By Radhika Sekar,Ottawa Citizen, August 22, 2010
"Ancient pagan religions worshipped goddesses and there is evidence suggesting women were highly regarded in these societies. But while goddess worship still flourishes in Hinduism, ironically, the equal status of women did not prevail.----------------------------------------
Fortunately, Hindu reformers of the 19th-century recognized that the injustices heaped upon women are social rather than religious and campaigned vigorously against the oppression. In the past decades, the status of Hindu women has undergone three stages; first emancipation, then "equal but complementary" and finally equal in all spheres. But attitudes of several millennia are slow to erase and injustices still abound. However as more women claim their rights, the patriarchal system will give way to a society of parity."
Muriel Spark: The Biography by Martin Stannard
A brilliant, difficult woman in sharp focus
Biography of novelist Muriel Spark, known best for "The Prime of Miss Jean Brody."
Reviewed by Frank Wilson, Philadelphia Inquirer, Aug. 22, 2010
"She was born Muriel Sarah Camberg on Feb. 1, 1918, in the Morningside district of Edinburgh. Her father was a Scottish Jew. Her mother was English (from Watford) and (at least, nominally) Anglican. Stannard describes the household religion as "pagan Christian Judaism."----------------------------------------
Then, in 1951, the Observer announced a contest for a Christmas story. The prize was 250 pounds. There were nearly 7,000 entries. Spark's "The Seraph and the Zambezi" won.
The story displayed all the characteristics of Spark's mature fiction: precision, concision, and her own brand of magical realism.
He certainly makes it clear that as a single woman, she had to fight for what she got. He also makes clear that, for Spark, writing fiction was a vocation in the religious sense. She was prepared to sacrifice anything and anyone on behalf of her art.
What Spark, who always considered herself a poet, wrote about John Masefield's work, of its "kinship with that primitive order of religious revelation," applies equally to her own:
That is the paradox of inspiration - the incredible and the impossible are felt to be present and therefore (for what is more actual than what we feel?) are credible and possible. . . . The poem will have an organic connection with its physical origin, and the pattern of events and their movement at the visionary instant will be translated symbolically until in the end the work itself becomes the real thing and the events the symbols of it."
A spiritual community, sans dogma
by Guy Kovner, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, August 21, 2010
"A stone statue of the elephant-headed Hindu deity Ganesh stands just inside the door to Santa Rosa's Center for Spiritual Living.
The senior minister, Edward Viljoen, a South African native and trained classical musician, is as likely to quote from the Bhagavad Gita as the Bible, and says neither one should be taken literally.
More than 1,000 people call the center, located in a warehouse-sized former roller skating rink on Occidental Road, their spiritual refuge, a place of prayer, study and communal warmth.
Just don't go in expecting pat answers to the elemental questions about the meaning of life, like who are we and why are we here."