[Neil MacGregor] Living with the Gods On Beliefs and Peoples [old english literature Book] DOC – TXT, Kindle eBook & PDF Read

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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 uniue power to define and to divide us and are a driving force in the politics of much of t 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 takes us on a penetrating and insightful journey that spans centuries crosses all corners of the globe and interrogates 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 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 the underground 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 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 get us 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 us 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

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Living with the Gods On Beliefs and Peoples

Terrogates objects places and human activities to try to understand 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 us our sense of who we areFor in deciding how we live with our gods we also decide how to live with each other 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 ago up 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 a 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 us 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 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 was undoubtedly 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

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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 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 water is an essential part of religious practice But for no faith does water and one particular kind of water play such a significant role as for Hindus To bathe in the river Ganges is not just to prepare to meet the divine but already to be embraced by it The river Ganges is the goddess Ganga and the waters of this river which govern life and death have not only determined many aspects of Hinduism but in considerable measure shaped the identity of the modern state of India 430 Here Comes the Sun Neil MacGregor continues his series on the expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world and focuses on light He experiences the sunrise whilst inside the monumental stone passage tomb at Newgrange Ireland a structure older than Stonehenge or the pyramids in Egypt Here on the winter solstice thanks to the design of the tomb a bright narrow beam of sunlight reaches deep inside the structure He also considers the story of Amaterasu the Japanese sun goddess whose decision to hide herself in a cave plunged the world into darkness and reflects on how centuries later the image of rising sun became closely linked with Japanese national identity I can recommend Newgrange530 Dependence or Dominion NM focuses on the natural world and seasonal change the Yupik people of Alaska depend on the seal and ancient Egyptians looked to the god Osiris to bring fertility to their arid land Both societies in radically different climates devised practices that acknowledged the fact of their dependence on the natural world and engaged everybody with the responsibility of co operating with it 630 Living with the dead In the British Museum NM focuses on mummy bundles from Peru skeletons wrapped in textiles made of llama wool or cotton For the living these were ancestors with great wisdom and knowledge of the world who could be called upon to help key decision makers He also examines two Chinese ancestor portraits and discovers how and why they were venerated by surviving family members 730 Mother and Child He focuses on how societies and communities seek to protect the newly born and their mothers including the role of St Margaret of Antioch patron saint of childbirth and the use of protective omamori in Japan 830 Becoming an Adult He focuses on rites of passage marking the transition from childhood to adulthood including a lock of bound hair from the collections of the British Museum which reveals an important ritual for teenage boys on the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu910 Lines of Communication He focuses on prayer reflecting on how this most highly individualized of activities is also a profoundly communal act with objects including a 16th century ivory and gold ibla used to find the direction of Mecca a function now offered by smartphone apps 1030 The Power of Song He focuses on a Kirchenpelz or church fur a sheepskin coat made in the late 19th century in Transylvania now part of Romania for the German speaking Saxon community there This was not just Sunday Best to wear this coat was to proclaim in public your allegiance to the Lutheran Church and your identity as a Transylvanian Saxon 1130 The House of God Stone tablets in the British Museum detail how a temple was designed and formed in Mesopotamia about 4000 years ago the first sacred space for which we have a written record It was a god s home complete with private areas crafted to meet his every need kitchens and dining rooms family rooms and spaces for guests 1230 Gifts to the GodsHigh in the Andes in Colombia the indigenous Muisca population consigned highly wrought gold figurines to the waters of Lake Guatavita Records of the treasures stored in the Parthenon Athens dating from around 400BC reveal numerous gifts for the goddess Athena gifts with a double role The Parthenon was also a kind of central bank capable of operating as a lender of last resort creating an intimate connection between the temple of a goddess and the finance of the state 1330 Holy Killing Displayed in the British Museum is a finely crafted Aztec knife dating from around 1500 with a richly decorated handle It had a brutal purpose human sacrifice In ancient Greece animal sacrifice was a vital ritual for connection with the deities the grounds of a Greek temple were in part a sacred public slaughter house 1430 To Be A Pilgrim the expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world and across time and focuses on pilgrimage and its role in Christianity Buddhism and Islam 1530 Festivals their role in shaping a communal identity 1630 The Protectoresses In Mexico the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe came not from the hand of an artist but was directly given from heaven according to its history Our Lady of Guadalupe is now the most powerful of presiding images and the Basilica of Guadalupe near Mexico City is said to be the most visited Roman Catholic pilgrimage site in the world The sanctuary of the goddess Artemis in the great trading city of Ephesus now in western Turkey was by far the most celebrated temple of the antiue Mediterranean and the cult of Artemis spread eastwards towards the Black Sea and westwards towards Spain Artemis was thought to protect the vulnerable at their moments of greatest personal danger 1730 Replicating the Divine For the painter of a Russian religious icon the paramount purpose is the continuation of a tradition in which the painter seeks only to take his proper place creating an image which opens a gateway to the divine The Hindu goddess Durga is at the centre of the popular annual festival of Durga Puja where communities create images of the goddess in everyday materials clay wood straw and oil paint which then are endowed with a transcendental character 1830 The Making of Meaning Our understanding of the rock art created by the San people of southern Africa over many centuries is helped by written accounts so that what first appears to be an image of a hunting expedition becomes a record of a spiritual journey into another realm of experience For many years it was a matter of gaze and guess says David Lewis Williams an authority on rock art You gaze at it and if you gaze long enough your guess will take you close to what it s all about and I m afraid that s not the case but we don t have to gaze and guess any In the British Museum a small 19th century Japanese shrine shows the spirits coming to visit a long settled agricultural society The curved doors of a small wooden box open to reveal inside a shimmering world of carved gilded wood and a scene to which Japanese viewers would bring different interpretations 1930 Change Your Life A small coloured wood cut created in the Netherlands around 1500 offers a particularly gruesome rendering of Christ s crucifixion Christ is pictured with blood pouring from his torso his head his legs and his outstretched arms These are not realistically arranged droplets instead we see a flurry of vertical red strokes tightly packed together and evenly spaced Neil MacGregor reflects on the purpose of this imageHe also considers a serene figure of the Buddha a halo behind his head already in his enlightened state 2030 Rejecting the Image A striking cobalt blue mosue lamp from around 1570 shows an Islamic way of doing honour to the word calligraphyIn Jewish religious ceremonies a yad a small silver rod with a little hand and a pointing index finger is used to follow the text during readings from the Torah to avoid any damage to the delicate parchment 2130 Living with Many Gods n the mid 1840s a Roman earthenware jar was dug from the earth near Felmingham Hall in Norfolk Inside excavators found several belief systems all mixed up together for buried in the pot was a jumble of gods deities of different kinds and origins that tell us what it meant for people in Roman Britain around the year 250 to be living with many godsThe great ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh includes a narrative with striking similarities to but important differences from the story of Noah in the Bible Here a council of gods is persuaded to unleash a great flood to wipe out humankind 2230 Living with One God Using objects from both ancient Babylon and ancient Egypt Neil examines how one god could become central to worship in these societies 2330 The Other Side of the Leaf the expression of shared beliefs with a focus on societies who believe that they share the landscape with co inhabitants who are not visible but are present Such belief systems can be found in places such as the Pacific island nation of VanuatuIt is difficult Neil MacGregor suggests to express this relationship with the landscape in the English language Words such as spirits gods or beings do not adeuately convey the nature of the co inhabitants and although these co inhabitants cannot always be seen they are always there on the other side of the leaf The four Landv ttir of Iceland2430 Global Gods Local Needs gods can reach new communities and how those communities can then adapt and change the faiths 2530 Gods Living Together the expression of shared beliefs with a focus on how faiths co exist in India 2630 Ruling With The Gods ueens and kings may be priests of the gods or their representatives They may be incarnations or even gods themselves Or the relationship may be so close that to divide spiritual from temporal power at all would simply make no sense 2730 Living With No Gods Neil examines a revolutionary clock from around 1795 created in the wake of the French Revolution and designed to mark a new way of living in an age of reason there would no longer be royalism or religion in FranceA poster from the Soviet Union celebrates the apparent triumph of scientific progress the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin floats in space looks out and proclaims There is no God It seems that the heavens are empty of divine beings but full instead of starry promise 2830 Turning The Screw A plain board to be found on a 17th century Japanese roadside offers generous rewards to anyone who informs on Christians At almost exactly the same time a print from France depicts the officially sanctioned destruction of a Huguenot Church just a few miles east of Paris 2930 The Search For A State An over printed coin from 2nd century Jerusalem tells of the failed attempt of Shimon bar Kokhba to lay claim to a state for the Jews free from Roman rule while a white cotton flag framed in pale blue flew over Sudan after it had been taken by Mahdist forces and before the Islamic state collapsed in the mid 1890s3030 Living With Each Other He began with the Lion Man an object created 40 000 years ago and now reflects on the present on the future and on hope 5 Living With The Gods5 A History of the World in 100 Objects35 Germany Memories of a Nation4 Shakespeare s Restless World


10 thoughts on “Living with the Gods On Beliefs and Peoples

  1. says:

    Like MacGregor’s other books this is both immensely readable and a testament to his own wide curiosity knowledg

  2. says:

    This is a beautifully illustrated book which provides a somewhat objective view of our religious shared beliefs and the stories and objects t

  3. says:

    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 takes us on a penetrating and insightful journey that spans centuries crosses all corners of the globe and interrogates the religious traditions of the past and present with compassion and respectMacGrego

  4. says:

    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

  5. says:

    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

  6. says:

    “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 se

  7. says:

    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 upon opening it knew I had to read it The coloured im

  8. says:

    I do think this deserves five stars although in a somewhat weird way; it's a different kind of book than I've eve

  9. says:

    This book is truly a stunning journey that spans every corner of the globe with thought provoking exhibitions of religious

  10. says:

    Similar to A History of the World in 100 Objects but this time focusing on religious or indicative of religious events artefacts Espe