The Futilitarians: Our Year of Thinking, Drinking, Grieving, and Reading by Anne GislesonBrought together by author Anne Gisleson and her husband after Hurricane Katrina devastated their hometown, New Orleans, the Existential Crisis Reading Group (the "Futilitarians") discussed literature and traditional religious teachings in response to their shared grief and loss. Their monthly meetings over a year's time considered Ecclesiastes and works by authors from Shakespeare to James Baldwin to Shel Silverstein. In Giselson's narrative, the Futilitarians intimately relate their struggles and joys beyond Katrina's impact, rendering an inspiring and accessible depiction of human suffering and happiness.
The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve by Stephen GreenblattThe stories of creation found at the beginning of the Hebrew scriptures in Genesis chapters 1-2 have attracted a variety of Christian interpreters. Some scorned the Garden of Eden story as pagan myth, while others viewed it as a spiritual allegory. St. Augustine of Hippo declared it to be literal truth, and later writers, including John Milton, built their own works around it. In this thought-provoking study, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stephen Greenblatt reviews the history of these interpretations and adds his own considerations. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly calls this an "erudite yet accessible page-turner."
The Great Shift: Encountering God in Biblical Times by James L. KugelIn The Great Shift, acclaimed Orthodox Jewish scholar James Kugel considers how the people of ancient times encountered God and, examining the Hebrew scriptures, traces a gradual change in human perceptions of the divine presence. These perceptions progress from literal, intimate encounters with God, through conversations mediated by heavenly messengers, to an understanding of God as distant and hard to reach. Drawing on his deep understanding of Hebrew scriptures and literature, theology, and human psychology, Kugel provides an intriguing window into ancient texts for modern readers.
The Book of Separation: A Memoir by Tova MirvisBestselling novelist Tova Mirvis grew up in a tightly knit Orthodox Jewish community. Though she outwardly observed Jewish practices and sought to be obedient to Judaism's rules, she gradually became inwardly, then more openly, rebellious. Eventually, she left her community, divorcing her Orthodox husband and exploring other forms of Judaism. This engaging memoir chronicles her life and spiritual evolution. Fans of Lauren Winner's Girl Meets God may enjoy The Book of Separation, though unlike Mirvis, Winner converted to Christianity.
Pathways in the Spiritual Life
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes: Harnessing Our Power to Change the World by Deepak Chopra with Gotham ChopraHere's a lighthearted way to approach enlightenment, whether or not you're a comic book fan. Elaborating on his 1994 book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, author Deepak Chopra collaborates with his son Gotham to help you get in touch with your internal spiritual superhero. Highlighting the similarities between comic book heroes and ancient gods, the Chopras explore abilities such as maintaining balance when surrounded by chaos, empowering others, and love. The crowning superpower allows you to become one with all.
You'll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times by Max LucadoPlumbing the emotional depths of Bible stories, bestselling Christian author Max Lucado assures you that "you'll get through this," no matter how difficult your challenges seem. Exploring the story of Joseph from Genesis, Lucado draws parallels with the struggles of contemporary Christians who experience family conflicts, feelings of isolation, and other challenging events. This book brings to life for modern readers the ways that God brings good out of evil.
Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart... by James MartinJesuit James Martin, who often appeared on Comedy Central's Colbert Report, reminds us that Jesus expressed a sense of humor and that joyfulness may demonstrate a strong faith -- St. Teresa of Avila and other saints were famous for their humor. Using quotations from the Bible, comical anecdotes, interviews with scholars, and illustrations from history, Martin saves Christianity from gloom and shows how to apply these entertaining lessons to one's personal theology. Baptist pastor Susan Sparks' Laugh Your Way to Grace offers additional insight into a religious sense of humor.
Learning to Breathe: My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life by Priscilla WarnerHaving suffered from debilitating anxiety attacks since age 15, author Priscilla Warner decides in middle age to give up tranquilizing drugs and learn how to practice the transcendent calm that characterizes Tibetan Buddhist monks. She embarks on a spiritual odyssey that introduces her to a variety of relaxation techniques in addition to Buddhist meditation. This upbeat, approachable narrative will appeal to people looking for stress relief, especially those suffering from anxiety disorders.
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