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Mr. R. White (London)

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Price: £14.81

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take the King's Crown!, 27 Jan 2013
This review is from: Invicta (Audio CD)
I'm probably the last person you should turn to when reading reviews of The Enid.

I've spent the last 30 years labouring under the illusion that the band's name was a reference to Virgil's epic poem about a Trojan who travelled to Italy, when it's actually a reference to Robert John Godfrey's great aunt, who lived in Sittingbourne.

During that time, I've dipped in and out of The Enid's music, partaken of Claret Hall Farm's sacred chilli con carne, and generally made a fool of myself at concerts by having far too much to drink.

This time, however, I've been sitting up and paying some very sober attention, for this album has the ring of greatness about it. It's not just that the album contains a series of beautifully written and exquisitely produced songs (songs that seem to flow effortlessly into each other), it's that the presence of young vocalist Joe Payne has completely transformed the band's sound, and raised the music itself onto a truly sublime spiritual plane. He seems to possess an almost operatic vocal range, and it's one that includes a mesmerizingly tragic falsetto voice.

On this showing, The Enid are not just `unconquerable', they are the `Berlin Philharmonic' of symphonic rock.

The Reformation: Faith and Flames
The Reformation: Faith and Flames
by Andrew Atherstone
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.91

5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, lucid and exquisitely written, 25 April 2012
Ecclesiastical historians tend to be very literate people anyway, but a lot of love and attention to detail has clearly gone into the making of this particular book.

In fact, I enjoyed reading it so much that I found myself rationing my reading so that it would not end too quickly. Andrew Atherstone's first-class scholarship seems to inform every sentence. It is thoughtful, factual and exquisitely written, and the author's account of the Reformation is interleaved with summaries, woodcuts, paintings and photographs to accompany the events he describes.

This is not a particularly difficult book to read (in fact the author has made difficult subjects appear almost self-explanatory) but it is beautifully written and I recommend it to you heartily!

3.5M x 2M x 2M Walk In Garden Polytunnel Greenhouse Transparent Portable
3.5M x 2M x 2M Walk In Garden Polytunnel Greenhouse Transparent Portable

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good value but really does need reinforcing., 9 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It took me ten minutes to build the frame and half an hour to position the cover (with the aid of a small step ladder), but it also took me a couple of days of hard digging before I had a trench that I felt was suitable enough to weigh the cover down with soil.

After erecting the frame, I secured it to some sturdy wooden posts that I had driven into the ground with the aid of a sledgehammer (but I had to leave half an inch clearance in places so that I could secure the cover to the frame using its velcro ties).

Generally speaking, we are quite pleased with the result. It's basically a fifty pound greenhouse that we intend to use for growing strawberries. It has been secure enough to withstand blustery wind and rain, and we plan to add some storm braces across the hoops in order to strengthen the frame.

The zip doors are okay but if they get broken I intend to fix a wooden door frame into the structure which I can then seal with some plastic sheeting and a staple gun.

So it's good value for money as long as you are prepared to do some extra work, because the structure really does need to be reinforced.

God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
by Christopher Hitchens
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy!, 9 Jan 2011
There is an old Tommy Cooper joke in which the comedian attempts to impress his audience by boasting that he owns a Stradivarius and a Rembrandt. Unfortunately (as he says when he punctures the canvas with his fake violin) Stradivarius was a terrible painter, and Rembrandt made lousy violins.

There is something of this appeal to false authority in God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, by Christopher Hitchens. The author cites as an authority (and with obvious approval) Sir James Fraser's book The Golden Bough, which was the product of an eccentric Nineteenth-Century Orientalist whose views on Mesopotamian temple prostitution amounted to little more than wishful thinking. There is no real evidence that it ever existed.

Hitchens is said to be one of the prophets of `the New Atheism' (although atheism is supposed to be a non-prophet organisation), and if there is any entertainment to be had in this book at all, it lies in following the increasingly tortuous route that the author takes in order to wriggle himself out of one atheist corner after another, and all in a vain attempt to re-brand totalitarianism as a religion. Yet nowhere in the book does Hitchens ever bother to define what `religion' actually is, though he argues that the world's religions are `all the same', and yet at the same time that they all contradict each other. He then proceeds to claim that `a totalitarian state is in effect a theocracy'. Self-serving tyrants such as Stalin and Hitler are therefore re-branded as `religious' nutcases, in spite of the fact that Hitler was said to have had a negative attitude towards anything other than Arian folklore, and Stalin abandoned his Russian Orthodoxy upon entering the Communist Party. Hitch portrays Kim il-Jong's North Korea as a Confucian fundamentalist theocracy based on a personality cult, in spite of the fact that the Korean Worker's Party follows Marxist-Leninism and the `cult' amounts to nothing more than hero-worship. (In fact Elvis fans had better watch out lest their hero appears in the author's list of proscribed deities). He then compounds the error by ignoring the obvious religious agenda promoted by Benito Mussolini and Dinko Sakic.

Hitchens recommends that we liberate ourselves from the influence of the world's sacred texts, yet favours the consolations offered by such (supposedly secular) authors as Shakespeare, Milton and Bellow. Yet Shakespeare was a recusant Catholic who relied on the Tyndale and Geneva Bibles in order to write his plays, and who mourned the loss of the country's `bare-ruined' monastic choirs, Milton served as a Foreign Secretary in Oliver Cromwell's Puritan Protectorate, and Bellow used to chide his friends over what he regarded as their unthinking atheism.

The author's logic is all the more puzzling when one considers that Hitchens himself has at various points in his life sampled Anglicanism, Methodism, Greek Orthodoxy and Judaism. Like the actress Tallulah Bankhead, he's tried them all and they were all found wanting. He accuses Japan's Buddhists of supporting fascism during WWII, when in reality most Nichiren Buddhists were forced to join a government-controlled umbrella organisation that promoted Shinto. Those that refused to introduce elements of the Shinto religion into their worship (such as the leaders of the fledgling Soka Gakkai International) were simply imprisoned. He then goes uncharacteristically quiet on the subject of post-war Poland and East Germany, where `religion' made a positive and highly influential contribution to the peaceful demise of Communism (for which he is no doubt grateful). He is equally reticent about the role of the Anglican Church in South Africa during the peaceful transition from Apartheid, and he is equally sniffy about ancient myths, declaring that `we will not hear again' from Gods such as Osiris. Yet he relies on these `myths' every time he looks at his watch. The motion of the `god' Osiris through the 12 gates of the celestial night was what gave Ancient Egyptian priests the idea for a 24-hour clock, enabling them to mark the passing of the seasons and to plan an agrarian economy.

Religion is as old as the communities that first cultivated the Fertile Crescent, and it is a false dichotomy to speak of EITHER faith OR science. Religion was never supposed to find answers to questions that lay within the realm of human reason, and it is unlikely to go away just because a group of theologically illiterate writers and scientists are still obsessing about 9/11. In fact, it is tempting to quote Socrates straight back at the author, and say in effect:

I do not know for certain about death and the gods -
But I am as certain as I can be that YOU do not know either.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 29, 2011 7:55 PM BST

In Search of Shakespeare
In Search of Shakespeare
by Michael Wood
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never came Reformation in a flood!, 8 Feb 2009
There is much music and excellent voice in Michael Wood's speculative quest for the Bard of Avon. However, Wood's attempt to capture Shakespeare for late medieval Catholicism (which forms the focus of this book) sometimes feels fanciful and clumsy. Falling-out with the Pope and dissolving the monasteries does not make Henry VIII a `Protestant' in any meaningful sense, but then the author does not provide a definition of what that Protestantism actually means. Neither is it particularly helpful to ignore Shakespeare's reliance - as a Bible-reading Christian - upon Tyndale and the Geneva Bible. Indeed, the emphasis placed upon Shakespeare's supposed recusancy actually undermines his claim to universal appeal, and turns him instead into the exclusive preserve of a persecuted minority. This is a shame, as the book offers an otherwise fascinating and moving account of Shakespeare's life, and is a joy to read.

The Tyrannicide Brief: The Story of the Man who sent Charles I to the Scaffold
The Tyrannicide Brief: The Story of the Man who sent Charles I to the Scaffold
by Geoffrey Robertson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant defence of the English Republic!, 5 May 2008
Geoffrey Robertson's account of the life of Cromwell's Solicitor-General is the best defence of the English Republic I have so far read. He does not gloss over its excesses, but he does at least attempt to put them in perspective (which is more than most 'historians' seem capable of), and he does so without relying on the over-used second-hand account left to us by the Royalist Earl of Clarendon.

However, Robertson's biography is also a cunning polemic than examines contemporary preoccupations with 'regime change', and with the need to bring tyrants to account for their war crimes. There are one or two minor errors (the 1966 film by Attenborough was actually the 1970 film by Ken Hughes), but I was impressed by the power and logic of Mr Robertson's argument. I read this book within four sittings, and was entranced from start to finish, so I shall be buying more books by this author.

Stanley Kubrick: Life in Pictures [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Stanley Kubrick: Life in Pictures [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Katharina Kubrick

5.0 out of 5 stars A rare glimpse of the Master, 10 Jan 2007
Jan Harlan's film offers us a rare glimpse of the Master at work, in home movies and on the set of films such as Full Metal Jacket and The Shining. It is narrated by Tom Cruise and contains contributions from the likes of Arthur C Clarke, Alan Parker, Jack Nicholson and Steven Spielberg. I particularly enjoyed the sections on Strangelove, 2001 and Barry Lyndon and it was good to have contributions from Kubrick's wife and daughters. As a perfectionist, Kubrick could be notoriously difficult to work with, but he dedicated his life to movies and he never took his viewing public for granted, and for this we should all be grateful. This DVD provides a fitting tribute.

Empires: Martin Luther [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Empires: Martin Luther [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Liam Neeson
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £22.95

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A docu-drama of the highest quality!, 10 Jan 2007
I came across this dramatised documentary of the life of Luther quite by accident, when it was shown on the late night slot on BBC2, and I was spell-bound from the very beginning. It has everything going for it. Not only is it beautifully written and produced by Cassian Harrison but it has Timothy West in the title role, and the events are narrated in a lucid and moving style by Liam Neeson. The music is haunting and beautiful, drawing on a specially commissioned soundtrack which blends in well with the Tallis Magnificat and Rorate Coeli.

Best of all, however, are the talking heads that have been specially selected to guide you through the start of Luther's Reformation. Alasdair McGrath and Euan Cameron are both entertaining and informative, but it is that passionate contribution of Susan Karant-Nunn that makes this docu-drama such a pleasure to watch. Filmed on location in Austria and worth every penny. Be warned, however, that you will need a multi-region DVD player in order to view this magnificent two-part film.

It also makes a superb supplement to Eric Till's 2003 movie 'Luther' starring Joseph Feines. Luther [DVD]

The Copper Scroll Decoded: One man's search for the fabulous treasure of ancient Egypt
The Copper Scroll Decoded: One man's search for the fabulous treasure of ancient Egypt
by Robert Feather
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Raiders of the Lost Ark, 16 Nov 2006
A readable and thought-provoking interpretation of the Copper Scroll which highlights the way in which the modern world has borrowed syncretically from the monotheism of the pharaoh Akhenaten.

This excellent and information-packed interpretation is written by the man who helped date the Spear of Christ, which is housed in the Hofsburg Museum in Vienna.

The English Civil War: At First Hand
The English Civil War: At First Hand
by Tristram Hunt
Edition: Paperback

30 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Old England's Fear of New England's Tears, 7 Aug 2006
I was disappointed by Tristram Hunt's selection of primary source material in this otherwise robust account of the

English Civil War. Dr Hunt is obviously a man whose appetite for radical ideas does not extend to religion. His account of the period relies heavily on the evidence left by the Royalist historian Clarendon, who was writing some twenty years after the event, yet he spurns the opportunity to make greater use of the evidence left to us by Parliamentary supporters such as Nehemiah Wallington and Ralph Josselin. He also seems to gloss over the outrages perpetrated against civilians by the likes of "Prince Robber" Rupert. A more ambitious account of the war at first hand might have made more use of the evidence provided by Parliamentary supporters, such as Lady Brilliana

Hartley of Bramton Bryan. However, that said, the book represents an accessible introduction to the period by an

historian who is obviously enthralled by the political machinations of the King and Parliament as much as he is

repelled by Cromwell and the Puritans.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 6, 2014 12:09 PM GMT

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