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Recommended religious/spiritual books

Past book selections
during the first half of 2019

Previous months' recommendations

The current month's recommended book

Tentatively scheduled selections for future months

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2019-January's selection

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"The History of the Devil: With 350 Illustrations"

By Paul Carus

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
U.S. $9.71 in Kindle format, or U.S. $16.95 plus postage in paperback.

Amazon.com book review:

"A pioneer in the promotion of interfaith dialogue, Paul Carus (1852–1919) was a highly regarded writer on philosophy and comparative religion and a major influence in introducing Buddhist and other Eastern ideas to the West. The History of the Devil is his magnum opus, exploring the evolution of the idea of evil and the concept of Satan from antiquity to modern times.

Carus follows the devil around the world, highlighting satanic manifestations in a fascinating variety of cultures and historic periods. In addition to examining the concepts of good and evil as religious and philosophical ideas, he discusses the particulars of demonology in ancient Egypt and Persia, in Hindu and Buddhist thought, in early Christianity, and throughout the Inquisition and Reformation. At once scholarly and intriguing, the text is enhanced by 350 rare and fascinating illustrations."

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2019-February'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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2019-March's selection

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"3 Theories of Everything" by Ellis Potter

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
U.S. $2.89 in Kindle format, or U.S. $13.36 plus postage in paperback.

Amazon.com book review:

"What is reality? What is the meaning of human life? Why do we suffer? In this simple volume, international lecturer Ellis Potter explores three major worldviews that propose radically different answers to these eternal questions. In clear and compelling language, Potter shows us that the three worldviews, and the unique hope that each offers to humanity, have profoundly different consequences for how we see everyday reality and the ultimate purpose of our lives.

This book is a concise, reader friendly look at 3 basic ways of seeing reality from the East and the West. It wrestles with the problem of suffering and finds solutions in each of the 3 points of view. It is respectful of each worldview and engages the readers in some deep and hard-hitting questions about how they identify themselves and how they look at and understand the world. Reading, thinking about and perhaps discussing this book will bring the readers into a clearer focus of their own way of seeing reality.

3 Theories of Everything is based on lectures by the author and has a large section of questions and answers drawn from actual discussions."

This book received an average of 4.3 stars out of a maximum of 5 by Amazon customers.

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2019-April's selection

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"My Path Leads to Tibet: The Inspiring Story of HowOne Young Blind Woman Brought Hope to the Blind Children of Tibet" " by Joshua Tongol

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
U.S. $7.52 in Kindle format. (No delivery cost)
U.S. $11.80 in hardcover or U.S. $5.63 in paperback. (Plus postage)

Amazon.com book reviews:

Defying everyone's advice, armed only with her rudimentary knowledge of Chinese and Tibetan, Sabriye Tenberken set out to do something about the appalling condition of the Tibetan blind, who she learned had been abandoned by society and left to die. Traveling on horseback throughout the country, she sought them out, devised a Braille alphabet in Tibetan, equipped her charges with canes for the first time, and set up a school for the blind. Her efforts were crowned with such success that hundreds of young blind Tibetans, instilled with a newfound pride and an education, have now become self-supporting. A tale that will leave no reader unmoved, it demonstrates anew the power of the positive spirit to overcome the most daunting odds.

Review by Lylas G. Mogk, author of "Macular Degeneration: The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight:"

"If you only read one book this year, read this one. Sabriye Tenberken's life is a light to all of us, and her story is its 'ray.' By turns courageously honest, genuinely heartwarming, and uniquely inspiring. She takes us on an extraordinary journey where we witness firsthand the miracles that can happen when one person is truly determined to make a difference. As an emerging leader in the fields of international public health and blind rehabilitation, Tenberken will be in the news for years to come. But it will always be this story that stays with us."

Sabriye Tenberken was a 2005 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and a 2006 Mother Theresa Award winner.

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2019-May's selection

book cover

"The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World" by Bart D. Ehrman


Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
U.S. $10.15 in Kindle format.
15.53 in hardcover, or U.S. $17.00 in paperback,
plus postage.

Book reviews:

  • “How did a small, provincial Jewish sect called Christianity convert the mighty pagan Roman Empire? Bart Ehrman answers this baffling question with the same wit, passion, and rigorous scholarship that have made him one of the most popular religion writers in the world today. The Triumph of Christianity is a marvelous book.” 
    Reza Aslan, New York Times bestselling author of Zealot

  • “The great appeal of Ehrman’s approach to Christian history has always been his steadfast humanizing impulse... Ehrman always thinks hard about history’s winners and losers without valorizing the losers or demonizing the winners… Reading about how an entire culture’s precepts and traditions can be overthrown without anyone being able to stop it may not be heartening at this particular historical moment. All the more reason to spend time in the company of such a humane, thoughtful and intelligent historian.”
    The New York Times Book Review

  • “Drawing on a wealth of ancient sources and contemporary historical research, Bart Ehrman weaves complex questions into a vivid, nuanced, and enormously readable narrative.”
    Elaine Pagels, National Book Award-winning author of The Gnostic Gospels

  • “Like a good college lecture class, [Ehrman’s] book offers both a wealth of historical information and, to make sense of it all, a few plausible theories — including his own. He doesn’t tell us what to think. He gives us a lot to think about.”
    — Newsday 

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2019-June's selection

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"What Would a Muslim Say: Conversations, Questions, and Answers About Islam," by Ahmed Lotfy Rashed

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
U.S. $5.01 in Kindle format.
U.S. $10.95 plus postage in paperback.

Book review by James A. Cox of Midwest Book Review:

"Presenting transcripts of direct conversations, both in person and via email, What Would A Muslim Say? Conversations, Questions, and Answers about Islam is a candid presentation of Islamic beliefs in a format that is thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, What Would a Muslim Say is impressively informed and informative, making it a critically important addition to both community and academic library collections. Deserving of the widest readership possible given today's national dialogue concerning Americans of the Muslim faith, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that What Would a Muslim Say is also available in Kindle format."

Book review by Hoda Elsharkawi, Muslim Chaplain, Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

"Reading What Would a Muslim Say felt like taking a journey in the minds and hearts of people and whatthey feel and think about Islam and Muslims. The questions are honestand reflect the thirst that people have to understand and explore whatIslam is about. Ahmed Rashed remained focused in his answers even whenit got really tough or emotional. He kept the answers balanced as theywere also honest and spoke to the level of the person asking thequestions with no judgement and with extreme patience, representing what Islam stands for and what good Muslims are like. A great and diverseread that you would surely enjoy."

Review by the books' author:

"Why This Matters NOW:

  • "Why do you Muslims pray five times a day?"
  • "What happens to people who do not believe in God?"
  • "Why are so many Muslims quoting their holy book in the name of violence?"
  • "What are the authoritative sources of knowledge in Islam?"
  • "Why do your clerics condemn Judaism and Christian tradition?"

These days, Islam is no stranger to controversy. There are many questions, fears, and misconceptions about Islam and Muslims. I believe these books can answer questions, build bridges, and promote understanding.

Since 2009, I have facilitated interfaith dialogues with many different people. The conversations in these books are real. Some are curious, some are concerned, some are hostile, some are academic, and some are soul-searching. My hope is that this can be a small step towards better understanding and harmony."

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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 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2017-JUL-03
Latest update: 2019-MAY-01
Author: B.A. Robinson

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