Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: nonfiction-review
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2014-03-18 14:20
All Together Now!
Trinitarian Wisdom - The Art of Life - Paul Pi

Paul Pi skips stones across the vast waters of religious and scientific thought in his ambitious first book, Trinitarian Wisdom - The Art of Life. Touching on topics from Hinduism to quantum mechanics, Pi presents an expansive challenge to conventional modes of thinking about how life works. Some of his cast stones travel far into the distance, some dive deep, and others just touch the surface, but Pi follows the path of each in his wide-ranging survey of paradigm-shifting thought. Pi’s extensive studies have led him to develop a new model for living the ideal life—the Trinitarian Principle—which he enthusiastically explores in these densely packed pages.


Pi’s stated thesis is that there is a “commonly shared core value among all domains, especially the ones of philosophy, science and religion,” that can be explained “by means of the trinitarian wisdom.” Pi examines this concept by calling into question the very way we perceive the world, looking for common threads in the work of philosophers, storytellers, scientists, and religious leaders throughout history. It’s complex reading, and Pi warns up front that the material will be very challenging. He calls on readers to put aside conventional, linear thought and instead don new “3-D glasses” to experience all of the dimensions of time and space.


The content of this book is certainly challenging, as Pi covers such complex topics as Einstein’s theory of relativity and Zeno’s paradoxes in thirty dense chapters. Accompanying illustrations, diagrams, quotations, and stories shed intriguing yet limited light on ideas that scholars spend lifetimes studying. There’s simply not enough room here to adequately examine the origins of all of the world’s religions, which is just one of Pi’s topics. Each chapter could easily be the basis of a college seminar, or even a PhD dissertation. Although appendices further address Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist religions, a complete reference list would be a welcome addition.


Pi’s presentation style also offers a challenge, as he frequently employs double negative language—“not head/not not head” or “not tail/not not tail” to describe a coin toss, for instance—that requires absolute attention if one is to comprehend his message. Other passages are not logical in the usual sense—“The seemingly nothingness of absolute is, in fact, the ultimate source of somethingness as well as the whole lot”—but serve a role similar to Zen koans: they make us confront an apparently unresolvable paradox and thus require a whole new way of thinking.


All of the thought experiments can be overwhelming, making it easy to lose track of Pi’s overarching goal, which is to define his conception of trinitarian wisdom. He never sums it up in one neat definition but instead ends the book by recommending several personal practices, like meditation and energy medicine, that readers can use to bring them closer to realizing his integrative ideal.


Unlike the simple cactus flower that blooms on its cover, Trinitarian Wisdom is not a light read. It would be most appropriate for a study group with lots of room for discussion, or as the foundation for an unconventional, college-level philosophy course.


Sheila M. Trask for Foreword Reviews
March 18, 2014

Source: www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/trinitarian-wisdom-the-art-of-life
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2014-03-01 20:34
Voices from a War Zone
Gaza Writes Back (#1) - Refaat Alareer

Fiction can reveal truths that are difficult to face directly. That’s the case with Gaza Writes Back, Refaat Alareer’s stunning and sobering collection of short fiction by young-adult Palestinian writers. The twenty-three pieces in this collection offer fictional yet hyperreal experiences during the Gaza War, also known as the Cast Lead Operation. While no two stories are exactly the same, they all carry a palpable sense of urgency and expose a violent, terroristic world that few of us have seen so clearly before.


Alareer, a literature and creative-writing professor at the Islamic University-Gaza, has selected these stories as much for their unique voice as for the particular place and time they illuminate. All are originally written in English, though their authors’ first language is Arabic. This allows a “much-needed Palestinian youth narrative without the mediation or influences of translation or of non-Palestinian voices,” writes Alareer in his introductory notes.


The pieces themselves are short. A few entries are only three pages long. The spare format reflects the urgency of day-to-day life during the Gaza War, when one bomb blast could change a family’s fate in a second. There’s no time to explain it all, so we drop into people’s lives mid-flow and experience the disruptions of war along with them. One minute, a child watches a football match in the street, and the next all he can see is smoke, blood, and his neighbors running for shelter.


The writers are a talented lot, most of them current or former graduate students who worked with Alareer. But the editor’s own contributions rise above the other slice-of-life vignettes to become thought-provoking, allegorical lessons in human nature. In “House,” for instance, we are privy to a twisted psychological power struggle between the occupiers and the occupied. Similarly, in “The Old Man and the Stone,” Alareer uses symbols to show the strengths and weaknesses of knowledge, innocence, and faith. These more complex pieces stand out as stories you will want to read again, to yourself and to others.


Gaza Writes Back is not an easy book to read, but it effectively shines light on the effects of war on the civilians caught in the crossfire. Readers will come away with a deeper understanding of Middle East politics and the mind-set of the latest generation to live amidst the ongoing struggles there.


Sheila M. Trask for Foreword Magazine
February 27, 2014

Source: www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/gaza-writes-back
More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?