Spirituality and Religion
Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize...
by Elizabeth M. Edman
The Rev. Elizabeth Edman, an openly lesbian Episcopal priest, has studied the intersection of religion and sexuality for nearly three decades; she notes that queer people have taught her more about Christian love than she learned in theology classes. In Queer Virtue, she explains that Christianity is inherently "queer," in the sense that it places ethical demands on its followers that run counter to society's expectations. Her engaging, detailed discussion depicts both the journey to accepting these demands and the rewards of adhering to them. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly notes that this book offers a "road map for larger, more productive conversations" among Christian communities.
The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream
by Chris Lehmann
In this "lively study" (Kirkus Reviews), journalist Chris Lehmann chronicles how one stream of American Protestantism came to embrace materialism, from the Puritan settlers who believed that prevailing in the wilderness was a sign of God's favor to the contemporary evangelists who preach that personal devotion to God leads to happiness and wealth. Though the "self-help" gospel isn't the only expression of Christianity in America, it's widespread and influential. The Money Cult presents a balanced historical view of prosperity theology while comparing it to Christian doctrines that urge believers to help those in need before serving themselves. For another intriguing discussion of the "gospel of success," try Duke Divinity School professor Kate Bowler's Blessed.
October 31, 1517: Martin Luther and the Day That Changed the World
by Martin E. Marty
Nearly 500 years ago, an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther posted a set of propositions about Christian theology on the door of the Wittenberg Castle church, thus announcing that he was organizing a debate for local scholars about the practice of indulgences (selling Papal absolution to raise funds for the Vatican). Dubbed "The 95 Theses," Luther's challenges stirred up a much wider controversy that led to his break with the Roman Catholic Church and set the Protestant Reformation going in earnest. In October 31, 1517, Lutheran scholar Martin Marty explains Luther's theological claims in the context of 16th-century Catholic doctrine and argues that their ultimate effect was to empower the modern ecumenical movement. This brief discussion offers Christians an accessible and thought-provoking introduction to 500 years of Protestant theology.
If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty
by Eric Metaxas
According to acclaimed Christian writer and speaker Eric Metaxas, the founding leaders of the U.S. perceived that liberty depends on individual and collective virtue motivated by religious faith. Disturbed by widespread disrespect for traditional ideas, which often leads to cynical and selfish behavior, he urges a return to the 18th-century values that underpinned such achievements as the crafting of the U.S. Constitution. Suggesting several approaches to renewing a love of country among Americans, he expresses an inspiring appeal to reverse what he sees as a trend towards jaded and anti-patriotic attitudes and behavior.
God Gave Me You: The True Story of Love, Loss, and a Heaven-Sent Miracle
by Tricia Seaman with Diane Nichols
Author Tricia Seaman was working as an oncology nurse in a rural Pennsylvania hospital when she met Trish Somers, a patient with a terminal diagnosis. Their patient-nurse relationship gradually grew into a friendship, but Seaman was blown away when Somers, a single mother, asked her to take care of her five-year-old son after she died. Seaman consulted with her husband and their five children, and they prayed for God's guidance in responding to Somers' request. In God Gave Me You, Seaman chronicles their joint odyssey -- which was rewarding but far from easy -- providing an uplifting and encouraging account of how the Seamans loved their neighbors as themselves.
Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women
by Sarah Bessey
Canadian blogger Sarah Bessey introduces herself as a "happy-clappy Jesus follower," that is, an Evangelical Protestant. Addressing her fellow Evangelicals in Jesus Feminist, Bessey offers her interpretation of biblical teachings about gender issues in the context of her own faith journey and contemporary life. Challenging common conservative interpretations of the Bible that counsel against women taking leadership roles over men, she concludes that Jesus' teachings transcend distinctions between men and women. She argues that the church should accept women as fully equal in all areas. Her "warm and intimate" style (Publishers Weekly) will appeal to many people interested in the subject -- not just Evangelical Christians.
Untie the Strong Woman: Blessed Mother's Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul
by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
In Untie the Strong Woman, author Clarissa Pinkola Estés, a Jungian analyst, Latina traditional storyteller, and the author of Women Who Run With the Wolves, recounts stories and poems, writes prayers, and presents images of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Throughout, she portrays the compassionate and powerful presence of the divine feminine. Emphasizing Mary's connection with the humble poor while proclaiming her influential appearances in many times and cultures, Estés offers her as an inspiration to an awakening of consciousness and a renewal of faith.
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
by Rachel Held Evans
Author Rachel Held Evans, like many other millennials, saw the church as a hypocritical institution obsessed with fund-raising and divided by politics and scandals. In this memoir, she combines accounts of her coming of age and her spiritual pilgrimage into an engaging record of her adult search for a congregation where mundane problems didn't seem to overwhelm sincere faith. This "theologically astute and beautifully written" (Publishers Weekly) memoir by the author of A Year of Biblical Womanhood offers food for thought for millennials and Christian seekers of all ages.
Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now
by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
In Heretic, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the acclaimed and controversial author of Infidel, presents a clear and impassioned call for reformation in Islam, which in many places and cultures oppresses women and minorities and promotes terrorism and war. While her characterization of Islam has drawn anger and even death threats, in this compelling new book she expounds on five areas where Islam needs to be transformed. Booklist calls this a "potent indictment, idealistic blueprint, and galvanizing appeal" to those who desire a more tolerant and peaceful Islam.
Cartwheels in a Sari: A Memoir of Growing Up Cult
by Jayanti Tamm
Until she was a young woman, author Jayanti Tamm lived with her parents as part of Indian guru Sri Chinmoy's spiritual community in Queens, NY. Declared before her birth to be Chinmoy's greatest disciple, as a child and teenager she suffered from psychological pressures and emotional repression while trying to balance on the line between the cult's strictures and the general American society she experienced as a public school student. Part exposé and part coming-of-age story, Cartwheels in a Sari offers an absorbing account of her very unusual life before being expelled from the sect. This is an "earnest memoir of an exceptional childhood," says Kirkus Reviews.
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