The Marriage of Sense and Soul by Ken Wilber: Book Review

Google Reader supplied me with this quote today:

Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.

Ha ha, look, he poked fun at religion. What a popular and savvy thing to do. So highbrow; religion is for the ignorant masses, and we intellectuals cannot make time for such ineffiency. Now, I know I’m probably not as smart as Bill Gates, but this quote is very depressing to me.

I can think of few things in life (other than work) where the absolute efficiency is the goal. In fact, when it comes to nearly any other activity, I prefer a great lack of efficiency.

Is it better to eat plain bread “on the go” and swallow vitamins because it’s more efficient? Not for me. I want to cook; I want to enjoy the savory smells and frantic sizzling sounds as I deglaze a pan. Is enjoying a home-cooked meal (or any meal eaten at a table) efficient? No. But the company of friends and family makes it enjoyable.

Is it better to take a snapshot of the sun setting, and paste it to the wall for “efficient” referral? No. I want to view it as the colors unfold. I want to sip a glass of good beer and talk with a friend as we inefficiently comtemplate.

Religion is the weary scapegoat of many a modern intellectual. There is a preconception that all of us- all billions and billions– are blindly following a broken, wrong path. Religious experience in their lives may not have always been good, so it is absconded, and all of it labeled “wrong.”

How sad.

In The Marriage of Sense and Soul, Ken Wilber discusses the fact that many people are quickly dismissing religion:

According to the typical view of modern science, religion is not much more than a holdover from the childhood of humanity, with about as much reality as, say, Santa Claus.

Wilber’s book requires deep introspection to read, and the stripping of personal paradigms. This is difficult to do for religious and agnostic alike, but provides for a great reading experience. There were several sections that I had to re-read in order to fully erase my previous assumptions.

I’m not the only semi-intelligent person who has thoughtfully integrated religion into daily life. I propose that the religious individual can be smart, savvy, and diverse in belief and practice. I propose that we don’t all try to impose a strict set of beliefs and judge those who don’t fit our ideas.

I propose that – hey! – we aren’t morons. And that our Sunday mornings, and Friday sunsets, and Monday fastings, and daily prayers (how pedestrian of Gates to suggest worship only occurs one day and time) are a gloriously inefficient but wonderful allocation of our time.

Praying Mantis Named Yorick

My husband told me he found an enormous praying mantis on our driveway the other day. “It’s about to die,” he said. “It’s barely moving.” He moved it from the driveway to the shelter of the porch. It didn’t move for 24 hours, so he brought it inside to show me the beautiful but dead insect.

“Oh *&#@!,” Carlton eloquently said. The “dead” bug started moving in his hand! We realized that it was moving more due to being in the warm of indoors. But what to do? Keep it? It was surely dying due to old age and the climate combined. We put a plastic box over it and decided to decide after watching a movie.

We came upstairs to Sunny barking at something. The mantis had escaped the container and was on the carpet, flaring its wings at the little beast barking at it. We rushed to help the mantis with her forearms tangled in carpet fibers. I found a spare aquarium (no surprise there) and we protected the mantis from our many predator pets. Carlton made a dish of water for her and I googled what mantises eat. But where to find live bugs this time of year?

Amy’s house after dinner! We’d been at a fundraiser dinner and talked about the mantis on the way home. The best part was that none of the three of us questioned the silliness of caring about feeding a dying wild bug. We gathered carcasses and even a live spider or two into a bag.

We put it all in the aquarium, and while the mantis turned her head to look at us inquisitively, she displayed no interest in food. I even used a chopstick to nudge a live spider under her nose. She looked at it, but made no move at all. She was almost dead. As expected, she died within three days. She didn’t eat or drink anything. She knew it was the right time to go, and she died without being squished by a car or something.

I’ve always had a soft spot for living things, especially sentient ones. When I was a child, my parents bought me Pets in a Jar and I devoured the book. Even bugs I never collected were fascinating. I gained so much respect for caring for them and knowing what they needed (that book even made me think planaria infecting my aquaria were cool).  I still have the book.  My dad and I looked at earthworms in his garden, watching them wriggle in my hands before I set them free.

My subscription to Ranger Rick ensured a steady stream of new creatures and new knowledge.  I loved them all- even slugs, especially spiders- and I still don’t kill spiders in my home.  And not only is all of this true, it’s one of the things I really like about myself.

So alas, poor mantis, we barely knew ye, but we enjoyed meeting you and hopefully you enjoyed having food and water as you shuffled off this mortal coil.

Shakespeare + bugs.  Up next: Britney haiku.

Baby Wise Book Review

Finding new blogs is a really fun treasure hunt. I’ve found a lot of parenting blogs; they range from individual parents posting an online diary to collaborative sites with multiple contributors and sound advice.

The largest group of parenting bloggers are the moms. That’s no surprise- most of the links I follow are from other women’s blogs. One theme I’ve found among new moms is that they are really frustrated with their child’s sleeping and eating patterns. Trust me, I feel your pain. I have two words that may help: Baby Wise.

My sister was a new mom three years ago and she called a friend of hers, frustrated and tired. The friend told her to immediately obtain a copy of the book. From that day forward, my sister’s parenting woes became a lot easier. She had another baby and this one was started with the Baby Wise philosophy. My sister can tell of the enormous difference it made for her second child.

As a result, I bought my own copy of Baby Wise and read it cover to cover about four times before Ainsley was born. In the early days, when I was often emotional and tired, I read sections of it while she slept or nursed. I can attest that it works! My baby has slept well from the very start. Don’t let me fool you…it’s been rocky, but it has worked. After the first couple of weeks, Ainsley moved to a 2 to 2 1/2 hour schedule for feedings. After 5 weeks, it was every 2 1/2 to 3 hours, with one 4 to 5 hour stretch every night. Since the age of 9 weeks, she has a very predictable schedule of 8 hours of nighttime sleep and feedings every 3 hours during the day. (again, I say “predictable,” but of course it isn’t 100% perfect.)

I had read that some parents think BW expects parents to ignore their child’s cries. Not true! The book states over and over that hunger is always a legitimate reason to feed earlier than scheduled. It emphasizes a need for family and for nurturing. It’s not a book about how to love your child, it’s about how to give the gift of peaceful sleep to your baby. For a few days, I slept in a bed in her room, next to her crib. I learned her fussy cry and comforted her to sleep; I learned her hungry cry and fed her. When it was time for me to sleep in another room, she didn’t have to be moved so it didn’t disrupt her.

Because of the Baby Wise routine of feeding-waketime-naptime, Ainsley learned how to go to sleep, not be nursed to sleep. This has liberated me and has also meant that Ainsley is happy in the arms of other caretakers. She’s been put to bed by three different grandparents, her aunt, and especially her dad. She has been able to enjoy the love and comfort of not just Mommy, but also all of those other people who love her.

The best thing that BW did for me was to give me the confidence to assess the situation. Food is not the only thing Ainsley needs when she cries- sometimes she needs a new diaper or just some cuddling. Sometimes, she just wants to fuss for 5 minutes before she drifts to sleep!

Baby Wise worked so well for me that I recommend it to anyone who’s frustrated over their infant’s sleep (or lack thereof).

300 directed by Zach Snyder

300.JPGIMDb link

Before I begin the review, I must say: First, I am sorry that a self-proclaimed nerd like me took so long to see this movie, especially after how much I liked Sin City. Second, it is truly fun to watch a movie like this with three nerds and a geek. We were all very into the movie, and making cross-nerd references to other movies.

OK. On to the review.

300_image.JPGMuch like drinking wine at a winery, watching a movie among such friends surely enhanced the experience, but this movie plain and simple rocked. It was fun, it was suspenseful, it was dramatic. For a visual artist like me, it was pure pleasure as the images took the form of graphic art, not just a movie.

The fact that it managed to hold suspense is quite a feat: I’ve read Gates of Fire by Stephen Pressfield, the fantastic historical fiction that recounts the same battle of Thermopylae (see Ken, I was right- it was Thermopylae). The acting was superb. It managed to be soft and real when necessary, but melodramatic when the graphic-novelness was needed. Acting on a set that is almost entirely blue screen must be challenging. Once again, Frank Miller’s gorgeous comics graphic novels come to life.

As my four loyal readers may have noticed by my review of other films, I’m a bit of a sucker for well crafted melodrama. Add the stunning visual images and my interest in Greek history, and I could watch this movie over and over.

[rate 5]

Book Meme

Saw this over at Oz’s, decided to spread the viral meme:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool??? or “intellectual??? book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

So what was closest for me was How to Walk in High Heels by Camilla Morton, ironically another cheeky Brit book like I mentioned in my latest grammar post. Page 123 is a chapter title page, so there aren’t five sentences, but I’ll post what I have:

How to be Filled with the Sound of Music

Extraordinary how potent cheap music is. -Noel Coward.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Aren’t blogs for not-so-humble opinions? This is one of the best fantasy books I’ve read. I’m "reading" it via audio books, and it’s so good that I find myself sitting in the car listening in the garage after I’ve arrived home! The story is fascinating, and the parallels to humanity’s true struggles are striking. It is one thing to write something so thrillingly entertaining, and quite another to be able to pack it with powerful meaning. There is a fan website for those who are interested.

[rate 5]