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RECOMMENDED RELIGIOUS/SPIRITUAL BOOKS

2005-January to June

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Sponsored link.

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The current month's recommendation is located elsewhere.

Warpaint of the Gods

 

by Nila Sagadevan

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Book Description:
Good things often come in small packages. This is a tiny book, but it really packs a punch.

According to Amazon.com:

An incredibly powerful message of the underlying unity of all world religions, Warpaint Of The Gods aims to introduce a voice of reason to the paradox of religious bloodshed that pervades the world today. It undertakes a ruthless examination of religion's role in the brutal internecine conflict that has ruled the Earth, and concludes that human beings are so preoccupied with their own ethnocentricity (religious and ethnic) that they are blind to the horrors they are inflicting on one another.

Equally important, this blinkered view of humanity has prevented us seeing the real picture-that life exists not only on the microscopic speck of cosmic dust we call Earth, but in the distant realms of the Universe, too. This vast celestial ocean renders our genocidal affinities all the more ridiculous, because we are perpetrating them in the name of the very God who created the Universe.

About the Author:
Nila Sagadevan was born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and educated in Britain. Born in a predominantly Buddhist country to liberal-minded Hindu parents who encouraged belief in a single Creator, he was sent at the age of 5 to Christian boarding schools where he read the Bible, attended Sunday school, and sang in the school choir.

An aeronautical engineer-turned-pilot, Sagadevan left Scotland for America in 1972. He lived in Alaska for 15 years when a profound, life-altering experience changed his concept of earthly religions forever, and caused him to deeply ponder the anthropocentric mindset that guides human life. His quest for knowledge and self-inquiry has led him on a journey through more than 40 countries and to many of the centers of the world's major religions.

Sagadevan, who was the featured guest in a television documentary on extraterrestrial phenomena, also hosted his own radio program, The Open Mind, in the 1980s. Sagadevan's writings-on world affairs, race relations, spirituality, and other subjects-have appeared in a variety of magazines and newspapers. He lives with his wife and teenage son in Southern California.

Some reviews:

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Chell Bosson, Retired aerospace engineer, La Mirada, CA: "Once I started I couldn't put it down. This is a book that needs to be read and reread."

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Frank Scrima, Retired Vice President of a Fortune 100 Company, Valencia, CA: "As far ahead of our time as Copernicus' daring pronouncements probably were ahead of his. The world needs this book."

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Christine Hall, Editor, Alternative Approaches Magazine, Pinnacle, NC: "One of the most thought provoking books I have ever read."

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Astrid Ware, Author, Los Angeles CA: "This book is another Kahil Gibran-caliber "The Prophet."

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Tim O'Hagan: "I believe the words of this unique book, like the words of timeless peacemakers, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Tich Nhat Hanh and Kahil Giban, will prevail to the benefit of all who read it, and should occupy a place on the shelf of every caring human being."

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Book data:

Author: Nila Sagadevan
Title: "Warpaint of the Gods"
Edition: Softcover
Publisher: Truepenny Media
ISBN: 0976260603
Release date: 2004-DEC
Pages: 192
Cost: List: U.S. $12.00  plus shipping. Amazon.com sells it for $10.20 plus shipping. Amazon Marketplace has a number of vendors that occasionally sell surplus new and used copies at a slightly lower price.

As of 2005-JUN, Amazon offers free shipping for orders to U.S. addresses in excess of $25.00. You simply select "Super Saver Shipping" when you go to the Amazon checkout.

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

The Sins of Scripture:
Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love

by John Shelby Spong

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John Shelby Spong, is a retired bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA. He is also a liberal theologian. He is the author of many previous books such as:

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"Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile,"

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"Here I Stand : My Struggle for a Christianity of Integrity, Love, and Equality,"

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"Resurrection : Myth or Reality?,"

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"Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism : A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture,"

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"Living in Sin?: A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality," and

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"Born of a Woman."

In his latest book, he examines the Bible for what he calls "Texts of Hate" or "Terrible Texts." These are passages in the Bible which have been used to justify behaviors such as as overbreeding, degradation of the environment, sexism, child abuse, oppression of homosexuals, and anti-Semitism. Note that he is not necessarily saying that all of these passages are hate literature; he is making the point that they have been historically interpreted by Christians as justification for hatred, oppression, denial of human rights. He suggests that the process continues today.

Among the Amazon.com customers who wrote personal reviews of this book, some hated it and gave it 1 star (the lowest rating); others loved it and gave it the maximum rating of 5 stars. Not many were lukewarm. Some comments:

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4 Stars: "If you're a Biblical literalist with a 'God said it, I believe it, that settles it' bumper sticker on your car or on your mind, you won't be amused by Spong's latest volley against intolerant dogmatism. But if you think you have a brain for a good reason, and prefer keeping it turned on and using it, you might well find this a very useful compendium of the passages in the Bible used to justify repression, oppression, persecution, exploitation, war, pogroms, genocide, hatred and evil through the ages."

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1 star: "In today's politically correct world, to the elitist left-wing academics Christianity has become 'outdated.' Consequently, many denominations, including the Episcopal Church, are revising Christian doctrines in order to lose Christian morality and sacramental orders found in those doctrines. Why? So everyone can 'get along' and be one happy, judgment free social justice organization."

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4 Stars: "Once again, Bishop Spong has hit the nail on the head. This book follows in the footsteps of his other notable attacks on Christian fundamentalism to show how a literal interpretation of the Bible, removed from the context in which it was written, can do more harm than good."

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1 Star: "The true tragedy of Spong's apostate philosophy is that it perpetuates an 'I will set my own terms' approach to faith. An apologetics for liberal political activism, the second pincer of Spong's claw acts to demonize traditional faith as 'hateful.' Label the opposing debate as 'hate' and shut them down from the beginning. While the frosting on his little cake looks and tastes pretty good, the underlying cake is as tasteless and unnourishing as a sawdust breadloaf."

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5 Stars: "If a person is so convinced that his way of interpreting the Bible is the only correct way, it is undoubtedly a waste of time for him to read this book but, if the inconsistencies, brutality, and destructiveness of the scriptures have been evident to him for some time, as they have for me, he will find Bishop Spong's assurance that Christianity can survive a new reformation comforting. He leaves me feeling good about my ability to love and live as Jesus taught us to do, without the restraint of man made and instituted creeds and rules."

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Book data:

Author: John Shelby Spong
Title: "The Sins of Scripture : Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love"
Edition: Hardcover
Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco
ISBN: 0060762055
Release date: 2005-APR
Pages: 336
Cost: List: U.S. $24.95  plus shipping. Amazon.com sells it for $16.47 plus shipping. Amazon Marketplace has a number of vendors that occasionally sell surplus new and used copies at a slightly lower price.

As of 2005-MAY, Amazon offers free shipping for orders to U.S. addresses in excess of $25.00. You simply select "Super Saver Shipping" when you go to the Amazon checkout.

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

Month Of Sundays:
Searching For The Spirit And My Sister

by Julie Mars

(Not to be confused with the book by John Updike with the same title)

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This is Julie Mars' second book. It describes the last seven months of her older sister's life, when Julie was her sister's main caregiver. After her sister died, Julie visited 31 churches and other spiritual centers, precisely one per week. Most of the book deals with her experiences in each of the stops on her pilgrimage. Her publisher suggests that by sticking to this rigorous schedule, Julie was programming "...her grief to dissipate in a given amount of time." The book gives the reader an opportunity to learn about dozens of spiritual and religious traditions that they might otherwise not have the opportunity to visit.

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Some reviews:

bulletCarla Davis of the Vegetarian Times: "What a treat! The themes of loss and longing that pervade the book will resonate with readers. I applaud the author for her warts-and-all frankness, without which the book would read like just another sentimental memoir. Hooray for Julie! That took guts."
bulletRoundTableReviews.com: "I loved traveling with Julie into churches I may never visit in this lifetime. Julie may or may not have found the spirit in her quest, but in this book, she helps us all."
bulletMaryjude Hoeffel of Bookin' It: "I just finished A Month of Sundays by Julie Mars. What a beautiful book. I laughed, cried, raged, and was both moved and inspired. Please thank Ms. Mars for writing this book. I will hand sell it with enthusiasm."
bulletNovelist Jennifer Egan, author of "Look at me:" "Beguiling... a work of stinging honesty that is difficult to put down."
bulletRichard Selzer, author of "Letters to a young doctor:" "Riveting... all the makings of a classic story of pilgrimage told with candor, humor and a sense of adventure."

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Book data:

Author: Julie Mars
Title: "A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister"
Edition: Paperback
Publisher: GrayCore Press
ISBN: 0974207454
Release date: 2005-APR
Pages: 208
Cost: List: U.S. $12.95  plus shipping. Amazon.com sells it for $10.36 plus shipping. Amazon Marketplace has a number of vendors that occasionally sell surplus new and used copies at a slightly lower price.

As of 2005-MAY, Amazon offers free shipping for orders to U.S. addresses in excess of $25.00. You simply select "Super Saver Shipping" when you go to the Amazon checkout.

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

"Field Notes on the Compassionate Life"

by Marc Ian Barasch

"An argument for compassion that is balanced yet persuasive--and long overdue. This book ought to be a compulsory read for all." Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

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Amazon.com review:

Marc Ian Barasch, dubbed "one of today's coolest grown-ups" by Interview magazine, sets out on a journey to the heart of compassion. He discovers its power to change who we are and the society we have become. Compassion, he concludes, is "a prescription for authentic joy."

Can tapping into one simple human trait, hardwired into our nervous system and just waiting to be awakened, transform our lives and the world at large? Could it help us enjoy new levels of happiness and contentment? Exploring his subject through the multiple lenses of psychology and biology, pop culture and theology, history and philosophy, Barasch weaves a stirring, unforgettable account of his search to find within himself and others: the ability to live compassionately.

He examines such fascinating questions as: What can we learn from exceptionally empathetic people? Can we increase our kindness quotient with practice? How do we open our hearts to those who do us harm? What if the great driving force of our evolution were actually "survival of the kindest?"

Drawing from influences as disparate as Buddhist monks and skeptical neuroscientists, Barasch creates a riveting, persuasive argument that a simple shift in consciousness can have a tremendous, lasting impact on our psyches, our relationships, our health--and the very fate of the Earth.

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Personal book reviews by two readers:

bulletJ.D. of Oregon writes, in part: "....I think 'Field Notes on the Compassionate Life' is worth a read by anyone who is interested in human nature, benevolence, compassion, personal happiness, and the future of humanity. The world is in a sad state of affairs. We have tried hate, war, discrimination, capital punishment, and all sorts of other antihuman policies to make what we thought would be a better world. These have failed. For how many centuries does humankind have to knock its head against the same wall of malice toward others until it comes to its senses? Maybe we ought to try a little compassion, a little kindliness, a little benevolence toward our fellow human beings and see if that works. It would certainly be easier on the head, not to mention on the wall."
bulletA-Dub of New York writes: "Having read many reviews but never written one, I recommend this book to anyone interested in further developing one's character. Barasch writes of a universal truth filled with insights on human behavior and also of the challenges humanity faces as a whole. His casual writing and everyday language makes it a joy to read and neither intimidates nor evangelizes. Using scientific research, spiritual passages and personal experience, he has caused me to reflect, reassess and redefine what I consider as compassion."

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An excerpt from the book:

Life offers up its own daily catechism, even if it's just seeing people in a little better light. Why not just resolve to give everyone the benefit of the doubt? "If we treat people as they ought to be," said Goethe, almost nailing it, "we help them become what they are capable of becoming." Or more to the point: Treat them as they already are, if we but had the Good Eye to see it.

Once, at a conference, I noticed a man striding toward me, his face alight. He seemed really happy to see me, but I didn't have a clue who he was. When he got closer, he pushed his glasses up to the bridge of his nose, peered at my face, looked down at my nametag, took a step back.

"I'm so sorry," he said, embarrassed. "You looked just like a friend I haven't seen for years. You even have the same first name ... so when someone pointed you out. . ." He trailed off; the effusive warmth seeped away. I told him it was fine. His Good Eye had enveloped me in a gaze of anticipatory delight that made me feel golden. We wound up having lunch. He told me about his research (which coincidentally dovetailed with my own); he talked about the happiness and sorrows of raising a young daughter with multiple sclerosis (for everyone is fighting a great battle). We still stay in touch.

Maybe we should all take off our glasses and hope for more cases of mistaken identity. For that matter, it might be unmistaken. Why not welcome everyone as some long-lost cousin, sprung from our African mother, bumping into each other again after a fifty-thousand-year separation. Wonderful to see you after all this time -- you look great!

A friend of mine, a psychologist, works as a counselor to the obdurate, lethal men at Arkansas's infamous Tucker Max prison. She's well aware that most people look at her clients and see only dregs -- "ugly toothless hulks," as she puts it -- but she claims she can only see "radiant bulbs with these big lampshades blocking the light. I know they're supposed to be 'untreatable psychopaths,' but I feel like, Oh, take that fright-mask off! It could come off in two seconds!" It sounds absurd, but she's remarkably successful. In her presence, the toughest nuts crack wide-open; even their wary, death-row warders let down their guard and cry. She has an x-ray vision that goes straight to the human core.

"It's like there's this horribly thick suit of armor," she explains, trying to make me see it through her eyes, "and I know someone's trapped inside, so how do we get them out?" I ask her why she even bothers. "The joy!" she says, as if it's the most obvious thing in the world. "Just the joy of being with people when they show up as they really are."

If we can't see who people really are, say possessors of the Good Eye, it's just our ordinary eye playing tricks on us, focusing on differences and defects, blind to deeper connection. If we mistake each other for strangers, it's just blurry vision. The Good Eye is the corrective to Einstein's "optical delusion of consciousness." As with the rearview mirror that cautions Objects May Be Closer Than They Appear, we might be closer, much closer, than we think.

The sixteenth-century Tibetan meditation master Wangchuk Dorje recommended a practice he called "the Activity of Being in Crowds." Walking through a throng, he said, is a "good opportunity to check your progress and examine the delusions, attachments, and aversions that arise." I find the bustle of a mall an especially good place to check my Good Eye for jaundice. It's not just the plenitude of people, but of everything under that fluorescent sun that pushes our buttons. With everything winking merrily, beckoning with come-ons for instant gratification, and mirrors, mirrors everywhere (it is all about me, after all!), I go into a sort of mall trance. The mind itself gets into the spirit of things, hawking its tawdrier wares; my finicky responses to the goods on display merge with my reactions to the people I pass -- little covetous twinges, subtle flickers of attitude, petty judgments on how people walk, talk, dress, and chew gum. And here a surge of superiority, there a deflating thought of inadequacy; here a lurch of desire for a sleek, well turned-out woman, there a picador's lance of envy at her undeserving boyfriend in the sloppy polo shirt.

I return from these shopping expeditions with a discount grab-bag of those feelings the spiritual traditions agree most occlude compassion. I'm collecting a set of action figures based on Augustine's deadly sins (and can we just define sins as "biggest obstacles to selfless love"?). Yesterday I snagged Mammon, avarice (a Buddhist would call him tanha, craving), and today my favorite, Leviathan, jealousy, complete with light-up green eyes.

The Koran describes jealousy as a "veil" that beclouds the eye of the heart. Jealousy turns other people into sources of resentment: If I had what you have, Leviathan croaks mechanically when I push the little oval button in his back, then I would be happy. Jealousy tints everyone in bilious shades of envy. It presents a perfect paradigm of insufficiency: I am less because you are more. It's a zero-sum game. Jealousy's only hope is that the other person will be diminished, imagining that would free up proportionately more for itself. (It extends all the way to that uniquely German coinage, schadenfreude, gloating over another's misfortune, the Good Eye turned into the Evil Eye itself.)

But just as there are emotional toxins, there are also antidotes, remedies, what the apothecaries of yore called specifies. In Buddhism, the supreme medicine for envy is said to be mudita, or "sympathetic joy," which calls on us to feel happy about another's success. Easy enough when it comes to rejoicing for those we really care about: Every parent kvells over their kid's triumphs; a teacher exults when her favorite student aces the math exam. But to expand this feeling from a narrow circle to a wider arena is like pulling wisdom teeth.

I once witnessed an exchange between a Tibetan lama and a questioner on this subject. "Rinpoche," inquired a pleasant middle-aged man in a checked sport shirt, "I adore my son. He's a linebacker for his high school football team. I find myself rooting for him to just cream the opposing quarterback. Is there anything wrong with that?"

"Of course not," the lama replied. "You love your son, and you want his happiness, and he's happy when he beats the other team. This is only natural."

There was an audible sigh of relief in the room. The spiritual path may be challenging, but it's not unreasonable.

The man smiled. "Thank you, Rinpoche," he said, making a brisk little folding gesture with his hands.

The lama laughed sharply. "I was only joking! Actually, this is not at all the right attitude. In fact," he said, glancing at the man mischievously, "a good practice for you would be to root for the other team. See them winning, see them happy, see their parents overjoyed. That is more the bodhisattva way." The man thanked him again, this time with an ironic groan at a homework assignment that stretched past football season.

I have a wildly successful acquaintance next to whose perfectly pillowed existence mine seems a lumpy mattress. I've seen him on magazine covers, a self-satisfied, cock-of-the-walk, air-brushed grin on his face. Even worse, he's in my field, though he does ever so much better (sell-out!). I've been training myself, as an antidote to a fulminating case of green-eye, that whenever I feel that little twitch of envy, I wish for more bluebirds of happiness to come sit on his eaves. "Don't you mean," asks a cynical friend, "come shit on his sleeves?" But the fact is, my good wishes provide an unexpected sense of relief. It's an unknotting, expansive feeling, as if what's his and what's mine suddenly, metaphysically, belong to both of us and to neither. I recently came across a line from Yoko Ono: "Transform jealousy to admiration / And what you admire / Will become part of your life." Maybe she did break up the Beatles, but I think she's onto something.

Don't believe me? Try it for yourself. Root for the other team. Visualize someone who makes you envious -- someone who squats smug as a toad in what is surely your rightful place in the world. Think of them in all their irritating splendor, enjoying the perks and accolades you no doubt deserve. Then ... wish sincerely that they get even more goodies.

Isn't this the mortal sin of "low self-esteem"? Well, not exactly; it's more like a metaphysical jujitsu. In rooting for someone else's happiness, we tune to a different wavelength. We feel more beneficent, less deprived, more capable of giving. The focus on another person's satisfaction becomes a lodestone that paradoxically draws us closer to our own. (Isn't most envy just our own potential disowned? We are jealous of what we ourselves might become.) Seeing the world through another's eyes (you in me, me in you) makes it feel there's at least twice as much to go around; not more money or fame or square footage, but what underlies the whole pursuit: more love.

It could be argued this approach might work in a monastery or on a mountaintop, but not in the hurly-burly of real life, where the game is tooth-and-nail and rooting for your own team is what keeps the opposition from eating you alive. I recently saw a quote from mega- mogul and master of the Squinty Eye, Donald 'I'rump, extolling the benefits of pure paranoia: "People you think are your friends in business will take your money, your wife, your pets ... Life's a vicious place. No different than a jungle." Yet I've met people who swim in the piranha-infested corporate waters for whom the Good Eye has not only been good karma, but good business.

Copyright © 2005 by Marc Ian Barasch

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Book data:

Author: Marc Ian Barasch
Title: "
Field Notes on the Compassionate Life : A Search for the Soul of Kindness"
Associated web site: http://www.compassionatelife.com/
Edition:
Hardcover
Publisher: Rodale Books
ISBN:
1579547117
Release date: 2005-MAR-23
Pages: 352
Cost: List: U.S. $24.95  plus shipping. Amazon.com sells it for $16.47 plus shipping. Amazon Marketplace has a number of vendors that occasionally sell surplus new and used copies at a slightly lower price.

As of 2005-FEB, Amazon offers free shipping for orders in excess of $25.00 to U.S. addresses . You simply select "Super Saver Shipping" when you go to the Amazon checkout.

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

"Christianity Without Fairy Tales: When science and religion merge"

by James Rigas

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The author's review on the Amazon.com web site:

When Science and Religion Merge is an intelligent, thoughtful evaluation of Biblical Scriptures and Christian tenets of faith from a scientist's viewpoint. From Genesis' two parallel creation stories, Rigas presents some provocative ideas about how we interpret the Bible. When held up to current scientific knowledge, some of the Biblical stories seem fanciful. For example, in the Exodus story, is it possible that the 600,000 fighting men mentioned, their women and children (approximately two million people) could have wandered the desert for 40 years?

Rigas analyzes the origins of the Hebrew religion and its construct of God, and suggests alternative meanings of certain Scriptures based on cultural expectations at the time they were written. In his evaluation of the New Testament, he describes competitor religions to Christianity, such as Mithraism, with its communion with cross-marked loaves of bread and its celebration on December 25 of the birth of its god. Other chapters cover topics such as miracles, the survival of the soul, the divinity of Jesus, and how the Christian church was formed more from the teachings of Paul than of Jesus. He also tackles the subjects of the holy trinity and the Eucharist. Throughout, Rigas shows that it is possible to demonstrate the existence of a caring and potent power that lies just beyond our physical discernible universe. Although the accepted religious establishments do not properly define and describe this power, many people sense its presence both in and out of the church.

This book challenges many accepted Christian beliefs without being derogatory or inflammatory because Rigas shows there is room for spirituality in science. It's an excellent discussion book for adult Christian education classes, and a thought-provoking read for those interested in our Judeo-Christian heritage.

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Contents of the book:

This is a wide-ranging book which covers an enormous range of topics from a liberal Christian point of view. The book is in parts:

  1. "God the Creator - The Old Testament:" The author discusses the content of the first five books of the Bible, and the nature of the Bible -- whether it is fact or fiction or something in between. Other topics include the creation stories, evolution, the Garden of Eden, original sin, the authors of the Old Testament, the existence of God, evil, theodicy, and apocalyptic writings.
  2. "God the Father - The New Testament:" Topics include: the Messiah; 1st century Palestine; his teachings; his parables; the reign of God; son of man or son of God; our selves and the world; survival of the soul; angels, devils, and miracles; Jesus' execution and resurrection.
  3. "What man made of the teaching - the Church:" Topics include: the first Christians, the invention of Christianity; the gospels; the structure of God; the Eucharist; role of Women; sex; reaching for a new Christianity.

The book also includes maps, chapter notes, an annotated bibliography, index and index of biblical quotations.

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Book data:

Author: Jim Rigas
Title: "Christianity Without Fairy Tales: When science and religion merge"
Edition: Paperback
Publisher: Paevma Publications
ISBN: 1570876541
Release date: 2004-AUG
Pages: 472
Cost: List: U.S. $22.50  plus shipping. Amazon.com sells it for $15.30 plus shipping. Amazon Marketplace has a number of vendors that occasionally sell surplus new and used copies at a slightly lower price.

As of 2005-JAN, Amazon offers free shipping for orders to U.S. addresses in excess of $25.00. You simply select "Super Saver Shipping" when you go to the Amazon checkout.

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

"Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code"

by Bart D. Ehrman

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Our comments:

Books and movies can profoundly effect public perceptions of reality. For example:

bullet"Sybill" and "The Three Faces of Eve" popularized Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). Decades have since passed. MPD has become part of the public's belief system even though scientific evidence of its existence is nil.
bulletSimilarly, Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion of the Christ," is partly based on the biblical stories of Yeshua's (Jesus') execution by the Roman Army. However, much of its content was taken from extra-biblical sources -- primarily visions of St. Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824), an Augustinian nun. Many movie goers' impression of the crucifixion will be based on the movie rather than the Gospel account. Yet, most of the events portrayed probably never happened.

Similarly, most readers of Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" will probably assume that many of the events described there actually happened. After all, the author wrote on Page 1: "All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate." Not so! The two most important words in the book are on its cover in very small print. They are: "A novel." The book is a spellbinding mystery. It is a work of fiction which contains few descriptions of real events. On a positive note, Dan Brown's book may generate some public interest in the very early Christian movement.

Ehrman is a religious historian who has written a number of well-received books about Christianity, including: "Lost Christianities" and "Lost Scriptures." He attempts to separate reality from fiction in the Da Vinci Code, showing which events happened, which are definitely fictional, and which might have happened, but were invented by the author, as he created one whale of a story.

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Amazon.com's review:

A staggeringly popular work of fiction, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has stood atop The New York Times Bestseller List for well over a year, with millions of copies in print. But this fast-paced mystery is unusual in that the author states up front that the historical information in the book is all factually accurate. But is this claim true? As historian Bart D. Ehrman shows in this informative and witty book, The Da Vinci Code is filled with numerous historical mistakes. Did the ancient church engage in a cover-up to make the man Jesus into a divine figure? Did Emperor Constantine select for the New Testament--from some 80 contending Gospels--the only four Gospels that stressed that Jesus was divine? Was Jesus Christ married to Mary Magdalene? Did the Church suppress Gospels that told the secret of their marriage? Bart Ehrman thoroughly debunks all of these claims. But the book is not merely a laundry list of Brown's misreading of history. Throughout, Ehrman offers a wealth of fascinating background information--all historically accurate--on early Christianity. He describes, for instance, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (which are not Christian in content, contrary to The Da Vinci Code); outlines in simple terms how scholars of early Christianity determine which sources are most reliable; and explores the many other Gospels that have been found in the last half century. Ehrman separates fact from fiction, the historical realities from the flights of literary fancy. Readers of The Da Vinci Code who would like to know the truth about the beginnings of Christianity and the life of Jesus will find this book riveting.

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Book data:

Author: Bart D. Ehrman
Title: "Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine""
Edition: Hardcover
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0195181409
Release date: 2004-OCT
Pages: 207
Cost: List: U.S. $20.00  plus shipping. Amazon.com sells it for $13.60 plus shipping. Amazon Marketplace has a number of vendors that occasionally sell surplus new and used copies at a slightly lower price.

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Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2005-FEB-13
Latest update: 2005-JUN-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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