Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father by Thomas S. KiddIn this thoroughly researched and groundbreaking biography, religious studies professor Thomas Kidd examines the religious thought of Founder Benjamin Franklin. As a young man Franklin rejected the Calvinist doctrine of his childhood and embraced deism. However, he later professed a religion-based ethical philosophy that was closer to the beliefs of his upbringing, those of his sister Jane Mecom, and those of his friend George Whitefield, the famous Methodist evangelist. Showing Franklin as a man of religious faith who publicly called for prayers to God to guide the new American nation, Kidd's portrait offers "a new cornerstone of Franklin studies" (Booklist, starred review).
How to Be a Muslim: An American Story by Haroon MoghulOn September 11, 2001, Pakistani-American author Haroon Moghul was an undergraduate at New York University. The terrorist attacks on that day pushed him into the spotlight, where he became a spokesman for American Muslims. Meanwhile, he was struggling with his own relationship to Islam. In How to Be a Muslim, Moghul relates his hopes, fears, doubts, and personal challenges, liberally employing both references to pop culture and allusions to the Qur'an. This book, which Publishers Weekly (in a starred review) strongly recommends "for its candor and relatability," provides a compelling account of what it means to be an American Muslim.
The Art of Living: Peace and Freedom in the Here and Now by Thích Nhất HạnhIn The Art of Living, acclaimed Vietnamese Buddhist teacher Thích Nhất Hạnh offers techniques for living happily in a challenging world. His lectures about these techniques develop the practice of mindfulness to show how it applies pragmatically to ordinary life. As he often does, Nhất Hạnh focuses on the importance of breathing and the interconnectedness of everything. The talks collected in this book can be read in any order and are accessible to those who are new to Buddhism and informative to people already familiar with Nhất Hạnh's teachings.
In the Days of Rain: A Daughter, a Father, a Cult by Rebecca StottAs a child, acclaimed author Rebecca Stott belonged to a separatist Christian fundamentalist sect in Britain called the Exclusive Brethren. Her father, Roger, was a leader in the group, which shunned all kinds of worldly things, but he later left the cult and became an actor and filmmaker. In the Days of Rain details Rebecca's experiences with the Exclusive Brethren, Roger's struggles, and her own gradual understanding of the sect and its effect on her family over four generations. Reflecting on her relationship with her father, Rebecca pens a thought-provoking and absorbing memoir.
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Unashamed by Lecrae, with Jonathan MerrittPopular, Grammy-winning Christian hip hop artist Lecrae was raised by his single mother. Though there were positive influences in his life, he experienced instability, abuse, and neglect, engaging in criminal activities throughout his teen years. Rap provided an outlet for his creativity; Christianity rescued him from crime when he was 19 and gave him a new focus for his music career. Unashamed offers Lecrae's reflections on the negative aspects of his early life, revealing how he decided to become a positive influence on younger people. Publishers Weekly calls this memoir a "wonderfully inspirational and entertaining story."
Grace without God: The Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging in a Secular Age by Katherine OzmentAfter journalist Katherine Ozment's young son asked her what religion their family practiced, Ozment realized that "none" wasn't a very helpful answer. She then set out to learn more about how "Nones" (nearly one-fourth of the American population) replace the rituals, sense of community, and moral guidance that religion offers. In Grace without God, she reports on her interviews with academics, statistical studies, and conversations with other "Nones" at events around the country. Focusing on the need to raise kind, morally upright, and compassionate children, she relates her personal experiences and considers how others are answering those questions.
The Givenness of Things: Essays by Marilynne RobinsonThoughtfully addressing the divisions expressed in contemporary arguments about religion, award-winning novelist and theologian Marilynne Robinson critiques both reductionist atheists and self-righteous Christians. In her elegant, rich prose, she discusses 17 topics, including Humanism, Servanthood, Memory, and Experience, connecting them to current politics while clearly stating her own faith and viewpoints. Warning about unrestricted power, greed, and cynicism, The Givenness of Things presents "bravely and brilliantly argued" essays (Booklist, starred review) about matters of great consequence.
Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence by Jonathan SacksIn Not in God's Name, Jonathan Sacks, Emeritus Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, analyzes the justifications for violence that have supposedly been derived from Hebrew scriptures. Arguing that people in all three Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) have misconstrued the Bible, he debunks the notion that violence is inherent to religion. Finding powerful messages of peace in the book of Genesis, he offers an antidote to the sectarian strife that currently plagues the world. In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews notes that this book says "something truly new."
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