Devotion and Doubt
I liked the Huffington Post’s List of the Best Religion Books of 2010 because it was wide-ranging and because the choices grabbed me. Here are some of the books on the list, available from the San Mateo County Library.
Muhammad: A Story of the Last Prophet by Deepak Chopra. In the Introduction, Chopra writes, "Without guides who reached higher consciousness, the world would be bereft of its greatest visionaries - fatally bereft, in fact. Muhammad sensed this aching gap in the world around him. He appeals to me most because he remade the world by going inward. That's the kind of achievement only available on the spiritual path.” This is a respectful biography of the Prophet in the form of a novel.
Einstein's God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit by Krista Tippett. Drawn from interviews on her Peabody-award winning radio show, Speaking of Faith, these conversations with some of the deepest thinkers around show how, in Tippett’s words, both science and religion are "pursuits of cohesive knowledge and underlying truths.”
Toward a True Kinship of Faiths: How the World's Religions Can Come Together by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan Buddhist leader finds commonality in compassion at the heart of all religions, and calls for mutual understanding while encouraging believers to hold on to the tenets of their own faiths.
God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World--And Why their Differences Matter by Stephen Prothero. Prothero, author of Religious Literacy, provides profiles of eight great religions (the eighth, interestingly, is the Yoruba religion of Nigeria and the African diaspora). In his opinion, the belief that all religions are the same is misguided.
The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin. A practical spiritual guidebook based on the teachings of St Ignatius of Loyola, presented with a sense of humor, anecdotes and stories.
Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think by Elaine Howard Ecklund. Ecklund sent questionnaires to 1,500 science professors and interviewed 275. She found that, despite what many people think, almost half described themselves as religious and some as spiritual atheists, though they might not want to bring discussion of religion or spirituality into the classroom or lab.
American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West by Philip Goldberg. Traces the influence of Hinduism on American (and British) culture from the transcendentalists of 150 years ago to today.
American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us by Robert D. Putnam, David E. Campbell; with the assistance of Shaylyn Romney Garrett. Putnam and Campbell use the results of two large national surveys as well as studies of several individual congregations to evaluate how American religiosity has changed over the last 50 years, and come up with some surprising conclusions. For example, many Americans care less about faith than about their faith communities.
Vaughn Harrison works at Half Moon Library and goes out on the Bookmobile. She holds a B.A. in Religion.