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.
A 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)
Big 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.
Living 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)
The 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)
The 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.”
My 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)
Pilgrimage : 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)
Restless : 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)
Big 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)