and to this day every Briton believes that the whole of his silly story is in the Bible"!).

The last third of the book, however, does take a turn towards "newage sewage" (why Burnham decides that she has to go into what I'd consider "overshare", I don't know, but I guess that plays better with "the angel market" than it does to me) with her unburdening herself of various stuff, and then a section of letters that folks sent in to her when word got out that she was working on this book project. Of course, if that's "your thing" you might have a different opinion ... considering the book I just started into is nothing but more of these letters, I'm sure that's going to be a swell read (heck, it probably won't be any goofier than Weird Illinois was).

Anyway, this was not a bad read ... it was certainly a whole lot more tolerable than I had anticipated when I decided to start reading it, and it does have some very interesting bits in the middle section, with an over-all impression which puts the book in the category that Arsenio Hall used to frame as "things that make you go hmmmm ...", which is OK by me. And ... should you care to check it out ... A Book of Angels can be had used via the Amazon new/used vendors for as little as a penny ... and a new copy (from the same source) can be had for as little as 40¢ ... such a deal!


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