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Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg)

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Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are
Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are
von Bart D. Ehrman
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 19,60

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Truth will triumph, 9. April 2011
Faith is a profoundly emotional issue with its own dynamics as Eric Hoffer makes clear in The True Believer, a seminal study on the nature of belief and mass movements. Another valid insight is that of the metaphysician Ernest Holmes who warned against destroying or undermining a person's faith if it gives them comfort and helps them seek what is good and right: "Every person's religion is an answer to the cry of the soul for something which is real, something which may be relied upon - a resting place for which everyone instinctively feels a need."

Thus, the pursuit of truth may be a perilous enterprise that leads to painful places. Giving up certainties takes courage. In this investigation, Ehrman approaches the subject with empathy. Both non-canonical works and those eventually included in the New Testament are subjected to scrutiny. That is appropriate since when these were written, no canon existed.

It is no secret to most scholars in the field: Many of the books of the New Testament were composed by authors who lied about their identities, deliberately impersonating famous characters such as Peter, Paul and James. That is deception; a book written by someone who lies about his identity is a forgery.

In order to avoid this harsh reality, most Christian theologians employ the word "pseudepigrapha" when referring to these forgeries. Yet the word literally means "writing inscribed with a lie." Scholars may claim that it was an acceptable practice in the ancient world to write a book in someone else's name. Not so: the author cites Polybius, Martial and Diogenes Laertius in this regard.

Only 7 of the 13 letters of Paul of Tarsus were written by him. In the ancient world, books like that were called "pseudoi" (lies). Yes, it matters today, since for example 1 Timothy justifies the subordination of women.

Chapter One investigates forgeries in general, recent and ancient. Interestingly, the condemnation of forgeries in the texts appears to be a prominent feature of forged books. Good examples are Ephesians and 2 Thessalonians. This corresponds with Paul of Tarsus' repeated assertions that he "is telling the truth, not lying," if indeed it was him who wrote those words.

The next chapter is devoted to forgeries in the name of Peter. Ehrman points out that both truth and falsehood assume different forms. Evidence is produced that the Epistles of Peter could not have been written by him, another fact acknowledged by scholars.

The opening passages of the third chapter deals with invented tales about Paul. After that, New Testament forgeries ascribed to the founder of Christianity are identified by means of word frequency and semantics. Amongst the books discussed are Thessalonians, Ephesians and Colossians.

In chapter 4, Ehrman proves that forgery was as unacceptable in the ancient world as it is today. Ancient sources condemn the practice, meaning that the excuses offered by modern scholars are themselves deceitful.

The following two chapters consider extracanonical forgeries that derive from Gnostic and Jewish-Christian controversies. The most thought-provoking analysis of canonical are those of Colossians, Jude, James, the Epistles of Paul and the Acts of the Apostles.

Chapter 7 examines various phenomena pertaining to forgery such as false attributions, fabrications, falsifications, plagiarism and interpolations. Mark, Luke and the Acts are used as examples. There is no doubt that some Christians employed all the aforementioned practices in a wildly successful campaign to promote their version of the faith. A particular dogma was promoted through deceptive means - a most disturbing irony.

In chapter 8, Ehrman explains how successful ancient and modern forgeries have been in persuading large numbers of people of their authenticity. This chapter concludes with a discussion of attitudes towards deception and its motives. The justification of forgeries on any grounds goes against a cardinal moral principle. One rule exists for all. Forgeries by Christians are unacceptable.

In certain books, specifically the Gospel of John, scribes added key passages at different times. After Christianity sought the approval of the Roman Empire, writings were forged to absolve the Romans of the murder and to accuse the Jews of deicide. Such accounts are filled with anti-Semitic stereotypes of malevolent Jews as "Christ-killers."

As Judith Taylor Gold demonstrates in Madonnas & Monsters, anti-Semitism appears in both overt and covert form in the Gospel of John, a book that is exceptionally hostile to Judaism. The teachings and personality of Jesus in the Gospel of John differs so radically from those in the three Synoptic Gospels that prominent theologians have been claiming - since the 1800s - that only one of the two traditions can be true; it is impossible that both can be.

Raymond E Brown provides a brief synopsis of a prominent theory on the development of this gospel, identifying three levels in the text: (a) An original narrative of someone personally acquainted with Jesus/Yeshua (b) A Structured literary creation by an editor that draws from other sources (c) An attempt to harmonize the text with the rest of the New Testament canon.

There are further troubling realities not specifically addressed by Ehrman in this book. The NT writers "quote" Hebrew scripture passages that do not exist, quote already fulfilled Hebrew prophecies to claim that NT events are their fulfillment, quote 50 - 60 OT passages as proof of fulfilled messianic prophecies while none of those is a prophecy at all.

The criteria for the validation of scripture include origin, transmission, internal marks of authority and consistency. The text of the Hebrew Bible was rigorously preserved and reproduced under strict supervision, resulting in only minor variations, while there are scores of textual variants for the NT as proved by inter alia Ehrman in Misquoting Jesus.

strangers in the night LP
strangers in the night LP

3.0 von 5 Sternen Lukewarm synthpop, 3. April 2011
Rezension bezieht sich auf: strangers in the night LP (Vinyl)
Peter Baumann was a member of Tangerine Dream, a German band that was amongst the pioneers in the use synthesizers to explore new soundscapes. His first two solo albums Romance 76 and Trans Harmonic Nights were instrumental. In 1981 the vocal album Repeat Repeat was released and Strangers In The Night of 1983 is the disappointing follow-up. The vocals sound flat and it lacks the catchy tunes and synth-pop savoir fair of Repeat Repeat.

The title track is the cover of a Bert Kaempfert composition from 1966. The lack of melodies renders this album forgettable although there are one or two exceptions where the earlier genius shines through. Time Machine, for example, contains a hint of the symphonic splendor of Trans Harmonic Nights whilst there a remnant of his engaging synth textures on Taxi.

The concluding Welcome is the only memorable track on this uninspiring album as it does have a great melody and impressive atmospheric arrangement with a cohesive structure. For great synth-pop that equals the best of e.g. Human League, Eurythmics and OMD, I recommend Repeat Repeat. The compilation Phase By Phase offers a mix of vocal and instrumental tracks that display a few of Baumann's greatest triumphs.


4.0 von 5 Sternen Farewell to Disco, 21. März 2011
Rezension bezieht sich auf: MUSE (Vinyl)
This 1979 follow-up to Fame was the final album in Grace Jones' 1970s disco trilogy. A medley or dance suite, the first four tracks are Sinning, Suffer (a duet with arranger Thor Baldursson), Repentance and Saved. Muse has the same mix as its predecessor and the debut Portfolio, with classic 1970s dance numbers like the aforementioned medley and the final track On Your Knees, balanced by three ballads.

The arrangements are typical of the legendary disco producer Tom Moulton, although the sound is funkier in that keyboards, drums, bass and guitar are more prominent. On the ballads, backing vocals are by The Sweathearts of Sigma: Carla Benson, Barbara Ingram and Yvette Benton whilst The Brotherhood provide them on the dance medley. The striking sleeve design and art direction are by Richard Bernstein.

The dance suite is a tour de force, starting with Sinning which has atmospheric syndrums and Grace's defiant laughter. The duet has sound effects of lashings interacting with Jones' remorseful vocals. Forgive Me has a soulful sound and hints of a gospel undertone which comes to full fruition on the grand finale, Saved, a powerful uptempo number with an entrancing melody that wouldn't be out-of-place on a Candi Staton album.

Grace's spoken vocal surfaces intermittently on the funky Atlantic City Gambler; the romantic ballad I'll Find My Way To You has a lovely keyboard interlude and the spacious Don't Mess With the Messer has a similar tone to the later Demolition Man on Nightclubbing. Muse concludes with the funky dance track On Your Knees, a strong song with driving rhythms & outstanding vocals.

In 1980 Jones changed direction into New Wave, Reggae & Dub, gaining a new following whilst retaining the dance devotees. After the Sly & Robbie trilogy of Warm Leatherette, Nightclubbing & Living My Life, she moved into soulful pop on albums like 1986's Inside Story & 1989's Bulletproof Heart, after which a long silence ensued. Finally, nineteen years later and thirty years after the album under review, she returned in 2008 with the brilliant Hurricane. Fame and Muse are classic Moulton/Jones disco but not as immediately appealing as Portfolio.

romance '76 LP
romance '76 LP

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Half accessible, half classical, 9. März 2011
Rezension bezieht sich auf: romance '76 LP (Vinyl)
There is a vast stylistic contrast between the first and second parts of Peter Baumann's 1976 debut solo album. The first three tracks resemble his 1979 work Trans Harmonic Nights, as what might be described as rhythmic electronic music, while the second part falls within the realm of the classical.

Romance is particularly melodious and appealing with a beautiful arrangement that includes an engaging rhythmic pattern. High pitched crystalline and low pitched voice-like infusions embellish the sonic blend. After a slow intro, Phase By Phase comes alive with glockenspiel as the percussive tempo accelerates, later joined by gusts of whooshing synths. Tempo variations occur throughout as the piece undulates between the fragile and the emphatic.

A traditional classical structure dominates on Meadow Of Infinity Part I to which members of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra contribute. Choral vocals decorate this super slow excursion. The Glass Bridge is a brief, percussive transitional piece which leads into Meadow Of Infinity Part 2. The second part is more experimental and electronic, for example the aforementioned vocals are utilized like instruments, fading in and out at strategic intervals. Ultimately the synthesizers come to the fore on this brooding and atmospheric track.

In a sense, Romance 76 might be compared to David Bowie's Low, in that half the tracks are accessible and tuneful whilst the other half consist of long, somewhat impenetrable pieces that might not offer immediate appeal to the non-classical listener. Baumann's later work moved in an ever more popular direction, of which Repeat Repeat of 1981, co-produced by Robert Palmer, is highly recommended for lovers of synthpop.

Repeat repeat (1981)
Repeat repeat (1981)

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Great synthpop album, 8. März 2011
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Repeat repeat (1981) (Audio CD)
Unlike the symphonic synth excursions of the first two albums Trans Harmonic Nights and Romance 76, 1981's Repeat Repeat is an album of pure pop that equals any of the best synth-pop works of the early 1980s. Instruments include guitar, rhythm guitar, keyboards and drums. It was co-produced by Robert Palmer and compares well with the best works of Human League, Eurythmics and Gary Numan.

Somewhat lightweight and repetitive, the title track does have some impressive instrumental variations. The real highlight of the album is Home Sweet Home, a magnificent melodious song with poetic, thoughtful lyrics and an unforgettable chorus. This arresting track is comparable with Human League's Open Your Hear or Love Is A Stranger by Eurythmics.

The atmospheric Deccadence contains hints of the symphonic flair of his earlier work although stylistically it resorts in the pop genre. Then follows the second gem, another tuneful and memorable track titled Realtimes which contains soaring synth passages. More experimental is M.A.N. Series Two with its heavy use of vocoderised vocals.

Dealing with information overload, Brain Damage has an edgy uptempo beat. The tempo slows for Kinky Dinky with its beautiful instrumental flourishes, Daytime Logic is a percussive piece with a funky feel and the vocals come through powerfully on Playland Pleasure, another fast number. This excellent album concludes with What Is Your Use? Its obscurity is inexplicable; those who love the aforementioned musicians will consider it a treasure.

Shame, Humility, Revenge
Shame, Humility, Revenge

4.0 von 5 Sternen Sinister sorrow, 6. März 2011
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Shame, Humility, Revenge (Audio CD)
These atmospheric tracks were recorded in London, October to December 1986, before the recording of Children of God in Cornwall during February & March the next year. The instruments include piano, keyboards, cello, piano, strings, violins, viola, double bass, acoustic guitar, Indian oboe, programmed drums and 'sounds.'

Nowhere does Gira sound as human as on the grandly orchestral Nothing Without You where Jarboe's spectral wordless vocals introduce and later interact with Gira's slow groaning delivery over undulating strumming to create a feeling of genuine tenderness, an emotion not usually found in his music.

The brooding Everything at Once commences with electronic buzzing and raw rhythmic strumming that precede his semi-whispered and choral vocals until everything merges in a raucous cacophony. On Breathing Water he sings against a highly complex arrangement that hints of Branca's guitar symphonies & about a theme that echoes Swans albeit with lesser intensity, while Jarboe's choral vocals eerily interact with his soft and gentle speaking voice on the ghostly Center of your Heart.

The semi-instrumental Cold Bed, a mix of humming, violins & viola embellished by darkly powerful piano & keyboards, is followed by 24 Hours where Jarboe's other-worldly vocalizing prepares the way for Gira's voice which rises strong and bold, approaching the shouting mode found on later songs like New Mind.

In arrangement, theme and vocal style, One Small Sacrifice calls to mind Our Love Lies, that final word on spiritual exhaustion which is found on the 4-track EP Love Will Tear Us Apart and Children of God. Concluding the album on a majestic note of despair, Turned to Stone with its classical structure showcases his world-weary groan over a haunting melody.

The sound shares a mournful spirituality with Children of God but its articulation takes a different track. There's a unique tone & texture to Shame, Humility, Revenge, something unlike anything that the old Swans, Body Lovers, Angels of Light or the revived Swans have ever done. The silver colored inner sleeve contains the credits on the front and the lyrics on the back.

Eyes Open [Re-Issue]
Eyes Open [Re-Issue]
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Meisterwerk!, 2. Februar 2011
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Eyes Open [Re-Issue] (Audio CD)
On this masterpiece, N'Dour is backed by The Super Étoile plus various guest musicians; the instruments employed are too numerous to mention. Eyes Open kicks off with the sound of birdsong on New Africa, a melodious, moving call for African self-reliance, cooperation and good governance. Then follows the satirical Live Television in English and French, in which N'Dour offers some biting observations on TV addiction in his endearing English. Those are just two of five languages on this ambitious album: he also sings (mostly) in the lingua franca of Gambia and Senegal called Wolof, and in Serer and Fulani (Pulaar).

Versatility is the name of the game, as this great work attempts a comprehensive redefinition of African music, integrating styles as diverse as rock, reggae, jazz, mbalax, soul, R&B, merengue, makossa & rap. A mouthful and an earful! There's the slow jazzy ballad No More, there's Country Boy which deals with urbanization and losing one's roots - a track with a slow intro before the polyrhythms kick in, whilst Hope and Africa Remembers are tender, soulful ballads.

The hymn-like traditional Yo Lé Lé celebrates the ancestral home of the Fulani people in graciously undulating percussive and vocal patterns. On the melancholic French-only Survie, N'Dour laments the grim economic reality that many Africans have to face every day, while the somber Useless Weapons is constructed around a grand piano and stuttering vocals.

The album concludes with words of wisdom on Things Unspoken, a warning against mindlessly following movements and subtle indoctrination and a call for people to think for themselves by reading between the lines. Eyes Open encompasses many musical treasures and yields something new with every listen. It surpasses N'Dour's 1989 bestseller, The Lion, in its melodic, stylistic and lyrical scope.

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3.0 von 5 Sternen When everybody could be a superstar!, 20. Januar 2011
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Superstar (Audio CD)
Disco music reached the height of popularity between 1977 and 1979 when stars like the Bee Gees, Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, Chic, Amanda Lear, Andy Gibb, Grace Jones and Sylvester ruled the dancefloors. Some of them ruled the radiowaves too.

There were, however, other artists whose work was restricted to the clubs or who became one-hit wonders on the sales charts in the USA and UK. They include Don Ray with his album Garden of Love, Dan Hartman with Instant Replay and the Frenchmen Cerrone and Patrick Juvet.

Bob McGilpin had 3 huge disco hits of which only one, the soulful When You Feel Love, a slow romantic ballad, entered the Billboard Hot 100 and hung around its lower reaches for a while. The title track Superstar made it to number one on the US disco chart in 1978 and I'll Always Come a Running was another dancefloor favorite.

The mid-tempo Superstar has long intro, the obligatory extended rhythm break in the middle, and impressive synth swooshes and bleeps in the second part. The style is typical period disco with inspiring lyrics about reaching one's dreams. Move In Closer, Moon Dancin' and Go For The Money are similar.

Like most disco albums of the time, half the tracks are mid- to uptempo dance music whilst the rest are ballads. The Bee Gees' influence is heard most prominently in tracks like I'll Always Come a Running with its falsetto backing vocals; this ballad also stands out for its great guitar infusions.

It's no masterpiece but Superstar brings back memories of an innocent era when the fun of the dance rivaled the rebellious rage of punk. The book that best captures the spirit of the disco era is by Albert Goldman.

Death Orders: The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia (Praeger Security International)
Death Orders: The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia (Praeger Security International)
von Anna Geifman
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 32,70

4.0 von 5 Sternen Devoted to Death, 9. Januar 2011
This study reveals the close correspondences between terrorism in Tsarist Russia in the early 20th century, the way the death cult manifested throughout the century and up to the contemporary Jihad. The author takes a psycho-historical approach to the phenomenon to demonstrate how the violence in Russia serves as a blueprint for modern terror. From 1901 to 1917 more than 20,000 terrorist acts resulted in about 17,000 wounded or dead. Starting out as targeted assassinations, the killings soon became indiscriminate.

A startling revelation is that the stated ideology, political motive or dogma is not the driving force - death worship is. The killers themselves became indiscriminate, joining a bewildering array of organizations and sometimes openly declaring that murder was more important than ideology. The work also casts light on the reason why revolutions devour so many of their children. Should it gain power as the Bolsheviks did in Russia in 1917, a terror state is the result and the killing proceeds on a much larger scale.

The personality type of the suicide-homicide bomber is illuminated along with the psychology of the movement that promotes it; in this regard, Eric Hoffer's True Believer is of value in tracing the development of the mass movement and those that join it. Two other personality types are associated with the romantic nihilist: the sinister intellectual that justifies genocide on idealistic grounds and the predator that takes advantage of the mayhem caused by the nihilist and the mask of idealism created by the intellectual.

Geifman shows that this type of violence grows like a living organism which needs perpetual motion to survive. When attacking external forces, the momentum continues but the instant it is contained, the killing turns inward as the organism starts feeding on its components - the perpetrators exterminate one another. Deluded by the idea that they are the masters of life and death, the leaders of these movements are in reality only the agents of Thanatos.

The worship of death or the impulse towards human sacrifice is a feature of all secular and many religious salvationist movements that strive for utopia. The utopian urge is never extinguished and those who take the path either end up insane or create hell on earth as Robert Conquest shows in Dragons Of Expectation. It thus appears that there will always be thanatophiles but the good news is that these death cults all eventually disappear.

It is therefore irresponsible to negotiate with the Ayatollocracy or to think that terror groups like Hamas or Hezbollah could ever become moderate or tolerant. Recognition by the EU and other countries of a Palestinian state which would necessarily include Hamastan in Gaza would be a deadly mistake that will only increase the misery of Palestinians.

The author contributes major new insights on the history, psychology and modus operandi of terrorism with this intercultural, diachronic study spanning more than a hundred years. The book is impeccably researched and contains a comprehensive bibliography.

ANDY GIBB Flowing Rivers LP 1977
ANDY GIBB Flowing Rivers LP 1977
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Lilting rhythms and soulful ballads, 7. Januar 2011
Rezension bezieht sich auf: ANDY GIBB Flowing Rivers LP 1977 (Vinyl)
Andy's 1977 debut has aged remarkably well. Stylistically varied, the album offers funky disco, falsetto singing in the Saturday Night Fever style, soulful pop and pop-rock, country-flavored ballads and a touch of pre-disco Bee Gees. Barry Gibb wrote the opening number I Just Want To Be Your Everything and co-wrote (Love Is) Thicker Than Water; the other eight tracks are Andy's own work.

Words And Music is the one that conjures the early Bee Gees style although it's more uptempo than classics like Words or Don't Forget To Remember. The country-tinged numbers tastefully embellished by steel guitar infusions include Dance To The Light Of The Morning and the lilting title track, whilst the buoyant Come Home For The Winter is pure country.

The most outstanding track - in my opinion - the brilliant Let It Be Me, seamlessly blends elements of rock, pop and country plus, in its rhythmic texture, a hint of R&B. This arresting performance resembles the magnificent Time Is Time which is available on the Greatest Hits collection. Both of them display the power of his vocals at full throttle.

Of the soulful ballads, Too Many Looks In Your Eyes showcases various aspects of Andy's vocals in its complex yet cohesive arrangement whilst the swirling Starlight exudes a yearning, atmospheric quality. The two aforementioned songs associated with Barry come closest to the Bee Gees Disco of the period, I Just Want To Be Your Everything a bit more so than 'Thicker than Water.'

This excellent album concludes with the grandly orchestrated In The End, a melancholic and perhaps prophetic track. It needs be said that the melodious and lyrical qualities of the music are of a high standard throughout.

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