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Recommended religious/spiritual books

Past book selections
during the first half of 2017

Previous months' recommendations

The current month's recommended book

Tentatively scheduled selections for future months

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2017-January's selection

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"Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance," by Janet Jakobsen & Ann Pellegrini

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
18.90 plus postage in Paperback, $16.69 in Kindle format, or $89.00 plus postage in hardcover.

A sampling of Amazon.com book reviews:

  • “A brilliant book, one that can move public conversations about sexual, racial, and religious difference beyond present assumptions and impasses. Love the Sin suggests that religion can become the ground for sexual freedom rather than the justification for sexual repression.”
    -Margaret R. Miles,author of Seeing and Believing: Religion and Values in the Movie.

  • “As ambitious, feisty, and exciting as any new passion, Love the Sin takes its readers on a compelling ride across the volatile landscape of religion and sex in American public life. The authors not only provoke and stimulate, guide and elucidate, but they redefine freedom and democracy as values for our sex lives as well as our sexual politics.”
    -Lisa Duggan,coauthor of Sex Wars: Sexual Dissent and Political Culture.
  • <
  • Jakobsen and Pellegrini argue convincingly that movements for ethnic, racial, gender, and sexual justice would be well served by using the paradigm of religious freedom instead of biological determinism to make the case for social change. Love the Sin is required reading for all the sinners to whom the title euphemistically refers, and for everyone who dreams of a more just society.”
    -Rabbi Rebecca Alpert,author of Like Bread on the Seder Plate

  • “Jakobsen and Pellegrini do a nice job of showing how the love-the-sinner/hate-the- sin tradition falls dramatically short of the higher aspiration to tolerance.”
    -Stephen Pomper,Washington Monthly

  • “Gives us vital language to escape both the trap of toleration and the seduction of assimilation. Not afraid to challenge the certainties of the secular left on religion, nor willing to settle for a narrow version of gay and lesbian rights, Love the Sin presents a new vision of American sexual and religious freedom.”
    -Laura Levitt,Director of Jewish Studies, Temple University

Average rating in reviews by 3 Amazon customers: 4.6 out of 5 stars.

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2017-February's selection

book cover

"American Secularism: Cultural Contours of Nonreligious Belief Systems (Religion and Social Transformation)"

by Joseph O. O. Baker and Buster G. Smith.

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
$12.62 in Kindle format, or $89.00 plus postage in hardcover, or $27.00 in paperback format.

Amazon.com book review:

"A rapidly growing number of Americans are embracing life outside the bounds of organized religion. Although America has long been viewed as a fervently religious Christian nation, survey data shows that more and more Americans are identifying as 'not religious.' There are more non-religious Americans than ever before, yet social scientists have not adequately studied or typologized secularities, and the lived reality of secular individuals in America has not been astutely analyzed. American Secularism documents how changes to American society have fueled these shifts in the non-religious landscape and examines the diverse and dynamic world of secular Americans.

This volume offers a theoretical framework for understanding secularisms. It explores secular Americans’ thought and practice to understand secularisms as worldviews in their own right, not just as negations of religion. Drawing on empirical data, the authors examine how people live secular lives and make meaning outside of organized religion. Joseph O. Baker and Buster G. Smith link secularities to broader issues of social power and organization, providing an empirical and cultural perspective on the secular landscape. In so doing, they demonstrate that shifts in American secularism are reflective of changes in the political meanings of “religion” in American culture.

American Secularism addresses the contemporary lived reality of secular individuals, outlining forms of secular identity and showing their connection to patterns of family formation, sexuality, and politics, providing scholars of religion with a more comprehensive understanding of worldviews that do not include traditional religion."

Joseph O. Baker is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at East Tennessee State University and a senior research associate for the Association of Religion Data Archives. 

Buster G. Smith is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Catawba College. He is the co-author of Grounding Our Faith in a Pluralistic World.

The book received an Honorable Mention by the American Sociological Association in their Religion Distinguished Book Award

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Would you benefit from having a Kindle?

Amazon.com has millions of eBooks, newspapers, and magazines available for download into their Kindle eBook reader. They have free 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.

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2017-March's selection

"The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements"

by Eric Hoffer.

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
$10.39 in Kindle format, or $132.60 in hardcover plus postage, or $11.35 in plus postage in paperback format.

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Two book reviews:

  • Christian Science Monitor "[Eric Hoffer] is a student of extraordinary perception and insight. The range of his reading and research is vast, amazing. [The True Believer is] one of the most provocative books of our immediate day.”

  • Amazon.com: The famous bestseller with “concise insight into what drives the mind of the fanatic and the dynamics of a mass movement” (Wall St. Journal) by Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Eric Hoffer, The True Believer is a landmark in the field of social psychology, and even more relevant today than ever before in history. Called a “brilliant and original inquiry” and “a genuine contribution to our social thought” by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., The True Believer is mandatory reading for anyone interested in the machinations by which an individual becomes a fanatic.

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Webmaster's Note:

This book was originally not intended to be the selection for March. However our Contributing Editor, Susan Humphreys, wrote an essay about True Believers in the United States of Hate" where she said:

"There have been many ... articles since the 2016 election trying to figure out and justify why so many people voted for Trump and why there is such a great divide between urban and rural areas of the U.S., and between Conservatives, Liberals and Progressives.

Answers to some of the questions can be found in a 1951 book written by Eric Hoffer "The True Believer, Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movement."

From the Back Cover:

"A stevedore on the San Francisco docks in the 1940s, Eric Hoffer wrote philosophical treatises in his spare time while living in the railroad yards. The True Believer -- the first and most famous of his books -- was made into a bestseller when President Eisenhower cited it during one of the earliest television press conferences. Completely relevant and essential for understanding the world today, The True Believer is a visionary, highly provocative look into the mind of the fanatic and a penetrating study of how an individual becomes one.

About the Author:

Eric Hoffer (1902 -- 1983) was self-educated. He worked in restaurants, as a migrant fieldworker, and as a gold prospector. After Pearl Harbor, he worked as a longshoreman in San Francisco for twenty-five years. The author of more than ten books, including The Passionate State of Mind, The Ordeal of Change, and The Temper of Our Time, Eric Hoffer was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983.

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You might consider getting a Kindle ebook reader app for your PC, Mac computer, Ipad, etc.:

Amazon.com has many millions of movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, books, and audiobooks available for download into their Kindle eBook reader or Kindle app. In addition, Kindle allows anyone to download the first portion of Kindle-format books for FREE. As of 2015-MAY, stand-alone readers cost from $79 and up. FREE versons of the Kindle app are available for Ipads, PC's, Mac computers, etc.

Benefits to the Kindle:

  • Amazon provides FREE reader apps that you can dowload to your PC, tablet, and many other devices.

  • Various models of Kindles can store from 1,000 to 3,500 books and are more more portable than lugging thousands of books with you.

  • Ebooks can save a lot of money, because eBook versions generally cost significantly less than print versions.

  • Amazon makes a suprisingly large number of books available at no cost. Over a million cost $4.99 or less.

  • Delivery of the books over the Internet is free and almost instantaneous.

  • You don't need to build or expand bookshelves!

  • You don't need to dust off Kindle copies of books!

  • Think of all the trees that would be saved if more people abandoned printed copies!

  • They have a built-in dictionary.

  • They are very light and thinner than a pencil.

  • Many books can be loaned to other Kindle or Kindle app users.

  • Battery life if you use a kindle for 30 minutes a day is 4 weeks.

However, beware that some publishers take advantage of buyers, and charge more for the digital versions than for the print versions. We have a policy of not buying such copies.

Ebooks have a search function. You can select passages from books and store them in a text file for use by an editor program on a PC or Mac. They have a built-in dictionary to find the meanings of words.

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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.

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.

Copyright © 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2017-FEB-01
Author: B.A. Robinson

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