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Last year, I wrote about the Huffington Post’s list of the best religion books of the year before. Take a look at the new list for 2011. A book by a Jesuit priest about the humor in the Bible, a new book by the Dalai Lama directed at nonbelievers, a big biography of Gandhi, and another of Jerusalem.
Here are some of the books, which you can get from the San Mateo County Library:
Jerusalem: The Biography
by Simon Sebag Montefiore
Montefiore, a British historian, has written a huge history of the Holy City from the days of King David to the Six-Day War, with a glimpse forward. Don’t be put off by the many pages; the book is described as “immensely readable” (Philip Kerr in Newsweek), “impossible to put down“(Jonathan Rosen in The New York Times), and “totally gripping” (Barnaby Rogerson in The Independent).
Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well
by Billy Graham
Now in his nineties and having lost his beloved wife, Ruth, Billy Graham says, "When granted many years of life, growing old in age is natural, but growing old with grace is a choice.” His latest work provides inspiration for people both young and older who share his faith.
Unprotected Texts: The Bible's Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire
by Jennifer Wright Knust
Knust, who teaches at Boston University, is an American Baptist minister. She doesn’t shy away from controversial topics in this book (I won’t list them here). She emphasizes that the Bible’s teachings and stories about sexuality are contradictory, and that modern-day believers need to be careful about how they interpret them.
Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World
by the Dalai Lama
In Ethics for a New Millennium, the Dalai Lama proposed that ethics be based on universal values, rather than on the tenets of any particular religion. In this new book, directed at nonbelievers, he goes further down this path, encouraging readers to respect religion, and adding in a guided meditation practice to aid in developing one’s values.
Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life
by James Martin, SJ
James Martin, S.J., the author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, is apparently a regular on the Colbert Report and a funny guy. In this book he points out how Jesus, some saints and various popes used humor to reach people, and tells how readers can add some joy and laughter to their own spiritual lives.
War of the Worldviews: Science Vs. Spirituality
by Deepak Chopra and Leonard Mlodinow
In a previous post, I told you about some library books on science and religion. Here’s another one. Reviews are mixed. Some people say it’s the best book they ever read on the subject, and others that this is an example of how spiritual teachers don’t understand the scientific enterprise. Judge for yourself.
Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
by Rob Bell
A popular book by a pastor who preaches an inclusive message about the meaning of Jesus’ words and work. Bell does not believe, as some Christians do, that those who have not been saved go to hell, while the elect go to heaven. Apparently his book has ignited some controversy.
Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India
by Joseph Lelyveld
“This is not a full-scale biography. Nor is it for beginners,” writes Geoffrey C. Ward in the New York Times. Lelyveld, a former foreign correspondent in both India and South Africa, has focused on Gandhi’s role as social reformer. He examines the evolution of Gandhi’s thought, beginning in South Africa, where Gandhi ignored the plight of blacks and colored people, and continuing in India, where he came to work for equality for all and inter-religious brotherhood. Gandhi was a complicated man (despite his belief in simplicity) and Lelyveld does him justice here.
Vaughn Harrison is a devoted reader. She works at Half Moon Bay Library and on the Bookmobile.