Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ birthday books

And Man Created God: A History of the World at the Time of Jesus ~ by Selina O'Grady, 2012
At the time of Jesus’ birth, the world was full of gods.  Thousands of them jostled, competed and merged with one another.  In Syria ecstatic devotees castrated themselves in the streets to become priests of Atargatis.  In Galilee, holy men turned oil into wine, healed the sick, drove out devils, and claimed to be the Messiah.  Every day thousands of people were leaving their family and tribes behind them and flocking into brand new multi-ethnic cities.  The ancient world was in ferment as it underwent the first phase of globalisation, and in this ferment rulers and ruled turned to religion as a source of order and stability.  Augustus, the first emperor of Rome (though he never dared officially to call himself so) was maneuvering his way to becoming worshipped as a god — it was one of the most brilliant makeovers ever undertaken by a ruler and his spin doctors.  In North Africa, Amanirenas the warrior queen exploited her god-like status to inspire her armies to face and defeat Rome.  In China the usurper Wang Mang won and lost his throne because of his obsession with Confucianism.  To explore the power that religious belief has had over societies through the ages, Selina O’Grady takes the reader on a dazzling journey across the empires of the ancient world and  introduces us to rulers, merchants,  messiahs, priests, and holy men.  Throughout, she seeks to answer why, amongst the countless religious options available, the empires at the time of Jesus ‘chose’ the religions they did?  Why did China’s rulers hitch their fate to Confucianism, a philosophy more than a religion?  And why was a tiny Jewish cult led by Jesus eventually adopted by Rome’s emperors rather than the cult of Isis which was far more popular and widespread?  The Jesus cult, followed by no more than 100 people at the time of his death, should, by rights, have disappeared  in a few generations.  Instead it became the official religion of the Roman Empire.  Why did Christianity grow so quickly to become the predominant world religion?  What was it about its teachings that so appealed to people?  And Man Created God  looks at why and how religions have had such an immense impact on human history and in doing so uncovers the ineradicable connection between politics and religion — a connection which still defines us in  our own age.
Mediterranean: Food of the Sun ~ by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow, 2014
More than 400 step-by-step recipes from the shores of Italy, Greece, France, Spain, North Africa, and the Middle East, with over 1400 stunning photographs.
My birthday is Saturday, so while I was visiting my best friend Donna in St. Louis, she gave me books a bit early — because she won't see me on the actual date.  Even better, she told me to pick out some recipes I like in the recipe book, and she'll make them for me/us to try.  After I move to St. Louis, of course.  In the meantime, I can "study" recipes, like these chosen at random as I flipped through the 512 pages:
Tomato and Garlic Bread
Avgolemono (this lemon soup is one of my favorites!)
Eggplant Parmigiana
Okra with Coriander and Tomatoes
Roasted Plum Tomatoes and Garlic
Black and Orange Salad (made with oranges and black olives)
Beef Stew with Tomatoes, Wine, and Peas
Chicken and Apricot Phyllo Pie
Greek Easter Bread (appropriate, since today is Easter)
Berry Brulee Tarts
This list is making me hungry!  I had to stop working on this post and go eat an olive.  That was very Mediterranean of me.  :)


Jaxon was "egged" by his preschool.
From the looks of his mouth, I'd say
there's chocolate in them thar' eggs.

Shelby, who is almost four-and-a-half
months old, is all dressed up for Easter.

While reading a book about planets, Raegan said,
"Please don't tell me Earth will crash into Saturn!"

Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

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