The Lives of Great Christians [TTC Video]

The Lives of Great Christians [TTC Video]
The Lives of Great Christians [TTC Video] by William R Cook
Course No 6481 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.62GB

The followers of Jesus, who came to be called Christians, have practiced and preached their beliefs for centuries. Their actions and achievements, their abilities and energies, have changed the course of history and the nature of belief. Many are well known, but many more are obscure or even nameless. The Lives of Great Christians will introduce you to some of Christianity's luminaries. You will know once you meet them why they are great, and you will be interested and inspired by the many ways they found to live lives of faith.

You will stand spellbound in the crowd, listening to Bernardino and Augustine preach and teach. You will visit the solitary cells and see the visions of Bernard, Clare, and Catherine. You will witness the negotiations as Gregory VII and Leo IX reform the Church. You will hear the verdict of heresy against John Hus and Martin Luther. You will cross the Egyptian desert to seek the wisdom of Antony, and you will keep company with saints, missionaries, and martyrs. And as you do, you will learn what Christians believe, how that belief has shaped world history, and what these stewards of faith can tell us today.

Christianity is more than doctrine or theology, and even more than prayer. For many it is the daily effort to live one's faith in every time and place. The Lives of Great Christians introduces you to those who have done so over the centuries and shows the many paths they found. You will learn about real lives that exemplify Christian faith in action:

  • Bernard brought 30 friends and relatives along to enter the monastery with him.
  • Clare ran away to follow Francis and created a new form of spiritual community for women.
  • Antony lived alone in the desert for 87 years, reading the Book of Nature and communing with God in solitude.
  • Maximilian Kolbe took the place of a family man condemned to death in Auschwitz.
  • The monks of Athos live as hermits as well as in communities, dedicating themselves to a life and place largely unchanged since the 10th century.

If you are a student of history, you will understand more about Christianity's role in it. Christianity didn't just change believers; it defined all of Europe, eastern as well as western, and set many of the world's nations on a course still apparent today. Your appreciation of these eminent Christians' lives will rise with illuminating examples of Christianity's role in world history and culture, as well as intellectual and political contexts:

  • The Crusades: Efforts to reclaim the Holy Land from the Muslims often included persecuting the Jews at home.
  • The Plague Years: Recurrent epidemics decimated populations and caused political and economic instability and labor shortages. Many blamed Church corruption and saw the plagues as God's punishment.
  • The Church of England: When Henry VIII divorced the pope so he could divorce Catherine of Aragon, he set the stage for centuries of continuous dissent.
  • The Reformation: When the Church cracked down on dissidents, Brother Martin Luther took his stand.

If you are curious about the future of Christianity, you will find out how dynamic it has always been—and still is. Christianity has never been a monolithic and unchallenged set of practices and beliefs but a community with a long history of growth and change that continues today. From that community have come inspirational leaders such as Mother Teresa, who called loneliness the greatest problem of our time. She acted on her belief that no one, no matter how poor or sick, should die alone, and won the Nobel Peace Prize. And Gustavo Gutiérrez, the founder of Liberation Theology, declared that the Church's highest duty was to the poor, a belief that has changed the nature of Christian ministry in Latin America and beyond.

Luminaries of Christianity

The Lives of Great Christians is a wide-ranging chronological survey. Dr. Cook, a vigorous and articulate lecturer, defines Christians as followers of Jesus, and considers especially the lives of those who have sought the virtues of humility, faith, and charity. How does a Christian life combine action, thought, prayer, and contemplation? How are Christian lives different in different times, places, and situations? "What does it mean to be a great Christian?" Dr. Cook asks. "There are an awful lot of answers, and some of them may surprise you."

The course ranges across 21 centuries, five continents, and several denominations. Dr. Cook, a medieval historian with a special interest in the history of Christianity, calls on his scholarly knowledge and also on personal experience to introduce us to those he calls "superstars of faith."

We learn about real human beings with real difficulties and imperfections—Paul the impatient, Augustine the lusty, Catherine the stubborn, Martin Luther the intolerant—who have achieved spiritual distinction. Many, like Augustine, Bernard, Francis, and Clare, have changed the nature of Christianity itself. They spring to life against a backdrop of Church history, culture, and politics.

We come away with a vivid sense of the world these believers lived in—how they were part of their time, as well as how they transcended their times. When Clare ran away to follow Francis rather than marrying, for example, her family lost a chance to make an economic alliance. And when Bernard preached against persecuting the Jews during the Crusades, he stood against prevailing opinion. As we follow Christianity's institutional and political development we come to understand the continuing role of reformers: Bernard, John Hus, Martin Luther, and John Wesley, churchmen themselves who followed their faith and found themselves bitterly at odds with other churchmen.

Human, Imperfect—and Faithful

This course will give you a clearer understanding of how Christianity has developed and changed. You will see Christianity in action, whether the action is Antony the hermit moving deeper and deeper into the desert as seekers and askers overrun him, or Benedict working out his rules for monastic life.

Dr. Cook starts by sharing his perspective: "I'm a Christian. I'm a Catholic. I'm an active Catholic." Eloquent, knowledgeable, amusing, and warm, he calls on his broad understanding of history and culture and on his personal and spiritual experience to examine "people whose lives are eloquent testimonies to the struggle … to live an authentic Christian life."

Dr. Cook shows us human beings with imperfections and inadequacies: Bernardino hunted witches and hounded homosexuals; Bernard preached death to Muslims in the Second Crusade; Martin Luther urged the persecution of the Jews; and Thomas More wrote fierce attacks on Luther. Nevertheless, they put aside their selfishness and resistance as best they could to follow Jesus, sometimes in harmony with the Church but sometimes despite it.

How Have We Loved?

"How did I make judgments in putting together a course about who the great Christians are?" asks Dr. Cook. "To me, the 17th-century German Lutheran Johann Arndt said it best: When we stand before Christ the judge, Christ is not going to ask us what we know. He is going to ask us how we have loved."

The Lives of Great Christians [TTC Video]

Fundamentals of Photography II [TTC Video]

Fundamentals of Photography II [TTC Video]
Fundamentals of Photography II [TTC Video] by Joel Sartore
Course No 7931 | M4V, AVC, 640x360 | AAC, 256 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 14.18GB

Great photography goes beyond knowing about how lenses and f-stops work. It’s about creative problem solving under real-world conditions. Taking great photographs means knowing how to choose the right tool or apply the right technique to capture your subject in the best possible way. Photographers who wish to excel—professional and recreational alike—need to have a solid foundation of technical skills and the ability to apply that knowledge intuitively to a wide range of scenarios and subjects. For example:

  • How do professional photographers anticipate and capture "the decisive moment" that separates a snapshot from a great composition?
  • Under what conditions should you ignore your camera's warnings and push the limits of manual mode to best reflect the scene?
  • What are the technical tricks and equipment that professionals use to quickly turn harsh lighting, reflections, or cluttered environments to a photographer's advantage?

By exploring, and practicing, the same skills, tips, and techniques professional photographers use in the field to solve a range of visual problems, you can take your photography to a whole new level—no matter what your subject. And you can transform yourself from a good photographer into a great one.

Now, in Fundamentals of Photography II, a vibrant and vital continuation of our best-selling Fundamentals of Photography, you’ll hone your skills, improve your ability to optimize picture-perfect moments, and capture jaw-dropping images. Filmed entirely on location and designed as an extension of the first course, Fundamentals II adds new skills to your repertoire and expands upon the skills you already know. It's your chance to rejoin award-winning National Geographic Photographer Joel Sartore for an even deeper dive into the secrets of powerful photography, as he shows you how to apply your hard-learned technical knowledge to take amazing photographs out in the real world. In these 24 lessons, you’ll cover advanced topics like:

  • professional shooting techniques
  • night photography and time exposures
  • working with studio lighting setups—and taking those setups outdoors
  • specialty filters
  • shooting over and under water
  • and much more!

You’ll explore a wide variety of fascinating photographic challenges out in the field, and you’ll spend some time in the studio for an insider’s look at how photographers go through the editing process. Professor Sartore will add more tools to your photographer’s toolbox and, in his words, “unleash everything I’ve ever thought about photography and cover the gamut of what you can do with a still camera.”

Out of the Studio and into the Real World

Professor Sartore has designed this course as a follow up to his wildly popular Fundamentals of Photography course. Mimicking the progression of his in-person workshops, Fundamentals II takes you out of the studio and into the real world as you go on-location and learn to apply the tools and techniques you already have at your disposal. While you are there, he also teaches you a plethora of more advanced techniques, adding to your photographic toolbox of knowledge. Each lesson drops you into a different scenario and lets you shoot alongside a master of the craft as he approaches situations, identifies and overcomes various challenges, and produces engaging, breathtaking photography from seemingly simple events and subjects.

  • Adapting to unusual lighting: If photography is the art of capturing light, then how do you make the best of situations that challenge you with difficult lighting? Explore how to properly utilize side lighting, ghost lighting, colored lighting, and more.
  • Black-and-white photography: There’s a unique mood to black-and-white photos. You’ll be surprised at how different the world looks through a monochromatic lens, and how choosing black and white frees you to do things you’d never dream of doing in color.
  • Smartphone photography: Most of us now take photographs with our smartphones every day—but that’s no excuse to forget the art of great photography. Discover some insider tips and strategies for making the most of your smartphone camera.

During some lessons, you’ll get the unrivaled opportunity to join Professor Sartore on special field assignments—observing a master photographer throughout his creative process, watching him interact with his subjects, consult his photographic instincts, and resolve common challenges in order to tell profound, lyrical stories.

Add to Your Photographer’s Toolbox

Even if you already have a decent-sized toolbox of photographic tips and tricks, Fundamentals of Photography II gives you even more to adapt to what (and where) you’re shooting. Great photography, says Professor Sartore, “takes more tools in the toolbox.” And to that end, he’s packed each of these lessons with specific strategies—many of which will surprise you with just how dramatically they can change the way you take photographs.

  • If you're working in low ambient light and want to capture a moving target, try employing rear-curtain sync, which triggers the flash towards the end of the shutter duration. The result will be an artistic motion trail recording the movement of the subject with a sharp and highly focused, subject at the end.
  • Want an interesting aerial perspective on your subject? Depending on the subject, you can just look down on it from your standing height using a wide-angle lens and, here's the real trick, cutting out the frame of reference. This even works well for subjects with geometric or graphic patterns.
  • Think your chances of taking great outdoor photos end when the sun sets? Think again, as Professor Sartore explores how to use and effectively capture moonlight, starlight, urban lights, and more.

Hone Your Skills with a Master Photographer

What makes Professor Sartore such a rare and delightful photography instructor is that he is an excellent mentor as well as a talented artist. A teacher of the highest caliber, he knows how to share his knowledge and creative process with other photographers (both professional and amateur) in a clear and engaging manner. He makes photography exciting and inspiring. And he doesn’t shy away from highlighting common mistakes and missteps even the most seasoned professionals can make from time to time, making this course valuable for photographers of all levels.

This visually dazzling course is an excellent opportunity to learn from this master photographer, whose photographs have earned him the Best Picture Award from National Geographic magazine and the Veolia Environment Award for wildlife photography—and whose work has been covered by national broadcasts including the CBS News Sunday Morning show, National Geographic’s Explorer, NBC’s Nightly News, and NPR’s Weekend Edition.

“Good is what your mind imagines, but great is often what reality gives you,” says Professor Sartore. And to get great photos, you have to get out there in the field and start looking at the world with your eyes—and your skills—prepared to overcome challenges and find the best story. Consider the 24 lessons of Fundamentals of Photography II your gateway to taking better, richer photos.

Fundamentals of Photography II [TTC Video]

The World's Greatest Geological Wonders: 36 Spectacular Sites [TTC Video]

The World's Greatest Geological Wonders: 36 Spectacular Sites [TTC Video]
The World's Greatest Geological Wonders: 36 Spectacular Sites [TTC Video] by Michael E Wysession
Course No 1712 | M4V, AVC, 640x360 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 16.6GB

Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Mount Fuji, the Galapagos Islands. These natural wonders are on everyone’s list of must-see attractions that are both spectacular and geologically fascinating. But what of Ha Long Bay, the Columbia Glacier, Erta Ale lava lake, and the Great Blue Hole? They also belong on the list, along with more than 200 other sites, both famous and obscure, that are well worth a visit to see breathtaking vistas combined with the grandeur of geological forces in action.

Shaped by erosion, plate tectonics, volcanic eruptions, and other processes over the course of billions of years, Earth is a planet of immense variety. Impressive geological scenes are everywhere. But only a select few—whether astonishing valleys, mountains, waterfalls, or other formations—qualify as geological wonders that are not only memorable and worth a special trip, but that also tell us something profound about the way the world works.

For example, consider these lesser-known but awe-inspiring places:

  • Ha Long Bay: Thousands of limestone towers soar upward out of this bay of mystery and beauty in Vietnam. The formation is what geologists call a karst landscape, sculpted from the slow dissolution of soluble rock by rain and groundwater.
  • Columbia Glacier: One of the most intensively studied glaciers in the world, this magnificent river of ice twists its way for 50 kilometers from Alaska’s coastal range into the sea. Such glaciers advance and retreat for unknown reasons.
  • Erta Ale: In rare cases, lava from a volcano will continuously feed into the volcanic crater and bubble away like a seething caldron. Of the five active lava lakes in the world, the longest running is in a volcano called Erta Ale in Ethiopia.
  • Great Blue Hole: What could cause a nearly perfect circle of intensely deep blue water in the middle of a shallow reef? The Caribbean’s Great Blue Hole tells a surprising story of repeated glaciations and rising and falling seas.

Whether you are planning your next vacation or exploring the world from home, you owe it to your planet to know the places that make it exceptional throughout the solar system. The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders: 36 Spectacular Sites is your gateway to an unrivaled adventure. In 36 lavishly illustrated half-hour lectures that are suitable for nonscientists and geology enthusiasts alike, Professor Michael E. Wysession of Washington University in St. Louis introduces you to Earth’s most outstanding geological destinations.

During more than three decades as an award-winning teacher and geophysicist, Professor Wysession has traveled the globe, getting to know Earth’s most intriguing geological formations. In The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders, he focuses on the leading contenders in 36 categories, from deserts to river deltas to fossil quarries to fjords. After touring his top choice in detail, he presents at least four runners-up that are every bit as spectacular. By the time you complete this course, you will have experienced more than 200 different geological wonders in nearly 120 countries.

Prepare to Be Surprised

Geological wonders impress us for many reasons. They are exceptionally beautiful or mysterious. They relate to us on a practical level, cutting a natural route through a mountain range or providing a source of valuable minerals. They may have played a role in human history, such as the picturesque Greek island of Santorini, which is the remnant of a volcano that erupted in ancient times, possibly ending the Minoan civilization. Natural wonders also teach us about Earth’s interconnected systems, and they put time into perspective. A million years is nothing in the life story of a canyon, a cave, or a continental rift.

Moreover, great landscapes, like great works of art, surprise us:

  • Grand Canyon: No one is prepared for that first glimpse of the Grand Canyon, which suddenly appears as a breathtaking series of chasms in a seemingly featureless plateau. Which raises the question: Why is there a deep canyon here at all?
  • Himalayas: If you go to the top of Mount Everest, you will find marine limestone with fossils. In other words, the roof of the world is made of rocks that came from the bottom of sea! Nothing better demonstrates the power of Earth to move crustal plates.
  • Amazon basin: The Amazon is a river of superlatives. At the point where it drains into the Atlantic Ocean it contains as much water as the next seven largest rivers combined. Twenty percent of the fresh water entering the ocean comes from this mighty river basin.
  • Hawaii: The big island of Hawaii is not only the biggest volcano on Earth; it’s the biggest mountain on Earth of any kind. Measured from its base on the sea floor, it is almost twice as high as the tallest land mountain.

Fire up Your Imagination!

As part of your grand tour, Professor Wysession often gives tips on side trips and other attractions you can find when you visit one of the sites on his list. He also gives cultural background. For example, many geological wonders, such as Mount Fuji in Japan and Ayres Rock in Australia, have long been considered sacred to the people who live in their vicinity. Other locations may seem at first glance to be overwhelmed by hotels, shops, and other tourist amenities. But most of these sites are so vast that it’s not hard to escape into pure nature. And in all cases, if you know the story behind the place that you’re visiting, then just being there, even for a short time, is an experience never to be forgotten.

The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders takes you to stunning locales that spark your imagination. One of the top wonders in anyone’s book is Yellowstone National Park, located primarily in Wyoming. The geysers, bubbling hot springs, and colorful geological formations are awe-inspiring to behold. Even more awesome is the knowledge that nearly the whole park is an enormous volcanic crater, sitting atop a massive, active magma chamber that could erupt at any time. A look at a map of North America shows that the continent has been slowly drifting across a hotspot in Earth’s mantle, which has been responsible for a whole series of “Yellowstones” over the course of millions of years.

The course also probes questions such as these:

  • Why do waterfalls form? Standing at the dazzling Iguazu Falls along the border of Brazil and Argentina, you may wonder why such features are so rare, since rivers and cliffs are common. Learn that the distinctive structure of the rock beneath a river determines whether falls will form.
  • Why does nature prefer hexagons? On close inspection, Devils Tower in Wyoming is made up of hexagonal columns of volcanic rock. Probe the connection between this geological feature and the cells of a honeycomb or the tiles on a bathroom floor.
  • Are meteor craters always circular? Meteor Crater in Arizona is nearly circular, as are most of the countless craters on the moon—even those formed by meteors that strike at low angles. Investigate the amazing physics of an object impacting at escape-velocity speed.
  • Where are the still undiscovered natural wonders? All of the spectacular geological formations on the surface of Earth have been found. But underground, dramatic caves wait to be discovered. Explore an exceptional example that recently came to light in Mexico.

Professor Wysession winds up the course with a tour of geological wonders on other planets, as Earth is not alone in having impressive volcanoes, canyons, and other attractions. But Earth’s combination of plate tectonics, flowing water, a relatively dense atmosphere, and life has created formations that are unique in the solar system. Take advantage of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders to discover what makes our planet so spectacular. There’s truly no place like home!

The World's Greatest Geological Wonders: 36 Spectacular Sites [TTC Video]

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