The Battle for God by Karen Armstrong is an interesting take on the role of religion and society. Today we confront so much ignorance about each others religions and have little historical background on their role in history. This is a good book to remedy some of this ignorance.
If you want to explore a unique examination on the book of Genesis, you would enjoy The Beginning of Wisdom by Leon Kass. He develops his material around “God’s new way” as opposed to the “natural way”. In a review of this book I found: For the past 20 years, Kass has offered a seminar on Genesis in which he and his students at the University of Chicago read it as a philosophical classic in the same way one would read Plato or Nietzsche.
How did humanity keep track of things? From One to Zero is a fascinating account of how people from all time and all places devised ways to record and compute amounts of things. The tale is as engrossing as the origin of language itself. This exhaustive examination, with illustrations to help visualize the process is now available used for very little money.
We often absorb the media presentation of Islam without any way of assessing its accuracy. Standing Alone in Mecca is a work that can help to remedy this lack. Asra Nomani struggles to make sense of her own religious tradition of Islam with many of the same misunderstandings until she makes the journey to Mecca. There she discovers that her tradition of faith is being perverted by those whose grab for power have hijacked Islam in much the way as the Crusaders (then and now) do Christianity and the Zionists are abusing Judaism. This work is a powerful antidote for the poison of hate engendered by our ignorance today.
The Language of God by Francis Collins of the human genome project is described as “a scientist presents evidence for belief”. Collins moved through agnosticism to atheism, ending up in faith because of his science. This is a readable book by a courageous author who is engaging all of us in a re-examination of this contentious issue.
Teacher Man by Frank McCourt is “as good as writing gets about teaching and learning”. Best selling author of Angela’s Ashes mines his years of teaching high school English in the New York City schools for this engaging book.
Failing America’s Faithful by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend would make for good reading. The first helps to focus on our founders in faith. It might be especially helpful as we try to muddle our way through the confusing spin we are surrounded by as we try to make sense out of what is going on in the world.
The Assault on Reason by Al Gore, helps to focus our thinking on our founders as a nation It might be especially helpful as we try to muddle our way through the confusing spin we are surrounded by as we try to make sense out of what is going on in the world.
If you want to explore the impact of those events that are highly improbable but have tremendous effects on our lives and culture I recommend Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan. The author only mentions one passage in Matthew’s gospel, but anyone studying scripture can identify many examples of a black swan event that forever changed history. The book left me with a stronger affinity for what I have been calling Sneaky Spirit events for many years.
Hans Kung has given us, what in effect is his life testament in The Beginning of all Things: Science and Religion. In it he concludes: “This is my enlightened, well – founded hope: dying is a farewell inward, and entry and homecoming into the ground and origin of the world, our true home, a farewell perhaps not without pain and anxiety, but hopefully in composure and surrender, at any rate without weeping and wailing, and without bitterness and despair, but rather in hopeful expectation, quiet certainty, and (after everything that has to be settled is settled) ashamed gratitude for all the good things and less good things that now finally and definitively lie behind us – thank God.” He gathers up a life time of study and reflection and brings us up to date on the dialogue between science and religion so that we can be both/and people like Jesus of Nazareth.
The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus is the most engaging book. What would Jesus Do? remains a problematic question because it implies that it is Jesus’ role to enter into our world and become the solution to our problems, when we are meant to live as bravely and as fully in our world and time as Jesus lived in his. (78) “The love of God is not just a sentimental obligation but the incorporation of a worldview that we respond to God as God acts toward us.” (Pg. 79) This is work worth pondering.
A book that is a timely read by Benjamin Barber, Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole. NY. W. W. Norton & Co. 2007, could point to what “change” might be all about: changes that creates services and things that we really need, not just a different/newer/bigger version of what we already have. Barber highlights how we have become confused by the marketing media to believing more is better when what we really need is quality.
Often, what seems like a tragedy turns out to be a gift. Amir D. Aczel, in his The Jesuit & The Skull, gives us the heroic struggle that Teilhard de Chardin endured in his quest to bring together science and faith. The agony of exile turns out to be the laboratory of discovery. The long years of silencing forced Teilhard deeper than he might have gone if his energies had he spent traveling to speak to the multitudes who would have been attracted to his insights. His deep relationships with both men and women radiates in his understanding of love. For a while his thoughts were suppressed. Now his name and wisdom is popping up everywhere. If you are just beginning to explore the man, his life and work, this is a good book to start with
I wonder when Rabbi Bryon L. Sherwin wrote his book Golems Among Us in 2004, if he even suspected the radical events that would unfold in our economy since then? His examination of the Jewish concept of the golem, (a human creation) one that could serve humanity or wreak havoc is relevant to many of the issues that beset us today. He looks at biotechnology, corporations and more, in his broad ranging reflection that mines the riches of his Jewish traditions. This is a book to ponder.
If you want to get another perspective on the situation in Afghanistan and the Taliban you need to read Three Cups of Tea by Gret Mortenson. He is trying to promote peace one school at a time. The book written in 2006 still promotes much soul searching. Would that our leaders have consulted with him so many years ago before setting out on the course they did.
Inside the School of Charity by Trisha Day, is about her three months living within the Trappistine cloister with the sisters of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey near Dubuque, IA. Trisha, a member of the Associates of Iowa Cistercians, reflects on the ways her experience with the sisters helps to inform her everyday life outside the cloister. Many feel that this is a nigh impossible task, but she does this very well. The values and practices of the Cistercian order are transferable and valuable for any person wanting to live a meaningful life, either on the “inside” or the “outside”. I have known Trisha and share in the membership of the AIC for many years, and promise you a fruitful read in this book.
Our gifted artist, musician and scripture scholar Fr. Robert Beck, has just published a new work on the Gospel of Matthew titled Banished Messiah: Violence and Nonviolence in Matthew’s Story of Jesus. You will find references to this fine work in the years coming study guides beginning in Advent. His work plumbs the depths of nonviolence in this gospel.