From Margaret Flanagan of Booklist:
"For those struggling with contradictions between organized religion and
their personal beliefs, this testament to living an intimately unique brand
of Catholicism will be welcome reading. Inspired by the beauty and the
mysticism inherent in the ritual, Mairs, a convert to Catholicism, is able
to divorce herself from the restrictive dogma, fashioning an affirmative
alternative to the institutionalized Roman Catholic Church. Unconcerned by
threats of excommunication or by accusations of being a 'cafeteria
Catholic,' she embraces a dynamic God, worships and celebrates
communion—without benefit of a priest—and, above all, devotes herself to the
call to social action she sees as the bedrock of her faith. Although
dogmatic Catholics will dismiss her views as heresy, the more spiritually
minded will find food for thought and much to embrace in these
From Story Circle Book Reviews:
"A Dynamic God is rich, risky, and startling. It is a remarkable
book. Read it."
Passionately nonconformist spiritual reflections from an acclaimed essayist
When Nancy Mairs published her "spiritual autobiography" Ordinary Time,
Kathleen Norris greeted it in the New York Times Book Review as "a
remarkable accomplishment," calling Mairs "a relentlessly physical writer,
as fiercely committed to her art as to her spiritual development."
Mairs's new book on spirituality describes the alternative brand of Catholic
worship that she observes in the American Southwest. Raised
Congregationalist in New England, Mairs is a convert to Catholicism. She is
also feminist, radical, political activist-and all this in a church that
tends to scorn her kind of progressive iconoclasm.
A Dynamic God explores why and how Mairs deals with those
contradictions and still identifies Catholic (Zen Catholic, as she sometimes
says), and what she finds to love in that tradition.
Doctrinally, Mairs parts ways with the mainstream Church with few regrets.
The people she worships with celebrate communion in each other's homes
without a priest, discuss politics, and defy Church opposition.
But the Catholic rituals and imaginative structures that Mairs loves shape
her life. In the Latino image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, for instance, she
finds inspiration for a commitment to social justice. In her unmistakable,
vibrant voice, she writes about sin and abundance; understanding vocation in
a life circumscribed by multiple sclerosis; and celebrating life.
About the Author:
Nancy Mairs is author of seven books, all published by Beacon Press. They
include Waist-High in the World, Ordinary Time, Voice Lessons, Carnal Acts, and
Remembering the Bone House. She lives in Tucson, AZ, with her husband, George.
Title: "A dynamic God: Living an unconventional Catholic faith"
Format: Hardcover Publisher: Beacon Press ISBN: 0807077321 or 978-0807077320 Release date: 2007-SEP-03 Pages: 160 Cost: List: U.S. $23.95. Amazon.com sells it for $16.29 plus postage,
for a saving of 40%! You can ask Amazon.com for free but slower shipping on most
orders of US $25.00 or more.
Review / order this book safely from the Amazon.com online book store
"God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons
by Christopher Hitchens.
The Washington Post's Book World review by Stephen Prothero:
century and a half ago Pope Pius IX published the Syllabus of Errors, a
rhetorical tour de force against the high crimes and misdemeanors of the
modern world. God Is Not Great, by the British journalist and professional
provocateur Christopher Hitchens, is the atheists' equivalent: an
unrelenting enumeration of religion's sins and wickedness, written with much
of the rhetorical pomp and all of the imperial condescension of a Vatican
Harvey Cox, Professor of Divinity, Harvard University; author of "The
Secular City" and "When Jesus Came to Harvard"
"Kressel's work could not be more timely. It has the advantage of taking
religious movements with thoughtful seriousness and making vital
distinctions clear. It is also written in a lucid and readable style."
Raymond F. Paloutzian, author of Invitation to the Psychology of
Religion; co-editor of "Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and
Spirituality;" editor of "The International Journal for the Psychology of
"This book sparked my interest so much that I read it 3 times. Its topic is
timeless and urgent and the dilemma is big. . . It is full of information
with sobering accounts of historical and contemporary acts of violence in
the name of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. . . Briefly said, this book is
Amir Taheri, Iranian author of 10 books on Islam and the Middle East
and a syndicated columnist
"Bad Faith is a profound book dealing with a complex problem. . . Kressel is
never judgmental, and often goes out of his way to try to understand and
explain the most obnoxious ideological props used to justify terrorism. This
makes his exposure of the 'bad faith' that is at the root of contemporary
terror that much more effective."
Ervin Staub, author of "The Psychology Of Good And Evil" and of "The
Roots Of Evil: The Origins Of Genocide And Other Group Violence"
"This well written, engaging and compelling book addresses the great,
current danger of religious extremism, especially in Islam. . ."
Ralph Wilbur Hood, Jr., co-author of "The Psychology of Religious
Fundamentalism." Past President, American Psychological Association Division
of Psychology of Religion
"Kressel has written an excellent book exploring religious extremism. . .
Even if one rejects some of his tentative answers one cannot but admire the
fact that he asks the right questions."
Title: "Bad Faith: The Danger of
Format: Hardcover Publisher: Prometheus Books ISBN: 1591025036 or 978-1591025030 Release date: 2007-OCT Pages: 264 Amazon customers' rating: 5 out of 5 stars (one rating only)
“Eric Elnes’ book Asphalt Jesus is as exciting as the
adventure it describes. He and his fellow walkers went from Phoenix to
Washington, D.C., on foot to dramatize the crisis of American
Christianity that is lost in the negativity of fundamentalism.
Dramatically they hold out another vision that captivates millions. This
is a ‘must read’ if you are concerned with what is happening to
Christianity in the United States." John Shelby Spong, author, Jesus
for the Non-Religious
“Elnes has hit one out of the ballpark with this remarkably
energetic and accessible narrative presentation of what twenty-first
century Christianity looks like in the lives of those who are becoming
it right now. This book is an exhilarating gift to all of us." Phyllis
Tickle, complier, The Night Offices
“No one will ever be able to accuse Eric Elnes of ‘Talkin’ the Talk,
but not Walkin’ the Walk!’ This beautifully told story is more than just
the diary of a remarkable journey undertaken by an intrepid band of
religious progressives. It is an odyssey into the heart and soul of the
American religious scene. Readers will think they have made the journey
themselves, met a whole new group of friends, and discovered a forgotten
landscape and an abiding truth: we are all on the same journey, and we
need to listen to, and respect, one another." Dr. Robin Meyers, UCC
minister and professor; author, Why the Christian Right is Wrong:
A Minister’s Manifesto for Taking Back Your Faith, Your Flag, Your
Amazon.com customer review:
"For anyone who is worried about the public face of
Christian faith in the United States, for anyone who loves Jesus but
can't stand what the church has done to his message, for anyone who
wants to follow God without belittling others, for anyone who's worried
that liberal Christianity has lost its biblical foundation- 'Asphalt
Jesus' is bound to bring you hope." Sean Tai:
Title: "Asphalt Jesus:
Finding a New Christian Faith Along the Highways of America"
Format: Hardcover Publisher: Jossey-Bass ISBN: 0787986089 or 978-0787986087 Release date: 2006-AUG Pages: 224 Amazon customers' rating: 5 out of 5 stars (one rating only)
Amazon's description: The Phoenix Affirmations, named for the
town in which the principles were created and the mythological bird adopted by
ancient Christians as a symbol of resurrection, offers disillusioned and
spiritually homeless Christians and others a sense of hope and a more tolerant,
joyful, and compassionate message than those we often hear from the media and
some Christian leaders. These twelve central affirmative principles of Christian
faith are built on the three great loves that the Bible reveals: love of God,
love of neighbor, and love of self. They reflect commitments to environmental
stewardship, social justice, and artistic expression as well as openness to
other faiths. Transcending theological and culture wars, inclusive and generous
in spirit and practice, these principles ask believers and seekers alike to
affirm their Christian faith in a fresh way.
Title: "The Phoenix Affirmations: A new vision for the future of
Format: Paperback Publisher: Jossey-Bass ISBN: 0787985783 or 978-0787985783 Release date: 2006-APR Pages: 176 Amazon customers' rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Cost: List: U.S. $12.95. Amazon.com sells
it for $6.60 plus postage, for a saving of 49%. You can ask Amazon.com for
free but slower shipping on most orders of US $25.00 or more.
"All books are written for or against some point of
view, and the books of the Bible are no different. Bible book authors
were often motivated to write because they wanted to challenge or
correct those who had written before them. As Helms explains, The Bible
is a war-zone, and its authors are the combatants. Paul said of Peter, I
opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong (Gal.
2:11). Helms notes that Jeremiah condemned the entire religious
establishment of his time the very same people that other Bible authors
held in highest esteem: prophets and priests are frauds, every one of
them (Jer. 8:10). Luke felt the need to write another gospel even though
many writers have undertaken to draw up an account of the events (Luke
1:1). Luke obviously felt that Mark's gospel was filled with errors and
edited it freely. Not even Mark's account of the words of the dying
Christ was left unaltered."
Amazon customer J. Tebary:
"It isn't a very long book, but there is so much in it I
was amazed. Its the single best book I've read on the subject of the
Bible. I think that believers need to read this book and think about the
documents that make up the basis for their faith and where those
documents came from. This book showed me the human side of the texts
that make up the bible, and why so much of the bible is well, confusing.
The authors style is very quick I'd say, you dive right in without any
apologies like in Dennetts 'Breaking the Spell'. I liked that, it got to
the meat of the matter and challenges the reader to keep up with the
point the author was trying to make. Atheists and Believers should check
this one out."
Amazon customer Charles A Moore:
"Randel Helms may be the world's most underrated
biblical scholar. This is probably due to a few factors: First, the
smoothness and accessibility of his writing; second, the brevity of his
books relative to other scholarship; and, third, his primary approach of
addressing the bible as literature, and examining it in terms of style,
allusion, metaphor, and historical perspective."
"His new book, The Bible Against Itself, is the third in a trilogy of
such examinations, the previous books being the excellent Gospel
Fictions (1988), and Who Wrote The Gospels (1997). All short books, they
each contain as much detail and scholarly citation as books four times
"The Bible Against Itself delves into many of the outstanding
contradictions in the bible, and helps explain them by showing how
various books in the bible were written in opposition to other books, to
dispute them and hopefully supplant them. ..."
"Read this book. Read about the prophets calling the other prophets
blasphemers, the Paulist Christians labeling the Jacobite Christians
dogs and sinners, and vice versa, and the apocalyptic authors erring
again and again, but continuing to predict anyway (using as their
sources the errors of previous apocalyptic theories)."
"You'll love it. It's a great book."
For those who regard the Bible as God's Word, and who believe that
God inspired its authors to write material that is
free of error, this book will be very distressing.
Helms approaches the Bible as a series of historical documents written by many
authors, each of whom were promoting their own particular spirituality while
correcting what they believed to be errors on the part of earlier authors.
We didn't realize that the Hebrew Scriptures were such a battleground of
Helms is on our short list of authors of whom we automatically buy anything
that they write.
Title: "The Bible Against Itself: Why the Bible Seems to Contradict
Format: Hardcover Publisher: Millennium Press ISBN: 0965504751 or 978-0965504751 Release date: 2006-SEP Pages: 178 Amazon customers' rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Cost: List: U.S. $21.95. Amazon.com sells
it for $14.93 plus postage, for a saving of 32%. You can ask Amazon.com for
free but slower shipping on most orders of US $25.00 or more.
Amazon.com: Darryl Hart, the highly regarded
historian of religion, contends that appeals to Christianity for social and
political well-being fundamentally misconstrue the meaning of the Christian
religion. His book weaves together historical narratives of American
Protestantism's influence on the nation's politics, and commentary on recent
writing about religion and public life, with expositions of Christian
teaching. The tapestry that emerges is a compelling faith-based argument for
keeping Christianity out of politics.
R. Laurence Moore, author of Touchdown Jesus:
This stunningly good book is not about the United States Constitution but
about the mission of the City of God.
Wilfred M. McClay, University of Tennessee: Darryl
Hart’s thoughtful, witty, and challenging book...could hardly be more
Leo P. Ribuffo, George Washington University: Hart
makes a powerful Christian case for the separation of church and state. Even
secularists should appreciate Hart.
Michael Horton, Ph.D., Westminster Seminary California:
The fact that Hart's viewpoint is so unique today measures the
shallowness of the public conversation on this crucial issue.
Daniel McCarthy in ToryAnarchist.com: Promises a more
nuanced take on Church and State than what's found in most other recent
volumes on the subject.
Library Journal: Hart provides a much needed
religious and historical perspective on the relationship between church and
state in the United States.
Darryl Hart contends that appeals to
Christianity for social and political well-being fundamentally misconstrue the
meaning of the Christian religion. His book weaves together historical
narratives of American Protestantism's influence on the nation's politics, and
commentary on recent writing about religion and public life, with expositions of
Christian teaching. The tapestry that emerges is a compelling faith-based
argument for keeping Christianity out of politics. A Secular Faith is sure to
provoke a firestorm of debate among evangelicals and those who oppose their
Hart concludes that church and state should be rigorously separated, However,
he justifies this stance by using a different approach from other commentators.
He notes the damage that the state has inflicted on religion through history.
He suggests that Christianity should concern itself only with the salvation
of individuals by focusing on spiritual pursuits. He sees a major role for
individual Christians to promote social justice, but no such role for religious
Christianity's proper role in politics and culture is thus indirect: to
inspire people who "may be capable of holding public office responsibly."
However, Christian faith groups should not attempt to influence government
policies directly. James Dobson, Pope Benedict XVI and Jim Wallis are certain to
be unimpressed by this book. However, the Daniel of the Bible would be pleased.
Title: "A secular faith: Why Christianity favors the separation of
church and state"
Format: Hardcover Publisher: Ivan R. Dee ISBN: 1566635764 or 978-1566635769 Release date: 2006-OCT Pages: 288 Amazon customers' rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Cost: List: U.S. $26.95. Amazon.com sells
it for $17.79 plus postage, for a saving of 34%. You can ask Amazon.com for
free but slower shipping on most orders of US $25.00 or more.