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Powers of Darkness, Powers of Light: Travels in Search of the Miraculous and the Demonic [Hardcover]

John Cornwell

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Book Description

26 Sep 1991
This is the story of a journey into a strange world of apparitions, prophecies, miracles of healing, levitation, holy relics, weeping statues, stigmata and demonic possession. The author follows a trail through Yugoslavia, Ireland, Spain, the USA, Canada, Italy and Britain, in search of proof or otherwise of divine or diabolical intervention. He investigates the Shroud of Turin, the liquefaction of the blood of St Januarius in Naples, a Eucharistic miracle in the Bronx and a weeping plaque of the Virgin in Sicily. He describes a curious and sometimes sinister landscape inhabited by prophets, saints, charismatic political leaders and exorcists and finds himself in conversation with Graham Greene, Professor A.J.Ayer and the Jesuit philosopher Father Frederick Copleston. Cornwell's journey culminates in a perspective that demonstrates the moral and spiritual benefits of popular mystical phenomena, whilst redeeming them both from scientific debunking and from rigid fundamentalist interpretation.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A journey back towards faith 4 Jun 2000
By Andrew Dougal - Published on
John Cornwell charts a his own spiritual renewal during a year spent visiting Catholic religious shrines across Europe and America. Somewhat marred by Cornwell's obvious and tiresome class snobbery. He wastes time recounting poor table manners and vulgar habits as if these devalue the spiritual experiences of his subjects. By doing so he merely irritates the reader with his own inflated sense of superiority. He obviously feels a public school and oxford background is essential to being a spiritual person. Luckily Jesus of Nazereth disagreed! One suspects John would have found the apostles a vulgar lot - as being fishermen they probably were. His obvious sexual infatuation with Sr Briege McKenna is embarassing - one doubts whether he would have given her mysticism much credence if he had not found her attractive. However, Despite nailing his colours firmly to the mast as a rather unpleasant itellectual and social snob Cornwell's account is gripping. He is obviously a man on a sincere quest for truth - if somewhat full of his own importance. Read it and ignore the whinging over table manners and bad breath!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificient spiritual journey 17 May 2000
By Mary Ann - Published on
John Cornwell takes the reader along on a spritual investigation of the world of heavenly and demonic apparations. His skepticism shows as he examines the lives of visionaries and modern day saints of the Catholic world. But it is also apparent that as he advances further into his investigations, he becomes more aware of his own spirituality. It is this awareness that encourages the reader to turn the page and discover what John Cornwell has learned next from the particular interviews he conducts with those who have seen visions of the Virgin Mary or who have heard the voice of God. His encounters with Sister Briege McKenna are also very interesting because of the effect they have on the author. Although most of the subject matter will be well known to those of Catholic faith, any curious reader who likes mystery and investigation will enjoy this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars I had to throw it away. 29 May 2013
By Michael Goulish - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I threw this book away because I was afraid to keep it in my house.
I did not throw it in the trash. I wrapped it in two bags, taped them shut, then drove to a truck stop and threw it away in a trash can so that no one would ever find it.

Hmmm, I'm not sure this is sounding like an endorsement.

It is, though, if you need to hear this stuff, and if you can deal with it.

Lately, I have been thinking hard about what "horror" really is, and how it is possible to inspire that emotion(?) in people with nothing but the written word. As I think about it, this book is my touchstone. Nothing by Stephen King, nothing that involves masked men with big knives and lots of blood. That's kid stuff. This book is what I think of.

You might not feel that way if you read it. We all have our own issues, and maybe some books hit mine and won't hit yours -- I don't know.

But I know what I feel when I read something. This author is innocent, and brave, and he has seen some terrible and some beautiful things. At the worst point, when I was turning the pages and wishing I could stop -- very late one night, long ago -- I turned one more page, and he said "That's all I'm going to tell you. There are some things that you should not know." And I have never felt more relief while reading the printed word.

And then I threw it away.

You who need to learn what this book says -- you know who you are. Buy it if you need it -- there's no better book for certain kinds of knowledge that I've ever found in a long life of reading.

If you find that you also have to throw it away -- come back and write a good review. :-)
This guy deserves it.
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