Books

Debra Dean Murphy 05-01-2012

Four books that encourage people of faith to bring more light and less heat to the public square—and to our pews.

Richard Vernon 05-01-2012

Nick Harkaway, writer of novels that brim with humor and meaning, talks about legacy, not-so-silly writing, and the moral to our stories.

Julie Polter 05-01-2012

Books on food and farming.

Julie Polter 05-01-2012

Four novels with nothing in common except storytelling done well.

Annalisa Musarra 04-20-2012

William Blake, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Martin Luther King Jr. and even Helen Keller all found something to like in Emanuel Swedenborg.

Emanuel who?

A new book, “Swedenborg,” by author and former Blondie bassist Gary Lachman attempts to uncover the little-known Swedish scientist, philosopher and theologian.

Duane Shank 04-18-2012
Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.

Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.

Among my must reads are the Sunday New York Times Book Review and other book reviews I come across in various media outlets. There are too many books being published that I would love to read, but just don’t have the time. So, I rely on reading book reviews as one way of keeping in touch with what’s being written. 

Here are my picks in this week’s books of interest.

Daniel Burke 04-17-2012
Photo by Cathleen Falsani/Sojourners.

Ross Douthat and Michael Cromartie in conversation at the Q ConferenceTuesday evening. Photo by Cathleen Falsani/Sojourners.

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat doesn't mince words in his new book "Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics.''

Since the 1960s, Douthat argues, institutional Christianity has suffered a slow-motion collapse, leaving the country without the moral core that carried it through foreign wars, economic depressions and roiling internal debates.

In its place heresies have cropped up -- from the “God-within” theology of Oprah to the Mammon-obsessed missionaries of the prosperity gospel, says Douthat, a Roman Catholic. 

Duane Shank 04-11-2012

Among my must reads are the Sunday New York Times Book Review and other book reviews I come across in various media outlets. There are too many books being published that I would love to read, but just don’t have the time. So, I rely on reading book reviews as one way of keeping in touch with what’s being written. 

Here are my picks in this week’s books of interest:

Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation

By Elaine Pagels, Reviewed by Dale B. Martin

Jack Palmer 04-04-2012
Alain de Botton. Image via www.alaindebotton.com.

Alain de Botton. Image via www.alaindebotton.com.

This is not another book that simply critiques religion. In Religion For Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion, Alain de Botton, a noted author on a wide range of themes – from architecture to the works of Proust – examines those engaging and helpful aspects of religion (particularly focusing on Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism) that might, as he puts it, “fruitfully be applied to the problems of secular society.”

Anyone who might be offended by a work that from the outset (indeed on its very first page) asserts that “of course no religions are true in any God-given sense”, is encouraged to steer clear of this book by the author himself.

It is a book that seems to swing between revulsion of religion and the “religious colonization” that atheists are charged to reverse and a recognition that all is not well in the secular world, and that these ills may be somewhat righted by looking toward religion – let me clarify – toward those aspects of religious traditions that de Botton believes are relevant to the world today: community, kindness, education and art, for example.

The very first subject to be tackled is that of community – something that Sojourners knows a little something about (check out Nicole Higgins’ recent review of Wanderlust for some insights) – and what strikes me as interesting is that de Botton’s hypothesis on the loss of community mirrors a phrase often spoken by Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis:

Did we lose our sense of community when we began to privatize our faith?

Julie Polter 04-01-2012

Worship Across the Racial Divide: Religious Music and the Multiracial Congregation, by Gerardo Marti; The Forgotten Bomb; Let It Burn; Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis.

Gandhi and the Unspeakable: His Final Experiment with Truth, by James W. Douglass.

Julie Clawson 04-01-2012

What The Hunger Games and the gospels have in common.

Duane Shank 03-29-2012
Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.

Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.

Among my must reads are the Sunday New York Times Book Review and other book reviews I come across in various media outlets. There are too many books being published that I would love to read, but just don’t have the time. So, I rely on reading book reviews as one way of keeping in touch with what’s being written.

Here are my picks in this week’s books of interest.

Jack Star/PhotoLink

Jack Star/PhotoLink

Stripped of its supernatural elements, does religion have anything to offer atheists? What can nonbelievers borrow from the organizations, practices and rituals of believers -- without borrowing a belief in God?

According to Swiss philosopher Alain de Botton, a lot.

In his new book, Religion For Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion he outlines an array of things he contends religions get right and that atheists can adopt to create a better, richer secular society.

Duane Shank 03-22-2012
Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.

Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.

Among my must reads are the Sunday New York Times Book Review and other book reviews I come across in various media outlets. There are too many books being published that I would love to read, but just don’t have the time. So, I rely on reading book reviews as one way of keeping in touch with what’s being written.

Here are my picks in this week’s books of interest:

Larisa Friesen Hall 03-19-2012
Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

Wes Moore, Author, appears on 'Meet the Press' March 18. Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

Last summer at the Aspen Ideas Festival I had the opportunity to hear Wes Moore speak. Moore is an investment banker, a former Rhodes Scholar, and a former aide to Condoleezza Rice. He is a young black man from Baltimore who rose above the drugs, crime, and poverty that so often lead others in his demographic down another path.

In the same year that Moore was named a Rhodes Scholar, he saw an article in the Baltimore Sun about a man who was convicted of armed robbery and murder of an off duty police officer and sentenced to life in prison without parole. This man not only had the same name, Wes Moore, but was also about the same age and grew up in the same area of Baltimore in a single-parent household.

Wes reached out to this other young man in prison and eventually they came to know one another. Moore wrote a book, The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, about their stories.

I read the book shortly after hearing Wes speak. What makes it remarkable is the parallel examination of both of their narratives, giving the reader an opportunity to identify the points when their lives begin to diverge.

Joshua Witchger 03-16-2012

Get ready for St. Patrick's Day with some laughs, crafts, and a look at some green musicians. Plus, a look at the impressive "Magic Mushroom House," an express book-printing machine, portraits made from words, John Oliver's latest quest, and Americana musicians Megafaun. 

Duane Shank 03-14-2012
(Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.)

(Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.)

Among my must reads are the Sunday New York Times Book Review and other book reviews I come across in various media outlets. There are too many books being published that I would love to read, but just don’t have the time. So, I rely on reading book reviews as one way of keeping in touch with what’s being written. 

Find out what Duane's picks for this week’s books of interest are inside the blog ...

Duane Shank 03-09-2012
Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.

Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.

Among my must reads are the Sunday New York Times Book Review and other book reviews I come across in various media outlets. There are too many books being published that I would love to read, but just don’t have the time. So, I rely on reading book reviews as one way of keeping in touch with what’s being written. 

Here are my picks in this week’s books of interest:

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