Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical by Timothy KellerIn Making Sense of God, acclaimed Presbyterian pastor Timothy Keller offers a well-organized presentation of the nature of religious belief. Beginning with evidence that people around the world are reporting increased levels of faith, he continues with detailed discussions of faith-based ethical and moral positions. Aiming primarily to engage those who profess no religious belief (the "nones" counted in survey research), Keller adds a detailed argument in favor of religion. He concludes with appeals to the rationality of theism and, specifically, Christianity. This "calm and measured invitation" (Library Journal) to dialog offers common ground to thoughtful skeptics and believers.
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle MeltonIn this spiritual memoir, bestselling author Glennon Doyle Melton reveals her personal struggles with faith after a betrayal in her marriage. Detailing her unhappiness as a child, alcohol consumption as a teenager, and successful but personally disastrous achievement of popularity in college, she continues with an account of her relationship with her husband, Craig. In her struggles after their separation, Melton developed a new relationship with God, which supported her through couples therapy and reconciliation with Craig. Kirkus Reviews calls Love Warrior "candid, brave, and generous."
Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman's Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim by Sabeeha RehmanAuthor Sabeeha Rehman wed her husband in Pakistan 40 years ago, then moved to New York City while he completed medical studies, expecting to return to her home country after two years. In Threading My Prayer Rug, she recounts her transition to life in America and her family's continued residence in the U.S. She becomes an advocate for improved understanding among disparate faith communities while negotiating the divide between the traditions of her homeland and American customs. Her engaging anecdotes add life to her discussion of serious matters. For another accessible memoir about being Muslim in America, try Ranya Idilby's Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie.
Waking the Spirit: A Musician's Journey Healing Body, Mind, and Soul by Andrew SchulmanSix years ago, classical guitarist Andrew Schulman was in a medically induced coma in the ICU. After his wife played J.S. Bach's music to him, his vital signs quickly improved, and he soon got well. Attributing his astonishing recovery to the music, he decided to play his guitar for other intensive care patients. In Waking the Spirit, he reports on the results of his experiment, during which several critically ill people also experienced remarkable recoveries. Schulman's memoir includes information on neurological research about the effects of music. Booklist calls this a "deeply moving testament" to music's potential to heal.
A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve by Mother TeresaMother Teresa of Calcutta, canonized (declared a saint) by Pope Francis earlier this year, never wrote an autobiography -- she was too busy helping others. This collection of short, previously uncollected pieces offers information about her life's ministry through her own words in correspondence, interviews, and speeches. Organized according to the 14 traditional "works of mercy," her words, accompanied by comments from those who observed her ministries, provide examples of feeding the hungry, giving shelter to the homeless, bearing wrongs patiently, comforting the afflicted, and more. A Call to Mercy offers inspiration to Christians and opens windows into Teresa's life for those interested in learning about her.
Faith and Life's Challenges
Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy KellerIn this "luminous" (Booklist) work, pastor and popular author Timothy Keller explores the history of human suffering and relates how various religions and cultures have responded to the problem of evil. He portrays suffering as a furnace and depicts the difficulties that arise in braving the heat while highlighting the spiritual growth that can come from experiencing pain, sorrow, and loss. Keller provides ways to remain close to the God of the Bible throughout personal trials, concluding with chapters on "Thinking, Thanking, Loving" and "Hoping." For another Evangelical discussion of suffering and hope, try Max Lucado's You'll Get Through This.
Fields of Grace: Faith, Friendship, and the Day I Nearly Lost Everything by Hannah LuceIn this affecting memoir, author Hanna Luce recounts a horrific plane crash from which she was the only survivor. Her recovery included both the ordeal of undergoing multiple skin grafts and the challenge of survivor's guilt. She also had to struggle with her doubts about Christianity, even though her father was a well-known youth evangelist. Fields of Grace relates how she faced each of these challenges, especially the loss of four close friends. This is a "calamitous, fascinating" (Publishers Weekly) account of a religious and physical pilgrimage from near death to new life.
Teach Us to Sit Still: A Skeptic's Search for Health and Healing by Tim ParksFor years, novelist and memoirist Tim Parks struggled with a severely painful physical ailment that the many doctors he consulted couldn't diagnose. Though he was skeptical of all forms of spirituality, he tried some breathing exercises he read about, and his symptoms dramatically improved. After this discovery, he found long-term relief in Buddhist meditation. In Teach us to Sit Still, Parks relates how he learned to live in the moment, healing both body and soul. His account is often hilarious, sometimes excruciating, and finally inspiring.
The Broken and the Whole: Discovering Joy after Heartbreak by Charles S. ShermanThree decades ago, Rabbi Charles Sherman's four-year-old son Eyal suffered a stroke and became a quadriplegic. The whole Sherman family, which included Eyal's mother and three siblings, had to learn to pull together and support each other. Rabbi Sherman's account of the family's experience is inspiring; he also explains how his own faith was changed and shaped during the years following Eyal's stroke. Like Rabbi Harold Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People, The Broken and the Whole offers insight and inspiration to people of all faiths who have encountered devastating challenges and losses.
The Book of the People: How to Read the Bible by A.N. WilsonIn The Book of the People, acclaimed historian and biographer A.N. Wilson examines the Bible's impact on people's lives. While discussing the literary significance of the scriptures, he continually relates their contents to personal experiences and the works of other writers, demonstrating how the Bible offers realistic spiritual support for facing day-to-day challenges. He observes, for example, that Exodus inspired oppressed African Americans to persevere, and that Job points the way to overcoming suffering through spiritual redemption. This thought-provoking work offers readers new ways to consider how scripture offers encouragement through the ups and downs of their lives.
My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer by Christian WimanDiagnosed a few years ago with a rare form of cancer (now apparently in remission), poet Christian Wiman embarks on a re-examination of his faith, seeking to identify and articulate what he believes. Though he was raised a Christian, his beliefs as an adult include a significant level of doubt and even skepticism -- not negating his essential belief in God, but enriching it. Filled with quotations from numerous other poets, playful use of language, and eloquent expressions of the meaning of Christ's incarnation, this memoir offers a profound, moving meditation on Wiman's relationship with God.
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