A new biography which explores Mahatma Gandhi through a spiritual lens, the latest offering by Ram Dass, and a compelling record of life on Muslim front lines all feature in this month’s additions to the library collection.
The religions book, by senior editors, Gareth Jones, Georgina Palffy ; illustrations, James Graham.
“The Religions Book clearly explains the key concepts behind the earliest religious beliefs right up to the world’s newest faiths, getting to the heart of what it means to believe. … All the big ideas are simply explained with jargon-free descriptions, step-by-step diagrams, and witty illustrations that encapsulate every aspect of religious thinking. Examine major historical developments and ideas with a universal timeline, providing a global perspective on the origins and major events that have contributed to the growth and spread of religion and spirituality. …[this] provides compelling, accessible information perfect for students of religious study or anyone interested in the ideas of ancient and present day faiths and religious philosophies.” (drawn from Syndetics summary)
God in proof : the story of a search from the ancients to the Internet, by Nathan Schneider.
“*Starred Review* Philosophy is hardly everybody’s cup, but by adding dollops of memoir and first-person reportage to a history of attempts to prove that God exists, Schneider makes an often dry subject quite companionable. … He discloses that he’s Jewish, raised by nonobservant, secular, but not antireligious parents who allowed him his own choices in spirituality (he’s now a Catholic). … he draws the proofs he discusses from the great medieval Catholic philosophers, those of Muslim Spain, foundational Enlightenment thinkers, and later and contemporary figures, especially those who have brought about a rebirth of Christian philosophy since the 1980s…” (drawn from Booklist, courtesy of Syndetics)
Gandhi : a spiritual biography, by Arvind Sharma
While hundreds of biographies and histories have been written about Gandhi (1869-1948), very few have retold the story of his life through a spiritual lens. “Sharma explores the eclectic religious atmosphere in which Gandhi was raised, his belief in karma and rebirth, his conviction that morality and religion are synonymous, his attitudes toward tyranny and freedom, and, perhaps most important, the mysterious source of his power to establish new norms of human conduct. This book enlarges our understanding of one of history’s most profoundly influential figures, a man whose trust in the power of the spirit helped liberate millions.” (drawn from Syndetics summary).
Is God a moral monster? : making sense of the Old Testament God, by Paul Copan.
“Is the God of the Old Testament Nothing but a Bully, a Murderer, and an Oppressor? … In this timely and readable book, apologist Paul Copan takes on some of the most vexing accusations of our time, including: God is arrogant and jealous, God is guilty of ethnic cleansing, God endorses slavery, God punishes people too harshly, God oppresses women, Christianity causes violence. Copan not only answers the critics, he also shows how to read both the Old and New Testaments faithfully, seeing an unchanging, righteous, and loving God in both. Book jacket.” (Syndetics summary)
The happy atheist, by PZ Myers.
…”Readers of the author’s popular blog Pharyngula, from which many of this book’s chapters are drawn, know him to be outspoken and a bit on the antagonistic side, but even they might be surprised at the linguistic and thematic extremes he goes to here.”(drawn from Booklist, courtesy of Syndetics)
Polishing the mirror : how to live from your spiritual heart, by Ram Dass, with Rameshwar Das ; conceived by Janaki Sandy Gaal.
“This collection of teachings covers many practices Ram Dass has used – devotional bhakti yoga, worldly karma yoga, daily practices like meditation and chanting – in his journey to become a more compassionate being. Drawing strongly on anecdotes, he shares personal details such as coping with a stroke that changed his outlook. “The collection successfully straddles a fine line, providing both a broad overview for those new to Ram Dass’s writings and an engaging recap for readers who have enjoyed his previous books.” (Publisher Weekly)
Cave and cosmos : shamanic encounters with another reality, by Michael Harner.
Introduces the principles and techniques of core shamanism and explains how to use these techniques to access the advice and wisdom of healing spirits.
Whisperers : the secret history of the spirit world, by J. H. Brennan.
Based on the author’s thesis, Brennan surveys history from ancient Egypt to modern Germany, to demonstrate a deep belief in the power of spirit figures to affect the well-being of humans through the role of prophets, shamans, witch doctors. Brennan concludes that the these humans proved so valuable to the survival of society, that they evolved into an elite group.
Finding God beyond religion : a guide for skeptics, agnostics & unorthodox believers inside & outside the church, by Tom Stella ; foreword by the Rev. Canon Marianne Wells Borg.
“Former Catholic spiritual director Stella invites spiritual seekers to experience God as the “ground of being”. Religion is not defined, but he urged readers to go beyond the “church” and its teachings to find God. Topics include prayer in a non-theistic world, and God’s existence in the midst of evil.
Your fatwa does not apply here : untold stories from the fight against Muslim fundamentalism, by Karima Bennoune.
“*Starred Review* After a harrowing experience with her father in his Algerian home, activist and law professor Bennoune felt compelled to interview Muslims who are bravely standing up to Islamist groups. Her geographic range is vast, including France, Egypt, Senegal, Russia, Mali, and beyond. …(drawn from Booklist, courtesy of Syndetics) “Bennoune’s meticulous testament serves as a warning to the complacent and rebukes ‘politically correct’ posturing that makes excuses for the inexcusable and canvasses tolerance for the intolerable.” (Wole Soyinka)
Down in the chapel : religious life in an American prison, by Joshua Dubler.
Prison volunteer Dubler records the stories of four men serving life sentences, two Christians and two Muslims. They debate their own faith and explain how prison has changed their religious beliefs. Although almost everything else in their lives has changed or removed, their belief in their God has remained. Dubler concludes that prisons are “one of the most spiritual places in America.”
You’ll get through this : hope and help for your turbulent times, by Max Lucado.
With the heart of a storyteller, and the joy of one who has seen what God can do, Max Lucado explores the story of Joseph and the truth of Genesis 50:20. What Satan intends for evil, God redeems for good.