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RECOMMENDED RELIGIOUS/SPIRITUAL BOOKS

2003-August to December

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Sponsored link.

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The current month's recommendation is located elsewhere.

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The Fundamentals of Extremism

As the title implies, this is a book about the influence that Christian Fundamentalism is having on America. Some Amazon.com reviewers commented:

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"The book is not an attack on Fundamentalists as one might fear, but is a very thought provoking examination of the threat fundamentalism, as a practice, poses to the future of our democracy. As the line of separation between Church and State becomes even more muddied, it is imperative that we each look around us and identify the factors which are contributing so heavily to this attempted erosion of our freedom. As Blaker, et al, point out so clearly - one of these factors is fundamentalism."

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"Kimberly Blaker and her co-authors have presented a well-researched, informative, and eye-opening account of the not-so-obvious ways Christian fundamentalists are seeking to overhaul our society, its government, and the educational system. The authors address the serious impact that these radicals have on children’s welfare, women’s rights, and separation of church and state issues."

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"Kimberly Blaker....effectively connects the dots of the Christian Right’s agenda for power and the breaking down of the separation between church and state. In a time of increasing political erosion to this sacred tenet of a free society, we would do well to inform ourselves and become proactively involved."

Editor: Kimberly Blaker
Title: "Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America"
Edition: Paperback
Publisher: New Boston Books
ISBN:
0972549617
Release date: 2003-SEP
Pages: 288
Cost: List: U.S.$15.95

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

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Remembering Trauma

The year 1980 saw the start of "memory wars" where two conflicting views arose about the nature of human memory:

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The VCR approach was based upon clinical studies. The human mind is seen as working like a tape recording. Memories of past abusive events are often repressed during periods of dissociation. However they are searched for and recovered, they are always fairly reliable, and

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The False Memory Syndrome approach was based on memory research. Recovered memories were seen as being unreliable recollections of past abuse. They need to be verified with hard evidence before any action is taken.

According to a reviewer on the Amazon/com web site: In this book, memory expert Richard McNally "has put forth a badly needed objective and balanced account of all major issues concerning how people remember traumatic events; he also covers postraumatic stress disorder and related issues. This is THE scientific, authoritative summary of what is really known about the psychological issues of trauma that have had political and legal impact in the last decade or so. Just the facts, no spin. The book is thoughtful, thorough, and deals even handedly with the major issues. The book is a must read for any thoughtful person with a professional or personal interest in trauma."

Reviewers on Amazon.com either love or hate the book. They have been assigning the book the very highest rating (5 stars) or the very lowest rating (1 star) depending upon their beliefs about recovered memory.

Two editorial reviews:

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"Here we have the most comprehensive and sober treatment yet undertaken of this sensitive and provocative topic."  Larry R. Squire, University of California School of Medicine, San Diego.

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"It is a benchmark book that should be read by anyone who is interested in the consequences of emotional trauma." James L. McGaugh, University of California, Irvine.

Author: Richard J McNally
Title: "Remembering Trauma"
Publisher: Belknap Press
ISBN:
0 674 01082 5
Release date: 2003-APR
Pages: 416
Cost: List: U.S.$35.00    Amazon.com is selling it 30% off at $24.50 U.S. plus shipping.

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

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Abraham

Gail Hudson of Amazon.com wrote:

"At a time when conflicts among three of the world's major religions--Islam, Judaism, and Christianity--are in the global spotlight, Bruce Feiler offers a stunning biography of the one man who unites all three religions: Abraham. "The most mesmerizing story of Abraham's life--his offering a son to God--plays a pivotal role in the holiest week of the Christian year, at Easter," writes Feiler. "The story is recited at the start of the holiest fortnight in Judaism, on Rosh Hashanah. The episode inspires the holiest day in Islam, 'Id al-Adha,' the Feast of the Sacrifice, at the climax of the Pilgrimage. And yet the religions can't even agree on which son he tried to kill." Herein lies the irony and perfection of Feiler's timing. As we struggle to find a path to peace among these three religions, all warring in Jerusalem, near the stone where Abraham brought his son for sacrifice, this captivating biography speaks to Abraham as the metaphor he is: the historically elusive man who embodies three religions, a character who has shape-shifted over the millennia to serve the clashing goals and dogma of each religion.
Anyone seeking to understand the roots of tension in the Middle East need look no further than the final half of this book, where Feiler interprets the meaning of Abraham as seen through the prism of each religion. Surprisingly, the book is as entertaining as it is thoughtful: Feiler is a masterful writer with a warm, humorous voice, a dazzling way with metaphors, and an underlying intelligence that comes through in every passage. Abraham deserves the highest of recommendations.
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Author: Bruce Feiler
Title: "Abraham: A journey to the heart of three faiths"
Publisher: William Morrow & Co.
Release date: 2002-SEP
Pages: 240

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

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Prayers for Peace

Peace may have largely gone out of fashion since 9-11. But this book attempts to offer an alternative to conflict and war. It consists of a collection of prayers for peace from many of the major world religions: Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Hinduism, Jainism, Jewish, Muslim, Native American spirituality, Rastafarian, Shinto, and Zoroastrian. According to reviewer Jana Riess, "Quotes from various individuals, from scientist Albert Einstein to American icon Fred Rogers, round out the collection....this collection of prayers is comprehensive and well considered."

Editors: B. Martin Pedersen, Karen Blincol, Matthew Carter
Title: "Prayers for Peace"
Publisher: Graphis Press
Release date: 2002-DEC
Pages: 240

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

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When religion becomes evil

This is one of the most important books published in the past decade! It deals with an almost untouched topic: how faith groups within a world religion can change, become profoundly evil, and violate their own traditions. He also identifies a path back to wholeness. We recommend that every visitor to this web site consider buying this incredible book. We have never made such a recommendation before.

The author, Charles Kimball, is chair of the Department of Religion at Wake Forest University, and is an ordained Baptist minister. He is the author of three books about religion in the Middle East. Over the past 25 years, he has been working closely with Jews, Christians and Muslims.

He has identified five warning signs of corruption in religion. They are:

  1. Absolute truth claims,

  2. Blind obedience,

  3. Establishing the 'Ideal' time,

  4. The end justifies any means, and

  5. Declaring holy war.

He writes: "...One or more of these five signs always precedes any instance of religiously sanctioned evil. Knowledge of such corruption is invaluable in today's world, yet it is not sufficient in itself. Whether one is a true believer or a die-hard secularist, it remains necessary to take the next step from the knowledge of these factors that predict when religion becomes evil to a clear understanding of how religion can remain true to its authentic sources and a force for positive change."

He also writes: "Whatever religious people may say about their love of God or the mandates of their religion, when their behavior toward others is violent and destructive, when it causes suffering among their neighbors, you can be sure the religion has been corrupted and reform is desperately needed. When religion becomes evil these five corruptions are always present. Conversely, when religion remains true to its authentic sources, it is actively dismantling these corruptions ... "

Diana L. Eck, author of A New Religious America (itself a very worthwhile book) reviewed Kimball's book: "A bold, powerful, truth-telling analysis of the ways in which religions can become destructive. The five 'danger signs' he proposed provide a helpful, even-handed framework for understanding the religious extremism we see today..."

Arthur Hertzberg, Bronfman Visiting Professor of Humanities at New York University, wrote: "Charles Kimball has uttered a cry that resonates like a 'fire bell in the night.' If the world is to be saved, it must first be purified of the element of hatred that exists in the major faiths."

Author: Charles Kimball
Title: "When religion becomes evil"
Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco
Release date: 2002-SEP-3
Pages: 192, Hardcover
Cost: List: $21.95.  U.S. Amazon is selling it 30% off at $15.37 U.S. plus shipping.

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

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Continue with book selections from the first half of 2004

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This graphic lists the most popular religious & spiritual books currently being sold by Amazon.com:

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Copyright © 2002 to 2004 incl., by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-AUG
Latest update: 2004-SEP-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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