Category: Recent picks

Sacred spaces : recent beliefs arrivals

Public and private faith emerges as one theme across several of our beliefs arrivals in September, together with sacred design and architecture.

Syndetics book coverThe Buddha walks into the office : a guide to livelihood for a new generation, by Lodro Rinzler.
Rinzler’s aim is to draw on Buddhist principles and recommend their use in the Western workplace. There are four parts : Hinayana: Live with Purpose, Mahayana: On-the-Job Compassion, Mahayana: Six Tools for Compassionate Leadership, and Vajrayana: Be Awake for Every Moment. Rinzler refers often to his own experiences as examples of how to apply Buddhist ideals. Easy to read, with plenty of practical suggestions for building strong teams for anyone looking to build a harmonious working environment.

Syndetics book coverThe secret language of sacred spaces : decoding churches, temples, mosques and other places of worship around the world, by Jon Cannon.
How are sacred ideals expressed in architecture? From the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, to the Angkor Wat, Cambodia, to the Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China, the key strength of this book is the fantastic photos which illustrate how various religious traditions used design elements to express differing ideas about worship and beliefs, and how those changed over time (or in different locations) within the same faith tradition. A fascinating contribution and approach to comparative world religions. Another recent arrival focusing more on design than architecture is Gateway to the heavens : how geometric shapes, patterns and symbols form our reality, by Karen L. French.

Syndetics book coverShigeru Ban : cardboard cathedral, by Andrew Barrie ; photographs by Bridgit Anderson & Stephen Goodenough.
Shigeru Ban is a world-class architect and expert in disaster-zone building – and now designer of the new transitional Christchurch cathedral, which is his largest post-disaster structure yet. Originally it was conceived as a temporary building, but the finished, now permanent structure seems set to become an enduring symbol of Christchurch’s revival. Includes essays, building plans and excellent photography.

Syndetics book coverThe complete illustrated history of Catholicism & the Catholic saints : a comprehensive account of the history, philosophy and practice of Catholic Christianity and a guide to the most significant saints, by Tessa Paul ; consultant, Ronald Creighton-Jobe.
Despite it’s inclusive title, this book focuses solely on the Roman tradition, with no reference to any other, as one reviewer notes. However, even taking that into account, there is much to recommend if you want a one volume history of its rich history and church traditions, significant rituals, festivals and holy Days. Well illustrated.

Syndetics book coverThe shamanism bible : all you ever wanted to know about shamanism, by John Matthews.
Shaman John Matthews shares his incomparable breadth of knowledge of shamanism and the significance of power animals. The book opens with a survey of the roots of shamanism among the Celtic, Siberian, Norse, Sami and Inuit cultures, as well as in Africa, the Americas, the Far East and Oceania. Chapter 2 covers the tools a shaman uses such as ritual, costume, dance and drumming, plant medicine or healing, while the last section covers practical topics such as making a shrine, or divinization.

Syndetics book coverEncounters with Jesus : unexpected answers to life’s biggest questions, by Timothy Keller.
“Jesus changed the life of every person he met in the Gospels, through powerful experiences and words that led them to unexpected and transforming answers to their big questions. These conversations can still address our questions and doubts today.” (publisher’s description) Studies several encounters reported in the Gospels, even Jesus’ mother.

Syndetics book coverPublic Zen, personal Zen : a Buddhist introduction, by Peter D. Hershock.
As the title suggests, the author presents an overview of Zen from two different viewpoints: its “public” or institutional history and its “personal” or practiced history. The development of Zen as a religious institution in Japan is traced, together with how Zen has been practiced by both laypeople, clergy, and the ruling classes throughout its history. This is also a good study of the connections between a religion and the political, social, and economic institutions with which it lives.

Syndetics book coverWaking up : a guide to spirituality without religion, by Sam Harris.
Neuroscientist Harris argues from a growing body of scientific research that the idea of ‘self’, is both “an illusion and the primary cause of human suffering”. He argues that we need to transcend this, which will lead to a deeper sense of personal well-being, plus increased ethical behaviour towards others.

Syndetics book coverAs it was in the days of Noah, by Jeff Kinley.
This takes a different tack to many others. It does not focus so much on the famous rainbow story we were told as a child, or recent archaeological excavations for the ark, or even Flood legends. The title is drawn from a quote by Jesus recorded in the gospels. The author attempts to compare contemporary society with Noah’s ancient times, and to explore this prophetic insight from Jesus.

Keeping the faith: Religion recent arrivals

Musings on the meaning or purpose of faith can be found in this month’s new books – encompassing philosophy, faith through a scientific lens, or an active faith on the streets of Sydney or US.

Syndetics book coverThe soul of the world, by Roger Scruton.
Philosopher Roger Scruton defends the experience of the sacred against today’s fashionable forms of atheism. He argues that personal relationships, intuitions, beauty, and aesthetics in art or music hint at dimensions that cannot be understood solely through scientific eyes. This is not so much an argument for the existence of God, but a thoughtful musing that a quest for ‘the sacred’ is essential to humanity.

Syndetics book coverLimitless sky : life lessons from the Himalayas, by David Charles Manners.
The author was trekking in Nepal when he stumbled upon the mountain home of a jhankri, or Nepalese shaman. The jhankri accepted him as his pupil, and so began the next stage of David’s extraordinary journey. In this book, he shares the wisdom and insights he learnt from those transformational days in the Himalayas.

Syndetics book coverKeeping the faith without a religion, by Roger Housden.
Faith is not something received from a religion, nor must we abandon it in order to become rational. Housden asks the reader to keep faith not in God but in life. This does not exclude but also does not assume a God.

Syndetics book coverAngels and saints : a biblical guide to friendship with God’s holy ones, by Scott Hahn.
Are angels and saints different to ordinary people? Some art would have us believe that they are, very different. But what does the Bible say? Jesus has united heaven and earth closely and we are surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses.” Their prayers rise to God, in the Book of Revelation, like the sweet aroma of incense. This book shares the stories of several saints and angels who are no strangers to real life, but are grounded and motivated by the spiritual life that every person is called by God to live.

Syndetics book coverBlood moons rising : Bible prophecy, Israel, and the four blood moons, by Mark Hitchcock.
In 2014 and 2015, there will be four blood moons falling during Jewish feasts – which has only happened before in 1493-94, 1949-50 and 1967-68 (significant dates in Jewish history). This discusses the prophetic significance of the moon darkening and appearing as blood. The library has also received Blood moons : decoding the imminent heavenly signs, by Mark Biltz which discusses the same phenomenon.

Syndetics book coverThe book of chakras & subtle bodies, by Stephen Sturgess.
Learn about chakras, nadis, and kundalini with the in-depth section on Yoga philosophy, then follow Stephen’s variety of practices and techniques for removing any obstacles that may be standing in the way of uniting with your true nature. The book includes Hatha Yoga techniques using asanas, mudras, bandhas, pranayama, and kriya purification, as well as Raja and kriya Yoga techniques – mantras, concentration and meditation. (drawn from the publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverCulture and the death of God, by Terry Eagleton.
Since the Enlightenment, religion has been undermined and replaced by various philosophies e.g. modernism, cultural forces and postmodernism. On the one hand, many people no longer feel a need to be redeemed, but interestingly this is accompanied by a renewal of religious fundamentalism across the world. Because, Eagleton points out, “religion provides … a degree of spiritual depth to otherwise shallow lives.”

Syndetics book coverA nun on the bus : how all of us can create hope, change, and community, by Sister Simone Campbell, with David Gibson.
“Campbell – activist, attorney, and nun – mixes autobiography with a strong call for justice in this brisk-paced, crisp, inspiring account. … Under her leadership, NETWORK advocated health care reform, work that garnered censure from the Vatican, which claimed that NETWORK was devoting too much time and energy to social justice. “Well, yes, social justice is what Catholic sisters do,” Campbell tartly writes. In order to advance the organization’s mission in the wake of this Vatican censure, Campbell and other nuns took a nine-state bus tour, highlighting the struggles of low- and middle-income people…” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverLove over hate : finding life by the wayside, by Graham Long.
Long writes of his life journey – from social worker to postman, to pastor and CEO of The Wayside Chapel in Sydney’s King Cross. Love Over Hate explores the day-to-day life in Kings Cross. This community often judged for its problems, and the struggles faced by the homeless, those who’ve suffered abuse or battled alcoholism or drugs are not glossed over. But there are also encouraging examples of perseverance and fortitude, joy, and kindness.

Syndetics book coverWhy science does not disprove God, by Amir D. Aczel.
Mathematician Aczel argues that Dawkins and his New Atheist allies have misrepresented scientific methods and findings of science e.g. proving God’s non-existence based on probability theory fails under robust scrutiny. He accuses them of over-simplifying complexities in metaphysical thinking. Aczel concludes with a realisation of the extent of fascinating mysteries, such as the stunning vistas of infinity. “Such mysteries may not signify the presence of the divine, but they will surely stir deep wonderings.” (Booklist)

Soul keeping : recent beliefs books.

Recent offerings from Tom Wright and Hans Kung rub shoulders with the Munk debates between Christopher Hitchens and Tony Blair in July’s new religious books.

Syndetics book coverMormon and Maori, by Marjorie Newton.
Examines why Maori have been attracted to a Mormon belief system since the 1880s, the impact of a quintessentially American religion on the people and their culture, and the reasons for its ongoing success. The attempts of American leaders and missionaries to find a consistent policy reconciling Mormonism and Maoritanga are also covered. A fascinating story of accommodation and adjustment.

Syndetics book coverSurprised by scripture : engaging contemporary issues, by N.T. Wright.
Chapter headings from this popular author include Do we need a historical Adam? — Can a scientist believe in the Resurrection? — The biblical case for ordaining women — How the Bible reads the modern world — Our politics are too small — Becoming people of hope. Each question is examined with compassionate and serious biblical interpretation in looking a modern concerns through a fresh looking glass. A welcome addition to the debate on current issues.

Syndetics book coverIndie spiritualist : a no bullshit exploration of spirituality, by Chris Grosso ; foreword by Noah Levine.
Drawing upon his punk rock roots and question everything mindset, Grosso offers a collection of stories for today’s generation who seek a non-conventional spiritual path. Spirituality is not something that only happens on meditation cushions or yoga mats, in churches, mosques, temples, or synagogues. “This isn’t a text for a reader who has developed spiritual or theological questions but, rather, for readers who want to look over the shoulder of a fellow who explores the nature of his soul by mixing up individuality and spirituality.” (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverImagine there’s no heaven : how atheism helped create the modern world, by Mitchell Stephens.
The author – historian and professor of journalism at New York University – proposes that major advancements in science, politics, and mathematics were enabled by disbelief in gods. He makes a strong case that thinkers have questioned or opposed the existence of god, which, together with enlightened rationalism, has prompted learning and change. The link between this disbelief helping to shape the modern world more than other belief systems is less established.

Syndetics book coverCan we save the Catholic Church? by Hans Küng.
The German Swiss priest and theologian describes the Roman Catholic Church as gravely ill – suffering from a centralized, hierarchical structure of authority and imperialism, with power entrenched in the pope and bureaucracy. He urges restoration by reviving the faith and priorities of early Christianity.

Syndetics book coverAngel dreams : healing and guidance from your dreams, by Doreen Virtue and Melissa Virtue.
Discusses where dreams come from, how to interpret them, what role angels play, and whom to call upon for guidance. Personal stories illustrate the different types of dreams. Also contains tools to enhance dreamtime journeys, including techniques for creating your own dreams and improving recall upon awakening.

Syndetics book coverMaking sense of the Bible : rediscovering the power of scripture today, by Adam Hamilton.
Who decided which books made it into the scriptures and why? Is the Bible ever wrong? Often, underlying debates within denominations aren’t about the particular issue, but instead about understanding the nature of scripture and its interpretation. Hamilton, is not afraid to tackle hot-button issues that continue to plague some church communities.

Syndetics book coverHitchens vs. Blair : be it resolved religion is a force for good in the world : the Munk debates, edited by Rudyard Griffiths.
Atheist Christopher Hitchens goes head-to-head with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on the highly charged topic of religion. Here they ponder: How does faith influence our actions? What is the role of people of faith in the public sphere? Is religious doctrine rigid, or should we allow for flexible interpretations? Hitchens vs. Blair represents two formidable minds in a great debate.

Syndetics book coverSoul keeping : caring for the most important part of you, by John Ortberg ; foreword by Dr. Henry Cloud.
‘What is the soul?’ Author and pastor Ortberg, student of Dallas Willard, shares wisdom about the soul he learned from Willard, who died last year, throughout the book. He absorbs Willard’s calm wisdom and explores the soul by the various things it needs: before reflecting on the life and passing of his friend and teacher. This is a reflective study which counsels readers to nurture their souls.

Syndetics book coverThe spirituality of Bono, edited by Nicholas Nigro.
Collected quotes from the rock music icon and activist that highlight his insights, zeal, good humour, and humanitarianism. His spirituality is heartfelt and will most definitely make readers think.

Latest Beliefs books for June

Topics in this month’s edition range from Celtic shamanism to the history of confession, while the latest Bart Ehrman fosters debate on the Jesus’ divinity.

Syndetics book coverMandala sourcebook : 150 mandalas to help you find peace, awareness and well-being, by David Fontana & Lisa Tenzin-Dolma.
Each of the 150 mandalas is accompanied by a guided meditation which details the symbolism which underpins the design. No expert knowledge or faith base is required – they are suitable for anyone wishing to meditate for the first time. The book is divided into five distinct sections: Introduction to Mandalas; Toward Awareness; Natural Mandalas; Myth, Symbol and Cosmos; and Healing Mandalas. Some are drawn from traditional designs while others are drawn from architecture, mythology, or natural elements.

Syndetics book coverThe new encyclopedia of Islam, by Cyril Glasse.
This work remains one of the few sources to provide a thorough study of Islamic theology. It updates an earlier 2001 edition, but generally ignores contemporary issues and events, although it is well illustrated with maps and charts. Absolute beginners may need to consult something else first “but the work’s breadth and scope make it a solid source for the study of Islam.” (Choice)

Syndetics book coverFaith in the face of empire : the Bible through Palestinian eyes, by Mitri Raheb.
As a Palestinian Lutheran, Raheb brings a new perspective to the story of Palestine. He takes a broader historical view across colonial avarice and aspiration since time immemorial. His hope is that by thinking outside “empire” and all that that implies, a new more harmonious direction is possible.

Syndetics book coverWaking the Buddha : how the most dynamic and empowering Buddhist movement in history is changing our concept of religion, by Clark Strand.
This tells the story of Soka Gakkai International, the largest contemporary Buddhist movement today, with its commitment to social justice and equality. Early leaders aimed to transform Buddhism from within and by restoring it to its purpose. “The result is a uniquely relevant form of Buddhism – one that “just makes sense” to the modern mind and is ready to meet the challenges of a global age.” (publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverTaking God at his word : why the Bible is knowable, necessary, and enough, and what that means for you and me, by Kevin DeYoung.
“Kevin DeYoung has written an accessible introduction to the Bible that answers important questions raised by Christians and non-Christians. This book will help you understand what the Bible says about itself and the key characteristics that contribute to its lasting significance.” (from publisher description)

Syndetics book coverHow Jesus became God : the exaltation of a Jewish preacher from Galilee, by Bart D. Ehrman.
How did a messianic Jewish rabbi ever come to be identified as God? And how different was this idea to Jesus’ actual teaching? One crucial consideration is whether Jesus’ disciples saw a resurrected Christ or a vision, and Ehrman explains that whether the apostles actually saw Jesus or saw a vision is irrelevant. It was their belief that they had which shifted and shaped Christianity. Borrow this at the same time as another point of view ….

Syndetics book coverHow God became Jesus : the real origins of belief in Jesus’ divine nature : a response to Bart Ehrman, by Michael F. Bird, Craig A. Evans, Simon J. Gathercole, Charles E. Hill, Chris Tilling.
Five biblical scholars join here to debate Ehrman’s thesis that the idea that Jesus was God only developed over time. Two interesting chapters are ‘Did Jesus think he was God?’ by Michael F. Bird ; and ‘Getting the burial traditions and evidence right’, by Craig A. Evans. Unfortunately this book has a dry scholarly tone which is another contrast with Ehrman’s accessible style. However, this is an important debate and the two perhaps deserve reflection together.

Syndetics book coverLiving with a wild God : a non-believer’s search for the truth about everything, by Barbara Ehrenreich.
This is part memoir and part mystical journey – a frank personal look at the author’s search for truth about spirituality. The dysfunction and alcoholism within parents’ relationship affected her spiritual development both positively and negatively. For example she gained the freedom to question everything around her, including religion.

Syndetics book coverThe druid shaman : exploring the Celtic otherworld, by Danu Forest
Covering folk traditions, literature and archaeology, the author integrates the basics of Celtic shamanism, with both ancient and modern Druidry. Topics include working with guides and allies, interacting with spirits, accessing powers of place, and exploring and navigating within the Celtic Otherworld. Danu Forest is a Celtic Shaman, Witch and Druid Priestess with over 20 years working in the Celtic Mysteries, and runs courses on Natural magic, Celtic shamanism, Faery tradition and Seasonal Celebrations.

Syndetics book coverThe dark box : a secret history of confession, by John Cornwell.
“Confession is a crucial ritual of the Catholic Church, offering absolution of sin and spiritual guidance to the faithful. Yet this ancient sacrament has also been a source of controversy and oppression, culminating, as prize-winning historian John Cornwell reveals in The Dark Box, with the scandal of clerical child abuse. Drawing on extensive historical sources, contemporary reports, and first-hand accounts, Cornwell takes a hard look at the long evolution of confession.” (publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverThe pocket A-Z of the Knights Templar : a guide to their history and legacy, by Gordon Napier.
At over 400 pages, this is rather more than a pocket guide. From Aaron to Zion, this is a welcome reference of the people, places, and themes of the Crusades, and the Knights Templar – one of the more famous of Christian military orders. It was created after the First Crusade of 1096 to ensure the safety of European pilgrims to Jerusalem and was easily recognised with their white tunic and red cross. On October 13, 1307 King Philip of France had many of the order’s members in France arrested, tortured into “confession,” and burned at the stake. In 1312, Pope Clement forcibly disbanded the order. Since that time legends have kept the name “Templar” alive in popular imagination. (adapted from the back cover)

Getting through the storm: Latest Beliefs Arrivals

A welcome addition to the catalogue is the latest book by Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh on fear, while two new books on Pope Francis offer different insights, and a clay tablet recently donated to the British Museum sheds new light on Noah and the flood.

Syndetics book coverBuddha, Jesus and Muhammad : a comparative study, by Paul Gwynne.
Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad together represent three of the largest religions in the world. There are surprisingly few truly comparative studies, making this insightful book ideal for those pondering the place of religion in contemporary society. Gwynne explores the analysis through key themes – political and historical, as well as religious – and this reveals some fascinating similarities and differences.

Syndetics book coverThe God debate : a new look at history’s oldest argument, by Gerald Benedict.
Our beliefs do affect the way we live our lives, both as individuals and communities. This book explores many controversial issues contained within the debate about the existence of God, touching on such questions as the validity of Scriptures, miracles, and the key tenets of faith versus evidence, with topics such as free will and determinism, or morality and ethics, thrown in for good measure. A useful summary of the issues.

Syndetics book coverFear : essential wisdom for getting through the storm, by Thich Nhat Hanh.
“Fear has countless faces: from the fear of failure to worries about everyday life, from financial or environmental uncertainties to the universal despair we all experience when faced by the loss of a friend or loved one. Even when surrounded by all the conditions for happiness, life can feel incomplete when fear keeps us focused on the past and worried about the future. While we all experience fear, it is possible to learn how to avoid having our lives shaped and driven by it. In these pages, Thich Nhat Hanh offers us a timeless path for living fearlessly.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverIntergenerational Christian formation : bringing the whole church together in ministry, community and worship, by Holly Catterton Allen and Christine Lawton Ross.
Although some practical issues are covered, for the most part this is not a how-to manual. Topics covered the Benefits of intergenerationality; Feasts, Jehoshaphat and house churches : biblical foundations; Becoming Christian in community ; Millennials, Xers, Boomers and Silents : generational theory ; Intergenerational learning experiences ; Intergenerationality and story sharing ; Intergenerationality in small groups, multicultural and megachurches.

Syndetics book coverThe ark before Noah : decoding the story of the flood, by Irving Finkel.
Dr Finkel is the curator in charge of clay inscriptions from ancient Mesopotamia at the British Museum. This is the story of one day in 2008 when a single, Babylonian tablet arrived at the museum. It turned out to be a copy of the Babylonian Story of the Flood, together with instructions for building a large boat to survive a flood. The reader accompanies Dr Finkel on his thorough journey of discovery to unravel fascinating insights into the ancient past.

Syndetics book coverTen : why Christianity makes sense, by John Pritchard.
Contents include : Ten problems people have with faith; Ten things I believe about God; Ten things I don’t believe about God; Ten Commandments for today; Ten cliches to avoid; Ten ways to pray; Ten ways to enliven your faith; Ten values for tomorrow’s Church; Ten lessons learned; Ten reasons to procrastinate about faith.

Syndetics book coverThe age of atheists : how we have sought to live since the death of God, by Peter Watson.
“In his 14th book, British journalist and historian Watson (The Great Divide) turns his estimable intellectual skills on the history of non-belief – which he calls “a major plank of modernity” -beginning with Friedrich Nietzsche’s 1882 declaration that “God is dead.” While this ground is well-trodden, Watson takes an intriguing course: he charts it by genre. Particularly fascinating are passages about non-belief’s impact on the arts.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverMy door is always open : a conversation on faith, hope and the church in a time of change, by Pope Francis ; interviewer, Antonio Spadaro.
This is the first book written by the Pope since he was elected, and therefore is a good guide to his vision and faith as he looks forward in his new role. This is the complete collection of interviews with Spadaro, fellow Jesuit and head of Catholic Civilisation periodical based in Rome.
Another recent title is Pope Francis : why he leads the way he leads : lessons from the first Jesuit Pope, by Chris Lowney.
“Here Lowry focuses on Pope Francis’ Jesuit training and its impact on the leadership roles he has held, such as priest, bishop, cardinal, and what this tells us about how he is likely to lead in the future.” (Adapted from the publishers’ descriptions).

Syndetics book coverReligion 101 : from Allah to Zen Buddhism : an exploration of the key people, practices, and beliefs that have shaped the religions of the world, by Peter Archer, MA, MLitt.
“Written in easy-to-understand language, Religion 101 offers a fascinating – and memorable – glimpse at the sacred stories, traditions, and doctrines that have influenced today’s most popular religions. From Jesus and the Four Noble Truths to the Buddhist Wheel of Existence, this book provides you with thought-provoking insight into the customs and beliefs of common faiths like Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam.  So whether you’re looking to unravel the mysteries of existence and meaning, or just want to find out what Kabbalah is all about, Religion 101 has all the answers – even the ones you didn’t know you were looking for.” (Page 4 of cover)

Compassion, personal spirituality, restlessness : March Beliefs and Religion books

Is the universe specifically designed to make life possible? Is the Gospel of John history or literature? Do you feel like you’re restless – missing out on something?
Explore the answers to these questions in the latest religion books.

Syndetics book coverA religion of one’s own : a guide to creating a personal spirituality in a secular world, by Thomas Moore.
Another title from the author who penned Care of the Soul – a classic spiritual text. This latest volume continues to bring together religion and psychology, and encourages readers to cultivate their own spirituality. Moore’s own spirituality is Catholic, and he counsels paying attention to your dreams and intuitions to foster creativity. “This book should appeal to many of the unchurched, as well as the faithful across traditions.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverBig gods : how religion transformed cooperation and conflict, by Ara Norenzayan.
Using quantitative studies, cross-cultural examples, and by examining the practices of followers, Norenzayan argues that religions with Big Gods succeed because they expect tangible commitment rites which encourage cooperation and trust, and by default this weeds out the half-hearted. He also considers cooperative societies without God, such as modern Scandinavia, with a majority of atheists where similar cooperative functions are provided by secular institutions.

Syndetics book coverLiving with an open heart : how to cultivate compassion in everyday life, by Russell Kolts and Thubten Chodron.
“Contains brief readings which blend Buddhist and western psychology. This book presents ideas and techniques drawn from Buddhism, western psychological approaches, as well as the authors’ personal experiences in working to develop compassion in their own lives and in their work with others.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe four virtues : presence, heart, wisdom, creation, by Tobin Hart, PhD.
“Most of us are hungry for a life of meaning, connection, and fulfilment, but in the midst of today’s demands and pressures, a deeper life doesn’t come automatically. We must increasingly focus on certain virtues – four universal principles needed to foster wholeness and meaningful purpose in humanity. Drawing from decades of research across the wisdom traditions, neuroscience, psychology, poetry, physics, religion, the arts, and literature, ‘The Four Virtues’ provides a field guide for developing your deepest self.” (Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverThe fourth gospel : tales of a Jewish mystic, by John Shelby Spong.
Spong continues the thesis of his other books and cautions us not to take the Bible literally or as historical literature. The Gospel of John is no exception : Jesus did not speak the sermons; none of the miracles happened; most of the book’s characters are meant as literary characters. But, he argues, it does call on the reader to believe that Jesus achieved “mystical oneness with the God who is the source of life.”

Syndetics book coverMy name used to be Muhammad : the true story of a Muslim who became a Christian, by Tito Momen with Jeff Benedict.
Tito Momen (Muhammad Momen) was raised as a strict Muslim. Every morning he attended the mosque and prayed with the other men in his Nigerian village, and even began copying the entire Qur’an word for word. However, his path took an expected turn when he was introduced to Jesus Christ. His decision cost him his family and his freedom, and for 15 years he endured a life sentence in an Egyptian prison. “Tito said, “I never gave up hope. I never stopped believing.” Although he was falsely imprisoned, beaten, and ridiculed, Tito’s remarkable true story is one of faith, and forgiveness.” (adapted from Global Books)

Syndetics book coverPilgrimage : my journey to a deeper faith in the land where Jesus walked, by Lynn Austin.
This is an account of travel through the Holy Land with an organized tour group, visiting biblical sites (Hezekiah’s tunnel, Calvary), and historical ones (e.g. Israel’s Holocaust memorial). “Austin’s story is part travel journal, part biblical recounting and reflection, part history lesson, and part personal insight…. her search for a renewed source of joy after loss is sure to be familiar to many.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverRestless : because you were made for more, by Jennie Allen.
Borrowing from the biblical story of Joseph, Allen leads readers through the process of responding to a call from God. She describes a tool she calls Threads, to help readers organize personal stories, strengths, and passions and tie them together in a way they can use to move forward. Testimonies from Allen’s friends and family illsutrate the tool. “Allen’s experiences reflect her age (mid-thirties), so she may appeal most to her peer group of young women between the ages of 18 and 35.” (Adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverBig bang big God : a universe designed for life? by Rodney D. Holder.
“Is the universe specifically designed to make life possible? How did the universe begin and how has it evolved? Does a scientific explanation mean that we can do without God? … Can the existence of a multiverse, a vast or infinite collection of universes, explain the specialness of this universe? This book argues that only God provides an explanation for the universe to exist at all, and that design by God provides the best and most rational explanation to adopt for the fine-tuning.” (from the publisher’s description, Global books)

Latest Religion and Beliefs arrivals

Our first list of 2014 covers a wide spectrum, from angels to Asian religions, and authors from Jefferson Bethke (youtube poet) to TV presenter Joyce Meyer.

Syndetics book coverBeyond betrayal : trouble in the promised land – restoring the mission to Māori, by Keith Newman.
“After the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, a succession of governors resisted missionary advice, despite their local knowledge and peacemaking skills, and influenced a raft of misunderstandings that provoked violent outbreaks across the country. The rise of Māori prophetic movements, and an intense desire for Māori to have a unified political voice, saw allegiances split between those supporting the government and those frustrated at failed Treaty promises. The pressure to surrender tribal lands had the same impact – a shattered economy and a dispossessed people.” (Back cover) This follows on from the author’s Bible & Treaty : missionaries among the Māori, which the library also owns.

Syndetics book coverHow to wake up : a Buddhist-inspired guide to navigating joy and sorrow, by Toni Bernhard.
“The author begins with the core idea that life is a string of experiences engendered by and producing suffering. From here Bernhard walks her readers through the concepts used in Buddhism to accept and engage this state of being and, in doing so, hopefully become more awake to the reality of life. The book is organized around three fundamental tenets of the Buddha’s teachings wisdom, mindfulness, and open-mindedness with each section broken into chapters that examine these ideas and offer practices that help incorporate them into daily life. Bernhard presents all of this in an easy, straightforward manner that will reassure readers who are less familiar with Buddhist tradition.” (from Booklist review, courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe faithful scribe : a story of Islam, Pakistan, family and war, by Shahan Mufti.
Journalist Mufti, incorporates the stories of his family and ancestors into the larger story of Pakistan and America both before and after 9/11. He tells of his family’s experiences briefly living in Ohio before they moved back to Pakistan. “This astonishingly detailed, well-researched history is brought to life by the addition of Mufti’s personal story’ and journalistic acumen.” (Publisher Weekly, courtesy of syndetics)

Syndetics book coverAsian religions : a cultural perspective, by Randall L Nadeau.
“This all-embracing introduction to Asian religious practices and beliefs takes a unique approach; not only does it provide a complete overview of the basic tenets of the major Asian religions, but it also demonstrates how Asian spiritualities are lived and practiced, exploring the meaning and significance they hold for believers. In a series of engaging and lively chapters, the book explores the beliefs and practices of Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Japanese religions, including Shinto. Using a comparative approach, it highlights the contrasts between Asian and Western modes of thinking and living, and debates the influence of religion on real-world issues including work, economic growth, the environment, human rights, and gender relations.” (publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverWorld religions, by Markus Hattstein.
Presents information on the world’s main religions concisely, including cultural and historical contexts. Although it aims to be no more than ‘a quick guide’ the text is supplemented by timelines, illustrations and maps.

Syndetics book coverA million little ways : uncover the art you were made to live, by Emily P. Freeman.
Uncovers the personal creative imprint God has placed upon every individual, and encourages readers to reexamine their lives by approaching it the way an artist approaches a canvas–with wonder, bravery, and hope. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGod is not mad at you : you can experience real love, acceptance & guilt-free living, by Joyce Meyer.
Another title from one of the world’s leading practical Bible teachers. She teaches on a number of topics with a particular focus on the mind, mouth, moods and attitudes. Her candid communication style allows her to share openly and practically about her experiences so others can apply what she has learned to their lives. Joyce has written nearly 100 books, which have been translated into 100 languages.

Syndetics book coverBand of angels : the forgotten world of early Christian women, by Kate Cooper.
“Cooper reveals a vivid picture of the triumphs and hardships of the first mothers of the infant church. As far as recorded history is concerned, women in the ancient world lived almost invisibly in a man’s world. Piecing together their story from the few contemporary accounts that have survived requires painstaking detective work, but it can render both the past and the present in a new light. Following the lives of influential women across the first centuries of the church, Band of Angels tells the remarkable story of how a new way of understanding relationships took root in the ancient world.” (publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverAngel prayers : harnessing the help of heaven to create miracles, by Kyle Gray.
“Do you ever feel frustrated because your prayers are going unanswered, and you feel like God and the Angels are not listening? If you are feeling unsupported, Angel Prayers will turn this situation around for good. Kyle reveals how to use affirmative prayer to focus on the positive outcome of a situation rather than praying to change something that is perceived as negative. Learn about: the power of prayer, demonstrated by true stories from Kyle’s clients, and his own personal experiences, the spiritual laws at play in the world and how your words and intentions affect your life.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKilling Jesus : a history, by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard.
Bill O’Reilly and Dugard team up again for this investigation into another murder of major cultural and historical icons – this time a thorough account of the death and crucifixion of Jesus Christ by the Romans. Although drawing heavily (but not exclusively) on biblical sources, the authors state that though they are Roman Catholics, their aim is not to write a religious book, but an historical account of an historical figure. One of the book’s strengths is setting Jesus in his historical, political and social contexts.

Syndetics book coverJesus > religion : why He is so much better than trying harder, doing more, and being good enough, by Jefferson Bethke.
This book is based on material similar to his highly successful youtube video ‘Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus’ which has been viewed over 26 million times. Told through the lens of his own life story, which is far from perfect, his aim is to shine the spotlight on Jesus and separate Him from church culture. His message is accessible : old truth but in modern language e.g. We’ve never said the f- word out loud, but not supported our local homeless community either. A challenge to any wanting to live lives consistent with their beliefs.

New beliefs : December arrivals

For our last post of 2013 (where has it gone?) inter-faith issues issues and concerns have emerged as a theme.

Syndetics book coverAn atheist’s history of belief : understanding our most extraordinary invention, by Matthew Kneale.
What first prompted prehistoric man, sheltering in the shadows of deep caves, to call upon the realm of the spirits? And why has belief thrived since, shaping millennia of civilizations, thousands of generations of shamans, pharaohs, Aztec priests and Mayan rulers, Jews, Buddhists, Christians and Scientologists? … Belief was man’s most epic labour of invention. It has been our closest companion, and has followed mankind across the continents and through history.” (drawn from the publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverFor god’s sake: an atheist, a jew, a christian & a muslim debate religion, by Jane Caro, Antony Loewenstein, Simon Smart & Rachel Woodlock.
“Four of Australia’s most interesting religious – and anti-religious – thinkers come together to ask and answer the big questions, such as: What is the nature of the universe? What is a good life? How do we account for evil? and Where do we find hope? Along the way we are introduced to the detail of different belief systems – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – and to the argument that atheism, like organised religion, has its own compelling logic. This is a fascinating exercise in comparative religion and a philosophical tour de force, but also an entertaining and honest insight into the life events that led each author to their current position.” (drawn from the publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverAwakening the Buddha within : eight steps to enlightenment : Tibetan wisdom for the Western world, by Surya Das.
Drawing on Buddhist spirituality and wisdom, this accessible guide offers Western seekers a realistic view of the world today. It is written with humour and compassion.

Syndetics book coverBeing both : embracing two religions in one interfaith family, by Susan Katz Miller.
“Susan Katz Miller grew up with a Jewish father and Christian mother, and was raised Jewish. Now in an interfaith marriage herself, she is one of the growing number of Americans who are boldly electing to raise children with both faiths, rather than in one religion or the other (or without religion). In [this book], Miller draws on original surveys and interviews with parents, students, teachers, and clergy”. (drawn from the book jacket)

Syndetics book coverHope in front of me : find purpose in your darkest moments, by Danny Gokey with Ben Stroup.
American Idol contestant and BMG recording artist Danny Gokey offers wisdom to help you reach beyond your greatest challenges. Whether you struggling with relationships, loss, anger, self-esteem, or doubt his encouragement reveals that you can take the next step towards making a difference.

Syndetics book coverBuddhist boot camp, by Timber Hawkeye.
“Buddhism is all about training the mind, and boot camp is an ideal training method for this generation’s short attention span. The chapters in this small book can be read in any order, and are short and easy to understand. Each story, inspirational quote and teaching offers mindfulness-enhancing techniques that anyone can relate to.” (drawn from the publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverZealot : the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth, by Reza Aslan.
“Analyzes historical information from first-century Palestine in order to situate Jesus, the historical man, within his social and political context. This perspective is hardly new but is accessibly presented with some skill here. He points to Jesus as one of the many messiahs during Roman occupation of Palestine, who observe the Torah and the Law, refuse to serve a human master, and remain devoted to God. Although Aslan’s interest is on the human rather than divine Jesus, he does note that no one who claimed to have seen the resurrected Jesus later recanted. He relies heavily on Meier’s Marginal Jew (4 volumes) as source material which the library also holds.

Syndetics book coverReligion without God, by Ronald Dworkin.
Based on the Einstein Lectures that Ronald Dworkin delivered at the University of Bern in December 2011. “He rejects the metaphysics of naturalism – that nothing is real except what can be studied by the natural sciences. Belief in God is one manifestation of this deeper worldview, but not the only one. … Freedom of religion should flow not from a respect for belief in God but from the right to ethical independence. Dworkin …[is a] humanist who recognized both the possibilities and limitations of humanity.” (drawn from the publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverThe wife of Jesus : ancient texts and modern scandals, by Anthony Le Donne.
Basing his thesis on first century cultural norms and rabbinical teachings the author argues that Jesus was most likely married, but single during his public career. Another quest that tries to unravel the humanity of Jesus.

Syndetics book coverThe story of the Holy Land : a visual history, by Peter Walker.
“With sites sacred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the Holy Land and its people have had an impact on history out of all proportion to its size – and continue to do so today. The Story of the Holy Land is a short but authoritative overview of this fascinating story. Richly illustrated with superb photography, including original nineteenth and twentieth century shots from the Eʹcole Biblique in Jerusalem.” (drawn from the publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverA rising tide : evangelical Christianity in New Zealand 1930-65, by Stuart M. Lange.
“Explores the fascinating story of the resurgence of evangelical Protestantism in the 1950s and 60s, and its pre-war origins. The story focuses especially on evangelicals in the mainline churches, in the universities, and in evangelical organisations. It is not about fundamentalism or Pentecostalism (movements that overlap with evangelicalism, but are also different). It is about the leading personalities, and the ideas that moved them.” (drawn from OUP description)

Syndetics book coverChristianophobia : a faith under attack, by Rupert Shortt.
Persecution of christians is nothing new in the history of the world. The reason we don’t hear much about them today, says the author, is the fear of giving offence, and persecuted christians tend not to respond with violence. Yet they are being persecuted in greater numbers than any other global religious body.

Beliefs books : recent picks

Biographies allow us little glimpses into lives and experiences, and several feature in this month’s latest arrivals – from Pope Francis to contrasting accounts of Muslim women.

Syndetics book coverAtiya’s journeys : a Muslim woman from colonial Bombay to Edwardian Britain, [edited by] Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, Sunil Sharma.
“This is the original English translation of the first Indian Muslim woman’s experiences in the ‘West’. Atiya Fyzee’s (1877-1967), travel diary was published in an Urdu Journal 1922 then as the book Zamana-i-Tahsil…. It places particular emphasis on ‘everyday’ activities of women…. Alongside lively accounts of local elites and prominent Indians abroad, Atiya provides descriptions of their clothing, meals, servants, homes, and mannerisms.” (drawn from the publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverI am Malala : the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban, by Malala Yousafzai.
At only age 11, Malala Yousafzai, using the pen name Gul Makai, wrote for the BBC living under the Taliban. Her mission was speaking about the right for girls to be educated in her community. Then she was shot in the head as she was returning from school on a bus, but miraculously survived and continues to speak out with courage. She is the youngest person ever nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. “Ms. Yousafzai’s stature as a symbol of peace and bravery has been established across the world…” (Salman Masood, The New York Times)

Syndetics book coverDo Muslim women need saving? by Lila Abu-Lughod.
Social Scientist Abu-Lughod focuses on the stories of individual women to separate the idea of ‘saving Muslim women’ from saving them from “honour crime,” discriminatory legal systems, poverty, and patriarchal family traditions. “The women presented here see their Islamic faith as a source of strength to fight injustice, not the cause of it.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe witness wore red : the 19th wife who brought polygamous cult leaders to justice, by Rebecca Musser, M. Bridget Cook.
The author describes growing up in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (not to be confused with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). She is ordered to be a prophet’s 19th wife – she is eighteen, he in his eighties. She escapes and assists law enforcement investigate, and prosecute the men for bigamy, underage marriage, and statutory rape. “The book speaks to the ways isolation, fear and secrecy can shelter insidious abuses until someone has the courage to step forward as a witness.” (Kirkus review).

Syndetics book coverPope Francis, by Paul Vallely.
Draws on interviews with those who have known Pope Francis over the years. In his early career there was less evidence for his present concern for the poor and the laity. However, his experiences under the junta changed him and encouraged him towards a direction of liberation theology. This book “examines the criticisms that have been made of Pope Francis and puts them in context, clarifying, rather than denying.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverOn heaven and earth : Pope Francis on faith, family, and the church in the twenty-first century, by Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Abraham Skorka.
While Pope Francis was still Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Argentina he had a series of conversations with Rabbi Abraham Skorka. This book records those conversations. Each chapter covers a particular topic, such as guilt, euthanasia, women, abortion, science, the Holocaust, or God. This is a delightful peek into a close friendship and commitment to inter-faith dialogue.

Syndetics book coverOn a Mission : men of Mount St. Mary’s tell their stories, by Shaun Davison.
“Shaun Davison and 21 of his fellow seminarians revisit their decision train as Marist Priests at Mount St Mary’s (commonly known as Greenmeadows) near Napier and talk about why they embarked on a religious path and discuss its impact on their lives and careers”–Publisher’s information.

Syndetics book coverMemoirs of a dervish, by Robert Irwin.
Robert Irwin, acclaimed novelist and Middle East editor of The Times Literary Supplement, describes his turbulent times in the sixties and seventies. His search for Sufi enlightenment took him to Algeria where he converted to Islam, and received an initiation as a faqir. But this is not a detailed account of Sufi doctrine. It is the author’s story of living through the sixties and drugs, satanism, Scientology, to name a few which contributed to his journey.

Syndetics book coverDarling : a spiritual autobiography, by Richard Rodriguez.
This book is the culmination of the author’s own faith struggle after 9/11. “His pilgrimage begins with “the realization that the God I worship is… the same desert God the terrorists prayed [to],”… Much like his writing, Rodriguez has been all over the place, traveling, thinking, observing … over the course of years, in seemingly disjointed stories that explain one writer’s journey to a God of many.” (drawn from Publisher Weekly, courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverJesus among friends and enemies : a historical and literary introduction to Jesus in the Gospels, edited by Chris Keith and Larry W. Hurtado.
As the title suggests, this book attempts to explore the life of Jesus through the eyes of those who knew him – his family, friends such as Mary Magdalene, the Bethany family, and the beloved disciple – but also his accusers, e.g. Jewish leaders and political authorities such as Pilate or Herod. Another contribution to the quest for the historical Jesus.

Syndetics book coverMy God : a reluctant agnostic’s revelation, by Randy Kyle Hachtel.
“This idiosyncratic journey explores the author’s encounter with the feminine aspect of the deity, which Hachtel, as humble scribe, faithfully recorded in this book… The author explains how he learned to reach out and talk to God, and helps you answer many questions… In despair and hard hit by economic downturn, the author challenged God, who sent an amazing answer… God dragged the author, then a reluctant agnostic, willingly and unwillingly into becoming a believer and… a writer to transmit God’s modern message…”–p. 4 of cover.

Beliefs books : recent arrivals

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.

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverGod 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)

Syndetics book coverGandhi : 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).

Syndetics book coverIs 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverPolishing 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)

Syndetics book coverCave 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.

Syndetics book coverWhisperers : 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.

Syndetics book coverFinding 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.

Syndetics book coverYour 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)

Syndetics book coverDown 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.”

Syndetics book coverYou’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.

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