I finally finished the Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman. It was a long road of reading due to several side streets I meandered down in non-fiction (I must have read 6 other random books while reading this one). For a while I was ready to just give up. But I picked it back up Friday night and finished it by Saturday. Overall, a good novel and I give Pullman's trilogy a thumbs up. Some say it's like Harry Potter, only more dark. I wouldn't compare it to Harry Potter, but give it credit as its own literary style. One of the best parts of the book is a small sub-slot towards the very end when Mary is talking about leaving the church and giving up her life as a nun. She says that she had never been in love. "Being in love was like China: you knew it was there, and no doubt it was very interesting, and some people went there, but I never would. I'd spend all my life without ever going to China, but it wouldn't matter, because there was all the rest of the world to visit." But the taste of marzipan brings her back to a time as a young girl when she had been in love. She realizes she had been to China and that it was more than that, it was paradise. So sitting in a restaurant 20 years later, she remembers what love is.
The story has many more fascinating themes in it concerning religion and nature and death. But the one section where Mary finds love again really struck me.
On a somewhat similar note, I've been reading a lot on Buddhism lately. The religion (philosophy?) is truly fascinating. Albert Einstein said: "The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal god and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual and a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism."
I'm just doing my homework right now. But so far, it's been a very fulfilling research project of mine. Too much to get into in one diary entry, but if you're interests are piqued, try these sites:
the Essentials of Buddhism Buddha Net Anything written by Thich Nhat Hanh
And in the fiction arena, I've started Lonesome Dove. It's excellent so far and I'm only a few chapters into it.