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One Nation, Under Gods: A New American History by Peter ManseauBooks on U.S. history often give the impression that the country's founders created a Christian nation, but the truth is considerably more complex. In One Nation, Under Gods, author Peter Manseau explores the religious beliefs, practices, and influences that came to North America from around the world -- as well as Native American influences on the other religions. Profiling certain individuals and groups, he assembles the jigsaw puzzle of pluralism that reflects American religious history. Manseau compellingly portrays the sectarian conflicts that have arisen, but he also shows how various religious traditions have accommodated and evolved in response to others' doctrines. Booklist praises this book's "maximum, enthralling readability."
Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey by Marie Mutsuki MockettIn Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye, author Marie Mutsuki Mockett vividly and movingly relates her visit to Japan after the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster. Mockett was grieving the death (before the calamity) of her Japanese grandfather and the unexpected demise of her American father, while in Japan there was widespread mourning for those lost to the earthquake, subsequent tsunami, and nuclear contamination. In this spiritual memoir, Mockett portrays her visits with Buddhist priests, attendance at Shinto and Buddhist ceremonies of commemoration, and her own gradual healing, drawing readers into a culture that connects deeply with a common human desire to maintain contact with the dead.
The Case for Grace: A Journalist Explores the Evidence of Transformed Lives by Lee StrobelEvangelical apologist and journalist Lee Strobel, author of a series of books on Christianity whose titles begin with "The Case for," relates his journey from atheism to belief in God in The Case for Grace. Reporting on interviews with several individuals who discover God's grace through various experiences (such as the love of an adoptive parent or serving the urban poor), he also reveals how he found psychological and spiritual healing in his own life. Those who have experienced the power of grace and those who are hoping to find it will appreciate this "eloquent and honest" (Publishers Weekly) book, which combines personal memoir with the spiritual biographies of others.
The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis by Garry WillsPulitzer Prize-winning historian Garry Wills has written several books about the Catholic Church's history. In The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis, he looks back at ways in which the Church has changed over the centuries and considers the potential for renewal under the leadership of Pope Francis. Asserting that overcoming discontinuities and adapting to new ideas have allowed the Church to continue and thrive, Wills details his suggestions for healthy reforms that Pope Francis may bring to the 2,000-year-old institution. Kirkus Reviews, in a starred review, calls this review of issues a "thoughtful menu for the new pope."
The Nuns of Sant'Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent in Scandal by Hubert Wolf; translated by Ruth MartinIn 1862, a women's religious community in Rome was closed and its buildings destroyed. Though the convent was effectively deleted from memory, records remained in the archives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (or Inquisition). German Church historian Hubert Wolf discovered these records, and in The Nuns of Sant'Ambrogio he carefully details the investigation that documented the crimes, widespread abuse, and heretical practices within the order and among prominent priests. Rather than sensationalizing this account, Wolf supplies informative historical context to help modern readers understand the scandal. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly praises this "serious study of a fascinating real-life melodrama."
Moving the Mountain: A New Vision of Islam in America by Feisal Abdul RaufFeisal Abdul Rauf, Imam of the al-Farah Mosque in New York City since 1983, has explained Islamic teachings and traditions in What's Right with Islam? and several other books. In Moving the Mountain, Abdul Rauf discusses how he came to his personal standpoint on his faith and defined his identity as a Muslim American. This "enjoyable and accessible" (Publishers Weekly) work summarizes the important connections among the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) in hopes of convincing Americans that Muslims are not enemies of the American way of life. Rauf's discussion also offers a constructive response to opponents of his organization's planned Islamic cultural center, under development near Ground Zero.
My Accidental Jihad: A Love Story by Krista BremerAbout 15 years ago, Krista Bremer was a graduate student in North Carolina when she met and fell in love with an older man from Libya named Ismail. Accepting his offer of marriage after learning she was pregnant, Krista found herself confronted by Ismail's very different cultural and religious traditions, while he was mystified by some of her American ways. In My Accidental Jihad (recently republished with the title A Tender Struggle), Krista lyrically portrays herself through her husband's and in-laws' eyes while detailing her struggle (a reference to the Muslim concept of jihad) to understand lives immersed in Islam and discover true intimacy amid the differences.
The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam by Eliza GriswoldIn The Tenth Parallel, journalist and poet Eliza Griswold explores the effects of Christian-Islamic clashes across a "faith-based fault line": the tenth parallel, which circles the globe 700 miles north of the equator. Cutting through central Africa and Southeast Asia, it crosses some of the world's most troubled regions. Griswold shows how violence supposedly motivated by religion often arises from secular issues caused by impoverished, insecure living conditions. Most compellingly for Westerners looking for a deeper understanding of Islamic movements, she draws on interviews with representatives of both Muslim and Christian communities to clarify their religious differences and offer insight into the ongoing conflicts.
After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split by Lesley HazletonNews reports from Islamic countries frequently mention the political division between Sunni and Shia Muslims, but few Westerners know the origin of this schism. In After the Prophet, journalist Lesley Hazleton recounts the disputes that arose among Muhammad's followers after his death, when two factions asserted the right to take over Muhammad's leadership. In this carefully researched narrative based on early Islamic records, Hazleton "thrillingly and intelligently" (Booklist) explains how the initial disagreements led to the permanent establishment of two sects. She brings to life the personalities involved, explains political differences between the parties, and clarifies how the chasm between them affects contemporary Islamic politics -- and international relations in general.
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