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.
Mandala 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.
The 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)
Faith 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.
Waking 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)
Taking 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)
How 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 ….
How 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.
Living 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.
The 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.
The 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)
The 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)