Quantcast
About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Is this your first visit?
Contact us
External links
Good books
Visitor essays
Our forum
New essays
Other site features
Buy a CD of this site
Vital notes

World religions
BUDDHISM
CHRISTIANITY
   Who is a Christian?
   Shared beliefs
   Handling change
   Bible topics
   Bible inerrancy
   Bible harmony
   Interpret Bible
   Persons
   Beliefs, creeds
   Da Vinci code
   Revelation, 666
HINDUISM
ISLAM
JUDAISM
WICCA / WITCHCRAFT
 
Other religions
Cults and NRMs
Comparing religions

Non-theistic...
Atheism
Agnosticism
Humanism
Other

About all religions
Important topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handling change
Doubt/security
Quotes
Movies
Confusing terms
Glossary
End of the world
One true religion?
Seasonal topics
Science v. Religion
More info.

Spirituality and ethics
Spirituality
Morality and ethics
Absolute truth

Peace and conflict
Attaining peace
Religious tolerance
Religious hatred
Religious conflict
Religious violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
Ten commandments
Abortion access
Assisted suicide
Cloning
Death penalty
Environment
Equal rights -gays/bi's
Same-sex marriage
Nudism
Origins of the species
Sex & gender
Sin
Spanking kids
Stem cells
Women-rights
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news

!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

Recommended religious/spiritual books

2007-July to December

horizontal rule

Sponsored link.

horizontal rule

The current month's recommendation is located elsewhere.

"A dynamic God: Living an unconventional Catholic faith"
by Nancy Mairs.

Review and/or order this book safely at 32% off the list price from the Amazon.com online book store.

horizontal rule

Book reviews:

bulletFrom Publishers Weekly:
"Mairs is an extraordinary woman. The acclaimed author of the spiritual autobiography Ordinary Time suffers from multiple sclerosis, yet is able to write with passion about a God that others in her position would have walked away from a long time ago. A convert to Catholicism, Mairs often finds herself on the other side of the political and ideological fence from her church's hierarchy, but her gift for finding the sacred in everyday life is so steeped in a Catholic worldview that she must keep practicing her faith. The author draws strength from prayer and some religious devotions, but she focuses that strength through her political activism in a world that needs justice. Her self-deprecating humor is wonderful—much like the writing of Anne Lamott, although Mairs manages to create her own style. As one who suffers from a debilitating disease, Mairs has been continually challenged with the spiritual truth that it is who people are rather than what they do that makes them worthy of divine love. This is a tough but integral lesson for anyone who takes spiritual matters seriously. Through her writing, Mairs illustrates the difference between orthodoxy and faith. She chooses the latter, and given her life experiences, she should know."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
bulletFrom Margaret Flanagan of Booklist:
"For those struggling with contradictions between organized religion and their personal beliefs, this testament to living an intimately unique brand of Catholicism will be welcome reading. Inspired by the beauty and the mysticism inherent in the ritual, Mairs, a convert to Catholicism, is able to divorce herself from the restrictive dogma, fashioning an affirmative alternative to the institutionalized Roman Catholic Church. Unconcerned by threats of excommunication or by accusations of being a 'cafeteria Catholic,' she embraces a dynamic God, worships and celebrates communion—without benefit of a priest—and, above all, devotes herself to the call to social action she sees as the bedrock of her faith. Although dogmatic Catholics will dismiss her views as heresy, the more spiritually minded will find food for thought and much to embrace in these thought-provoking pages.
bulletFrom Story Circle Book Reviews:
"A Dynamic God is rich, risky, and startling. It is a remarkable book. Read it."

horizontal rule

Book Description:

bulletFrom Amazon.com:
Passionately nonconformist spiritual reflections from an acclaimed essayist

When Nancy Mairs published her "spiritual autobiography" Ordinary Time, Kathleen Norris greeted it in the New York Times Book Review as "a remarkable accomplishment," calling Mairs "a relentlessly physical writer, as fiercely committed to her art as to her spiritual development."

Mairs's new book on spirituality describes the alternative brand of Catholic worship that she observes in the American Southwest. Raised Congregationalist in New England, Mairs is a convert to Catholicism. She is also feminist, radical, political activist-and all this in a church that tends to scorn her kind of progressive iconoclasm.

A Dynamic God explores why and how Mairs deals with those contradictions and still identifies Catholic (Zen Catholic, as she sometimes says), and what she finds to love in that tradition.

Doctrinally, Mairs parts ways with the mainstream Church with few regrets. The people she worships with celebrate communion in each other's homes without a priest, discuss politics, and defy Church opposition.

But the Catholic rituals and imaginative structures that Mairs loves shape her life. In the Latino image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, for instance, she finds inspiration for a commitment to social justice. In her unmistakable, vibrant voice, she writes about sin and abundance; understanding vocation in a life circumscribed by multiple sclerosis; and celebrating life.

horizontal rule

About the Author:

Nancy Mairs is author of seven books, all published by Beacon Press. They include Waist-High in the World, Ordinary Time, Voice Lessons, Carnal Acts, and Remembering the Bone House. She lives in Tucson, AZ, with her husband, George.

horizontal rule

Book data:

Title: "A dynamic God: Living an unconventional Catholic faith"
Format:
Hardcover
Publisher: Beacon Press
ISBN: 0807077321 or 978-0807077320
Release date: 2007-SEP-03
Pages: 160
Cost: List: U.S. $23.95. Amazon.com sells it for $16.29 plus postage, for a saving of 40%! You can ask Amazon.com for free but slower shipping on most orders of US $25.00 or more. Review / order this book safely from the Amazon.com online book store

 

"God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything"
by Christopher Hitchens.

Review and/or order this book safely at 40% off the list price from the Amazon.com online book store. An audio CD and download are also available.

horizontal rule

Book reviews:

bulletAmerican Library Association's Booklist review by June Sawyers:

*Starred Review* God is getting bad press lately. Sam Harris' The End of Faith (2005) and Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion (2006) have questioned the existence of any spiritual being and met with enormous success. Now, noted, often acerbic journalist Hitchens enters the fray. As his subtitle indicates, his premise is simple. Not only does religion poison everything, which he argues by explaining several ways in which religion is immoral, but the world would be better off without religion. Replace religious faith with inquiry, open-mindedness, and the pursuit of ideas, he exhorts. Closely reading major religious texts, Hitchens points to numerous examples of atrocities and mayhem in them. Religious faith, he asserts, is both result and cause of dangerous sexual repression. What's more, it is grounded in nothing more than wish fulfillment. Hence, he believes that religion is man-made, and an ethical life can be lived without its stamp of approval. With such chapter titles as '"Religion Kills' and '"Is Religion Child Abuse?' Hitchens intends to provoke, but he is not mean-spirited and humorless. Indeed, he is effortlessly witty and entertaining as well as utterly rational. Believers will be disturbed and may even charge him with blasphemy (he questions not only the virgin birth but the very existence of Jesus), and he may not change many minds, but he offers the open-minded plenty to think about.
Copyright © American Library Association.

bulletPublishers Weekly editorial review:

"Hitchens, one of our great political pugilists, delivers the best of the recent rash of atheist manifestos. The same contrarian spirit that makes him delightful reading as a political commentator, even (or especially) when he's completely wrong, makes him an entertaining huckster prosecutor once he has God placed in the dock. And can he turn a phrase!: 'monotheistic religion is a plagiarism of a plagiarism of a hearsay of a hearsay, of an illusion of an illusion, extending all the way back to a fabrication of a few nonevents.' Hitchens's one-liners bear the marks of considerable sparring practice with believers. Yet few believers will recognize themselves as Hitchens associates all of them for all time with the worst of history's theocratic and inquisitional moments. All the same, this is salutary reading as a means of culling believers' weaker arguments: that faith offers comfort (false comfort is none at all), or has provided a historical hedge against fascism (it mostly hasn't), or that 'Eastern' religions are better (nope). The book's real strength is Hitchens's on-the-ground glimpses of religion's worst face in various war zones and isolated despotic regimes. But its weakness is its almost fanatical insistence that religion poisons 'everything,' which tips over into barely disguised misanthropy."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

bulletThe Washington Post's Book World review by Stephen Prothero:

"A century and a half ago Pope Pius IX published the Syllabus of Errors, a rhetorical tour de force against the high crimes and misdemeanors of the modern world. God Is Not Great, by the British journalist and professional provocateur Christopher Hitchens, is the atheists' equivalent: an unrelenting enumeration of religion's sins and wickedness, written with much of the rhetorical pomp and all of the imperial condescension of a Vatican encyclical."

"Hitchens, who once described Mother Teresa as 'a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud,' is notorious for making mincemeat out of sacred cows, but in this book it is the sacred itself that is skewered. Religion, Hitchens writes, is 'violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children.' Channeling the anti-supernatural spirits of other acolytes of the 'new atheism,' Hitchens argues that religion is 'man-made' and murderous, originating in fear and sustained by brute force. Like Richard Dawkins, he denounces the religious education of young people as child abuse. Like Sam Harris, he fires away at the Koran as well as the Bible. And like Daniel Dennett, he views faith as wish-fulfillment."
Copyright © The Washington Post.

horizontal rule

Book data:

Title: "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything"
Format:
Hardcover
Publisher: Twelve Books
ISBN: 0446579807 or 978-0446579803
Release date: 2007-MAY
Pages: 307
Amazon customers' rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (625 ratings)

Cost: List: U.S. $24.99. Amazon.com sells it for $14.99 plus postage, for a saving of 40%! You can ask Amazon.com for free but slower shipping on most orders of US $25.00 or more. Review / order this book safely from the Amazon.com online book store

 

"Bad Faith: The Danger of Religious Extremism"
by Neil J. Kressel

Review / order this book safely from the Amazon.com online book store

horizontal rule

Book reviews:

bulletPublishers Weekly editorial review:

"Are some religions, doctrines and practices more apt to inspire hatred and extremism than others? Are people who commit evil acts in the name of their faith carrying out or corrupting the true message of their religion? What sorts of people are most prone to extremism? Psychologist Kressel, of William Paterson University, attempts to answer these and other questions in a facile study of the perils of religious extremism. Drawing on examples of extremism from the history of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, he defines religious extremists as persons who—for reasons they themselves deem religious—commit, promote, or support purposely hurtful, violent, or destructive acts toward those who don't practice their faith. ... © Reed Business Information

bulletHarvey Cox, Professor of Divinity, Harvard University; author of "The Secular City" and "When Jesus Came to Harvard"
"Kressel's work could not be more timely. It has the advantage of taking religious movements with thoughtful seriousness and making vital distinctions clear. It is also written in a lucid and readable style."
bulletRaymond F. Paloutzian, author of Invitation to the Psychology of Religion; co-editor of "Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality;" editor of "The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion"
"This book sparked my interest so much that I read it 3 times. Its topic is timeless and urgent and the dilemma is big. . . It is full of information with sobering accounts of historical and contemporary acts of violence in the name of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. . . Briefly said, this book is excellent."
bulletAmir Taheri, Iranian author of 10 books on Islam and the Middle East and a syndicated columnist
"Bad Faith is a profound book dealing with a complex problem. . . Kressel is never judgmental, and often goes out of his way to try to understand and explain the most obnoxious ideological props used to justify terrorism. This makes his exposure of the 'bad faith' that is at the root of contemporary terror that much more effective."
bulletErvin Staub, author of "The Psychology Of Good And Evil" and of "The Roots Of Evil: The Origins Of Genocide And Other Group Violence"
"This well written, engaging and compelling book addresses the great, current danger of religious extremism, especially in Islam. . ."
bulletRalph Wilbur Hood, Jr., co-author of "The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism." Past President, American Psychological Association Division of Psychology of Religion
"Kressel has written an excellent book exploring religious extremism. . . Even if one rejects some of his tentative answers one cannot but admire the fact that he asks the right questions."

horizontal rule

Book data:

Title: "Bad Faith: The Danger of Religious Extremism"
Format:
Hardcover
Publisher: Prometheus Books
ISBN: 1591025036 or 978-1591025030
Release date: 2007-OCT
Pages: 264
Amazon customers' rating: 5 out of 5 stars (one rating only)

Cost: List: U.S. $26.00. Amazon.com sells it for $17.16 plus postage, for a saving of 34%. You can ask Amazon.com for free but slower shipping on most orders of US $25.00 or more. Review / order this book safely from the Amazon.com online book store

"Asphalt Jesus: Finding a New Christian Faith Along the Highways of America"
by Eric Elnes

Review / order this book safely from the Amazon.com online book store

horizontal rule

Book reviews:

bullet

Amazon.com editorial reviews:
bullet“Eric Elnes’ book Asphalt Jesus is as exciting as the adventure it describes. He and his fellow walkers went from Phoenix to Washington, D.C., on foot to dramatize the crisis of American Christianity that is lost in the negativity of fundamentalism. Dramatically they hold out another vision that captivates millions. This is a ‘must read’ if you are concerned with what is happening to Christianity in the United States.” John Shelby Spong, author, Jesus for the Non-Religious
bullet“Elnes has hit one out of the ballpark with this remarkably energetic and accessible narrative presentation  of what twenty-first century Christianity looks like in the lives of those who are becoming it right now. This book is an exhilarating gift to all of us.” Phyllis Tickle, complier, The Night Offices
bullet“No one will ever be able to accuse Eric Elnes of ‘Talkin’ the Talk, but not Walkin’ the Walk!’ This beautifully told story is more than just the diary of a remarkable journey undertaken by an intrepid band of religious progressives. It is an odyssey into the heart and soul of the American religious scene. Readers will think they have made the journey themselves, met a whole new group of friends, and discovered a forgotten landscape and an abiding truth: we are all on the same journey, and we need to listen to, and respect, one another.” Dr. Robin Meyers, UCC minister and professor; author, Why the Christian Right is Wrong: A Minister’s Manifesto for Taking Back Your Faith, Your Flag, Your Future
 

bullet

Amazon.com customer review:
bullet

"For anyone who is worried about the public face of Christian faith in the United States, for anyone who loves Jesus but can't stand what the church has done to his message, for anyone who wants to follow God without belittling others, for anyone who's worried that liberal Christianity has lost its biblical foundation- 'Asphalt Jesus' is bound to bring you hope." Sean Tai:

horizontal rule

Book data:

Title: "Asphalt Jesus: Finding a New Christian Faith Along the Highways of America"
Format:
Hardcover
Publisher: Jossey-Bass
ISBN: 0787986089 or 978-0787986087
Release date: 2006-AUG
Pages: 224
Amazon customers' rating: 5 out of 5 stars (one rating only)

Cost: List: U.S. $22.95. Amazon.com sells it for $16.61 plus postage, for a saving of 32%. You can ask Amazon.com for free but slower shipping on most orders of US $25.00 or more. Review / order this book safely from the Amazon.com online book store

"The Phoenix Affirmations: A new vision for the future of Christianity"
by  Eric Elnes:

Review / order this book safely from the Amazon.com online book store

horizontal rule

Amazon's description: The Phoenix Affirmations, named for the town in which the principles were created and the mythological bird adopted by ancient Christians as a symbol of resurrection, offers disillusioned and spiritually homeless Christians and others a sense of hope and a more tolerant, joyful, and compassionate message than those we often hear from the media and some Christian leaders. These twelve central affirmative principles of Christian faith are built on the three great loves that the Bible reveals: love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self. They reflect commitments to environmental stewardship, social justice, and artistic expression as well as openness to other faiths. Transcending theological and culture wars, inclusive and generous in spirit and practice, these principles ask believers and seekers alike to affirm their Christian faith in a fresh way.

horizontal rule

Book data:

Title: "The Phoenix Affirmations: A new vision for the future of Christianity"
Format:
Paperback
Publisher: Jossey-Bass
ISBN: 0787985783 or 978-0787985783
Release date: 2006-APR
Pages: 176
Amazon customers' rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Cost: List: U.S. $12.95. Amazon.com sells it for $6.60 plus postage, for a saving of 49%. You can ask Amazon.com for free but slower shipping on most orders of US $25.00 or more.

Review / order this book safely from the Amazon.com online book store

"The Bible Against Itself: Why the Bible Seems to Contradict Itself "
by Randel McCraw Helms

Review / order this book safely from the Amazon.com online book store

horizontal rule

Book reviews:

bullet

Amazon.com:  Product Description:

"All books are written for or against some point of view, and the books of the Bible are no different. Bible book authors were often motivated to write because they wanted to challenge or correct those who had written before them. As Helms explains, The Bible is a war-zone, and its authors are the combatants. Paul said of Peter, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong (Gal. 2:11). Helms notes that Jeremiah condemned the entire religious establishment of his time the very same people that other Bible authors held in highest esteem: prophets and priests are frauds, every one of them (Jer. 8:10). Luke felt the need to write another gospel even though many writers have undertaken to draw up an account of the events (Luke 1:1). Luke obviously felt that Mark's gospel was filled with errors and edited it freely. Not even Mark's account of the words of the dying Christ was left unaltered."

bullet

Amazon customer J. Tebary:

"It isn't a very long book, but there is so much in it I was amazed. Its the single best book I've read on the subject of the Bible. I think that believers need to read this book and think about the documents that make up the basis for their faith and where those documents came from. This book showed me the human side of the texts that make up the bible, and why so much of the bible is well, confusing. The authors style is very quick I'd say, you dive right in without any apologies like in Dennetts 'Breaking the Spell'. I liked that, it got to the meat of the matter and challenges the reader to keep up with the point the author was trying to make. Atheists and Believers should check this one out."

bullet

Amazon customer Charles A Moore:

"Randel Helms may be the world's most underrated biblical scholar. This is probably due to a few factors: First, the smoothness and accessibility of his writing; second, the brevity of his books relative to other scholarship; and, third, his primary approach of addressing the bible as literature, and examining it in terms of style, allusion, metaphor, and historical perspective."

"His new book, The Bible Against Itself, is the third in a trilogy of such examinations, the previous books being the excellent Gospel Fictions (1988), and Who Wrote The Gospels (1997). All short books, they each contain as much detail and scholarly citation as books four times their length."

"The Bible Against Itself delves into many of the outstanding contradictions in the bible, and helps explain them by showing how various books in the bible were written in opposition to other books, to dispute them and hopefully supplant them. ..."

"Read this book. Read about the prophets calling the other prophets blasphemers, the Paulist Christians labeling the Jacobite Christians dogs and sinners, and vice versa, and the apocalyptic authors erring again and again, but continuing to predict anyway (using as their sources the errors of previous apocalyptic theories)."

"You'll love it. It's a great book."

horizontal rule

Our comments:

For those who regard the Bible as God's Word, and who believe that God inspired its authors to write material that is free of error, this book will be very distressing. Helms approaches the Bible as a series of historical documents written by many authors, each of whom were promoting their own particular spirituality while correcting what they believed to be errors on the part of earlier authors.

We didn't realize that the Hebrew Scriptures were such a battleground of competing beliefs.

Helms is on our short list of authors of whom we automatically buy anything that they write.

horizontal rule

Book data:

Title: "The Bible Against Itself: Why the Bible Seems to Contradict Itself"
Format:
Hardcover
Publisher: Millennium Press
ISBN: 0965504751 or 978-0965504751
Release date: 2006-SEP
Pages: 178
Amazon customers' rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Cost: List: U.S. $21.95. Amazon.com sells it for $14.93 plus postage, for a saving of 32%. You can ask Amazon.com for free but slower shipping on most orders of US $25.00 or more.

Review / order this book safely from the Amazon.com online book store

"A secular faith: Why Christianity favors the separation of church and state"
by Darryl Hart

Review / order this book safely from the Amazon.com online book store

horizontal rule

Book reviews:

bullet

Amazon.com: Darryl Hart, the highly regarded historian of religion, contends that appeals to Christianity for social and political well-being fundamentally misconstrue the meaning of the Christian religion. His book weaves together historical narratives of American Protestantism's influence on the nation's politics, and commentary on recent writing about religion and public life, with expositions of Christian teaching. The tapestry that emerges is a compelling faith-based argument for keeping Christianity out of politics.

bullet

R. Laurence Moore, author of Touchdown Jesus:
This stunningly good book is not about the United States Constitution but about the mission of the City of God.

bullet

Wilfred M. McClay, University of Tennessee: Darryl Hart’s thoughtful, witty, and challenging book...could hardly be more pertinent today.

bullet

Leo P. Ribuffo, George Washington University: Hart makes a powerful Christian case for the separation of church and state. Even secularists should appreciate Hart.

bullet

Michael Horton, Ph.D., Westminster Seminary California: The fact that Hart's viewpoint is so unique today measures the shallowness of the public conversation on this crucial issue.

bullet

Daniel McCarthy in ToryAnarchist.com: Promises a more nuanced take on Church and State than what's found in most other recent volumes on the subject.

bullet

Library Journal: Hart provides a much needed religious and historical perspective on the relationship between church and state in the United States.

horizontal rule

Publisher's review:

Darryl Hart contends that appeals to Christianity for social and political well-being fundamentally misconstrue the meaning of the Christian religion. His book weaves together historical narratives of American Protestantism's influence on the nation's politics, and commentary on recent writing about religion and public life, with expositions of Christian teaching. The tapestry that emerges is a compelling faith-based argument for keeping Christianity out of politics. A Secular Faith is sure to provoke a firestorm of debate among evangelicals and those who oppose their political activities.

horizontal rule

Our comments:

Hart concludes that church and state should be rigorously separated, However, he justifies this stance by using a different approach from other commentators. He notes the damage that the state has inflicted on religion through history.

He suggests that Christianity should concern itself only with the salvation of individuals by focusing on spiritual pursuits. He sees a major role for individual Christians to promote social justice, but no such role for religious organizations.

Christianity's proper role in politics and culture is thus indirect: to inspire people who "may be capable of holding public office responsibly." However, Christian faith groups should not attempt to influence government policies directly. James Dobson, Pope Benedict XVI and Jim Wallis are certain to be unimpressed by this book. However, the Daniel of the Bible would be pleased.

horizontal rule

Book data:

Title: "A secular faith: Why Christianity favors the separation of church and state"
Format:
Hardcover
Publisher: Ivan R. Dee
ISBN: 1566635764 or 978-1566635769
Release date: 2006-OCT
Pages: 288
Amazon customers' rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Cost: List: U.S. $26.95. Amazon.com sells it for $17.79 plus postage, for a saving of 34%. You can ask Amazon.com for free but slower shipping on most orders of US $25.00 or more.

Review / order this book safely from the Amazon.com online book store

Amazon.com lists the following books on the topic of spirituality:

If you see a generic Amazon advertisement below, please click on your browser's refresh button.

horizontal rule

Amazon.com lists the following books on the topic of religion:

If you see a generic Amazon advertisement below, please click on your browser's refresh button.

horizontal rule

Copyright © 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2007-AUG-01
Latest update: 2007-NOV-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)

horizontal rule

Go to the previous page, or to the "Recommended books" menu, or choose:

Google
Web ReligiousTolerance.org

Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?


Twitter link

Facebook icon

Google Page Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.