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Recommended religious and spiritual books

2017-FEB to 2017-APR:

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This list of books is continued here from the previous essay

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2017-February's selection

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"Secular Faith: How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics" by Mark A. Smith

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
$15.82 in Kindle format, or $18.77 plus postage in hardcover, or $21.95 in audible format.

Some book reviews:

“A beautifully written and richly substantive book that convincingly explodes conventional wisdom. On an array of issues, from slavery to divorce, homosexuality, and women’s rights, Smith’s exhaustive research clearly shows that the doctrines of America’s major religious traditions have shifted to conform with contemporary societal norms. Readers will learn much from this book—even those who already consider themselves familiar with one or more of the issues it explores.”
(David Campbell, University of Notre Dame)


"Far from holding fast to traditions and principles, religion, like everything else, changes to meet the times. Smith adds to our understanding of America's presumed culture wars by showing how often this has happened in our history."
(Alan Wolfe, Boston College)


“Smith show[s], over and over again, on issue after issue, that religious leaders have changed their tune on almost every subject to accommodate more sweeping changes taking place in broader American society. . . . Smith is after something bigger than just thumbing his nose at those who claim to have The Answer. Instead, [he] wants Americans to take a step back from the culture wars. He wants us to realize that, despite apocalyptic pronouncements that Americans are more polarized than ever before, we actually agree on quite a bit.”
(Chicago Tribune 2015-09-14)


“Has culture driven changes to the Christian faith and adjusted its tenets? Smith argues that this is the case. . . . His arguments and critique of Christianity will arouse discussion in many contexts.”
(Catholic Library World 2015-12-30)


Secular Faith is a spirited and contrarian entry in the debate over what to make of the religious element of the ‘culture wars.’ Against the view that religion is a major influence on our politics, Smith sets out to show, as his subtitle puts it, ‘how culture has trumped religion.’ To make his case, he draws on sources ranging from the statements of religious leaders to the scholarly literature on Christianity in America and public-opinion survey research. Throughout, he strives to be attentive not only to what Christians are saying but also to what they are choosing not to talk about.”
(Wall Street Journal 2016-04-25)


“Mark Smith’s new book couldn’t be timelier. By charting the political development of five contentious issues in American history—slavery, divorce, homosexuality, abortion and women’s rights—he argues that U.S. Christians today have more in common morally and politically with atheists than with their Christian predecessors in previous centuries.”
(Isthmus)

Mark A. Smith is professor of political science and adjunct professor of comparative religions at the University of Washington.

Average rating by 5 Amazon customers' reviews: 4.6 out of 5 stars, including 4 five star ratings.

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2017-March's selection

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"The Bible Doesn't Say That: 40 Biblical Mistranslations,
Misconceptions, and Other Misunderstandings
," by Joel M. Hoffman

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
$12.64 in Kindle format, or $17.76 plus postage in hardcover, or $20.95 in audible format.

Amazon.com book review:

"The Bible Doesn't Say That explores what the Bible meant before it was misinterpreted over the past 2,000 years.

Acclaimed translator and biblical scholar Dr. Joel M. Hoffman walks the reader through dozens of mistranslations, misconceptions, and other misunderstandings about the Bible. In forty short, straightforward chapters, he covers morality, life-style, theology, and biblical imagery, including:

*The Bible doesn't call homosexuality a sin, and it doesn't advocate for the one-man-one-woman model of the family that has been dubbed "biblical."

*The Bible's famous "beat their swords into plowshares" is matched by the militaristic, "beat your plowshares into swords."

*The often-cited New Testament quotation "God so loved the world" is a mistranslation, as are the titles "Son of Man" and "Son of God."

*The Ten Commandments don't prohibit killing or coveting.

What does the Bible say about violence? About the Rapture? About keeping kosher? About marriage and divorce? Hoffman provides answers to all of these and more, succinctly explaining how so many pivotal biblical answers came to be misunderstood."

Average rating by eight Amazon customers' reviews: 4.3 out of 5 stars, including 5 five star ratings.

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2017-April's selection

book cover

"Life on Purpose: How Living for What Matters Most Changes Everything" by Victor J. Strecher.

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
$15.75 in Kindle format, or $19.38 plus postage in hardcover, or $16.95 in audible format.

Amazon.com book review:

"A pioneer in the field of behavioral science delivers a groundbreaking work that shows how finding your purpose in life leads to better health and overall happiness.

Your life is a boat. You need a rudder. But it doesn't matter how much wind is in your sails if you're not steering toward a harbor - an ultimate purpose in your life.

While the greatest philosophers have pondered purpose for centuries, today it has been shown to have a concrete impact on our health. Recent studies into Alzheimer's, heart disease, stroke, depression, functional brain imaging, and measurement of DNA repair are shedding new light on how and why purpose benefits our lives.

Going beyond the fads, opinions, and false hopes of "expert" self-help books, Life on Purpose explores the incredible connection between purposeful living and the latest scientific evidence on quality of life and longevity. Drawing on ancient and modern philosophy, literature, psychology, evolutionary biology, genetics, and neuroscience as well as his experience in public health research, Dr. Vic Strecher reveals the elements necessary for a purposeful life and how to acquire them and outlines an elegant strategy for improving energy, willpower, and long-term happiness and well-being. He integrates these core themes into his own personal story - a tragedy that led him to reconsider his own life - and how a deeper understanding of purposeful living helped him not only to survive but to thrive.

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This list of books continues in the next essay

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Latest update: 2016-DEC-01
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