The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims by Mustafa AkyolAccording to Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol, the first Muslims drew significantly from early Jewish-Christian belief that Jesus was a prophet rather than God in human form. Accessibly analyzing early Christian texts, the Qur'an, and archaeological evidence, Akyol discusses a possible connection (identified by scholars) between the Jewish-Christian movement and the origins of Islam. He also details Qur'anic texts about Mary the mother of Jesus and about Jesus the man. This thought-provoking study offers a theological basis from which Christians and Jews can learn from Islamic teaching and Muslims can benefit from a deeper understanding of Jesus.
Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet by Lyndal RoperIn Martin Luther, Oxford University historian Lyndal Roper provides a detailed biography of the great Reformation leader in time for the 500th anniversary of his theological debate challenge in the form of 95 Theses. Presenting well-known history in a fresh and engaging manner, Roper portrays Luther's family background, depicts key friendships, and discusses important influences on his theological evolution. Candidly and with restraint, she examines his uncompromising stances on such significant matters as his rejection of humanism and his anti-Semitic proclamations. Both scholars and general readers will appreciate the "grace and perceptiveness" (Booklist) of this volume.
A Country Between: Making a Home Where Both Sides of Jerusalem Collide by Stephanie SaldañaTexas native Stephanie Saldaña wrote about her 2004 experiences in Damascus, Syria in The Bread of Angels, where she met a French monk in an ancient monastery. In A Country Between, she relates how she and the now-former monk, Frédéric, married in France and decided to live in Jerusalem, which drew both of them with its deep spiritual significance. Their neighbors in a house on the Palestinian side of the city included Palestinian merchants and Mexican nuns, and it was patrolled by Israeli soldiers -- a potential flashpoint in Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. Yet this thoughtful memoir about motherhood and family in the midst of uncertainty focuses on the power of faith and hope for peace in the future.
May Cause Love: An Unexpected Journey of Enlightenment After Abortion by Kassi UnderwoodAt age 19 and far from home, an unmarried Kassi Underwood learned that she was pregnant and decided that her only choice was to have an abortion. Three years later, she was overwhelmed by sadness when she found out that her ex-boyfriend had a daughter with someone else. In May Cause Love, Underwood relates her search for emotional and spiritual healing on a road trip across America. Recounting a Buddhist ceremony for women who have had abortions, consultations with therapists, a Roman Catholic pro-life retreat, and other efforts to seek healing, she poignantly charts her map to recovery and offers it to those (or their friends and family) who have lost a child through miscarriage or abortion.
Focus on: Spiritual Memoirs
Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Life of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-WeberWhen stand-up comic Nadia Bolz-Weber found herself leading a memorial service in a comedy club, she recognized that the gathering represented her kind of people: alcoholics, depressives, and cynics. Could it be that she was meant to be their pastor? In Pastrix, Bolz-Weber relates how she responded to this unexpected spiritual calling and was ordained in the Lutheran church; she recounts her experiences in an engaging, sarcastic, sometimes profane narrative. Fans of Anne Lamott's memoirs, especially Traveling Mercies and Plan B, will appreciate Bolz-Weber's ability to find holiness in unexpected people and places.
Mennonite Meets Mr. Right: A Memoir of Faith, Hope, and Love by Rhoda JanzenIn Mennonite Meets Mr. Right, author Rhoda Janzen follows up her previous memoir, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, with another humorous, poignant, and insightful chronicle. Having moved back into her Mennonite parents' home, she unexpectedly falls for and marries a Pentecostal "Jesus-nail-necklace wearing manly man" named Mitch. Diving into his church's traditions despite their unfamiliarity, she discovers new ways to express her beliefs. She also learns a lot about love when Mitch stands by her at every step of her cancer diagnosis and treatment. Forthright and humorous, this book offers inspiration to people from a wide range of backgrounds.
Nine Essential Things I've Learned about Life by Harold S. KushnerLooking back on his life and his career as a rabbi, well-known author Harold Kushner offers a compendium of lessons he's learned about faith. He emphasizes that learning is more important than knowing and recounts events that taught him to listen well and discern the deep questions that lead to God. With chapters such as "Forgiveness Is a Favor You Do Yourself" and "Leave Room for Doubt and Anger in Your Religious Outlook," Kushner grounds his theology in the realities of human existence, just as he did in his now-classic When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Kushner's fans and those new to his writing will appreciate this "balm for the skeptical and the religious" (Publishers Weekly).
The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy by Rainn WilsonBest known as Dwight Schrute on television's The Office, comedian Rainn Wilson didn't fit in while growing up (and never was a bassoon phenom), and he struggled financially early in his acting career. He also floundered spiritually until he reconnected with Baha'i, the faith of his childhood. In The Bassoon King, Wilson irreverently and movingly details the challenges of his youth, dishes gossip on The Office, and shares the importance of openly embracing Baha'i and living according to its teachings. Whether you're a fan of his career (which he broadcasts on Twitter) or interested in his spiritual life, be sure to pick up this autobiography.
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