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Tentative religious and spiritual book selections

2017-JULY to 2018-JANUARY

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2017-July's selection

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"The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer," by Karmak Bagisbayev

Read reviews or order this book from Amazon.com online book store
$3.71 in Kindle format, and $9.96 in Paperback

Amazon.com book review:

"What is the unique and most important feature that distinguishes man from all other living beings?

Why is it that, contrary to the instinct of self-preservation, a parent will throw themselves headlong into fire or water to save their child?

Why do people get married, and why do they get divorced? Why do people have extra-marital affairs, and why do two people in a couple become jealous of one another?

What is Love?

Is it possible to give a clear and straightforward answer to all these questions?

It is in fact possible!

“The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer” provides a clear and scientifically elegant answer to all the questions listed above. The answer which will cause the reader to reconsider many established moral principles and notions about the world around us. The answer which will help the reader to understand the nature of human actions, dilemmas, dramas and passions, in their true light. The answer which will elucidate the current stage in the development of human civilisation and offer unexpected predictions for its future. ..."

The author's autobiography and blog are at www.thelastfaith.com

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2017-August's selection

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"The Beauty and Nobility of Life: The Restoration of Meaning in a World Overwhelmed by Commercialism, Scientism, and Fundamentalism," by Andrew Cort

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$9.99 in Kindle format, or $23.14 plus postage in hardcover.

Amazon book review:

"The Beauty and Nobility of Live" has several related themes. On the one hand, it critiques many aspects of contemporary life that attempt to extinguish that radiant "Gleam of Light" we all possess and turn us into powerless servants of the status quo: mindless conformity, excessive consumerism, disrespect for ourselves and others, disrespect for Nature, and narrow-minded, fall-in-line thinking. In response to this, the book focuses on the Sanctity of the Individual, the Magnificence of Life, Unity with each other and with Nature, and the Oneness of Creation. In a time of so much anger, divisiveness and hate, it emphasizes Love, Compassion, Creativity, Learning to Think for Oneself, Standing up to Power, and Intuiting Higher Levels of Life beyond what can be seen, heard, or touched, in order to Transcend our Limitations, and discover our true place in this Marvelous Universe.

This book won the 2017 Nautilus Book Awards' 1st Place Gold Award in the category ‘USA Spiritual Growth & Development”. It includes a chapter entitled "Beyond Religious Tolerance.

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2017-September's selection

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Ryan T. Anderson, John Corvino, and Sherif Girgis (Authors)

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
21.95 plus postage in Paperback, or $9.99 in Kindle format.

Amazon's book review:

"Virtually everyone supports religious liberty, and virtually everyone opposes discrimination. But how do we handle the hard questions that arise when exercises of religious liberty seem to discriminate unjustly? How do we promote the common good while respecting conscience in a diverse society?

This point-counterpoint book brings together leading voices in the culture wars to debate such questions: John Corvino, a longtime LGBT-rights advocate, opposite Ryan T. Anderson and Sherif Girgis, prominent young social conservatives.

Many such questions have arisen in response to same-sex marriage: How should we treat county clerks who do not wish to authorize such marriages, for example; or bakers, florists, and photographers who do not wish to provide same-sex wedding services? But the conflicts extend well beyond the LGBT rights arena. How should we treat hospitals, schools, and adoption agencies that can't in conscience follow antidiscrimination laws, healthcare mandates, and other regulations? Should corporations ever get exemptions? Should public officials?..."

" In point-counterpoint format, Corvino, Anderson and Girgis explore these questions and more. Although their differences run deep, they tackle them with civility, clarity, and flair. Their debate is an essential contribution to contemporary discussions about why religious liberty matters and what respecting it requires."

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2017-October's selection

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"Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People," by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
17.80 plus postage in Paperback, $13.99 in Kindle format, or $22.99 in hardcover.

A sampling of Amazon.com book reviews:

“Unflinchingly honest (and funny)…You don't have to be religious to get something out of this book.”
-NPR’s “Best Books of 2015”

"[Bolz-Weber] is one of the most important Christian voices around -- not because she has come up with some catchy, easy new way to do faith, but because when talks about the destructive power of sin, as well as redemption and grace, she knows of what she speaks."
-Huffington Post

"Wickedly funny and painfully vulnerable, theologically nuanced and lyrically sonorous. [Her] voice communicates the scandal of the Christ and the sacraments of his church with more force and vitality than most writers can hope to summon."
-The Christian Century

“Engaging and accessible…Bolz-Weber is clear-eyed about the personal travails faced by the marginalized and those without faith.”
–Booklist

"If Saint Augustine were to return to life and live among us now, he would be Bolz-Weber; and if his Confessions were to be written in 21st century rhetoric and style, they would be this book. Accidental Saints is what every Christian yearns to know is possible." 
-Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours and The Great Emergence 

About the Author:

Nadia Bolz-Weber is the founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. She is the au­thor of the New York Times best-selling memoir Pastrix. Nadia has been featured on CNN and in the Washington Post, Bitch Magazine, NPR’s Morning Edition, More Magazine, and the Daily Beast.

Average rating in reviews by 259 Amazon customers: 4.6 out of 5 stars. The book was on the New York Times list of bestsellers in 2015.

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2017-November'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' Black bodies 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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2017-December'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-January'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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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 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!

Originally written: 2016-AUG-23
Latest update: 2017-JUN-01
Assembled by: B.A. Robinson

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