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Recommended religious/spiritual books

Past book selections: 2016-July to December

Previous months' recommendations

The current month's recommended book

Tentatively scheduled selections for future months

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2016-July's selection

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"Epiphany: A Christian's Change of Heart & Mind
over Same-Sex Marriage," by Michael Coren

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
19.45 plus postage in Hardcover, $14.54 in Kindle format.

Amazon.com book description:

"From the posterboy of Catholic conservatism, a major change of heart and soul on one of the Church's most controversial and intractable stances. ..."

"Michael Coren had a profound spiritual and personal change of heart. Epiphany is about how and why that happened; the reaction from both sides of the fence; and how the Christian doctrine, when studied closely and without bias, heartily supports Michael's findings. As a middle-aged, very white, very straight, very Christian man, he was obliged, first reluctantly and then eagerly, to explore the complex dynamic between faith and homosexuality and to work out a new narrative. The crux of that narrative: God is love.

Honest, brave, and rigorous in its scholarship, Epiphany is a groundbreaking book on one of society's most pressing issues.

This book was released on 2016-APR-26. There are no reviews by Amazon.com customers yet.

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2016-August's selection

book cove

"Fighting God: An Atheist Manifesto for a Religious World,"
by David Silverman

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
17.80 plus postage in Paperback, $11.92 in Kindle format, or $16.45 plus postage in hardcover.
Also available in Audible and MP3 CD formats.

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Webmaster's comment:

This book is written by an Atheist about Atheism. It might be very helpful for Christians and others who attempt to proselytize non-Christians. That is because it accurately reflects real beliefs of Atheists.

Amazon.com book description:

"Fighting God is a firebrand manifesto from one of the most recognizable faces of atheism. In his book, Silverman -- a walking, talking atheist billboard known for his appearances on Fox News -- discusses the effectiveness, ethics and impact of the in-your-face-atheist who refuses to be silent.

Silverman argues that religion is more than just wrong: it is malevolent and does not deserve our respect. It is our duty to be outspoken and do what we can to bring religion down. Examining the mentality, methods and issues facing the firebrand atheist, Silverman presents an overwhelming argument for firebrand atheism and reveals:

- All religion is cafeteria religion and almost all agnostics are atheists.

- American society grants religion a privileged status, despite the intentions of the Founding Fathers.

- Christian politicians have adversely (and un-Constitutionally) affected our society with regard to science, health, women's rights, and gay rights.

- The notion of "atheist Jews" is a lie forced on us by religion.

- It is not "Islamophobia" to observe dangerous teachings and disproportionate violence in Islam, including the governments of some predominately Muslim countries that execute Atheists, Muslims who leave Islam for another religion, and homosexuals.

- Atheists are slowly but surely winning the battle. ..."

Average rating in reviews by 77 Amazon customers: 4.5 out of 5 stars. That is unusually high for a book on such a controversial topic.

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2016-September's selection

book cover

"Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians
Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior"

by Bart Ehrman

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
18.77 plus postage in Hardcover, $15.70 in Kindle format, or $21.95 in audible formats. .

Some book reviews:

“Ehrman provides an intriguing overview of memory studies and introduces readers to a variety of important pioneers and studies. ... Ehrman concludes that ‘the historical Jesus did not make history; the remembered Jesus did.’ An intriguing new angle on the well-worn field of ‘historical Jesus’ studies.” (Kirkus Review)

“An intriguing and entertaining take on the formation of the Gospels.” (Library Journal)

“With his typical humor, passion, and vivacity, Ehrman explores the ways that memory shapes, distorts, changes, and preserves the stories of Jesus passed along by the Christian community. Ehrman’s provocative book raises engaging questions that drive readers back to the sources of our information about Jesus.” (Publishers Weekly)

“One can see why Ehrman is so widely known and respected by so many people. Here Ehrman takes a completely different approach from his previous books. This book is a new approach to the study of the beginnings of Christianity.” (Association for Mormon Letters)

”Jesus Before the Gospels is a scholarly yet readable study of Jesus and the Gospels. Ehrman’s scholarship remains unmatched. Ehrman unveils several unexplored aspects of the life of Jesus and the Gospels. Everybody with an interest in Christianity and religion in general will find this fascinating book useful.” (Washington Book Review)

“With Jesus Before the Gospels, Bart D. Ehrman has written a thought-provoking book prompted by his interest as a historian in the various traditions about Jesus. Enjoyable to read ” (America Magazine)

Average rating in reviews by 38 Amazon customers: 4.3 out of 5 stars.

During 2016-APR, Amazon.com reported that this book was the #1 best seller in New Testament commentaries.

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2016-October's selection:

book cover

"I Promised Not to Tell: Raising a transgender child," by Cheryl B. Evans,
Self published, 2016-JUL.
Available in Kindle format for $5.93 and paperback for $15.99

Amazon.com customers gave this book a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars.
This is an incredible rating for a book on such a controversial topic.

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

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Amazon.com's review:

"A must read for a parent, relative or friend of a gender questioning or transgender person. I Promised Not to Tell is a deeply personal and emotional parenting memoir told by the mother of a transgender child. This book will benefit anyone who would like to learn more about transgenderism. Honest, moving and well written, you will not be disappointed!

Review by this web site's author, Bruce Robinson, on Amazon.com:

"An absolute gem:

An amazing book! It allows the reader to fully experience the shock, fears, joy, and triumphs that a fully involved parent of a transgender child may have. I have read dozens of books about the LGBT community in connection with my work on the LGBT section of the religioustolerance.org web site. But this is the first time that I have been motivated to temporarily suspend my work on the site in order to read a book cover to cover. Not to be missed."

Viga Boland wrote the following review:

"... I Promised Not to Tell is quite possibly one of the most important books to date on a very controversial and little understood social issue: transgenderism. And what makes it even more valuable is that the focus is on helping parents recognize,and whether they like it or not, accept that their daughter might actually be a son or vice versa. As Cheryl B. Evans states early in I Promised Not to Tell, and repeats throughout the book, what she and her husband wanted most for her children was their happiness. And everything these parents do in this book proves they mean what they say. They listened to and trusted in what Jordan believed was right for her; they educated themselves on transgenderism; they located knowledgeable therapists and doctors, and stood united and strong beside their daughter when faced with religious ignorance that claims such children are "not of God..."

"If you are facing such a situation with your child, I urge you to read this book. Both you and your child need what Cheryl has so kindly shared with readers and parents. And when you do, I'm sure you will come away impressed not just by the courage shown by Jordan in this book, but by the love Cheryl and her husband have for their children and their compassion for all people. That love affirms what I've always believed: true love has nothing to do with gender. Love is love. I loved I Promised Not to Tell. Couldn't put it down. Highly recommended reading."

Jack Magnus wrote the following review:

"I Promised Not to Tell: Raising a Transgender Child is a non-fiction parenting memoir written by Cheryl B. Evans. I was highly impressed with Evans' story and found myself cheering on her and her husband as they supported their son through each step of his transition journey. Evans writes beautifully, and her accounts of Jordan's and their lives is authentic and moving. As I read it, I wished that every parent of a transgender child would be so supporting and willing to embrace what at first glance seems a strange and unlikely scenario. I'm hoping that I Promised Not to Tell will be an invaluable guide to those parents who find themselves in the same position that Evans and her husband did. Towards the end of her book, Evans discusses the beauty of loving and accepting others as they are, and her message is even more urgent in today's political climate where transgender individuals have been demonized and made to feel unwelcome. I Promised Not to Tell: Raising a Transgender Child is a bright light showing the way to acceptance through knowledge, understanding and love, and it's most highly recommended."

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2016-November's selection

book cover

"The God Problem: How a Godless Cosmos Creates," by Howard Bloom

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
18.52 plus postage in Paperback, $7.56 in Kindle format, or $20.89 plus postage in hardcover.

A sampling of Amazon.com book reviews:

  • "If Howard Bloom is only 10 percent right, we’ll have to drastically revise our notions of the universe. ... [His] argument will rock your world."
    Barbara Ehrenreich, National Magazine Award winner and author of Nickel and Dimed.

  • "Enthralling. Astonishing. Written with the panache of the Great Blondin turning somersaults on the rope above Niagara. Profound, extraordinarily eclectic, and crazy. The most exciting cliff-hanger of a book I can remember reading." James Burke, Creator and host of seven BBC-TV series, including Connections.

  • "Bloody hell. . . . What a truly extraordinary book. I’m gobsmacked. It’s a fast-paced, highly readable, and deeply researched thriller-documentary that grapples with the big issues of the universe. ... Food for the brain." Francis Pryor, President of the Council for British Archaeology, author of Britain BC

  • "For those of us who do not invoke god(s) to explain things, there is a challenge—where did the complexity of the physical and natural world come from? . . . This deep, provocative, spectacularly well-written book provides some answers. ... A wonderful book." Robert Sapolsky, MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" winner and author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

  • "Strong. Like a steam roller. Impressive. Great." Richard Foreman, MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" winner and founder of the Ontological-Hysteric Theater

Average rating in reviews by 259 Amazon customers: 3.4 out of 5 stars. As one would expect of a great book on a controversial topic, it was given many "1 star out of 5" ratings by Amazon.com customers, and many more "5 stars out of 5" ratings.

Howard Bloom has been called "the Darwin, Einstein, Newton, and Freud of the 21st Century" by Britain's Channel4 TV and "the next Stephen Hawking" by Gear Magazine.

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2016-December's selection

book cover

"The Illusion of God's Presence: The Biological Origins of Spiritual Longing" by John C. Wathey

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
$
18.52 plus postage in Paperback, $7.56 in Kindle format, or $20.89 plus postage in hardcover.

Amazon.com's book review:

An essential feature of religious experience across many cultures is the intuitive feeling of God's presence. More than any rituals or doctrines, it is this experience that anchors religious faith, yet it has been largely ignored in the scientific literature on religion.

"... [Dr. Wathey's] book delves into the biological origins of this compelling feeling, attributing it to innate neural circuitry that evolved to promote the mother-child bond. ...[He] argues that evolution has programmed the infant brain to expect the presence of a loving being who responds to the child's needs. As the infant grows into adulthood, this innate feeling is eventually transferred to the realm of religion, where it is reactivated through the symbols, imagery, and rituals of worship. The author interprets our various conceptions of God in biological terms as illusory supernormal stimuli that fill an emotional and cognitive vacuum left over from infancy. 

These insights shed new light on some of the most vexing puzzles of religion, like:

  • the popular belief in a god who is judgmental and punishing, yet also unconditionally loving;
  • the extraordinary tenacity of faith;
  • the greater religiosity of women relative to men;
  • religious obsessions with sex;
  • the mysterious compulsion to pray;
  • the seemingly irrepressible feminine attributes of God, even in traditionally patriarchal religions; and
  • the strange allure of cults

Finally, Dr. Wathey considers the hypothesis that religion evolved to foster reproductive success, arguing that, in an age of potentially ruinous overpopulation, magical thinking has become a luxury we can no longer afford, one that distracts us from urgent threats to our planet.

Average rating by 11 Amazon customers' reviews: 4.6 out of 5 stars, including nine 5 star ratings.

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Want a Kindle?

Amazon.com has millions of eBooks, newspapers, and magazines available for download into their Kindle eBook reader. They have apps that work on PCs, tablets, and many other devices. Not only is this more portable than lugging up to 3,500 books with you but you can save a lot of money, because eBook versions generally cost significantly less than print versions. You can download for free the cover page, index and the first part of any book you are interested in. Ebooks have a search function. You can highlight passages from books and store them in a text file for use by an editor program on a PC or Mac. It appears that Amazon sells Kindles at a price below their manufacturing cost; what they lose in the initial purchase, Amazon makes up in later book purchases.

This banner ad has a link to various stand-alone Kindle models sold by Amazon.com.

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Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2016-AUG-02
Latest update: 2016-DEC-01
Author: B.A. Robinson

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