January 12, 2007

THE DEVIL IS A GENTLEMAN: GOOD BOOK ALERT

Caption: These guys look a little devilish. And not very gentlemanly.

El Cabrero is a little out of it these days and is trying to lick his post-surgical wounds, but, as usual, can't reach them.

"Thanks!" to all who sent kind words and wishes.

I have discovered that here's nothing like a good book to get you through times like these. By luck I stumbled on to one which I will pass on today in lieu of snarky comments on the state of the world.

(Except maybe for this brief one regarding the President's "new" Iraq plan: the consistency of the flow of bad ideas over the last 6 years is amazing to me and seems to violate my very limited understanding of the laws of probability.)

The book in question is The Devil is a Gentleman: Exploring America's Religious Fringe by J. C. Hallman.

The title caught my eye but the format clinched the deal. In addition to describing his experiences among Druids, Wiccans, Christian pro wrestlers, Scientologists, Satanists, UFO cultists, etc., the book dwells at length on the life and work of one of Goat Rope's patron saints, philosopher and psychologist William James (1842-1910) exponent of pragmatism and author of the classic Varieties of Religious Experience.

El Cabrero is all about pragmatism.

The book alternates contemporary experiences outside the religious mainstream with sections dealing with James' life and thought and the combination works well.

Speaking of animals, which we weren't, there's even a section on the dog-training monks of New Skete.

James, by the way, has a famous passage that compares the role of humans in the cosmos to that of the animals in our homes:

I firmly disbelieve, myself, that our human experience is the highest form of experience extant in the universe. I believe rather that we stand in much the same relation to the whole of the universe as our canine and feline pets do to the whole of human life. They inhabit our drawing-rooms and libraries. They take part in scenes of whose significance they have no inkling. They are merely tangent to the curves of history the beginnings and ends and forms of which pass wholly beyond their ken. So we are tangent to the wider life of things. But, just as many of the dog's and cat's ideals coincide with our ideals, and the dogs and cats have daily living proof of the fact, so we may well believe, on the proofs that religious experience affords, that higher powers exist and are at work to save the world on ideal lines similar to our own.

To my knowledge, he makes no similar comments on goats and peacocks...

GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED

2 comments:

you-know-who said...

RAW ~ glad you are on the mend. I'm very interested in the book you reviewed, and I'm going to look for it at Barnes & Noble on my lunch hour. Take care. BJM

Jspiker said...

Glad to see you in the paper again this morning....

Hope you are doing well...