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Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

This is the story of famous lovers Abelard and Heloise, and the tragedy of their relationship.  Abelard was an intelligent but provocative philosopher, whose religious views caused contention within the church.  When he falls in love with his student Heloise, the niece of Canon Fulbert, their relationship causes further scandal, and steps are taken not only to keep them apart, but to take revenge on Abelard.

I thought this was a fabulous production, by the English Touring Theatre (and which was originally performed at Shakespeare’s Globe).  As well as telling the love story of Abelard and Heloise, it also provided debate about the Bible, and religious and philosophical beliefs at the time, putting Abelard (played by the appropriately charismatic David Sturzaker) squarely at odds with the Monk Bernard of Clairvaux (a superb Sam Crane).  The play required the audience’s concentration and full attention, but we were extremely well rewarded for it!  Jo Herbert also was great as Heloise, capturing her independent spirit and fierce intelligence.

The rest of the cast included Edward Peel as Fulbret (Heloise’s uncle), Rhiannon Oliver as Denise (Abelard’s sister), Julius D’Silva (King Louis VI), John Cummins and William Mannering as Alberic and Lotholf respectively (who provided much of the comic relief of the show).  They were – as well as the rest of the cast – excellent, without a single weak link.

There are emotions aplenty in this production – shock, grief, and surprisingly lots of humour.  The simple but effective scary stage set perfectly set the scene for the unfolding drama, and there was some lovely music provided by William Lyons, Rebecca Austen-Brown and Arngeir Hauksson, who remained on stage, sitting above the action throughout.

With a superb cast, and an utterly compelling story, this is a production that deserves to be seen.  Eternal Love is currently on tour in the UK, and if you get the chance to see it, I highly recommend it.

(For more information about this production, please click here.)

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This is a collection of essays by 42 contributors (because as anyone who has read/watched The Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy knows, 42 is the meaning of life), all of whom are atheists.  The contributors are mainly British, and come from a range of different backgrounds and viewpoints – some of the contributors are Ed Byrne, Simon le Bon, Lucy Porter, Richard Herring, Brian Cox and Derren Brown.  And what compilation of essays by atheists would be complete without a contribution by Richard Dawkins?!

As the title suggests, many of the essays are regarding Christmas – just because someone is an atheist doesn’t mean that they can’t enjoy Christmas; after all, most of the rituals associated with Christmas are derived from pagan rituals in the first place.  Most of the essays – but not all of them – naturally also deal with the subject of atheism, but thankfully nobody here is trying to convert anyone to atheism, or encourage anyone to give up on their religion.

The contributions are divided into six categories – stories, science, how to, philosophy, arts and events.  I’ll be honest and say that a couple of the science contributions seemed to be a collection of long words put together in an order that I struggled to make sense of, but for the most part this is a collection of enjoyable, thought provoking, and occasionally hilarious stories and anecdotes.  ‘God Trumps’ by Christina Martin, where she describes making her own Top Trumps card set, featuring various religions, made me burst out laughing, as did (on several occasions) ‘A Day In The Life of a Godless Magazine’ by Caspar Melville and Paul Sims.  This particular essay, while fictional, contained snippets of various genuine letters sent to the New Humanist magazine – brilliantly funny.

Lucy Porter provides a list of recommended Christmas viewing/listening/reading, which can be enjoyed by the whole family, Derren Brown talks about how we should be kind to each other all year round rather than just at Christmas, and Simon le Bon describes how he gradually lost his faith – but how losing faith does not mean that he should or can not enjoy Church music or many of the rituals of a religious Christmas.

There is not enough room to mention each and every contribution, but my particular favourites are listed above.  As with all collections, some contributions are better than others, but there are very few entries which I didn’t find some enjoyment in.  I also don’t believe that this book is in any way offensive to people of any religion – as mentioned earlier, it isn’t an attempt to convert anyone – although some people are bound to be offended by it anyway.

Not only did I thoroughly enjoy this book, but I can see myself picking it up again in future years, to at least read some of my favourite entries.  Definitely recommended.

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