The lost art of Scripture and other books on beliefs

Popular author Karen Armstrong’s latest reflection on ways of reading world Scriptures combines with a mixed bag of topics such as angels, cults, a biography on St Patrick, and a new angle on Selfies.

When one religion isn’t enough : the lives of spiritually fluid people, by Duane Bidwell.
“Contrary to popular assumptions, many people regularly cross religious boundaries. Complicated legacies of colonialism may be part of their family story, and they may consider themselves both Christian and Hindu, or Buddhist, or Yoruban, or one of the many other religions native to colonized lands. Bidwell explores how people people can engage radically opposed truth claims, and what this growing population tells us about change within our communities.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Zealot : a book about cults, by Jo Thornely, Jo
Whatever the reason people join cults, once people are in, it’s usually very difficult for them to leave. Cults have ways of making their followers prove their loyalty, and in return they get a chance to feel secure within the cult’s embrace, with an added bonus of being utterly terrified of the outside world. From the tragic Jonestown to the Waco Branch Davidians, this book is a wide-sweeping look at cults around the world.” (Catalogue)

The lost art of Scripture : rescuing the sacred texts, by Karen Armstrong.
“Today we see the Quran being used by some to justify war and terrorism, the Torah to deny Palestinians the right to live in the Land of Israel, and the Bible to condemn homosexuality and contraception. For hundreds of years these texts were instead viewed as spiritual tools- scripture was a means for the individual to connect with the divine, and to experience a higher level of consciousness. Holy texts were seen as fluid and adaptable, rather than a set of binding archaic rules or a ‘truth’ that has to be ‘believed’. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sacred misinterpretation : reaching across the Christian-Muslim divide, by Martin Accad.
“Theological issues are crucial to how Christians and Muslims understand and perceive each other. In Sacred Misinterpretation Martin Accad guides readers through key theological questions that fuel conflict and misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians. A sure-footed guide, he weaves personal stories together with deep discussion of theological beliefs. Accad identifies trends, recognizes historical realities, and brings to light significant points of contention that often lead to break-down in Christian-Muslim dialogue. He also outlines positive and creative trends that could lead to a more hopeful future. “(Catalogue)

Selfies : searching for the image of God in a digital age, Craig Detweiler.
“How can we seek God and care for each other in digital spaces? Craig Detweiler, a nationally known writer and speaker and an avid social media user, examines the selfie phenomenon, placing selfies within the long history of self-portraits in art, literature, and photography. He shows how self-portraits change our perspective of ourselves and each other in family dynamics, education, and discipleship. Challenging us to push past unhealthy obsessions with beauty, wealth, and fame, Detweiler helps us to develop a thoughtful, biblical perspective on selfies and social media and to put ourselves in proper relation to God and each other.” (Catalogue)

The House of Islam : a global history, by Ed Husain.
“Today, Islam is to many in the West an alien force, with Muslims held in suspicion. … The House of Islam thoughtfully explores the events and issues that have come from and contributed to the broadening gulf between Islam and the West, from the United States’ overthrow of Iran’s first democratically elected leader to the emergence of ISIS, from the declaration of a fatwa on Salman Rushdie to the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo. Husain leads us clearly and carefully through the nuances of Islam and its people, taking us back to basics to contend that the Muslim world need not be a stranger to the West, nor our enemy, but our peaceable allies.” (Catalogue)

Angels : a visible and invisible history, by Peter Stanford.
“What exactly are angels, and why have so many in different times and contexts around the globe believed in them? This is a thought-provoking and entertaining twenty-first century look at what was once referred to as ‘angelology’, which searches out the origins of angels in religious thought, history, psychology and wider culture, and asks why, in an age of disbelief, they remain more compelling and comforting for many than God. (Catalogue)

Confronting Christianity : 12 hard questions for the world’s largest religion, by Rebecca McLaughlin, Rebecca
“This book explores 12 hard questions that seem to undermine the Christian faith: the existence of suffering, the reality of judgment, the authority of Scripture, the success of science, and more. Drawing on state-of-the-art academic research, personal stories, and deep scriptural excavation, this book argues that–when looked at more closely–what first seemed like roadblocks to faith actually become signposts.” (Catalogue)

Saint Patrick retold : the legend and history of Ireland’s patron saint, by Roy Flechner.
” Saint Patrick was, by his own admission, a controversial figure. Convicted in a trial by his elders in Britain and hounded by rumors that he settled in Ireland for financial gain, the man who was to become Ireland’s patron saint battled against great odds before succeeding as a missionary. Saint Patrick Retold draws on recent research to offer a fresh assessment of Patrick’s travails and achievements. This is the first biography in nearly fifty years to explore Patrick’s career against the background of historical events in late antique Britain and Ireland.” (Catalogue)

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