Neil MacGregor: Living with the Gods On Beliefs and Peoples

Online read Living with the Gods On Beliefs and Peoples AUTHOR Neil MacGregor –

Book like this it is actually important I m not a religious person but this book made me feel like I assume a religious person feels when they are in the thrall of the moment so to speak When they are for example singing or praying with hundreds of others in their church or mosue and nothing is on their mind but bliss and a feeling of belonging That is what this book made me feel like I finally got it Why people have this profound need to believe in something supernatural and a world beyond our own Humans are supremely aware beings Aware that we and everyone we know will one day die Aware that our hard work might be for nothing as the forces of nature turn against s Aware that disease conflict and disaster could be right around the corner As only one example of many I will refer to one of the chapters that stood out the most to me one describing a religious monument in Ireland called Newgrange It is a roughly 5000 year moundtomb containing a passage with 3 alcoves The striking aspect of it is that the passage is constructed in such a way that when the sun turns at winter solstice a ray of light shines into the passage and for 17 splendid minutes the beam of light continues its journey along the whole passage Shotgun Bride until the whole chamber is illuminated Building the massive and elaborate religious site must have taken decades in an age where life expectancy was 30 40 years so the construction wasndoubtedly a multi generational prospect The blood sweat tears and engineering know how that must have gone in to build this thing is truly astounding considering we are talking about an essentially Neolithic late stone age society here That is the power of hope These people built this tomb in this way to celebrate the light and the return of new life from the cold and dark of winter Somehow this image stuck with me What must they have felt those ancient humans sitting there in the dark every year waiting for the sun to finally rise and illuminate the chamber What a profound religious experience it must have been to see those rays of light penetrating the darkness and giving hope that life can triumph over death Book Porn I m sorry for the crass title it can t be helped I couldn t think of a better means of describing this book I first saw it in my local Waterstones and pon opening it knew I had to read it The coloured images dispersed amongst the 500 odd pages of Living With The Gods are just one aspect of the care and love that have been put into this text Covering a plethora of beliefs and stories that humans have embodied for many centuries Living With The Gods is a treasure trove of incredible information and helpful guidance to the religious and non religious alike My favourite chapter personally but by no means only favourite was discovering about Ethiopias niue Christian heritage victory over colonial Italy claim to the Arc of the Covenant and ties to Rastafarianism There are only about six pages in this chapter yet it opened The Sweetest Burn (Broken Destiny, up a whole world to me I m certain you will have your own similar experiences reading this beautiful book The Beginnings of Belief The programme visits the cave in southern Germany where fragments of ivory were discovered in 1939 These fragments were gradually pieced together by archaeologists decades later to re assemble the figure Some smoothing on the torso suggests that the Lion Man was passed from person to person in the cave230 Fire and State Many societies have seen the mesmerizing phenomenon of fire as a symbol of the divine Neil MacGregor focuses on sacred fire which comes to represent the state itself the perpetual fire in the Temple of Vesta in Rome the great Parsi fire temple in Udvada India and la Flamme de la Nation the Flame of the Nation constantly burning beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris 330 Water of Life and Death In Islam Christianity and Judaism Neil MacGregor s Living with the Gods On Beliefs and Peoples explores objects rituals and places in terms of what they reveal about faith and spirituality Beginning with the 40000 year old Lion Man of Ulm MacGregor takess on a penetrating and insightful journey that spans centuries crosses all corners of the globe and int. He world today Throughout history they have most often been in the widest sense religiousYet this book is not a history of religion nor an argument in favour of faith It is about the stories which give shape to our lives and the different ways in which societies imagine their place in the world Looking across history and around the globe it in.

Similar to A History of the World in 100 Objects but this time focusing on religious or indicative of religious events artefacts Especially enjoyableusefulthought provoking for anyone who loves museums and especially docents who guide in museums like the one I guide in with a gallery dedicated to religious art I do think this deserves five stars although in a somewhat weird way it s a different kind of book than I ve ever read before Not rigorous enough to be an academic work but full of scholarly insights on various traditions around the world Not particularly concerned with theology much less faithful to any one religion but greatly respectful of the enormous power for good and ill of all belief systems Not noticeably artistic Every known society shares a set of beliefs and assumptions a faith an ideology a religion that goes far beyond the life of the individual and is an essential part of a shared identity Although people around the world hold very different religious and cultural beliefs how they interact with those beliefs seems fairly consistent across distance and time As long as human history has been recorded its surviving material culture has been the product of faith that inescapable human longing to find a pattern to human existence and of course its history and what might come after the ending of individual life No less a philosopher than Rousseau simply stated that no state has even been founded without religion servings as its base Political systems also demand faith nowhere so than with communism and currently many believe that the pragmatic myth of liberal capitalism is dying It is the stimulating mission of this marvellous book which draws no conclusions asking The Greek Tycoons Revenge uestions rather than providing answers to draw our attention to all the man made things that attempt to portray visions of the invisible world and how humans interact with their imaginings The objects may be stable and solid from the smallest coins and even American dollars are adduced for their religious phrases to vast temples but human reactions are anything but There are no solutions to the humanest here but myriad embodiments of varied hopes expectations and journeys This is another excellent book from Neil MacGregor I have no expertise in this area but as a lay reader I found it a thoughtful erudite and immensely illuminating bookMacGregor takes a similar approach to that in his previous outstanding books A History Of The World in 100 Objects and Shakespeare s Restless World in that he ses artefacts fascinatingly to illustrate his subject basing each brief chapter around a subject which has has religious significance like sacrifice water and so on Thus this isn t a conventional history of religion at all but a very insightful look at the way in which worship in its many diverse forms has played a part in human life from the earliest objects we know of to the present day As always MacGregor makes shrewd penetrating and very humane points leaving s with much to think about It s a great book to read a chapter or two at a time I think and then to come back to The book is beautifully illustrated and MacGregor s The Queens Choice unfussy readable style is a pleasure I can recommend this very warmly This is a beautifully illustrated book which provides a somewhat objective view of our religious shared beliefs and the stories and objects that support them In his comparisons of the shared objects events and beliefs he attempts to show our connectedness with each other despite the resistance and hostility that has and still does manifest itself when there is intolerance for other religions and beliefs This book is truly a stunning journey that spans every corner of the globe with thought provoking exhibitions of religious traditions and objects from 40 000 years agop to the present day I gave this book 5 stars because of the way it made me feel and because it was profoundly aesthetically pleasing from the way the book felt and smelt in my hands to the choice of pictures and poems spread throughout the pages It may be weird to say but this is the first book I m actually giving a higher rating purely based on it s physical properties because for One of the central facts of human existence is that every society shares a set of beliefs and assumptions a faith an ideology a religion that goes far beyond the life of the individual These beliefs are an essential part of a shared identity They have a The Cowboy Wants a Wife! uniue power to define and to divides and are a driving force in the politics of much of

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Errogates the religious traditions of the past and present with compassion and respectMacGregor was director of the British Museum from 2002 2015 He generously illustrates his text with beautiful color photographs taken primarily from exhibits in the British Museum He deconstructs each exhibit situating it in context and explaining its function in ritual andor as an object of faith with the goal of elucidating how we worship In addition to explaining the role of objects natural phenomena and rituals MacGregor takes To Defy a Sheikh us to locations which harbor religious significance sacred spaces pregnant with mystery which presumably functioned as gateways to the supernatural realm These sites include pre historic caves with their cryptic drawings thenderground tomb In Ireland s Newgrange the excavation site at Gobekli Tepe in south east Turkey Girsu in Ira Lake Guatavita in the Columbian Andes cathedrals synagogues temples and mosues in Africa Asia the Americas and Europe MacGregor also explores the role of ceremonies prayers festivals and songs as communal activities that bind a people together providing them with a cohesive identity MacGregor s persona is knowledgeable curious non judgmental non dogmatic tolerant immensely humane compassionate sensitive and respectful of the various traditions and cultures Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of this text is the way MacGregor takes an object ritual or ceremony and The Highlander and the Wolf Princess (Legend of the Faol, unveils its similarities with the religious activities and paraphernalia of cultures that are worlds apart and seemingly very diverse Through these explorations he is able to draw connections from the past to the present from one culture to the next It is a fascinating and wholistic enterprise which demonstrates over and over again that in spite of the ethnic regional racial and religious differences that cause so much violent conflict all over the world we all emerged from the same stock share the same anxieties hopes and goals And even though we may pursue different paths to gets there the there we want to get to is fundamentally the same today as it has always been This penetrating text exploring religious objects sacred spaces ceremonies and rituals to remind s we have in common with each other than we have differences is essential and relevant today than it has ever beenHighly recommended A pleasure to read with color photos to feast the eyes Like MacGregor s other books this is both immensely readable and a testament to his own wide curiosity knowledge and sense of humanity in its broadest sense I hesitated before reading this having no religious sensibility at all and while its focus did make it slightly less absorbing for me personally than either his A History of the World in 100 Objects or Shakespeare s Restless World this approaches faith and religion not via dogma or creed but via objects rituals and places It is thus less tied to British Museum exhibits than the previous books and overall concerned with how the appurtenances of religious faith function in terms of group identity and community MacGregor acknowledges freely that this sense of identity can be the cause of violent conflict or operate as the basis of a positive sense of a community of humanity Each short chapter focuses on a specific topic such as sacrifice water the sun religious festivals icons and images pilgrimage polytheism atheism and so on and within the chapter MacGregor ranges freely geographically and in terms of thought bringing in expert opinion where necessary It s this diffuse approach which makes this book such a pleasure there is so much to learn so many interesting connections made between disparate cultures and times from Siberia to Plymouth from human sacrifice in the Aztec empire to the creation of Christmas in puritan Massachusetts from sun worship in prehistoric caves to seal worship in Iceland from the iconic moment when Barack Obama started singing Amazing Grace to crosses made from capsized refugee boats on the shores of Sicily The text is lavishly illustrated with colour photos definitely a book that is as pleasurable as a material object as as a text Thanks to PenguinAllen Lane for an ARC via NetGalle. Terrogates objects places and human activities to try to nderstand what shared beliefs can mean in the public life of a community or a nation how they shape the relationship between the individual and the state and how they help give s our sense of who we areFor in deciding how we live with our gods we also decide how to live with each other.

Neil MacGregor was born in Glasgow to two doctors Alexander and Anna MacGregor At the age of nine he first saw Salvador Dalí's Christ of Saint John of the Cross newly acuired by Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery which had a profound effect on him and sparked his lifelong interest in art MacGregor was educated at Glasgow Academy and then read modern languages at New College Oxford where he