Molloy has some interesting observations, but for the most part I really didn’t think very highly of the last chapter of this book (“The Religious Search in the Modern World”). He has a rather poor grasp of science and it’s advances, theories and discoveries (his understanding of what a “theory” is needed work and it kind of went downhill from there). He has had trouble writing smoothly about women throughout the entire book, but the section on women’s movements was awful. He clearly gets that it matters and that it is increasingly affecting religions, but he just can’t seem to write about women as if they are real people just like him and not awkward, alien “female” creatures. Seriously, what’s with the “female” thing? Nobody writes clumsy things like “males can be ordained as priests” or “males might be told that…”, but “female” gets used in awkward ways like that frequently! What the hell? Anyway, most of the book was interesting, but I don’t think that I like the author much based on what I can tell about him after reading this book.
There’s so much interesting information in this book. It’s full of social history and the story of the human search for meaning. It’s funny, though, it seems like nearly every religion starts out making sense and meaning well and then somehow ends up strange and turned around. It’s weird. Many end up almost opposit from what they were started to be. Why is that? It’s as if, no matter what, people will find a way to mold the religion to their views and not the other way around.
This book has a lot of great information in it. I feel like sometimes the author gets a little too hung up on his own personal experiences, but mostly it’s very well done. I do wish that the book didn’t seem to assume that all readers will be coming from a western, Judeo-Christian point of view. Even in the US, not everyone is Christian!
This wasn’t the most concise or the most focused introduction, but it was interesting. I’m not sure that I understand why this book is organized the way that it is, but that may just be because I’m tired. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of it.
Zeus, king of the gods, is listed dead last in this book because it’s in alphabetical order. This shows why alphabetical may not always be the best way to organize things! Still, this was a fascinating book and I’m very glad that I read it!
Some rules needed to be followed by both gods an mortals, but others, like the rule against incest (parent-child coupling, siblings were ok apparently), do not seem to have been applied to gods. Several mortals suffered horrible fates for marrying or sleeping with their parent or their child (even if it was unwittingly done). Zeus, on the other hand, seems to have had children with numerous of his daughters and the stories are peppered with other examples of godly incest and they all seem to be ok. It’s very strange.
There are so many interesting stories here, many which I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard. I was frustrated to find an entry missing (another entry directs the reader to it for the story, but it doesn’t exist). There are a ton of stories relating to the Trojan War that Homer never told. There’s just so much here that’s interesting!
It’s really interesting how the mythologies have evolved. There was the worship of the mother-goddess which somehow got replaced by the Greek pantheon of patriarchal gods. The transition doesn’t seem to have been perfectly smooth, however. Not only did some elements of the mother-goddess beliefs get wrapped into the new mythology, but a story even popped up of the goddess giving secrets to a wise man for safe-keeping against the day people turned away from the new gods and back to her. My guess is little of these early beliefs were written down and so now they are lost and largely forgotten except through traces.
Everybody is related to everybody else in Greek mythology, and only partially because they’re all related to the gods. It’s crazy. It’s like, there are really only a couple of major families that heroes were born into and they just kept producing great heroes generation after generation. It’s kind of scary. You wonder if the daughters of those families didn’t start expecting to be visited by Zeus or Apollo. Some seem so unfazed by such visitations that you almost have to think that they weren’t surprised.
While reading this does feel a little disjointed at times, it is also really interesting. Because it is so complete and covers people, places and things, there are lots of pieces of story here that you rarely find in collections of Greek myths. It really makes you remember that this was a tapestry of stories woven over generations, so it has a richness that is rarely found in more focused sets of tales.
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