Devotion and Doubt, Take 4
Okay, I know you've been holding your breath until you find out what books are on this list: some of the best religion books of 2013 (which I found on Publisher's Weekly and the Huffington Post).
So Here Goes...
My Bright Abyss : Meditation of A Modern Believer by Christian Winman
Winman is a poet, and former editor of Poetry magazine, who faced pain and death from cancer. He had been raised a Baptist in Texas, but had quit believing at some point (in college, as so often happens.) In 2007, after his diagnosis, he wrote a very popular essay about his new found faith, which was very different from what he had felt as a boy. This lyrical book is an expansion of that essay. I opened to a random page and read: "Sometimes God calls a person to unbelief in order that faith may take new forms."
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright
As a believer, I was just struck for the first time by the subtitle of this book. Anyway, Wright, who is an investigative reporter (he wrights for The New Yorker), spent years researching Scientology and interviewing over 200 members and former members of the church. The result is a serious-minded exposé that reads like "A wild ride of a page-turner, as enthralling as a paperback thriller" (Laura Miller on salon.com). Part of what's interesting, beyond the Hollywood connection, is Wright's discussion of the role of new religions in America.
When We Were On Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love and Starting Over by Addie Zierman
Addie Zierman was raised in an evangelical Christian home and was part of the nineties evangelical youth culture. She wore 3 WWJD bracelets. Under the influence of a boyfriend, she became more and more zealous in her faith. And then she started to lose it. Loneliness, depression and alcohol took their toll on her and on her marriage. This book details her faith journey as she moved through "obsession, disillusion, rebellion and redemption" (also the titles of the four parts of the book) to a more complicated, but hopeful kind of Christianity.
What books do you think were the best books on religion & spirituality that came out last year?
My own nomination is: My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit. You might argue that it's not about religion. But how could a book about Israel not be? At any rate, I really recommend this book for its personal, nuanced and well-balanced take on Israel's past, present and future. I didn't agree with everything Shavit said, but I appreciated his thoughtfulness and candor.
Vaughn Harrison works at the Half Moon Bay Library. She majored in Religion and has an enduring interest in comparative religion and spirituality.