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Thank you to all the readers following up to now.  I now bring you, drum roll please, Blue Lion’s Top Ten Books That Everybody Should Read!  For this installment we will be revealing books 10 through 6.  So, without further ado, let’s get to the countdown.


In tenth place we have The World’s Religions by Huston Smith.  The Blue Lion has always been interested….OK, maybe always is too long.  The Blue Lion has, for as long as he can remember, been interested in religions and the beliefs of others.  This book was a natural for me to pick up and read.  Mr. Smith does a superb job providing not just the tenets of the world’s major and even some not so major religions, but traces their histories as well.  In some ways, this book is also a history of humanity.  Reading through the histories, teachings of the various religions’ founders, and their modern beliefs, one thing became clear to me.  Every major religion of man has been “corrupted” from the original teachings of their founders.  I don’t mean that every religion is run by corrupt people, although that can be an issue.  What I mean is that the simple and pure ideas each religion started with have been added to and embellished, many times so much so that the original founders wouldn’t recognize them.

Since I’ve been raised as a Catholic, I’ll give Christianity as the perfect example.  Jesus Christ, and we’ll assume he existed and said and did much of what was attributed to him, had a very simple message.  Basically, he told us we were all brothers and sisters.  He included himself in that mix.  He told us to love one another as we loved ourselves and to love God with your whole heart.  With one stroke he superseded the Ten Commandments with one.  This was the essence of the “Good News”.  If we followed this one commandment, we would be “saved”.  All of us sinners could be saved.  Pretty much everything else Christ did or said was an extension of this.

Well, apparently, people couldn’t leave well enough alone.  Somehow, this simple concept has turned into reams of dogma and rules that people had to follow. If they didn’t, they would be damned to hell for all eternity.  Then people disagreed on the rules and broke the religions up into countless demi-religions.  The Churches were established, whose leaders had great power, both secular and spritual.  At one point, the Catholic Church had three people declaring that they were the one and true Pope.  Crazy.

Any way, this book is one of the many that has informed by spiritual thinking of the years.  It started me down the path of realizing that although most religions had some truth to them, there was not a single organized religion that had the entire story.  Also, no religion was entirely true as well.  This book in many ways spurred my search for answers.  Even if you don’t find the answers I did in it, it is always beneficial to understand one’s fellow man and I cannot recommend a better way in which to start than by reading The World’s Religions.


In ninth place we have one of the most purely entertaining series ever written.  I’m talking about J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series.  Ms. Rowling has written one of the best fantasy series of all time, probably one of the best works of fiction as well.  This series starts out with The Sorcerer’s Stone, a wonderful story focused on youths that adults can enjoy as well.  With each progressive book, the main characters in the story grow up and the depth, complexity, and consequences of each story grow right along with them.  By the time of the 4th book, The Goblet of Fire, comes along, the writing and story is as good as almost any adult fiction I’ve read.  The exceptions are further along in this countdown.  The final three books are superb works of fiction.  Ms. Rowling deserves every penny she has earned with this series.  She found the perfect sweet spot in writing.  She wrote something that can be enjoyed by ANYONE above the age of 12.  This is something few authors have accomplished.  Tolkien did it to an extent, but the Potter series is initially more accessible to the younger readers.  I can only imaging what reading this series in step with your current age must have been like.  Since each book came out about once a year, someone who was 11 or 12 when the series started would have been able to read about kids their own age in each book.  I only had the privilege of reading this series as an adult and being able to remember what it was like to be the ages of the protagonists.

As with most stories about great struggles, the people in the Harry Potter series are fighting against tyranny and for their freedom and liberty.  As the series progresses, the consequences of making mistakes against a powerful foe become more and more profound.  Characters we come to care about get killed.  There are set backs for the good guys.  All through this, the heroes learn they cannot give up.  Ironically, they discover that in order to win the future, they need to understand what happened in the past.  With each installment the picture of what needs to be done and why things are the way they are becomes clearer.  The ending is triumphantly bittersweet.  The right people win, but at a heavy price.

This is a series that even people not generally drawn to fantasy should enjoy.  However, even if you can’t bring yourself to read the books, at least the movies are acceptable alternatives here.  All the movies are well done, with some being better than others.  However, even the best of the movies are mere shadows of the books they represent.  Yes, the seven books in this series are long, but they will not waste your time.  I heartily recommend everyone read this saga.


Next up is our eighth place entry; Leadership by Rudy Guiliani.  As everyone in the US probably knows, Rudy Guiliani was the very successful mayor of New York City who turned the city around from a crime infested hell hole to the great place to visit it is today.  I can hear the chorus of “give me a break, he wasn’t THAT good” now.  OK. I guess you have a point.  Maybe getting rid of the windshield washers at the tunnel exits in Manhattan doesn’t exactly turn NYC from a hell hole to paradise.  However, that one act did start the people of NY City to start changing their self defeating attitude that allowed the city to fall into a state of resigned acceptance that things couldn’t be improved to one that allowed the city to bounce back from the September 11th attacks faster than anyone would have imagined.  Mayor Guiliani provided a steady hand on that dark day that helped keep people from panicking, rioting and looting.  Let’s face it, NYC on 9/11 didn’t look anything like LA after the OJ Trial or the Rodney King trial or heck, even the Lakers winning the NBA Championship.

However, this book is not really about Rudy’s success as mayor.  It’s really about his leadership style.  For people who lead other people in any way this is a facinating and instructive book.  The main message I took from it was that you must always treat people with respect.  You don’t always have to agree with them, but you need to be able to discuss controversial or sensitive subjects in a way that makes others feel like they were at least not dismissed out of hand.  It’s the leader’s job to stand in front of the group and point in the direction you want everyone to move.  You need to make sure everyone knows the goals you are trying to accomplish and that the goals are worth while.  While you need to understand what actions are being taken to accomplish those goals, you can’t dictate what everyone is doing.  Everyone needs to be impowered to make decisions and make a difference.  YOu need to care about the people you are leading and be willing to be part teacher, part coach, part councillor and part friend.  While there are concepts that can help you do these things, leadership is an art and not a science.  Rudy Guiliani addresses all of these topics, giving examples of how he applied them, making this book an interesting read.

Now, since these mini reviews are getting longer than I thought they would be, I’m going to change my plans and only do three books each post.  So, next up well have books 7-5.  Until then, good hunting and good reading.

In the truly excellent science fiction TV show, Babylon 5, created by J. Micheal Straczynski (or Joe to those who know him) there is an episode dedicated to the question “Who are you?”.  This episode, entitled “Comes The Inquisitor” is available via Hulu.

There is a scene in the episode where one of the main characters, Delenn,  is asked over and over again in brutal fashion “Who are you?”  Delenn first answers with her name.  That, she is clearly shown, is not the right answer.   She is confused.  She doesn’t know what the “Inquisitor” is getting at.  In the end, she realizes the Inquisitor is asking “What is most important to you?”  “What do you stand for?”  “What values do you live your life by?”  It is only at this point that the testing ends.

So, who is the Blue Lion?  Clearly it’s not my name.  We can wear names like clothes.  Whether you call me Blue Lion, or Leo Blue, or Hey, you!!  Cranky guy.  It doesn’t matter.  It does not change who I am.  I guess the best answer I can give, is in what do I believe?  What are my values?  What would I be willing to die for?

Above all, I believe that life, everyone’s, life is unique and important.  If you’ve read my earlier posts you know that this is because I believe our lives are “God experiencing all there is to experience” or “the Universe figuring itself out (nod again to Joe Straczynski)” depending upon your view of a “Creator”.  Every person should have the right to seek out their own happiness as long as that does not impinge on the rights of others.  Since you need to be alive to pursue your happiness, I can state this as everyone has the “inalienable right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  The Founding Fathers of the Unites States got this exactly right.

I believe the most evil thing people can do, except under one circumstance, is to destroy another human life, as that is the ultimate abrogation of that person’s rights.  Strangely, maybe paradoxically, I also believe that you have not only the right, but the responsibility, to protect your life and the lives of those you love.  Those you love can, and often does, have a very broad definition in my book.  This leads to the one exception to the rule.  It is not evil to kill another if that other presents a credible threat to either your life or liberty, or the life and liberty of someone you love.  I wish I could say that you can wait to take action until after someone is being attacked, but by then it will often be too late and you’ll end of not saving the person who’s life you were trying to save.  I’m also not saying to kill everyone that threatens you.  It’s a judgment call that each person will have to make for themselves depending upon the situation at hand.

The Blue Lion puts a large amount of value on honesty.  Dealing with other people requires you to have credibility.  Always being honest accomplishes two things.  It cements your credibility and it keeps you from having to remember which lie you told to whom.  Trust me, as you get older the memory is one of the first things to go.  Don’t make it any harder on yourself than you need to.

I also believe that decisions need to be made on the basis of reason, not emotions, in almost all instances.  Emotional decisions, very often feel like the right thing to do, but more often than not end up making a mess of things, because they do not take the law of unintended consequences into account.  Welfare is a perfect example.  It feels right to help people who are struggling (the psychological basis for this is not as altruistic as most people think as it’s usually an ego boost to the helper), and in many cases it makes sense to do so to a limited point.  However, helping people for too long tends to make them dependent on that help.  This lessens that person’s liberty and even their dignity over the long haul.  Since the helpers (I’m talking about good people trying to help here, not those trying to take advantage) don’t intend this to happen, its an unintended consequence.  Help has to be temporary and people need to be made responsible for their own lives again as quickly as possible.

My studies of economics have shown me that capitalism is fairest way to distribute resources.  Read Basic Economics 3rd Ed: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy by Thomas Sowell to get an idea of why this is true. Capitalism, makes those who need a resource most pay the most for it.  It also takes into account human nature.  Now, while I understand that every regulation or tax put upon Capitalism in some way constrains the free will of people to do as they want and slows the growth of an economy (the rising tide does lift all boats, even if it doesn’t lift them evenly), I recognize that rules need to be agreed to and followed so that less evolved people do not take advantage of the more evolved ones.  I also recognize that governments, that need to exist to enforce the rules and protect the populace from outside harm, need funds to accomplish these tasks.

Last of my core beliefs is that representative democracy, in other words, the US system, is the best, most practical form of Government yet invented by humans, at least for humans.  It gives each person a say in running the country, which directly impacts their lives.  However, it is also workable from a practical standpoint.  Pure democracy would mean everyone voted on everything.  In the end, noting but the voting would get done.  The sad fact that our current leaders are out of control and driving this country into a hole, doesn’t mean the basic system is bad.  In fact, in the not too distant future, the system will probably work very well to change the current leadership.  If the leaders we had, actually followed the Consititution and didn’t make things up as they went, we’d be better off than we are now.

As you can see, the answers I have found to the question of “Why are we here?” has had a major impact on “Who am I?”.  I have hopefully explained how my answers to my questions about God, the Universe, and why we are here, rationally (again, hopefully) lead to who I am.  As we go forward, we’ll start to look at “Where am I going?” and “How do I get there?” from both a personal level and at the group levels.  These questions are more practical in nature, and not so esoteric as what I’ve discussed up until now  Until then, good hunting.

This is one of the most personal questions for anyone to answer.  From what I’ve seen, answers generally fall into one of 4 or 5 categories.   The first are those who feel they have a “personal relationship” with God and that the Bible is the ONLY document that needs to be referred to to live your life.  Next are those that definitely believe in God and follow some religion.  There are also those that believe, but follow no recognized religion.  There are also those who are not sure there is a God.  Lastly, are the confirmed atheists, who are sure there is not a God.

Personally, I find the first and last groups the least intersting to talk to about God.  The first group has their minds made up that things are one way and there’s no need to look further.  The last group I can at least understand.  They have a logical point.  They state that since it is impossible to prove that God exists, there’s no point in trying to do so.   Of course, this makes discussing God or “Why we are all here” a very short conversation.

Personally, I was raised a Roman Catholic and for the beginning part of my life, I fit firmly into the “follow a religion” crowd.  As time went on though, I wanted to understand more about the nature of God than the church teaches.  Since my early teenage years, I’ve been on a journey to understand God on a level not yet common among humans.  Do I believe in God?  Yes, I do.  I recognize that this is a belief on my part and not purely rational thought.  It is called faith after all.  I cannot prove the existence of God, but my belief provides me with many of the answers to life’s questions.  However, what I think of as God is definitely not the same as any religion that I know of.  I hope as I go through the questions of life and the answers I have found that the reasons for my belief in God will be made clear. I will also discuss why I don’t believe any religion really explains everything my belief does.

I’ve already stated that if God created the universe, then God is outside of time since time is part of the universe.  Thinking of God in this way will lead to the first of the 5 questions of life.  What are those five questions?

  • Who am I?
  • What do I want?
  • Where am I going?
  • How do I get there?
  • Why am I here?

As we’ll see, the order we address the first two questions, who and what, are critical to the types of decisions and choices we make.  First up will be “Who am I?” which is totally appropriate.

About

Jul 27

I am the Blue Lion.  I am a long time student of humanity, religion, spirituality, physics, economics and leadership.  It has become apparent over the years, that my brain works in different patterns than most people.  I therefore have a very unique outlook on life, politics, and spirituality .  I believe that I can help people live better, more complete lives if I share these views.  This blog is my attempt to do just that.

Why am I using a nom de plume?  It’s not like I’m famous or anything.  Mainly for two reason.  First it’s for security.  Many of my positions will be controversial.  Some will be strongly disagreed with and maybe even hated by others.  I hope there will be some people that find they agree with me.  In any case, I am only protecting the people around me and myself from possible recriminations from people that just can’t agree to disagree.  Secondly, while I have spent some employed in the government acquisition field during my life,   I don’t in any way want anyone to think I am representing any of my employers in any of the topics discussed in this blog.  Not using my real name will, I hope, make it clear that I am only representing myself on this blog.  I may, from time to time, comment on how the Government works….or more accurately how it doesn’t, and I don’t want to create any appearance of impropriety.  All I’ll say in the matter is that I have a lot of experience in why things in Government don’t seem to work as well as most people would like.  And leave it at that.

This blog will range in topics from philosophy to cosmology to life situations and decisions, to politics.  Along the way, I’ll probably throw in a review of the latest book I’ve read or movie I’ve seen that might be interesting to my readers.  I hope you enjoy the show.