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RECOMMENDED RELIGIOUS/SPIRITUAL BOOKS

2006-January to June

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Sponsored link.


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The current month's recommendation is located elsewhere.

"Why the Christian Right is wrong"
by Robin Meyers

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

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About the book:

Author and United Church of Christ minister, Robin Meyers, delivered a speech at a peace rally on the campus of the University of Oklahoma in 2004. The text spread like wildfire on the Internet. He used that speech as the foundation for this book. "Meyers serves up an unflinching critique of the supposed moral values of the Christian Right -- the same values we are told swung the election for President Bush." (From the cover).

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Some reviews:

Publishers Weekly for 2006-MAY-26:

"...Patiently, he gives a series of impassioned reminders of the essence of what Jesus taught, believed and lived, perhaps best summarized by the stinging assertion that 'most of all, the Christian Right seems to have forgotten that Jesus saved his white-hot anger for the sin of religious hypocrisy.' Meyers maintains that pro-life views, for example, should extend beyond the womb to death row, health care and the environment. For readers who are 'indignant over the direction of this country' and feel that the time has come for 'dignified, but tangible resistance,' Meyers delivers an unambiguous, palpable blueprint.

Bill Moyers:

"In the pulpit, Robin Meyers is the new generation's Harry Emerson Fosdick, George Buttrick, and Martin Luther King.  In these pages, you will find a stirring message for our times, from a man who believes that God's love is universal, that the great Jewish prophets are as relevant now as in ancient times, and that the Jesus who drove the money changers from the Temple may yet inspire us to embrace justice and compassion as the soul of democracy. This is not a book for narrow sectarian minds; read it, and you will want to change the world."

John Shelby Spong, author, The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love:

"In this book, a powerful and authentic religious voice from America's  heartland holds up a mirror to the Bush administration and its religious allies.  The result is a vision of Orwellian proportions in which values are inverted and violence, hatred, and bigotry are blessed by one known as 'The Prince of Peace,' who called us to love our enemies. If you treasure this country and tremble over its present direction, this book is a must-read!"

Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

"This is a timely warning and a clarion call to the church to recover the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to a great nation to resist the encroachment of the Christian Right and of Christian fascism. Many of us in other parts of the world are praying fervently that these calls will be heeded."

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Book data:

Author: Robin Meyers
Title: "Why the Christian Right Is Wrong : A Minister's Manifesto for Taking Back Your Faith, Your Flag, Your Future"
Edition: Hardcover
Publisher: Jossey-Bass
ISBN: 0787984469
Release date: 2006-MAY-19
Pages: 224
Cost: List: U.S. $22.95. Amazon.com sells it for 35% off at $14.92 plus postage. As of 2006-JUN, you can ask Amazon .com for free but slower shipping on orders of US $25.00 or more. Books are often available cheaper -- new or used -- from Amazon's marketplace.

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

"The Jesus Papers: Exposing the greatest cover-up in history"
by Michael Baigent

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

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About the book:

Michael Baigent was one of the authors of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail," the book that formed the basis for much of Dan Brown's sensational best-seller "The Da Vinci Code." This book "The Jesus Papers" was written some two decades after "Holy Blood, Holy Grail." This has allowed Baigent twenty years to collect additional information, including what he regards as proof that Jesus survived the crucifixion.

Judging by the reviews on the Amazon.com web site, people either love or hate this book.

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Reviews:

The main Amazon.com review states:

What if everything you think you know about Jesus is wrong? In The Jesus Papers, Michael Baigent reveals the truth about Jesus' life and crucifixion. Despite -- or rather because of -- all the celebration and veneration that have surrounded the figure of Jesus for centuries, Baigent asserts that Jesus and the circumstances leading to his death have been heavily mythologized.

As a religious historian and a leading expert in the field of arcane knowledge, Baigent has unequaled access to hidden archives, secret societies, Masonic records, and the private collections of antiquities traders and their moneyed clients. Using that access to full advantage, Baigent explores the religious and political climate in which Jesus was born and raised, examining not only the conflicts between the Romans and the Jews, but the strife within the different factions of the Jewish Zealot movement. He chronicles the migrations of Jesus' family, his subsequent exposure to other cultures, and the events, teachings, and influences that were most likely to have shaped his early years. Baigent also uncovers the inconsistencies and biases in the accounts of the major historians of Jesus' time, including Josephus, Pliny, and Tacitus. The enduring influence of these accounts in forming our most common conceptions of Jesus reveals that spin is not a new phenomenon.

Taking us back to sites that over the last twenty years he has meticulously explored, studied, and in some instances excavated for the first time, Baigent provides a detailed account of his groundbreaking discoveries, including many never-before-seen photos. The evidence he has uncovered has lead him to make shocking new assertions that threaten the conventional account of Jesus' life and death and shake the very foundation of Western thought, based as it is upon the assumption of Jesus' divinity. Ultimately, his investigation raises the hope that we may gain a new understanding of Jesus.

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Book data:

Author: Michael Baigent
Title: "The Jesus Papers: Exposing the greatest cover-up in history"
Edition: Hardcover
Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco
ISBN: 0060827130
Release date: 2006-APR
Pages: 336
Cost: List: U.S. $27.95. Amazon.com sells it for 40% off at $16.77 plus postage. As of 2006-MAY, you can ask Amazon .com for free but slower shipping on orders of US $25.00 or more. Books are often available cheaper -- new or used -- from Amazon's marketplace.

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

"Ordination Standards:  Biblical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives,"
by the Ordination Standards Task Force of North Como Presbyterian Church

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

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About the book:

The Ordination Standards Task Force of North Como Presbyterian Church in Roseville, MN, has produced a most impressive book on homosexuality. It major theme is whether candidates who are in loving committed same-sex relationships should be allowed to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church, (USA). It also covers many other topics associated with sexual orientation, including reparative therapy, suicide among gay and lesbian youth, homosexuality in the natural world, etc. Unlike almost all other books which take either a liberal or conservative approach, this book attempts to explain all viewpoints objectively. It is an amazing accomplishment.

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Comments by the task force -- the folks who wrote the book:

"Liberals don't have all the facts about HOMOSEXUALITY. Neither do Conservatives."

"Is your congregation studying the issues surrounding ordination of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people? Have you run into a dead end looking for authoritative, current curricular material? You'll be astonished at the information that has been known for years in seminaries and universities but has been unavailable to lay readers. Until now."

"This book presents the broad range of Biblical, theological, and scientific source material that churches are seeking for their study of these critical issues.

bulletWhat does the Bible say about sexual orientation and behavior? Look at a variety of interpretations.
bulletWhat does science say about the effectiveness of conversion therapy? Read the studies and weigh the evidence."

"Can members of a congregation engage with the questions of ordination standards; study, analyze, and weigh the data; come to their own conclusions; and still remain friends at the end of the day? The authors of this book did. And now we are sharing these resources with you, so that you can explore primary sources and consider a broad range of viewpoints regarding the issues that are raised by ordination standards. Join us in this task. Do the hard work, ask the tough questions, consider the evidence, and come to your own informed decisions."

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Reviews:

bullet"'You have produced a massive reference work. The research behind it is stunning. You have maintained a calm and open tone throughout and been careful to show various possibilities of interpretation." Rev. Jack B. Rogers, Ph.D., Professor of Theology Emeritus, San Francisco Theological Seminary; Moderator, 213th General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
bullet"This is a beautifully written and carefully reasoned piece of work." Michael W. Ross, MA, MS, Ph.D., MPH, MHPEd, DipTertEd, DipSTD, DipAppCrim Professor of Public Health, University of Texas.

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Book data:

Author: Ordination Standards Task Force of North Como Presbyterian Church
Title: "Ordination Standards:  Biblical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives"
Edition: Paperback
Publisher: iUniverse
ISBN: 0595341551
Release date: 2005-NOV
Pages: 588
Cost: List: U.S. $46.95. As of 2006-MAR, you can ask Amazon .com for free but slower shipping on orders of US $25.00 or more. Books are often available cheaper -- new or used -- from Amazon's marketplace

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

"The emerging Christian way: Thoughts, stories & wisdom for a faith of transformation"
Edited by Michael Schwartzentruber

Order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.

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About the book:

The term "emerging Christian" is taken from Marcus Borg's book "The Heart of Christianity." In the essay that he wrote for this book, he compares and contrasts two very different Christian paradigms -- "...two very different ways of seeing Christianity and the Christian life as  a whole, [which] are in conflict with each other." Both segments of Christianity draw on the Bible, Christian theology, and Christian tradition. But they approach all three with different preconceptions and thus view Christianity in very different ways. He calls these two paradigms:

bulletan earlier "belief-centered paradigm," and
bulletan emerging  "transformation-centered paradigm"

Borg writes:

"It is trust and loyalty that transform us. Beliefs may precede them or follow them or remain quite unconnected to them. But beliefs do not save us, do not transform us. Trust and loyalty do. This combination of trust and loyalty is the centering in God that is the primary meaning of faith. This centering is the purpose of Christian life. This is the vision at the heart of a transformation-centered Christianity.

The book contains 14 essays  "by some of the leading authors and creative thinkers in the field." It covers a variety of topics: deep ecology, social justice, radical inclusion, the importance of honoring the wisdom of other world faiths, response to nature, worship implications, educational programs, etc.

I rate it at 5 -- perhaps 6 -- stars out of a possible 5 stars.

It should be of particular interest to:

bulletLiberal Christians, non-Christians, and secularists who want to learn about the cutting edge of Christian thought.
bulletMainline Christians who have become disillusioned at their denomination's teachings and are looking for something that they might find more meaningful.
bulletConservative Christians who want to improve their evangelizing skills and need to know where the liberal wing of Christianity is going.

In short, it should be of interest to every person who takes religion seriously.

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Book data:

Authors: Thomas Berry, Marcus Borg, Susan Burt, Matthew Fox, Bruce Harding, Don Grayston, Tom Harpur, Mark MacLean, Sallie McFague, Bill Phipps, Nancy Reeves, Bruce Sanguin, Tom Scorer, and Anne Squire.
Editor:
Michael Schwartzentruber
Title: "The emerging Christian way: Thoughts, stories & wisdom for a faith of transformation"
Edition: Paperback
Publisher: CooperHouse, an imprint of Wood Lake Books, Kelowna, BC, Canada.
ISBN: 1551455218
Release date: 2006-JUN-30
Pages: 256
Cost: List: U.S. $18.95. Amazon.com price $12.32 (35% off). As of 2006-MAR, you can ask Amazon .com for free but slower shipping on orders of US $25.00 or more. Books are often available cheaper -- new or used -- from Amazon's marketplace.

Order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

"The complete idiot's guide® to exploring God"

by Jeffrey B. Webb

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About the book:

According to Amazon.com:

"Today, with religion being talked about more than ever in the United States, and most Americans professing their belief in God, the time is ripe for an exploration of what God means, and has meant, throughout history. In this fascinating guide, Jeffrey Webb explores humanity’s ideas of God, from the days of Pantheism through the Hebrew Scriptures and rabbinic tradition, to Christian Trinity and the New Testament, to the Qur’an and God in the Sunni and Shi’ite traditions, to present-day metaphysics and beyond.

bulletThe religion category is hugely successful.
bulletAccording to a 2003 Harris Poll, while only a quarter of Americans attend a religious service every week, 79% believe there is a God, and 66% are absolutely certain this is true
bulletThe unbiased tone and coverage makes this book a perfect primer."

About the author:

Jeffrey B. Webb, Ph.D., is a historian and professor at Huntington College, where he teaches advanced courses in the history of Christianity and American religious history. The author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Christianity, he’s a co-editor of the Newsletter of the Conference on Faith and History, and his written work on topics in Christianity and Christian history has appeared in numerous academic journals and reference collections.

Our comments:

The Gallup Poll regularly shows that in excess of 95% of American adults believe in God or some form of higher power. But the term "God" is next to meaningless, because people view God in so many different ways. Most people are Theists. But they come in many forms (Duotheists, Henotheists, Monotheists, Polytheists, and believers in various forms of a Trinity). And then there are the Deists, Panentheists, and Pantheists. A bewildering array. Unfortunately, we have never found a public opinion poll that goes much deeper than asking the simple question "Do you believe in God." It would be interesting to learn exactly what kind of Gods and Goddesses in which the American population believes.

This book reviews the concepts of God found in various traditions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and various Eastern religions. It appears that a person's belief in God is very much an accident of birth: most people adopt the religious belief of their family and culture of origin.

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Book data:

Author: Jeffrey Webb
Title: "The complete idiot's guide to exploring God"
Edition: Paperback
Publisher: Alpha
ISBN: 1592574297
Release date: 2005-NOV
Pages: 384
Cost: List: U.S. $18.95. 1 Amazon sells it for $12.89 plus shipping! As of 2005-DEC-01, you can ask Amazon .com for free shipping on orders of US $25.00 or more.

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

"The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture:
The effect of early Christological controversies on the text of the New Testament"
by Bart D. Ehrman

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About the book:

According to Amazon.com:

"The victors not only write the history, they also reproduce the texts. In a study that explores the close relationship between the social history of early Christianity and the textual tradition of the emerging New Testament, Ehrman examines how early struggles between Christian "heresy" and "orthodoxy" affected the transmission of the documents over which, in part, the debates were waged. His thesis is that proto-orthodox scribes of the second and third centuries occasionally altered their sacred texts for polemical reasons--for example, to oppose adoptionists like the Ebionites, who claimed that Christ was a man but not God, or docetists like Marcion, who claimed that he was God but not a man, or Gnostics like the Ptolemaeans, who claimed that he was two beings, one divine and one human. Ehrman's thorough and incisive analysis makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the social and intellectual history of early Christianity and raises intriguing questions about the relationship of readers to their texts, especially in an age when scribes could transform the documents they reproduced to make them say what they were already thought to mean,
effecting thereby the orthodox corruption of Scripture."

About the author:

Bart D.Ehrman chairs the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His specialty is the history of the early Christian movement. He has written a number of books on this topic, including

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"Lost Christianities: The battles for scripture and the faiths we never knew."

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"Misquoting Jesus: The story behind who changed the Bible and why."

bullet

"Lost Scriptures: Books that did not make it into the New Testament."

Some reviews by Amazon.com visitors:

bullet"Steve:" This book is about one group of Christians in the 2nd and 3rd centuries who, writing before the canon had been set, fought heatedly against sects of Christians it considered heretical. This group - the 'proto-orthodox' - modified its scriptures to avoid alternative interpretations of Jesus, and in so doing, ironically corrupted its own sacred texts. 'Corruption' sounds negative, but it's a technical term. It just means that the original text has been modified. Ehrman is not trying to make swiss cheese out of the New Testament. He states that "by far the vast majority of [textual variants] are 'accidental'." But some of them have too much relevance to the intense theological disputes of the pre-canonical period to be random error.
bulletMark Howells: The author argues that the parties which triumphed in defining Christianity at Nicea and Chalcedon (the proto-orthodox) "improved" the not-yet-stabilized canon of the New Testament in the second and third centuries A.D. to counter those Christians whom they considered heretics. Using the proto-orthodox views of Separationist, Docetic, Adoptionist and Patripassianist beliefs, the author studies the earliest existing copies of what became the New Testament for clues to the controversies and their effect on what was actually written in these copies.
bulletAndris Pesells: I'm always amazed about people who study the Bible in order to find there errors. They have a lot to say, but it is vanity of vanities. If somebody cares about this topic, try to find "Forever Settled" by Jack Moorman.

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Book data:

Author: Bart D. Ehrman
Title: "The orthodox corruption of scripture"
Edition: Paperback
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0195102797
Release date: 1996
Pages: 328
Cost: List: U.S. $24.95. As of 2006-FEB, you can ask Amazon .com for free but slower shipping on orders of US $25.00 or more.

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

 

"Fear Faith Fact Fantasy
by John A. Henderson

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About the book:

According to a customer review at Amazon.com:

"The author of this book deals with our present day issues, including religious, political and moral, in factual, practical ways but also recognizes the emotional issues non-believers experience. Why non-believers remain quiet, why believers get so angry when someone doesn't believe in their god. Is there a time when being a closet Atheist is permissible? Good and harmful effects of religion on individuals and our society. He offers some simple rules for happiness, and gives courage to those who would speak out against religion that is harmful to mankind's well-being."

About the author:

John A. Henderson is a retired Air Force Flight Surgeon and General Surgeon. He lives in semi-retirement in Asheville, NC.

From the book cover:

"This book dares the reader to think and reason logically on even the existence of god, let along its involvement in human affairs. It stresses the harm caused by religions and makes a plea to people to speak up when religion is used to express intolerance, hatred and bigotry. This book can relieve anxiety over doubts about religion; it can relieve guilt over your failure to live up to others' beliefs; it can ease the fear of an all-powerful, all-knowing god; and finally it may give people the courage to speak out against religious bigotry and intolerance."

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Book data:

Author: John A Henderson
Title: "Fear Faith Fact Fantasy
Edition: Hardcover
Publisher: Parkway Publishers
ISBN: 1887905774
Release date: 2003
Pages: 234
Cost: List: U.S. $19.95. As of 2006-FEB, you can ask Amazon .com for free but slower shipping on orders of US $25.00 or more.

Read reviews or order this book safely from 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.

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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.

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

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