Holding steadfast to decisions characterises many of the books in this months new releases – even when those decisions were counter-cultural or unpopular, bringing personal cost.
Martin Luther : renegade and prophet, by Lyndal Roper.
2017 is a milestone 500 years since the emergence of Martin Luther as an influential change agent in the church. This is a full-blooded portrait of a revolutionary thinker who was, deeply flawed and full of contradictions. Distinguished Oxford University historian, Lyndal Roper looks inside the heart of this complex figure. The force of Luther’s personality, she argues, had enormous historical effects–both good and ill. “This is Luther in colour.” (The Times) “Anyone seriously interested in one of the most influential figures of the last half-millennium will need to make time to read this one.” (Literary Review) The library has also recently purchased Martin Luther : Catholic Dissident.
The souls of China : the return of religion after Mao, by Ian Johnson.
“From the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a revelatory portrait of religion in China today–its history, the spiritual traditions of its Eastern and Western faiths, and the ways in which it is influencing China’s future. China is now filled with new temples, churches, and mosques–as well as cults, sects, and politicians trying to harness religion for their own ends. Driving this explosion of faith is uncertainty–over what it means to be Chinese and how to live an ethical life in a country that discarded traditional morality a century ago and is searching for new guideposts.” (drawn from Syndetics summary)
Everything is workable : a Zen approach to conflict resolution, by Diane Musho Hamilton.
“Conflict is going to be part of your life–as long as you have relationships, hold down a job, or have dry cleaning to be picked up. Bracing yourself against it won’t make it go away, but if you approach it consciously, you can navigate it in a way that not only honours everyone involved but makes it a source of deep insight as well. Seasoned mediator Diane Hamilton provides the skill set you need to engage conflict with wisdom and compassion, and even–sometimes–to be grateful for it.” (Syndetics summary)
A nun’s story : the deeply moving true story of giving up a life of love and luxury in a single irresistible moment, by Sister Agatha, with Richard Newman.
“One happy day, in the midst of writing to her fiancee, her hand stopped writing unbidden; then it continued by itself, etching the words which would change her life forever: “. . . but there’s no point now, as I am going to be a nun.” That bolt from the blue set events in motion that caused Shirley to lose her mother and sisters, her husband to be, her horses, her parties and life of ease. Within months, Shirley had become Sister Agatha. But her faith in her choice never faltered, …. Now 85, she looks back on an incredible life of love, loss, and belief. …. Sister Agatha’s momentous life will touch and inspire, while reminding us that it is perhaps better to accept that not everything in the world is yet explained.” (Syndetics summary)
Secular Buddhism : imagining the Dharma in an uncertain world, by Stephen Batchelor.
The practice of mindfulness is more common in mainstream Western culture, although many have little interest in the religious aspects of Buddhism. Is it possible to recover from the Buddhist teachings a vision of human flourishing that is secular rather than religious without compromising the integrity of the tradition? Batchelor explores the complex implications of Buddhism’s secularization and offers a detailed picture of contemporary Buddhism and its attempt to find a voice in the modern world. (drawn from the Syndetics summary)
Salafi-jihadism : the history of an idea, by Shiraz Maher.
“While much has been said about the way jihadists behave, their ideology remains poorly understood. As the Levant has imploded and millenarian radicals claim to have revived a Caliphate based on the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed, the need for a nuanced and accurate understanding of jihadist beliefs has never been greater. Shiraz Maher charts the intellectual underpinnings of salafi-jihadism from its origins in the mountains of the Hindu Kush to the jihadist insurgencies of the 1990s and the 9/11 wars. What emerges is the story of a pragmatic but resilient warrior doctrine that often struggles … to consolidate the idealism of theory with the reality of practice.” (Syndetics summary)
Unwavering convictions : Gao Zhisheng’s ten-year torture and faith in China’s future, by Gao Zhisheng.
“Gao Zhisheng was one of Beijing’s most successful lawyers. Self-taught and brought up in poverty, he came to prominence through his defense of individuals persecuted by the Chinese government for their religion and practice of Falun Gong, before being detained, tortured, and imprisoned himself by the same regime. These pages are not an easy read, because they detail the regime’s attempts to break one of the greatest spirits of our time. Despite this, Gao Zhisheng’s unwavering convictions, profound beliefs, and commitment to humanity shine through.” (Syndetics summary)
The hidden school : return of the peaceful warrior, by Dan Millman.
“In the long-awaited conclusion to the international bestselling Peaceful Warrior saga, Dan Millman takes readers on an epic spiritual quest across the world as he searches for the link between everyday life and transcendent possibility. Continuing his journey from Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Dan moves from Honolulu to the Mojave Desert, and from a bustling Asian city to a secluded forest, until he uncovers the mystery of The Hidden School. While traversing continents, he uncovers lessons of life hidden in plain sight–insights pointing the way to an inspired life in the eternal present.” (Syndetics summary)
Days? or ages? : the Genesis question : a layman looks at Creation’s calendar, by Jerry Harmon.
“This work summarizes a thorough examination of Genesis 1, including relevant passages from other parts of the Bible, all in plain, straightforward language. … it draws from a wealth of scholarly works by some of the world’s leading theologians and other learned professionals. Whatever one’s opinion might be, this thesis will be informative reading and a significant resource to help clear away some of the clouds of mystery surrounding one of the Bible’s most challenging subjects.” (Syndetics summary)