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Recommended religious/spiritual books

Past book selections
during the first half of 2018

Previous months' recommendations

The current month's recommended book

Tentatively scheduled selections for future months

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2018-January's selection

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"The End of White Christian America," by Robert P. Jones

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$14.99 in Kindle format, or $18.16 plus postage in hardcover.

A New York Times Book Review:

"Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), challenges us to grasp the profound political and cultural consequences of a new reality—that America is no longer a majority white Christian nation.

For most of our nation’s history, White Christian America (WCA)—the cultural and political edifice built primarily by white Protestant Christians—set the tone for our national policy and shaped American ideals. But especially since the 1990s, WCA has steadily lost influence, following declines within both its mainline and evangelical branches. Today, America is no longer demographically or culturally a majority white Christian nation.

Drawing on more than four decades of polling data, The End of White Christian America explains and analyzes the waning vitality of WCA. Jones argues that the visceral nature of today’s most heated issues—the vociferous arguments around same-sex marriage and religious liberty, the rise of the Tea Party following the election of our first black president, and stark disagreements between black and white Americans over the fairness of the criminal justice system—can only be understood against the backdrop of white Christians’ anxieties as America’s racial and religious topography shifts around them. ..."

Average rating by 63 Amazon customers' reviews: 4.1 out of 5 stars.

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2018-February's selection

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"How God Became God: What Scholars Are Really Saying About God and the Bible," by Richard M. Smoley

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
$17.90 in Kindle format, or $11.17 plus postage in paperback, or $17.95 in audible format.

Amazon.com book review:

"This epic, thrilling journey through Bible scholarship and ancient religion shows how much of Scripture is historically false -- yet the ancient writings also resound with theologies that crisscrossed the primeval world and that direct us today toward a deep, inner, authentic experience of the truly sacred.

From a historical perspective, the Bible is shockingly, provably wrong -- a point supported by today's best archaeological and historical scholarship but not well understood by (or communicated to) the public. Yet this emphatically does not mean that the Bible isn't, in some very real measure, true, argues scholar of mysticism Richard Smoley.

Smoley reviews the most authoritative historical evidence to demonstrate that figures such as Moses, Abraham, and Jesus are not only unlikely to have existed, but bear strong composite resemblances to other Near Eastern religious icons. Likewise, the geopolitical and military events of Scripture fail to mesh with the largely settled historical time line and social structures. Smoley meticulously shows how our concepts of the Hebrew and Christian God, including Christ himself, are an assemblage of ideas that were altered, argued over, and edited -- until their canonization. This process, to a large degree, gave Western civilization its consensus view of God.

But these conclusions are not cause for nihilism or disbelief. Rather, beneath the metaphorical figures and mythical historicism of Scripture appears an extraordinary, truly transcendent theology born from the most sacred and fully realized spiritual and human insights of the antique Eastern world. Far from being "untrue," the Bible is remarkably, extraordinarily true as it connects us to the sublime insights of our ancient ancestors and points to a unifying ethic behind many of the world's faiths."

Average rating by eight Amazon customers' reviews: 4.8 out of 5 stars, including 82% five star ratings.

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2018-March's selection

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"Stand Your Ground: A History of America's Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense," by Caroline Light 

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$19.61 in Kindle format, or $30.56 plus postage in hardcover.

Amazon.com book review:

"Stand Your Ground explores the development of the American right to self-defense and reveals how the original 'duty to retreat' from threat was transformed into a selective right to kill. In her rigorous genealogy, Light traces white America’s attachment to racialized, lethal self-defense by unearthing its complex legal and social histories—from the original 'castle laws' of the 1600s, which gave white men the right to protect their homes, to the brutal lynching of 'criminal' Blacks during the Jim Crow era and the radicalization of the NRA as it transitioned from a sporting organization to one of our country’s most powerful lobbying forces.

In this convincing treatise on the United States’ unprecedented ascension as the world’s foremost stand-your-ground nation, Light exposes a history hidden in plain sight, showing how violent self-defense has been legalized for the most privileged and used as a weapon against the most vulnerable."

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2018-April's selection

"Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity" 2017-AUG, by Gregory Coles.

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$13.70 in Kindle format, or $11.79 plus postage in paperback.

Amazon.com book review:

"In an age where neither society nor the church knows what to do with gay Christians, Greg Coles shares his story and mdash; a story about a boy in love with Jesus who, at the fateful onset of puberty, realized his sexual attractions were persistently and exclusively for other guys. This honest, hopeful account shows life through one man's eyes and assures all people: "You are not a mistake."

91% of Amazon customers rated this book with 5 out of 5 stars

Author's comment:

"... this book is the first of its kind to be published by an evangelical Christian publisher. I don’t think a book like this would have been possible ten or even five years ago. Until recently, there was only one view of homosexuality within evangelicalism: the so-called non-affirming view. Conservatives may protest or simply disagree, but the fact is that there are a growing number of Bible-believing, gospel-preaching, card-carrying evangelicals who are either exploring the affirming view or who have embraced it and aren’t looking back.

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2018-May's selection

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"The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality," by Dalai Lama 

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$19.61 in Kindle format, or $30.56 plus postage in hardcover.

Amazon.com book review:

"Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Niels Bohr, Einstein. Their insights shook our perception of who we are and where we stand in the world, and in their wake have left an uneasy coexistence: science vs. religion, faith vs. empirical inquiry. Which is the keeper of truth? Which is the true path to understanding reality?

After forty years of study with some of the greatest scientific minds, as well as a lifetime of meditative, spiritual, and philosophic study, the Dalai Lama presents a brilliant analysis of why all avenues of inquiry -- scientific as well as spiritual -- must be pursued in order to arrive at a complete picture of the truth. Through an examination of Darwinism and karma, quantum mechanics and philosophical insight into the nature of reality, neurobiology and the study of consciousness, the Dalai Lama draws significant parallels between contemplative and scientific examinations of reality.

This breathtakingly personal examination is a tribute to the Dalai Lama’s teachers -- both of science and spirituality. The legacy of this book is a vision of the world in which our different approaches to understanding ourselves, our universe, and one another can be brought together in the service of humanity.

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2018-June's selection

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"The Weather of the Future: Heat Waves, Extreme Storms, and Other Scenes from a Climate-Changed Planet" by Heidi Cullen

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$10.80 in Kindle format, or $14.81 plus postage in paperback, or $25.99 plus postage in hardcover.

Amazon.com book review:

"From Heidi Cullen, one of America’s foremost experts on weather and climate change and a senior research scientist with Climate Central, comes The Weather of the Future, a fascinating and provocative book that predicts what different parts of the world will look like in the year 2050 if current levels of carbon emissions are maintained."

Publishers Weekly [edited for copyright reasons]:

"This engrossing study predicts global warming scenarios for seven hot spots around the world--and evaluates the responses of communities, governments, and international organizations. Cullen, a climatologist, notes that "just as our brain is hardwired to perceive threats that are most immediate to us, we are hardwired to devote more energy to caring about the weather than to caring about the climate," and that "by the time you see it in the weather... it's too late." ... Despite the worry among scientists that humans will follow "the woolly mammoth, the symbol of a climate that no longer exists," the book presents a surprisingly optimistic view of humanity's determination to come to terms with a daunting future." 

Her predictions may well hold for later in our century if the current trajectory of carbon emission increases are maintained.

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

This banner ad has a link to various stand-alone Kindle models sold by Amazon.com.
Click on the Kindle picture -- not on the "Shop now" link
(unless
you want to add a Kindle to your shopping cart.)



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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.

  • 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.

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.

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Amazon.com lists the following books on the topic of spirituality:

Amazon.com lists the following books on the topic of religion:

Copyright 2017 and 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2017-JUL-03
Latest update: 2018-JUN-01
Author: B.A. Robinson

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