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Religious Tolerance logo

Tentative religious and spiritual book selections

2018-JANUARY to JUNE

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2018-January's selection

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"The End of White Christian America," by Robert P. Jones

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$14.99 in Kindle format, or $18.16 plus postage in hardcover.

A New York Times Book Review:

"Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), challenges us to grasp the profound political and cultural consequences of a new reality—that America is no longer a majority white Christian nation.

For most of our nation’s history, White Christian America (WCA)—the cultural and political edifice built primarily by white Protestant Christians—set the tone for our national policy and shaped American ideals. But especially since the 1990s, WCA has steadily lost influence, following declines within both its mainline and evangelical branches. Today, America is no longer demographically or culturally a majority white Christian nation.

Drawing on more than four decades of polling data, The End of White Christian America explains and analyzes the waning vitality of WCA. Jones argues that the visceral nature of today’s most heated issues—the vociferous arguments around same-sex marriage and religious liberty, the rise of the Tea Party following the election of our first black president, and stark disagreements between black and white Americans over the fairness of the criminal justice system—can only be understood against the backdrop of white Christians’ anxieties as America’s racial and religious topography shifts around them. ..."

Average rating by 63 Amazon customers' reviews: 4.1 out of 5 stars.

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2018-February's selection

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"How God Became God: What Scholars Are Really Saying About God and the Bible," by Richard M. Smoley

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
$17.90 in Kindle format, or $11.17 plus postage in paperback, or $17.95 in audible format.

Amazon.com book review:

"This epic, thrilling journey through Bible scholarship and ancient religion shows how much of Scripture is historically false -- yet the ancient writings also resound with theologies that crisscrossed the primeval world and that direct us today toward a deep, inner, authentic experience of the truly sacred.

From a historical perspective, the Bible is shockingly, provably wrong -- a point supported by today's best archaeological and historical scholarship but not well understood by (or communicated to) the public. Yet this emphatically does not mean that the Bible isn't, in some very real measure, true, argues scholar of mysticism Richard Smoley.

Smoley reviews the most authoritative historical evidence to demonstrate that figures such as Moses, Abraham, and Jesus are not only unlikely to have existed, but bear strong composite resemblances to other Near Eastern religious icons. Likewise, the geopolitical and military events of Scripture fail to mesh with the largely settled historical time line and social structures. Smoley meticulously shows how our concepts of the Hebrew and Christian God, including Christ himself, are an assemblage of ideas that were altered, argued over, and edited -- until their canonization. This process, to a large degree, gave Western civilization its consensus view of God.

But these conclusions are not cause for nihilism or disbelief. Rather, beneath the metaphorical figures and mythical historicism of Scripture appears an extraordinary, truly transcendent theology born from the most sacred and fully realized spiritual and human insights of the antique Eastern world. Far from being "untrue," the Bible is remarkably, extraordinarily true as it connects us to the sublime insights of our ancient ancestors and points to a unifying ethic behind many of the world's faiths."

Average rating by eight Amazon customers' reviews: 4.8 out of 5 stars, including 82% five star ratings.

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2018-March's selection

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"Stand Your Ground: A History of America's Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense," by Caroline Light 

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$19.61 in Kindle format, or $30.56 plus postage in hardcover.

Amazon.com book review:

"Stand Your Ground explores the development of the American right to self-defense and reveals how the original 'duty to retreat' from threat was transformed into a selective right to kill. In her rigorous genealogy, Light traces white America’s attachment to racialized, lethal self-defense by unearthing its complex legal and social histories—from the original 'castle laws' of the 1600s, which gave white men the right to protect their homes, to the brutal lynching of 'criminal' Blacks during the Jim Crow era and the radicalization of the NRA as it transitioned from a sporting organization to one of our country’s most powerful lobbying forces.

In this convincing treatise on the United States’ unprecedented ascension as the world’s foremost stand-your-ground nation, Light exposes a history hidden in plain sight, showing how violent self-defense has been legalized for the most privileged and used as a weapon against the most vulnerable."

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2018-April's selection

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"The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality," by Dalai Lama 

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$19.61 in Kindle format, or $30.56 plus postage in hardcover.

Amazon.com book review:

"Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Niels Bohr, Einstein. Their insights shook our perception of who we are and where we stand in the world, and in their wake have left an uneasy coexistence: science vs. religion, faith vs. empirical inquiry. Which is the keeper of truth? Which is the true path to understanding reality?

After forty years of study with some of the greatest scientific minds, as well as a lifetime of meditative, spiritual, and philosophic study, the Dalai Lama presents a brilliant analysis of why all avenues of inquiry -- scientific as well as spiritual -- must be pursued in order to arrive at a complete picture of the truth. Through an examination of Darwinism and karma, quantum mechanics and philosophical insight into the nature of reality, neurobiology and the study of consciousness, the Dalai Lama draws significant parallels between contemplative and scientific examinations of reality.

This breathtakingly personal examination is a tribute to the Dalai Lama’s teachers—both of science and spirituality. The legacy of this book is a vision of the world in which our different approaches to understanding ourselves, our universe, and one another can be brought together in the service of humanity.

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2018-May's selection

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"The Weather of the Future: Heat Waves, Extreme Storms, and Other Scenes from a Climate-Changed Planet" by Heidi Cullen

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$10.80 in Kindle format, or $14.81 plus postage in paperback, or $25.99 plus postage in hardcover.

Amazon.com book review:

"From Heidi Cullen, one of America’s foremost experts on weather and climate change and a senior research scientist with Climate Central, comes The Weather of the Future, a fascinating and provocative book that predicts what different parts of the world will look like in the year 2050 if current levels of carbon emissions are maintained."

Publishers Weekly [edited for copyright reasons]:

"This engrossing study predicts global warming scenarios for seven hot spots around the world--and evaluates the responses of communities, governments, and international organizations. Cullen, a climatologist, notes that "just as our brain is hardwired to perceive threats that are most immediate to us, we are hardwired to devote more energy to caring about the weather than to caring about the climate," and that "by the time you see it in the weather... it's too late." ... Despite the worry among scientists that humans will follow "the woolly mammoth, the symbol of a climate that no longer exists," the book presents a surprisingly optimistic view of humanity's determination to come to terms with a daunting future." 

Her predictions may well hold for later in our century if the current trajectory of carbon emissions are maintained.

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2018-June's selection

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"The Moral Arc: How Science Makes Us Better People " by Michael Shermer

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$10.16 in Kindle format, or $10.48 plus postage in hardcover, or $5.20 plus postage in paperback.

Amazon.com book review:

"From Galileo and Newton to Thomas Hobbes and Martin Luther King, Jr., thinkers throughout history have consciously employed scientific techniques to better understand the non-physical world. The Age of Reason and the Enlightenment led theorists to apply scientific reasoning to the non-scientific disciplines of politics, economics, and moral philosophy. Instead of relying on the woodcuts of dissected bodies in old medical texts, physicians opened bodies themselves to see what was there; instead of divining truth through the authority of an ancient holy book or philosophical treatise, people began to explore the book of nature for themselves through travel and exploration; instead of the supernatural belief in the divine right of kings, people employed a natural belief in the right of democracy. In this provocative and compelling book, Shermer will explain how abstract reasoning, rationality, empiricism, skepticism--scientific ways of thinking--have profoundly changed the way we perceive morality and, indeed, move us ever closer to a more just world"--

Note to those without a Kindle reader:

Amazon supplies a free Kindle reader app that can be dowloaded for free from their web site. Versions are available for Windows 8, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Android Phones, Android Tablets, iPhone. iPod Touch, iPad, Mac, PC, and Cloud Reader.

Android phones, PCs, Macs, tablets, etc.:

  • Go to the Amazon web site at: https://www.amazon.com/

  • Go to the search bar at the top of the screen. Enter free reading app

  • There should be a "Free Kindle Reading App" link as the top selection customized to the device you are using.

Once you download it, you can buy ebooks from Amazon which are usually significantly cheaper than paperback or hardcover versons. And, if you download the app to your tablet or phone, you will be able to carry dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of books with you! No need to build additional book shelves!

Latest update: 2017-DEC-05
Assembled by: B.A. Robinson

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