Mr. A. J. Thomas

Helpful votes received on reviews: 95% (119 of 125)
Location: Norway


Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,622,096 - Total Helpful Votes: 119 of 125
Holy Fools in Byzantium and Beyond (Oxford Studies&hellip by Sergey A. Ivanov
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This book is quite simply the best introduction to the study of holy fools. It takes you from the first stories that pop up in the Eastern Mediterranean of late antiquity, gives you some philosophico-religious background, and takes you right up to the present phenomena in the Orthodox churches, as well as setting you up to find out more about parallels in other religions.

Holy fools were basically monks that hid their holiness by pretending to be mad, but the tradition of course mutates through time. Probably the most important transformation takes place between Symeon (mid 6th century) and Andrew (eighth or eleventh century?!). Here the holy fool loses a lot of monastic… Read more
Laughter: An Essay On The Meaning Of The Comic by Henri Bergson
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Bergson's study of the comic really is a benchmark. There's Freud on Jokes, and Bergson on laughter. They're not too far from each other in time, and they're both central reading if you want to understand why we laugh and with what consequences.

The beauty of Bergson's account, I think, is his complete disregard of easy solutions. He doesn't care if people laugh at him for writing a non-comic account of the comic (what alternative is there?), but neither does he claim that laughter is humanity's salvation or doom.

For example, he says it makes us flexible: so we can criticise or conform to society. Laughter is an ambiguous thing, and Bergson knows it.

I'm… Read more
The Book of Steps (Cistercian Studies) by Robert Kitchen
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great contribution, 5 Nov 2007
The translators have really done the world a favour with this book. Based on the Syriac text, and long available to us non-Syriac readers except in snippets here and there and a Latin translation (so it is known to many as the "Liber Graduum"), the Book of Steps is an invaluable insight into the moves and values of Syrian spirituality in late antiquity.
The text is divided into "Memra", chapter-cum-sermons that vary in length, and have a more or less unified theme. But it is fairly readable throughout.
What is striking about this work is that it is not simply written for the experts of Christianity. There is instruction for normal Christian life as well as words for the wise. This… Read more

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