A sustained, well-reasoned argument that biblical viewpoints unsubstantiated by scientific proof should be discarded as...

BIOPSIES OF THE BIBLE

THE BIBLE AND TODAY'S SCIENCE

Silvers’ extended essay examines the complex relationship between biblical and scientific perspectives.

The book’s unusual title comes from the author’s occupation. Silvers is a practicing dermatologist in Southern California, and members of his profession often do biopsies—the removal of skin tissue to determine its state of health. The author argues that the Bible requires another kind of biopsy—the excision and scientific examination of certain biblical claims. Silvers, born an Iranian Jew, critiques the Old Testament and several biblical commentaries by scholars and clergy from a nonsuperstitious, Jewish perspective. He fuses this with his medical training. Among the contemporary issues he discusses: kosher dietary laws, abortion and homosexuality. Silvers claims that many biblical viewpoints can be substantiated through scientific understanding. For example, he finds that forbidding pork is based on sound medical principle since it can spread parasitic infections through tapeworms. The practice of circumcision is warranted since, he reports, circumcised men have lower rates of sexually transmitted diseases. Silvers puts science first and states that the Hebrew Bible’s claims can only be trusted when scientifically tested and confirmed. His goal is “to purge my religion of the personal opinions of rabbis in relation to science, thereby allowing Judaism to shine like the pure gold and light it is.” In spite of the sometimes shrill tone when discussing mystical elements in Judaism, the book presents a readable and controversial argument for a Judaism rooted in science. Most valuably, he has also written a powerful memoir about escaping Iran’s totalitarianism in order to pursue a medical career in the U.S. Readers who might find his arguments about “purging” Judaism of the irrational tedious can find much to appreciate in his thrilling description of his odyssey to freedom.

A sustained, well-reasoned argument that biblical viewpoints unsubstantiated by scientific proof should be discarded as superstition.

Pub Date: March 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1460916933

Page Count: 398

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2012

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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