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Vikings Read More Challenge and Book Club

The purpose of the Vikings Read More Challenge & Book Club is to provide the SJR State community with an opportunity to address wellness, belonging, community building, and campus culture through reading and meaningful discussions.

November Focus: Belief Systems

Why you should read about belief systems?

Reading about belief systems such as religions, spirituality, moral codes, and philosophy may help you increase your understanding of global complexity and expand your worldview. Researching belief systems could increase your ability to be tolerant of others that may not think and act in the same way you do. 

There are a vast variety of books about belief systems available. Here are some possible topics:

  • World Religions
  • Ethics and Morals
  • Reasoning
  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • Wicca
  • Witchcraft
  • Spirituality
  • Afterlife
  • Creation
  • Good vs. Evil 

Featured Picks- Belief Systems

The Magic Feather Effect

Author and journalist Melanie Warner takes readers on a vivid, fascinating journey through the world of alternative medicine. Crossing continents and sides of the debate, visiting prestigious research clinics and ordinary people's homes, she investigates the scientific underpinning for the purportedly magical results of these practices and reveals not only the medical power of beliefs and placebo effects, but also the range, limits, and uses of the surprising system of self-healing that resides inside us.

Pseudoscience and the Paranormal

In this updated and expanded edition of Pseudoscience and the Paranormal, the most comprehensive and up-to-date work of its kind, psychologist and neuroscientist Terence Hines explores the question of evidence for the paranormal and delves beyond it to one that is even more puzzling: Why do people continue to believe in the reality of the supernatural despite overwhelming evidence that it does not exist?" "Critiquing the whole range of current paranormal claims, this carefully researched, thorough review of pseudoscience and the paranormal in contemporary life shows readers how to carefully evaluate such claims in terms of scientific evidence. This scholarly yet readable volume is an invaluable reference work for students and general readers alike.

In Good Faith

Part memoir, part cultural exploration, this book covers the author's journey as she grows up in an evangelical Christian home, leaves religion behind as a young adult, and goes on to raise children in a family outside of religious belief. Maria Polonchek weaves a personal story with up-to-date studies and philosophic exploration of what it means to raise secular children in an otherwise religious world. Offering careful and respectful advice for other parents who are raising their children outside of a particular religious belief system, she explores the many other ways of instilling identity, belonging, and meaning into our lives and the lives of children. Honest and irreverent, the author admits to her religious "baggage" and searches for better understanding of such topics as religious education, morality, awe, death, purpose, and meaning, and tradition from secular perspectives. She interviews experts, looks at various studies, and turns to a variety of sources for answers, while maintaining a casual and personal tone. While she ultimately argues for parents to let their children shape their own beliefs, she encourages families to tend to existential and social needs that sometimes go unnoticed or unconsidered in life outside religion.

Protestants

Five hundred years ago, an obscure monk challenged the authority of the pope with a radical new vision of what Christianity could be. The revolution he unwittingly set in motion has toppled governments, upended social norms, and transformed millions of people’s understanding of their relationship with God. In this dazzling global history charting five centuries of innovation and change, Alec Ryrie makes the case that the world we live in was indelibly shaped by Protestants. Protestants introduces us to the men and women who defined this quarrelsome faith. Some turned to their newly accessible Bibles to justify bold acts of political opposition, others to support a new understanding of how they should live. Protestants are conditioned to fight for their beliefs, and if you look at any of the great confrontations of the last five centuries, you will find them defining the debate on both sides: for and against monarchy, colonialism, slavery, fascism, communism, temperance, and war. Protestants are people who love God and take on the world. They have set out for all four corners of the globe, embarking on courageous journeys into the unknown to establish new communities and experiment with radical new systems of government?like the Puritans, Quakers, and Methodists who made their way to our shores. Protestants created America and defined its special brand of entrepreneurial diligence. And today they are making new converts in China, Korea, Africa, and Latin America. This magisterial book by a brilliant scholars of the Reformation makes the case that whether or not you are yourself a Protestant, you live in a world?and are guided by principles and ideas?shaped by Protestants.

The Shape of the New

"Examines "Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Charles Darwin, and Karl Marx--heirs of the Enlightenment who embodied its highest ideals about progress--and shows how their thoughts, over time and in the hands of their followers and opponents, transformed the very nature of our beliefs, institutions, economies, and politics"-- Amazon.com.

Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism

"How did our democracy go wrong? This extraordinary document . . . is Applebaum's answer." --Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian explains, with electrifying clarity, why elites in democracies around the world are turning toward nationalism and authoritarianism. From the United States and Britain to continental Europe and beyond, liberal democracy is under siege, while authoritarianism is on the rise. In Twilight of Democracy, Anne Applebaum, an award-winning historian of Soviet atrocities who was one of the first American journalists to raise an alarm about antidemocratic trends in the West, explains the lure of nationalism and autocracy. In this captivating essay, she contends that political systems with radically simple beliefs are inherently appealing, especially when they benefit the loyal to the exclusion of everyone else. Despotic leaders do not rule alone; they rely on political allies, bureaucrats, and media figures to pave their way and support their rule. The authoritarian and nationalist parties that have arisen within modern democracies offer new paths to wealth or power for their adherents. Applebaum describes many of the new advocates of illiberalism in countries around the world, showing how they use conspiracy theory, political polarization, social media, and even nostalgia to change their societies. Elegantly written and urgently argued, Twilight of Democracy is a brilliant dissection of a world-shaking shift and a stirring glimpse of the road back to democratic values.

Inner Engineering

The practice of what is commonly known as hatha yoga is but one of eight branches of the body of knowledge that is yoga. Yoga is a sophisticated system of self-empowerment that is capable of harnessing and activating inner energies in such a way that your body and mind function at their optimal capacity. It is a means to create inner situations exactly the way you want them, turning you into the architect of your own joy. A yogi lives life in this expansive state, and in this transformative book Sadhguru tells the story of his own awakening from a boy with an unusual affinity for the natural world to a young daredevil who crossed the Indian continent on his motorcycle. He relates the moment of his enlightenment on a mountaintop in southern India, where time stood still and he emerged radically changed.

Teachings and tools for a life of joy

As Sadhguru explains, the term guru means, "Dispeller of darkness, someone who opens the door for you. As a guru, I have no doctrine to teach, no philosophy to impart, no belief to propagate. And that is because the only solution for all the ills that plague humanity is self-transformation. Self-transformation means that nothing of the old remains. It is a dimensional shift in the way you perceive and experience life." The wisdom distilled in this accessible, profound, and engaging audiobook offers you time-tested tools that are fresh, alive, and radiantly new. Inner Engineering presents a revolutionary way of thinking about our humanity and the opportunity to achieve nothing less than a life of joy.

Zoroastrianism

"Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s great ancient religions. In present-day Iran significant communities of Zoroastrians (who take their name from the founder of the faith, the remarkable religious reformer Zoroaster, or--in the old Avestan language--Zarathustra) still practise the rituals and teach the moral precepts that once undergirded the officially state-sanctioned faith of the mighty Sasanian empire. Beyond Iran, the Zoroastrian diaspora is significant especially in India, where the Gujurati-speaking community of exiles from post-Sasanian Iran call themselves ’Parsis’. But there are also significant Zoroastrian communities to be found elsewhere, such as in the USA, Britain and Canada, where western cultural contexts have shaped the religion in intriguing ways and directions. This new, thorough and wide-ranging introduction will appeal to anyone interested in discovering more about the faith that bequeathed the contrasting words ’Mary’ and ’magic’, and whose adherents still live according to the code of Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds. The central Zoroastrian concept that human beings are continually faced with a choice between the path of ’good’ and ’evil’, represented by the contrasting figures of Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, inspired thinkers as diverse as Voltaire, Mozart and Nietzsche. Jenny Rose shows why Zoroastrianism remains one of the world’s most inspiring and perennially fascinating systems of ethics and belief"--Publisher description, p. [4] of cover.

Women and Islam

A collection of essays to stimulate discussion and help readers achieve a more sober understanding of the lives of Muslim women around the world.

Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love

From New York Times bestselling author Naomi Wolf, Outrages explores the history of state-sponsored censorship and violations of personal freedoms through the inspiring, forgotten history of one writer's refusal to stay silenced. Newly updated, first North American edition--a paperback original. In 1857, Britain codified a new civil divorce law and passed a severe new obscenity law. An 1861 Act of Parliament streamlined the harsh criminalization of sodomy. These and other laws enshrined modern notions of state censorship and validated state intrusion into people's private lives. In 1861, John Addington Symonds, a twenty-one-year-old student at Oxford who already knew he loved and was attracted to men, hastily wrote out a seeming renunciation of the long love poem he'd written to another young man. Outrages chronicles the struggle and eventual triumph of Symonds--who would became a poet, biographer, and critic--at a time in British history when even private letters that could be interpreted as homoerotic could be used as evidence in trials leading to harsh sentences under British law. Drawing on the work of a range of scholars of censorship and of LGBTQ+ legal history, Wolf depicts how state censorship, and state prosecution of same-sex sexuality, played out--decades before the infamous trial of Oscar Wilde--shadowing the lives of people who risked in new ways scrutiny by the criminal justice system. She shows how legal persecutions of writers, and of men who loved men affected Symonds and his contemporaries, including Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Walter Pater, and the painter Simeon Solomon. All the while, Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass was illicitly crossing the Atlantic and finding its way into the hands of readers who reveled in the American poet's celebration of freedom, democracy, and unfettered love. Inspired by Whitman, and despite terrible dangers he faced in doing so, Symonds kept trying, stubbornly, to find a way to express his message--that love and sex between men were not "morbid" and deviant, but natural and even ennobling. He persisted in various genres his entire life. He wrote a strikingly honest secret memoir--which he embargoed for a generation after his death--enclosing keys to a code that the author had used to embed hidden messages in his published work. He wrote the essay A Problem in Modern Ethics that was secretly shared in his lifetime and would become foundational to our modern understanding of human sexual orientation and of LGBTQ+ legal rights. This essay is now rightfully understood as one of the first gay rights manifestos in the English language. Naomi Wolf's Outrages is a critically important book, not just for its role in helping to bring to new audiences the story of an oft-forgotten pioneer of LGBTQ+ rights who could not legally fully tell his own story in his lifetime. It is also critically important for what the book has to say about the vital and often courageous roles of publishers, booksellers, and freedom of speech in an era of growing calls for censorship and ever-escalating state violations of privacy. With Outrages, Wolf brings us the inspiring story of one man's refusal to be silenced, and his belief in a future in which everyone would have the freedom to love and to speak without fear.

The Myth and Mystery of UFOs

When United Airlines workers reported a UFO at O’Hare Airport in November 2006, it was met with the typical denials and hush-up that usually accompany such sightings. But when a related story broke the record for hits at the Chicago Tribune’s website, it was clear that such unexplained objects continued to occupy the minds of fascinated readers. Why, wonders Thomas Bullard, don’t such persistent sightings command more urgent attention from scientists, scholars, and mainstream journalists? The answer, in part, lies in Bullard’s wide-ranging magisterial survey of the mysterious, frustrating, and ever-evolving phenomenon that refuses to go away and our collective efforts to understand it. In his trailblazing book, Bullard views those efforts through the lens of mythmaking, discovering what UFO accounts tell us about ourselves, our beliefs, and the possibility of visitors from beyond.

The Crucible of Islam

Little is known about Arabia in the sixth century CE. Yet from this distant time and place emerged a faith and an empire that stretched from the Iberian peninsula to India. Today, Muslims account for nearly a quarter of the global population. G. W. Bowersock seeks to illuminate this most obscure and yet most dynamic period in the history of Islam--from the mid-sixth to mid-seventh century--exploring why arid Arabia proved to be such fertile ground for Muhammad's prophetic message, and why that message spread so quickly to the wider world. In Muhammad's time Arabia stood at the crossroads of great empires, a place where Christianity, Judaism, and local polytheistic traditions vied for adherents. Mecca, Muhammad's birthplace, belonged to the part of Arabia recently conquered by the Ethiopian Christian king Abraha. But Ethiopia lost western Arabia to Persia following Abraha's death, while the death of the Byzantine emperor in 602 further destabilized the region. Within this chaotic environment, where lands and populations were traded frequently among competing powers and belief systems, Muhammad began winning converts to his revelations. In a troubled age, his followers coalesced into a powerful force, conquering Palestine, Syria, and Egypt and laying the groundwork of the Umayyad Caliphate. The crucible of Islam remains an elusive vessel. Although we may never grasp it firmly, Bowersock offers the most detailed description of its contours and the most compelling explanation of how one of the world's great religions took shape.-- Provided by publisher

Misquoting Jesus

When Biblical scholar Ehrman first began to study the texts of the Bible in their original languages, he was startled to discover the multitude of mistakes and intentional alterations that had been made by earlier translators. For almost 1500 years these manuscripts were hand copied by scribes who were influenced by the cultural, theological and political disputes of their day. Both mistakes and intentional changes abound in the surviving manuscripts, making the original words difficult to reconstruct. Ehrman reveals where and why these changes were made and how scholars go about reconstructing the original words of the New Testament as closely as possible. He makes the provocative case that many of our cherished biblical stories and beliefs stem from both intentional and accidental alterations by scribes--alterations that dramatically affected subsequent versions.--From publisher description.

African American Religion

"African American Religion offers a provocative historical and philosophical treatment of the religious life of African Americans. Glaude argues that the phrase "African American religion" is meaningful only insofar as it singles out the distinctive ways religion has been leveraged by African Americans to respond to different racial regimes in the United States. That bold claim frames how he reads the historical record. Slavery, Jim Crow, and current appeals to color blindness serve as a backdrop for his treatment of conjure, African American Christianity and Islam"

History of Western Philosophy

Traces philosophy from the rise of Greek civilization to the emergence of logical analysis in the twentieth century.

One Nation under God

"We’re often told that the United States is, was, and always has been a Christian nation. But in One Nation Under God, historian Kevin M. Kruse reveals that the idea of ’Christian America’ is an invention--and a relatively recent one at that. As Kruse argues, the belief that America is fundamentally and formally a Christian nation originated in the 1930s when businessmen enlisted religious activists in their fight against FDR’s New Deal. Corporations from General Motors to Hilton Hotels bankrolled conservative clergymen, encouraging them to attack the New Deal as a program of ’pagan statism’ that perverted the central principle of Christianity: the sanctity and salvation of the individual. Their campaign for ’freedom under God’ culminated in the election of their close ally Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. But this apparent triumph had an ironic twist.
In Eisenhower’s hands, a religious movement born in opposition to the government was transformed into one that fused faith and the federal government as never before. During the 1950s, Eisenhower revolutionized the role of religion in American political culture, inventing new traditions from inaugural prayers to the National Prayer Breakfast. Meanwhile, Congress added the phrase ’under God’ to the Pledge of Allegiance and made ’In God We Trust’ the country’s first official motto. With private groups joining in, church membership soared to an all-time high of 69%. For the first time, Americans began to think of their country as an officially Christian nation. During this moment, virtually all Americans--across the religious and political spectrum--believed that their country was ’one nation under God.’ But as Americans moved from broad generalities to the details of issues such as school prayer, cracks began to appear.
Religious leaders rejected this ’lowest common denomination’ public religion, leaving conservative political activists to champion it alone. In Richard Nixon’s hands, a politics that conflated piety and patriotism became sole property of the right. Provocative and authoritative, One Nation Under God reveals how the unholy alliance of money, religion, and politics created a false origin story that continues to define and divide American politics to this day"-- Provided by publisher.
"In One Nation Under God, award-winning historian Kevin M. Kruse argues that the story of Christian America begins with the Great Depression, when a coalition of businessmen and religious leaders united in opposition to the New Deal. As Kruse shows, corporations from General Motors and Kraft Foods to J.C. Penney and Hilton Hotels, poured money into the coffers of conservative religious leaders, who in turn used those funds to attack FDR’s New Deal administration as a program of "pagan statism" that perverted the central tenet of Christianity: the salvation of the individual"-- Provided by publisher.

Feminism and Religion

At a conference in 2013, Gloria Steinem noted that religion is the "biggest problem" facing feminism today. In this insightful volume, a team of researchers, psychologists, and religious leaders led by editors Michele A. Paludi and J. Harold Ellens supply their expertise and informed opinions to examine the problems, spur understanding, and pose solutions to the conflicts between religion and women's rights, thereby advocating a global interest in justice and love for women. Examples of subjects addressed include the pro-life/pro-choice debate, feminism in new age thought, and the complex intersections of religion and feminism combined with gender, race, and ethnicity.

The contributed work in this unique single-volume book enables a better understanding of how various religions view women both traditionally and in the modern context and how feminist thinking has changed the roles of women in some world religions. Readers will come away with clear ideas about how religious cultures can honor feminist values, such as family-friendly workplace policies, reproductive justice, and pay equity, and will be prepared to engage in conversation and constructive debate regarding how faith and feminism are interrelated today."

Religion and Transhumanism

"Transhumanism" or "human enhancement" is an intellectual and cultural movement that advocates the use of emerging technologies to change human traits. Although they may sound like science fiction, the possibilities suggested by transhumanism are very real, and the questions they raise have no easy answers. If these enhancements--especially major ones like the indefinite extension of healthy human life--become widely available, they would arguably have a more radical impact on humankind than any other development in history. This book comprises essays that explore transhumanism and the issues that surround it, addressing numerous fascinating questions posed by scholars of religion from various traditions. How will "immortality" or extreme longevity change our religious beliefs and practices? How might pharmaceuticals enhance spiritual experiences? Will "post-human" technologies be available to all persons, or will a superior "post-human race" arise to dominate the human species? The discussions are as intriguing as the future they suggest.

God vs. Gay?

The myth that the Bible forbids homosexuality is behind some of the most divisive and painful conflicts of our day. Michaelson shows that not only does the Bible not prohibit same-sex intimacy, but the vast majority of its teachings support the full equality and dignity of gay and lesbian people.

God's Shadow: Sultan Selim, His Ottoman Empire, and the Making of the Modern World

"A stunning work of global history. . . . Alan Mikhail offers a bold and thoroughly convincing new way to think about the origins of the modern world. . . . A tour de force." --Greg Grandin

Long neglected in world history, the Ottoman Empire was a hub of intellectual fervor, geopolitical power, and enlightened pluralistic rule. At the height of their authority in the sixteenth century, the Ottomans, with extraordinary military dominance and unparalleled monopolies over trade routes, controlled more territory and ruled over more people than any world power, forcing Europeans out of the Mediterranean and to the New World. Yet, despite its towering influence and centrality to the rise of our modern world, the Ottoman Empire's history has for centuries been distorted, misrepresented, and even suppressed in the West. Now Alan Mikhail presents a vitally needed recasting of Ottoman history, retelling the story of the Ottoman conquest of the world through the dramatic biography of Sultan Selim I (1470-1520). Born to a concubine, and the fourth of his sultan father's ten sons, Selim was never meant to inherit the throne. With personal charisma and military prowess--as well as the guidance of his remarkably gifted mother, Gülbahar--Selim claimed power over the empire in 1512 and, through ruthless ambition, nearly tripled the territory under Ottoman control, building a governing structure that lasted into the twentieth century. At the same time, Selim--known by his subjects as "God's Shadow on Earth"--fostered religious diversity, welcoming Jews among other minority populations into the empire; encouraged learning and philosophy; and penned his own verse. Drawing on previously unexamined sources from multiple languages, and with original maps and stunning illustrations, Mikhail's game-changing account "challenges readers to recalibrate their sense of history" (Leslie Peirce), adroitly using Selim's life to upend prevailing shibboleths about Islamic history and jingoistic "rise of the West" theories that have held sway for decades. Whether recasting Christopher Columbus's voyages to the "Americas" as a bumbling attempt to slay Muslims or showing how the Ottomans allowed slaves to become the elite of society while Christian states at the very same time waged the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade, God's Shadow radically reshapes our understanding of the importance of Selim's Ottoman Empire in the history of the modern world.

The Bible's Most Fascinating People

Features important figures and their stories from the Old and New Testaments in a chronologically arranged volume that includes detailed family trees, historical information, and illustrations of classical works of art.

Public Zen, Personal Zen : a Buddhist introduction

"Among Buddhist traditions, Zen has been remarkably successful in garnering and sustaining interest outside the Buddhist homelands of Asia, and "zen" is now part of the global cultural lexicon. This deeply informed book explores the history of this enduring Japanese tradition - from its beginnings as a form of Buddhist thought and practice imported from China to its reinvention in medieval Japan as a force for religious, political, and cultural change to its role in Japan’s embrace of modernity. Going deeper, it also explores Zen through the experiences and teachings of key individuals who shaped Zen as a tradition committed to the embodiment of enlightenment by all. By bringing together Zen’s institutional and personal dimensions, Peter D. Hershock offers readers a nuanced yet accessible introduction to Zen as well as distinctive insights into issues that remain relevant today, including the creative tensions between globalization and localization, the interplay of politics and religion, and the possibilities for integrating social transformation with personal liberation"-- Book jacket.

The Jewish Study Bible

Text in English.
Summary: "The Jewish Study Bible combines the entire Hebrew Bible--in the celebrated Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation--with explanatory notes, introductory materials, and essays by leading biblical scholars on virtually every aspect of the text, the world in which it was written, its interpretation, and its role in Jewish life. The quality of scholarship, easy-to-navigate format, and vibrant supplementary features bring the ancient text to life"--Publisher's Web site.

Religion, Flesh, and Blood

This is a case study of one congregation within the Unity Fellowship Church. Movement that relies on therapeutic religion, a form of religion that strives to equip individuals with psychological capital, by enabling self-expressions and affirmations of social differences.

Why We Need Religion

"Stephen T. Asma argues that religion, like art, has direct access to our emotional lives in ways that science does not. Science can cause curiosity and wonder, but much emotional suffering and vulnerability is beyond the reach of scientific help. Unlike secular authors who praise religion's ethical and civilizing functions, Asma argues that its core value lies in its emotionally therapeutic power...Asma describes the way in which religion manages rage, play, lust, care, grief, and so on. [This book] is a surprising and persuasive Darwinian defense of religious emotions and the cultural systems that manage them."-- provided by publisher.

Rock Gets Religion

Rock Gets Religion lays out the case for people of faith to continue to make their music in the middle of popular culture, and updates the scene with dozens of successful (and not so successful) stories of Christians who have done just that."Mark Joseph has been a key voice in the transformation of American popular music," says former Van Halen singer Gary Cherone. "In this book, his final in a three-part series, he shows us how the transformation happened and outlines a vision for the future of the unlikely alliance of rock music and serious faith."

Seven Ways of Looking at Religion

Western intellectuals have long theorized that religion would undergo a process of marginalization and decline as the forces of modernity advanced. Yet recent events have disrupted this seductively straightforward story. As a result, while it is clear that religion has somehow evolved from its tribal beginnings up through modernity and into the current global age, there is no consensus about what kind of narrative of religious change we should alternatively tell. Seeking clarity, Benjamin Schewel organizes and evaluates the prevalent narratives of religious history that scholars have deployed over the past century and are advancing today. He argues that contemporary scholarly discourse on religion can be categorized according to seven central narratives: subtraction, renewal, transsecular, postnaturalist, construct, perennial, and developmental. Examining the basic logic, insights, and limitations of each of these narratives, Schewel ranges from Martin Heidegger to Muhammad Iqbal, from Daniel Dennett to Charles Taylor, to offer an incisive, broad, and original perspective on religion in the modern world.

The Relevance of Religion

Former United States senator and ambassador to the United Nations John Danforth offers a fascinating, thoughtful, and deeply personal look at the state of American politics today--and how religion can be a bridge over our bitter partisan divide.

The Golden Age of Indian Buddhist Philosophy

"Jan Westerhoff unfolds the story of one of the richest episodes in the history of Indian thought, the development of Buddhist philosophy in the first millennium CE. He starts from the composition of the Abhidharma works before the beginning of the common era and continues up to the time of Dharmakirti in the sixth century. This period was characterized by the development of a variety of philosophical schools and approaches that have shaped Buddhist thought up to the present day: the scholasticism of the Abhidharma, the Madhyamaka's theory of emptiness, Yogacara idealism, and the logical and epistemological works of Dinnaga and Dharmakirti. The book attempts to describe the historical development of these schools in their intellectual and cultural context, with particular emphasis on three factors that shaped the development of Buddhist philosophical thought: the need to spell out the contents of canonical texts, the discourses of the historical Buddha and the Mahayana sutras; the desire to defend their positions by sophisticated arguments against criticisms from fellow Buddhists and from non-Buddhist thinkers of classical Indian philosophy; and the need to account for insights gained through the application of specific meditative techniques. While the main focus is the period up to the sixth century CE, Westerhoff also discusses some important thinkers who influenced Buddhist thought between this time and the decline of Buddhist scholastic philosophy in India at the beginning of the thirteenth century. His aim is that the historical presentation will also allow the reader to get a better systematic grasp of key Buddhist concepts such as non-self, suffering, reincarnation, karma, and nirvana."-- Publisher's website.

God's Armies

"Recognizing that the Christian crusades unfolded in a world shaped by Islamic jihads, Lambert scrutinizes both militant forms of religion simultaneously. In a world where memories of crusader atrocities sustain virulent new forms of jihad, such balanced scholarship offers hope of interfaith understanding."--Booklist.
Crusade and jihad are often reckoned to have represented two sides of the same coin: each resonated on the opposing sides in the holy wars of the Middle Ages and each has been invoked during the war on terror. A chronicle of the Christian and Islamic struggle to control the sacred places of Palestine and the Middle East between the seventh and thirteenth centuries, this dynamic new history demonstrates that this simple opposition ignores crucial differences. Placing an equal emphasis on the inner histories of Christianity and Islam, the book traces the origins and development of crusade and jihad, showing for example that jihad reflected internal tensions in Islam from its beginnings. The narrative also reveals the ways in which crusade and jihad were used to disguise ambitions for power and to justify atrocity and yet also inspired acts of great chivalry and heroic achievement. The story brims with larger than life characters, among them Richard the Lionheart, Nur al-Din, Saladin, Baybars, and Ghengiz Khan. Lambert concludes by considering the long after-effects of jihad and crusade, including the role of the latter in French imperialism and of the former in the wars now afflicting the Middle East and parts of Africa. This vivid, balanced account will interest all readers who wish to understand the complexities of the medieval world and how it relates our own. -- Provided by publisher.

American Gods

Upon his release from prison, a widower accepts a job as a bodyguard and joins the battle between the gods of yore and the neoteric gods of present-day America.

America's Jewish Women

"Many are the blessings I partake of": America's early Jewish women -- "Mothers in Israel": the American Jewesses -- "A new kind of Jewess": Eastern European Jewish women in America -- "Woman is looking around and ahead": wider worlds -- "Down from the pedestal...up from the laundry room": into the future.

A History of the Bible

The idea of the Bible as "Holy Scripture," a non-negotiable authority straight from God, has prevailed in Western society for some time. And while it provides a firm foundation for centuries of Christian teaching, it denies the depth, variety, and richness of the text. Barton argues that the Bible is not a prescription to a complete, fixed religious system, but rather a product of a long and intriguing process which has inspired Judaism and Christianity, but still does not describe the whole of either religion. He argues that it must be read in its historical context-- from its beginnings in myth and folklore to its many interpretations throughout the centuries.

Faith Versus Fact

The best-selling author of Why Evolution Is True discusses the negative role of religion in education, politics, medicine and social policy, explaining how religion cannot provide verifiable or responsible answers to world problems.

The Dawn of Christianity

Ordinary people of antiquity interacted with the supernatural through a mosaic of beliefs and rituals. Exploring everyday life from 200 BCE to the end of the first century CE, Robert Knapp shows that Jews and polytheists lived with the gods in very similar ways. Traditional interactions provided stability even in times of crisis, while changing a relationship risked catastrophe for the individual, his family, and his community. However, people in both traditions did at times leave behind their long-honored rites to try something new. The Dawn of Christianity reveals why some people in Judea and then in the Roman and Greek worlds embraced a new approach to the forces and powers in their daily lives. Knapp traces the emergence of Christianity from its stirrings in the eastern Mediterranean, where Jewish monotheism coexisted with polytheism and prayer mixed with magic. In a time receptive to prophetic messages and supernatural interventions, Jesus of Nazareth convinced people to change their beliefs by showing, through miracles, his direct connection to god-like power. The miracle of the Resurrection solidified Jesus's supernatural credentials. After his death, followers continued to use miracles and magic to spread Jesus's message of reward for the righteous in this life and immortality in the next. Many Jews and polytheists strongly opposed the budding movement but despite major setbacks Christianity proved resilient and adaptable. It survived long enough to be saved by a second miracle, the conversion of Emperor Constantine. Hand in hand with empire, Christianity began its long march through history.-- Provided by publisher.

Poverty and the poor in the world's religious traditions : religious responses to the problem of poverty

Poverty is a universal phenomenon across history, regardless of country or culture. Today, the demographics of the poor are on the rise globally: it is a critical issue. Religious traditions are another universal aspect of human societies, and nearly all religions include directives on how to respond to the poor and systemic poverty. How do the various religious traditions conceptualize poverty, and what do they view as the proper response to the poor? Poverty and the Poor in the World's Religious Traditions: Religious Responses to the Problem of Poverty brings together specialists on the religions of the world and their diverse viewpoints to identify how different religious traditions interact with poverty and being poor. It also contains excerpts of religious texts that readers can use as primary documents to illustrate themes such as identifying the poor, religious reasons for being poor, and responses (like charity and development) to the existence of poverty. This book serves as a powerful resource for students of subjects like international development, missiology, comparative religion, theology, social ethics, economics, and organizational leadership as well as for any socially concerned clergy of various faiths.-- Publisher's website.

The Handy Islam Answer Book

"Provides detailed descriptions of the history, beliefs, symbols, rituals, observations, customs, leaders, and organization of the world’s second largest religion, [explaining] the significance of the Five Pillars, Muhammad, various sects, the Qur’an, Islamic law, and much more"-- Provided by publisher.

The Book of Mormon

Late one night in 1823 Joseph Smith, Jr., was reportedly visited in his family’s farmhouse in upstate New York by an angel named Moroni. According to Smith, Moroni told him of a buried stack of gold plates that were inscribed with a history of the Americas’ ancient peoples, and which would restore the pure Gospel message as Jesus had delivered it to them. Thus began the unlikely career of the Book of Mormon, the founding text of the Mormon religion, and perhaps the most important sacred text ever to originate in the United States. Here Paul Gutjahr traces the life of this book as it has formed and fractured different strains of Mormonism and transformed religious expression around the world. Gutjahr looks at how the Book of Mormon emerged from the burned-over district of upstate New York, where revivalist preachers, missionaries, and spiritual entrepreneurs of every stripe vied for the loyalty of settlers desperate to scratch a living from the land. He examines how a book that has long been the subject of ridicule -- Mark Twain called it "chloroform in print"--Has more than 150 million copies in print in more than a hundred languages worldwide. Gutjahr shows how Smith’s influential book launched one of the fastest growing new religions on the planet, and has featured in everything from comic books and action figures to feature-length films and an award-winning Broadway musical. - Publisher.

Holy Warriors

"This text surveys the most significant contributions to the study of abolition in America. It explores the different types of abolitionists, examines the relationships between black and white abolitionists, and investigates the impact abolition had on the fate of the slave system." - PBS

Secular Meditation

"Many avoid meditation because of its religious trappings. But as bestselling atheist Sam Harris has recently written (in Waking Up), meditation is an age-old secular practice with numerous scientifically verified physical and psychological benefits. As longtime meditation teacher Rick Heller here shows, meditation’s benefits extend beyond the personal to enrich relationship with others, with community, and with the world. Step-by-step instructions, personal stories, and provocative questions teach empathy for others, stress reduction and inner peace, and the kind of in-the-moment living that fosters appreciation for life and resilience in the face of adversity. Heller simplifies what is often found mysterious - "If you have ever loved or even liked another person, you have the prerequisites for learning kindness meditation" - and invites all to partake in "awe and wonder at the rich experience of being alive.""-- Provided by publisher.

Bad Faith

"In Bad Faith, acclaimed physician and author Paul Offit gives readers a never-before-seen look into the minds of those who choose to medically martyr themselves, or their children, in the name of religion. Never afraid of controversy, Offit takes a stark and disturbing look at our surprising capacity to risk the health and safety of children in service of our beliefs. He tells the story of two devoted Christian Scientists who are shocked and heartbroken when their infant dies of a treatable disease; of orthodox Jewish parents who risk infecting their babies with herpes during an unsterile circumcision ritual; and of a man who believes his faith can cure his son’s diabetes and, when that tragically fails, tries to raise him from the dead. The tangled relationship between religion and medicine may appear to afflict only certain pockets of America, but this phenomenon reaches much further -- whether you are seeking treatment at a Catholic hospital or trying to keep your kids safe from diseases spread by their unvaccinated peers, you’ll likely encounter these issues"

Roman Catholicism in America

Who are American Catholics and what do they believe and practice? How has American Catholicism influenced and been influenced by American culture and society? This book examines the history of American Catholics from the colonial era to the present, with an emphasis on changes and challenges in the contemporary church. Chester Gillis chronicles America Catholics: where they have come from, how they have integrated into American society, and how the church has influenced their lives. He highlights key events and people, examines data on Catholics and their relationship to the church, and considers the church's positions and actions on politics, education, and gender and sexuality in the context of its history and doctrines. This second edition of Roman Catholicism in America pays particular attention to the tumultuous past twenty years and points toward the future of the religion in the United States. It examines the unprecedented crisis of sexual abuse by priests--the legal, moral, financial, and institutional repercussions of which continue to this day--and the bishops' role in it. Gillis also discusses the election of Pope Francis and the controversial role Catholic leadership has played in American politics.

Contemporary Christian Culture

Contemporary Christian Culture: Messages, Missions, and Dilemmas studies Christian media, its meanings, and its impact on social perceptions and lived experiences in a multicultural context and from within a communication framework. This interdisciplinary collection expands the dialogue surrounding race, culture, and Christian messages and provides a valuable resource for researchers, educators, and church practitioners who are interested in understanding how racial and cultural identity are impacted by religious media products.

Celtic Mythology

"Most people have heard of the Celts--the elusive, ancient tribal people who resided in present-day England, Ireland, Scotland and France. Paradoxically characterized as both barbaric and innocent, the Celts appeal to the modern world as a symbol of a bygone era, a world destroyed by the ambition of empire and the spread of Christianity throughout Western Europe. Despite the pervasive cultural and literary influence of the Celts, shockingly little is known of their way of life and beliefs, because very few records of their stories exist. In this book, Philip Freeman brings together the best stories of Celtic mythology. Everyone today knows about the gods and heroes of the ancient Greeks, such as Zeus, Hera, and Hercules, but how many people have heard of the Gaulish god Lugus or the magical Welsh queen Rhiannon or the great Irish warrior Cú Chulainn? We still thrill to the story of the Trojan War, but the epic battles of the Irish Táin Bó Cuailgne are known only to a few. And yet those who have read the stories of Celtic myth and legend-among them writers like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis-have been deeply moved and influenced by these amazing tales, for there is nothing in the world quite like them. In these stories a mysterious and invisible realm of gods and spirits exists alongside and sometimes crosses over into our own human world; fierce women warriors battle with kings and heroes, and even the rules of time and space can be suspended. Captured in vivid prose these shadowy figures-gods, goddesses, and heroes-come to life for the modern reader."--Publisher's description.

Death on Earth

"In this wide-ranging exploration of death, Jules Howard attempts to shed evolutionary light on one of our biggest and most unshakable taboos. He visits a salon that's trying to abolish our queasiness over talking about death. He also looks to the nematode, one of the most basic of life-forms, for clues about why near-starvation actually can prolong life. Encountering some of the world's oldest animals, and meeting the scientists attempting to unravel their mysteries, Howard also comes face-to-face with evolution's outliers--the animals that may one day avoid death altogether. Written in an engaging style, Death on Earth's journey ends with the inevitable question: Can we ever become immortal? And if we could, would we really want to?"--Provided bypublisher

Witchcraft

Throughout history, to the present day, witchcraft raises questions about the distinction between reality and fantasy, faith and proof. This book explores witchcraft, both as a contemporary phenomenon and a historical subject. It looks at witch-beliefs and accusations around the world, from pre-history to the present.

Spiritual Tattoo

"Reviews body modifications from prehistoric times to present, outlining processes and procedures and discussing social and psychological motives"--Provided by publisher.

Sacred Bliss

One of the most important relationships that human beings have with plants is changing our consciousness -- consider the plants that give us coffee, tea, chocolate, and nicotine. Sacred Bliss challenges traditional attitudes about cannabis by tracing its essential role in the spiritual and curative traditions in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Americas from prehistory to the present day. In highlighting the continued use of cannabis around the globe, Sacred Bliss offers evidence of cannabis as an entheogen used for thousands of years to evoke peak-experiences, or moments of expanded perception or spiritual awareness. Today, the growing utilization of medical cannabis to alleviate the pain and symptoms of physical illness raises the possibility of using cannabis to treat the mind along with the body. By engaging sacred and secular texts from around the world, Sacred Bliss demonstrates that throughout religious history, cannabis has offered access to increased imagination and creativity, heightened perspective and insight, and deeper levels of thought.

Pope Francis among the Wolves

Politi takes the reader deep inside the power struggle roiling the Roman Curia and the Catholic Church worldwide, beginning with Benedict XVI, the pope who famously resigned in 2013, and intensifying with the contested and unexpected election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, now known as Pope Francis. Politi’s account balances the perspectives of Pope Francis’s supporters, Benedict’s sympathizers, and those disappointed members of the Catholic laity who feel alienated by the institution’s secrecy, financial corruption, and refusal to modernize.

Imagined life : a speculative scientific journey among the exoplanets in search of intelligent aliens, ice creatures, and supergravity animals

It is now known that we live in a galaxy with more planets than stars. The Milky Way alone encompasses 30 trillion potential home planets. Scientists Trefil and Summers bring readers on a marvelous experimental voyage through the possibilities of life--unlike anything we have experienced so far--that could exist on planets outside our own solar system. Life could be out there in many forms- on frozen worlds, living in liquid oceans beneath ice and communicating (and even battling) with bubbles; on super-dense planets, where they would have evolved body types capable of dealing with extreme gravity; on tidally locked planets with one side turned eternally toward a star; and even on "rogue worlds," which have no star at all. Yet this is no fictional flight of fancy- the authors take what we know about exoplanets and life on our own world and use that data to hypothesize about how, where, and which sorts of life might develop. Imagined Life is a must-have for anyone wanting to learn how the realities of our universe may turn out to be far stranger than fiction.

The number of the heavens : a history of the multiverse and the quest to understand the cosmos

"One of the most controversial, cutting-edge ideas in cosmology--the possibility that there exist multiple parallel universes--in fact has a long history. Tom Siegfried reminds us that the size and number of the heavens have been contested since ancient times. His story offers deep lessons about the nature of science and the quest for understanding"-- Provided by publisher.

The Future of Humanity

"Formerly the domain of fiction, moving human civilization to the stars is increasingly becoming a scientific possibility--and a necessity. Whether in the near future due to climate change and the depletion of finite resources, or in the distant future due to catastrophic cosmological events, we must face the reality that humans will one day need to leave planet Earth to survive as a species. World-renowned physicist and futurist Michio Kaku explores in rich, intimate detail the process by which humanity may gradually move away from the planet and develop a sustainable civilization in outer space. He reveals how cutting-edge developments in robotics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology may allow us to terraform and build habitable cities on Mars. He then takes us beyond the solar system to nearby stars, which may soon be reached by nanoships traveling on laser beams at near the speed of light. Finally, he brings us beyond our galaxy, and even beyond our universe, to the possibility of immortality, showing us how humans may someday be able to leave our bodies entirely and laser port to new havens in space. With irrepressible enthusiasm and wonder, Dr. Kaku takes readers on a fascinating journey to a future in which humanity may finally fulfill its long-awaited destiny among the stars"-- Provided by publisher.

Assisted Suicide: the Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalization

"Kevin Yuill goes straight to the heart of a difficult issue. Critical of both sides of the discussion, this book presents an up-to-date analysis of the direction discussion is taking, showing that atheists, libertarians, those favouring abortion rights and stem-cell research should stand beside their religious compatriots in opposing legalization of assisted suicide. The author shows that the real issue behind the debate is not euthanasia but suicide. Rather than focusing on tragic cases, he indicates the real damage that will be done if we affirm the suicidal wishes of even a small segment of the population. Analyzing the movement for the right to die in historical terms, Yuill shows that, though many proponents of a change in the law believe they are rationalist heirs of such thinkers as John Stuart Mill, legalizing assisted suicide will reduce privacy and freedom. Finally, Yuill suggests a radical alternative to legalization of assisted suicide that would embrace both the cause of freedom and the anxieties of many about securing good deaths"-- Provided by publisher.

European magic and witchcraft : a reader

Magic, witches, and demons have drawn interest and fear throughout human history. In this comprehensive primary source reader, Martha Rampton traces the history of our fascination with magic and witchcraft from the first through to the seventeenth century. In over 80 readings presented chronologically, Rampton demonstrates how understandings of and reactions toward magic changed and developed over time, and how these ideas were influenced by various factors such as religion, science, and law. The wide-ranging texts emphasize social history and include early Merovingian law codes, the Picatrix, Lombard's Sentences, The Golden Legend, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. By presenting a full spectrum of source types including hagiography, law codes, literature, and handbooks, this collection provides readers with a broad view of how magic was understood through the medieval and early modern eras. Rampton's introduction to the volume is a passionate appeal to students to use tolerance, imagination, and empathy when travelling back in time. The introductions to individual readings are deliberately minimal, providing just enough context so that students can hear medieval voices for themselves.

Taking Confucian Ethics Seriously

A consideration of Confucian ethics as a living ethical tradition with contemporary relevance.

Morals and Consent

"How ought we to behave? More importantly, how are we to defend whatever answer we give? Concerning the second question, most people presuppose unsupported metaphysics. In contrast, Morals and Consent grounds our notion of morality in natural evolution, and from that basis, Malcolm Murray shows why contractarianism is a far more viable moral theory than presently credited. The scope of Morals and Consent has two main parts: theory and application. In the theory part, Murray defends contractarianism by appeal to evolutionary game theory and metaethical analyses. The main idea is that we are not going to find morality as an objective fact in the world. Instead, we can understand morality as a reciprocal cooperative trait. From this minimal moral architecture, Murray derives his innovative consent principle. The application of the theory, detailing what contractarians can--or ought to--say about moral matters, takes up the greater percentage of the work. Murray offers a trenchant examination of what moral constraints we can claim concerning death (abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment), sex (pornography, prostitution, and sexual assault), beneficence (toward present and future people, animals, and the environment), and liberty (genetic enhancement, organ sales, and torture). Murray's Morals and Consent is a serious and utterly unique advance in the field of applied ethics. By focussing on the epistemic justification of our moral claims--or the lack thereof--Murray's evolutionary contractarianism fills a welcome niche in the field of applied ethics."-- Provided by publisher.

Agnosticism

"What is agnosticism? is it just the ’don’t know’ position on the existence of God, or is there more to it than this? Is it a belief, or the absence of belief? Often viewed with suspicion, agnosticism has played an important role in religious thought and argument. Robin Le Poidevin outlines the philosophical case for agnosticism, and what emerges is a more sophisticated and interesting attitude than a simple failure to commit to, or reject, religious belief. Challenging some common assumptions about agnosticism, he invites us to rethink our own position on God, knowledge and religion." -- Book jacket.

God Mocks

Lindvall chronicles the evolution of religious satire, from the biblical wit and humor of the Hebrew prophets through the Roman Era and the Middle Ages all the way up to the present. He explains that there is a method to the madness of these mockers: true satire, he argues, is at its heart moral outrage expressed in laughter, but there are remarkable differences in how these religious satirists express their outrage.

Allah: God in the Qur'an

A concise and illuminating portrait of Allah from one of the world's leading Qur'anic scholars The central figure of the Qur'an is not Muhammad but Allah. The Qur'an, Islam's sacred scripture, is marked above all by its call to worship Allah, and Allah alone. Yet who is the God of the Qur'an? What distinguishes the qur'anic presentation of God from that of the Bible? In this illuminating study, Gabriel Said Reynolds depicts a god of both mercy and vengeance, one who transcends simple classification. He is personal and mysterious; no limits can be placed on his mercy. Remarkably, the Qur'an is open to God's salvation of both sinners and unbelievers. At the same time, Allah can lead humans astray, so all are called to a disposition of piety and fear. Allah, in other words, is a dynamic and personal God. This eye-opening book provides a unique portrait of the God of the Qur'an.

The Christian Idea of God

In this book, eminent theologian Keith Ward takes a fresh look at the ancient philosophy of Idealism, connects it with findings in modern science, and shows that a combination of good science, good philosophy, and a passion for truth and goodness, can underpin religious faith. Going back to first principles, he argues for the Idealist view that all knowledge begins with experience. Critically examining the idealism of Plato, Kant, and Hegel, Ward shows how this philosophy is strengthened by a knowledge of modern physics, and how it can lead to a new and vivid presentation of Christian faith. A work of philosophical rigour that makes clear the rational nature of belief in God, this book challenges the easy assumptions of materialism and the relativity of truth that undermine both science and religion. Ward writes in an accessible and readable style that gives new life and practical usefulness to idealist philosophy.

The Practice of the Presence of God and Spiritual Maxims

“The Practice of the Presence of God” is a compilation of letters and records of conversations with 17th-century Carmelite monk Brother Lawrence compiled by his contemporary, Father Joseph de Beaufort. An influential work of Christian spirituality “The Practice” describes Brother Lawrence’s philosophy that a relationship with God is more important than the service and work done in God’s name. Brother Lawrence focuses on seeing the love of God, his presence, in all aspects of daily life. In this short work an attempt is made to explain Lawrence’s method of acquiring this presence of God. According to Brother Lawrence it is only in acquiring this presence that one truly can have a relationship with God. Also included in this work is “The Spiritual Maxims”, a collection of thoughts intended to give daily inspiration and guidance towards living a more spiritual life. Together these classic works of Christian devotion give great insight into the life and spiritual philosophy of Brother Lawrence. This edition is printed on premium acid-free paper.

God vs. the Gavel

Clergy sex abuse, polygamy, children dying from faith healing, companies that refuse to do business with same-sex couples, and residential neighborhoods forced to host homeless shelters – what do all of these have in common? They are all examples of religious believers harming others and demanding religious liberty regardless of the harm. This book unmasks those responsible, explains how this new set of rights is not derived from the First Amendment, and argues for a return to common-sense religious liberty. In straightforward, readable prose, God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty sets the record straight about the United States' move toward extreme religious liberty. More than half of this thoroughly revised second edition is new content, featuring a new introduction and epilogue and contemporary stories. All Americans need to read this book, before they or their friends and family are harmed by religious believers exercising their newfound rights.

Reasoning with God

In light of recent concern over Shari'ah, such as proposed laws to prohibit it in the United States and conflict over the role it should play in the new Egyptian constitution, many people are confused about the meaning of Shari'ah in Islam and its role in the world today. In Reasoning with God, renowned Islamic scholar Khaled Abou El Fadl explains not only what Shari'ah really means, but also the way it can revitalize and reengage contemporary Islam. After a prologue that provides an essential overview of Shari'ah, Abou El Fadl explores the moral trajectory of Islam in today's world. Weaving powerful personal stories with broader global examples, he shows the ways that some interpretations of Islam today have undermined its potential in peace and love. Rather than simply outlining challenges, however, the author provides constructive suggestions about how Muslims can reengage the ethical tradition of their faith through Shari'ah. As the world's second largest religion, Islam remains an important force on the global stage. Reasoning with God takes readers--both Muslim and non-Muslim--beyond superficial understandings of Shari'ah to a deeper understanding of its meaning and potential.

God and Government

"Martin Luther (1483-1546) famously began the Reformation, a movement that shook Europe with religious schism and social upheaval. While his Ninety-Five Theses and other theological works have received centuries of scrutiny and recognition, his political writings have traditionally been dismissed as inconsistent or incoherent. God and Government focuses on Luther's interpretations of theology and the Bible, the historical context of the Reformation, and a wide range of writings that have been misread or misappropriated. Re-contextualizing and clarifying Luther's political ideas, Jarrett Carty contends that the political writings are best understood through Luther's "two kingdoms" teaching, in which human beings are at once subjects of a spiritual, inner kingdom, and another temporal, outer kingdom. Focusing on Luther's interpretations of theology and the Bible, the historical context of the Reformation, and a wide range of writings that have been misread or ignored, Carty traces how Luther applied political theories to the most difficult challenges of the Reformation, such as the Peasants' War of 1525, the Protestant resistance against the Holy Roman Empire, as well as social changes and educational reforms. The book further compares Luther's political thought to that of Protestant and Catholic political reformers of the sixteenth century. Intersecting scholarship from political theory, religious studies, history, and theology, God and Government offers a comprehensive look at Martin Luther's political thought across his career and writings."-- Provided by publisher.

Grace Without God

"Looks at the trends and ramifications of a country increasingly leaving organized religion behind, focusing on how this growing number of nonreligious Americans find meaning, purpose, and community"-- NoveList.

Censoring God : the history of the lost books (and other excluded scriptures)

Thought-provoking and provocative, Censoring God scrutinizes how sacred texts might have been used to justify the power of the powerful, including the destruction of sacred writings of conquered indigenous cultures because they did not agree with the finished version of the Bible accepted by the Church establishment. This important book looks at the human failings in interpreting God’s words, and through a compassionate examination it brings a deeper understanding of the power and importance of the lost words. With more than 120 photos and graphics, this tome is richly illustrated. Its helpful bibliography provides sources for further exploration, and an extensive index adds to its usefulness.

No God but God

Examines the rituals and traditions of Islam, and discusses the revelation of Muhammad as Prophet and the subsequent uprising against him and the emergence of his successors.

What God Is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss by and for Native Women and Women of Color

Native women and women of color poignantly share their pain, revelations, and hope after experiencing the traumas of miscarriage and infant loss   What God Is Honored Here? is the first book of its kind--and urgently necessary. This is a literary collection of voices of Indigenous women and women of color who have undergone miscarriage and infant loss, experiences that disproportionately affect women who have often been cast toward the margins in the United States of America.  From the story of dashed cultural expectations in an interracial marriage to poems that speak of loss across generations, from harrowing accounts of misdiagnoses, ectopic pregnancies, and late-term stillbirths to the poignant chronicles of miscarriages and mysterious infant deaths, What God Is Honored Here? brings women together to speak to one another about the traumas and tragedies of womanhood. In its heartbreaking beauty, this book offers an integral perspective on how culture and religion, spirit and body, unite in the reproductive lives of women of color and Indigenous women as they bear witness to loss, search for what is not there, and claim for themselves and others their fundamental humanity. Powerfully and with brutal honesty, they write about what it means to reclaim life in the face of death. Editors Shannon Gibney and Kao Kalia Yang acknowledge "who we had been could not have prepared us for who we would become in the wake of these words," yet the writings collected here offer insight, comfort, and, finally, hope for all those who, like the women gathered here, have found grief a lonely place. Contributors: Jennifer Baker, Michelle Borok, Lucille Clifton, Sidney Clifton, Taiyon J. Coleman, Arfah Daud, Rona Fernandez, Sarah Agaton Howes, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Soniah Kamal, Diana Le-Cabrera, Janet Lee-Ortiz, Maria Elena Mahler, Chue Moua, Jami Nakamura Lin, Jen Palmares Meadows, Dania Rajendra, Marcie Rendon, Seema Reza, 신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin, Kari Smalkoski, Catherine R. Squires, Elsa Valmidiano.

Headscarves and Hymens

"Drawing on her years as a campaigner and commentator on women’s issues in the Middle East, [Eltahawy] explains that since the Arab Spring began, women in the Arab world have had two revolutions to undertake: one fought with men against oppressive regimes, and another fought against an entire political and economic system that treats women in countries from Yemen and Saudi Arabia to Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya as second-class citizens ... Her book is a plea for outrage and action on their behalf, confronting the ’toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend’" -- Provided by publisher.

God and the Gay Christian

Unique in its affirmation of both an orthodox faith and sexual diversity, God and the Gay Christian has sparked heated debate, sincere soul search­ing, and widespread cultural change on the issue of what it means to be a faithful gay Christian.

Modern Muslim Theology

"This book aims to bring Muslim theology into the present day. Rather than a purely academic pursuit, Modern Muslim Theology argues that theology is a creative process and discusses how the Islamic tradition can help contemporary practitioners negotiate their relationships with God, with one another, and with the rest of creation."-- Provided by publisher.

The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song

The instant New York Times bestseller and companion book to the PBS series. "Absolutely brilliant . . . A necessary and moving work." --Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., author of Begin Again "Engaging. . . . In Gates's telling, the Black church shines bright even as the nation itself moves uncertainly through the gloaming, seeking justice on earth--as it is in heaven." --Jon Meacham, New York Times Book Review

From the New York Times bestselling author of Stony the Road and one of our most important voices on the African American experience comes a powerful new history of the Black church as a foundation of Black life and a driving force in the larger freedom struggle in America. For the young Henry Louis Gates, Jr., growing up in a small, residentially segregated West Virginia town, the church was a center of gravity--an intimate place where voices rose up in song and neighbors gathered to celebrate life's blessings and offer comfort amid its trials and tribulations. In this tender and expansive reckoning with the meaning of the Black Church in America, Gates takes us on a journey spanning more than five centuries, from the intersection of Christianity and the transatlantic slave trade to today's political landscape. At road's end, and after Gates's distinctive meditation on the churches of his childhood, we emerge with a new understanding of the importance of African American religion to the larger national narrative--as a center of resistance to slavery and white supremacy, as a magnet for political mobilization, as an incubator of musical and oratorical talent that would transform the culture, and as a crucible for working through the Black community's most critical personal and social issues. In a country that has historically afforded its citizens from the African diaspora tragically few safe spaces, the Black Church has always been more than a sanctuary. This fact was never lost on white supremacists: from the earliest days of slavery, when enslaved people were allowed to worship at all, their meetinghouses were subject to surveillance and destruction. Long after slavery's formal eradication, church burnings and bombings by anti-Black racists continued, a hallmark of the violent effort to suppress the African American struggle for equality. The past often isn't even past--Dylann Roof committed his slaughter in the Mother Emanuel AME Church 193 years after it was first burned down by white citizens of Charleston, South Carolina, following a thwarted slave rebellion. But as Gates brilliantly shows, the Black church has never been only one thing. Its story lies at the heart of the Black political struggle, and it has produced many of the Black community's most notable leaders. At the same time, some churches and denominations have eschewed political engagement and exemplified practices of exclusion and intolerance that have caused polarization and pain. Those tensions remain today, as a rising generation demands freedom and dignity for all within and beyond their communities, regardless of race, sex, or gender. Still, as a source of faith and refuge, spiritual sustenance and struggle against society's darkest forces, the Black Church has been central, as this enthralling history makes vividly clear.

Christianity and the Limits of Minority Acceptance in America

This book explores the ways Christian women in college make sense of bisexual, transgender, polyamorous, and atheist others. Specifically, it explores the ways they express tolerance for some sexual groups, such as lesbian and gay people, while maintaining condemnation of other sexual, gendered, or religious groups. In so doing, this book highlights the limits of Christian tolerance for the advancement of minority rights.

God in Captivity

An eye-opening account of how and why evangelical Christian ministries are flourishing in prisons across the United States.

The Mormon Jesus

"The nineteenth-century Mormon prophet Joseph Smith published a new scripture dominated by the figure of Jesus Christ, dictated revelations presented as the words of the Christian savior, spoke of encountering Jesus in visions, and told his followers that their messiah and king would soon return to the earth. From the author of the definitive life of Brigham Young comes a biography of the Mormon Jesus that revises and enriches our understanding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Over the past two hundred years, Jesus has connected the Latter-day Saints to broader currents of Christianity, even while particular Mormon beliefs and practices have been points of differentiation and conflict. The Latter-day Saints came to understand Jesus Christ as the literal son of his father, the exalted brother of God’s other spirit children, who should aspire to become like him. They gave new meaning to many titles for Jesus Christ: Father, Son of God, Lord, Savior, Firstborn, Elder Brother, Bridegroom, and Jehovah. While some early beliefs became canonized and others were discarded, Jesus Christ remains central to Latter-day Saint scripture, doctrine, and religious experience. Contemporary Mormon leaders miss no opportunity to proclaim their church’s devotion to the Christian savior, in part because evangelical Protestants denounce Mormonism as a non-Christian cult. This tension between Mormonism’s distinctive claims and the church’s desire to be accepted as Christian, John G. Turner argues, continues to shape Mormon identity and attract new members to the church."--Provided by publisher.

Beyond the Threshold

Beyond the Threshold explores afterlife beliefs and practices in world religions, including discussions of afterlife and metaphysical experiences. The second edition features a new chapter on African spiritual perspectives, as well as updated research on paranormal phenomena, updated statistics and research, and more.

Vodou in the Haitian Experience : a Black Atlantic perspective

Vodou in the Haitian Experience studies comparatively the connections and relationships between Vodou and African traditional religions such as Yoruba religion and Egyptian religion. Such studies might enhance our understanding of the religion, and the connections between Africa and its Diaspora through shared religious patterns and practices. The general reader should be mindful of the transnational and transcultural perspectives of Vodou, as well as the cultural, socio-economic, and political context which gave birth to different visions and ideas of Vodou.

Four Testaments

Four Testaments brings together four foundational texts from world religions--the Tao Te Ching, Dhammapada, Analects of Confucius, and Bhagavad Gita--inviting readers to experience them in full, to explore possible points of connection and divergence, and to better understand people who practice these traditions.

An Introduction to Buddhism

As human beings, we possess one common desire: the need for happiness and a meaningful life. According to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the ability to find true fulfillment lies within each of us. Now, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, Nobel Prize winner, and bestselling author helps readers begin the path to enlightenment in a very special book -- an easy-access reference for daily practice as well as stunning illumination of the timeless wisdom of His Holiness."How to Practice" will guide you toward opening your heart, refraining from doing harm, maintaining mental tranquility, and more. Divided into a series of distinct steps that will lead spiritual seekers of all faiths toward enlightenment, this accessible book is a constant and daily companion in the quest to practice morality, meditation, and wisdom. The Dalai Lama shows us how to overcome our everyday obstacles, from feelings of anger and mistrust to jealousy, insecurity, and counterproductive thinking. Imbued with His Holiness' vivacious spirit and sense of playfulness, "How to Practice" offers the Dalai Lama's own sage and very practical insight into the human psyche and what binds us all together.

Why Buddhism Is True

Author Robert Wright shows how Buddhist meditative practice can loosen the grip of anxiety, regret, and hatred, and deepen your appreciation of beauty and other people.

Be the refuge : raising the voices of Asian American Buddhists

Be the Refuge is both critique and celebration, calling out the erasure of Asian American Buddhists while uplifting the complexity and nuance of their authentic stories and vital, thriving communities. Drawn from in-depth interviews with a pan-ethnic, pan-Buddhist group, Be the Refuge is the first book to center young Asian American Buddhists' own voices. With insights from multi-generational, second-generation, convert, and socially engaged Asian American Buddhists, Be the Refuge includes the stories of trailblazers, bridge-builders, integrators, and refuge-makers who hail from a wide range of cultural and religious backgrounds.

How Not to Be a Hot Mess: A Survival Guide for Modern Life

The dumpster fire of life rages on, but you got this. Practice six rules to keep you grounded, weather the storm, and actually be a decent person. It may seem like the world is going to hell in a hand basket right now. Whether it's big stuff like politics and climate change, or just the daily spin of paying your bills, getting to work on time, and fending off social media trolls, we can all admit, modern life ain't easy. Here are six really good guiding principles, inspired from the ancient wisdom of Buddhism and mindfulness practice, to keep you anchored and steady amidst the chaos.

The Art of Living

In troubled times, there is an urgency to understand ourselves and our world. We have so many questions, and they tug at us night and day, consciously and unconsciously. In this important volume Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh --- one of the most revered spiritual leaders in the world today --- reveals an art of living in mindfulness that helps us answer life’s deepest questions and experience the happiness and freedom we desire. Thich Nhat Hanh presents, for the first time, seven transformative meditations that open up new perspectives on our lives, our relationships and our interconnectedness with the world around us. Based on the last full talks before his sudden hospitalization, and drawing on intimate examples from his own life, Thich Nhat Hanh shows us how these seven meditations can free us to live a happy, peaceful and active life, and face aging and dying with curiosity and joy and without fear. Containing the essence of the Buddha’s teachings and Thich Nhat Hanh’s poignant, timeless, and clarifying prose, The Art of Living provides a spiritual dimension to our lives. This is not an effort to escape life or to dwell in a place of bliss outside of this world. Instead, this path will allow us to discover where we come from and where we are going. And most of all, it will generate happiness, understanding, and love, so we can live deeply in each moment of our life, right where we are.

The History of Philosophy

The first authoritative and accessible single-volume history of philosophy to cover both Western and Eastern traditions, from one of the world's most eminent thinkers The story of philosophy is the story of who we are and why. An epic tale, spanning civilizations and continents, it explores some of the most creative minds in history. But not since the long-popular classic Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy, published in 1945, has there been a comprehensive and entertaining single-volume history of this great, intellectual, world-shaping journey. With characteristic clarity and elegance, A. C. Grayling takes the reader from the worldviews and moralities before the age of the Buddha, Confucius and Socrates through Christianity's capture of the European mind, from the Renaissance and Enlightenment on to Mill, Nietzsche, Sartre and, finally, philosophy today. Bringing together these many threads that all too often run parallel, he surveys in tandem the great philosophical traditions of India, China and the Persian-Arabic world. Accessible for students and revelatory to enthusiasts of philosophy, Grayling's narrative brings to life the work of both famous historical figures and less well-known but influential thinkers, bridging epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, logic, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of language, political philosophy and the history of debates within these areas of enquiry. He dramatizes the interchange between and within eras and epochs, making thrilling the grand dance of human thought. He asks what we have learned, but also what progress is still to be made. Destined to be Grayling's magnum opus, and astonishing in its range and accessibility, this is a landmark work.

Waking Up

For the millions of Americans who want spirituality without religion, Sam Harris’s new book is a guide to meditation as a rational spiritual practice informed by neuroscience and psychology. Waking Up is for the 30 percent of Americans who follow no religion, but who suspect that Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Rumi, and the other saints and sages of history could not have all been epileptics, schizophrenics, or frauds. Throughout the book, Harris argues that there are important truths to be found in the experiences of such contemplatives -- and, therefore, that there is more to understanding reality than science and secular culture generally allow. Waking Up is part seeker’s memoir and part exploration of the scientific underpinnings of spirituality.

Belief Without Borders

The last twenty years have seen a dramatic increase in "nones": people who do not claim any religious affiliation. These "nones" now outnumber even the largest Protestant denominations in America. They are not to be confused with secularists, however, for many of them identify themselves as "spiritual but not religious" (SBNR). The response to this dramatic change in American religion has been amazingly mixed. While social scientists have been busy counting and categorizing them, the public has swung between derision and adulation. Some complain "nones" are simply shallow dilettantes, narcissistically concerned with their own inner world. Others hail them as spiritual giants, and ground-breaking pioneers. Rarely, however, have these "nones" been asked to explain their own views, beliefs, and experiences. In Belief without Borders, theologian and one-time SBNR Linda Mercadante finally gives these individuals a chance to speak for themselves.

Other Worlds

For a long time, people have argued that the rise of science has caused the decline of religion. Other Worlds presents a different perspective, showing that modern Europeans and Americans often used scientific ideas in imaginative ways to develop new, enchanted views of nature, its fantastic borderlands, and the hidden spaces that might lie beyond it. This book examines the history and imaginative power of one scientific idea in particular, an idea that has become crucial in many settings, from modern physics to fantasy literature and science-fiction film--namely, the idea that the universe has higher, invisible dimensions. Drawing on archives from across the U.S. and the U.K., the author analyzes how scientists, writers, artists, screenwriters, televangelists, and others have used this idea to make supernatural phenomena such as ghosts and miracles seem more reasonable and make religious or spiritual beliefs possible again for themselves and others.-- Provided by publisher.

Super Attractor

This book is a journey of remembering where your true power lies. You'll learn how to co-create the life you want. You'll accept that life can flow, that attracting is fun, and that you don't have to work so hard to get what you want. Most important, you'll feel good. And when you feel good, you'll give off a presence of joy that can elevate everyone around you. After reading this book, you will know how to fulfill your function: to be a force of love in the world.

Heavens on Earth

In his most ambitious work yet, Shermer sets out to discover what drives humans’ belief in life after death, focusing on recent scientific attempts to achieve immortality by radical life extentionists, extropians, transhumanists, cryonicists, and mind-uploaders, along with utopians who have attempted to create heaven on earth. For millennia, religions have concocted numerous manifestations of heaven and the afterlife, the place where souls go after the death of the physical body. Religious leaders have toiled to make sense of this place that a surprising 74% of Americans believe exists, but from which no one has ever returned to report what it is really like. Heavens on Earth concludes with an uplifting paean to purpose and progress and what we can do in the here-and-now, whether or not there is a hereafter.

Demystifying Islam

Despite heightened interest in the study of the Muslim faith, for many people Islam remains shrouded in mystery and confusion. What really is Shariah law? How is a Muslim to understand Jihad? Does Islam oppose Western values such as free speech or freedom of religion? What place do women have according to Islam? Understanding that this confusion has as much to do with the behavior and words of Muslims as it does with allegations made by anti-Islam activists, Demystifying Islam offers refreshingly bold answers to provocative questions about Islam today. Author Harris Zafar -- lecturer, writer, teacher and national spokesperson for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA -- is forthright about issues where Muslims disagree, and he digs into history through vast research and scholarship to track the origins of differing beliefs. From the burqa to the role of Jesus in Islam, Demystifying Islam is an essential resource and concise guide to understanding the fastest growing religion in the world.

Islam and the Americas

his volume edited by Aisha Khan explores Muslims’ lived experiences in the Western Hemisphere and the ways in which Islam has been codified in the New World by "Muslim minority" societies, using disparate case studies from the Caribbean, Suriname, Brazil, Mexico, and others in the Atlantic World.

Islam Without Extremes

Islam without Extremes presents a provocative manifesto for an interpretation of Islam that synthesises liberal ideas and respect for the Islamic tradition. With an eye sympathetic to Western liberalism and Islamic theology, Mustafa Akyol traces the roots of political Islam. The years following the death of Muhammad saw an intellectual "war of ideas" rage between rationalist, flexible schools of Islam and the more dogmatic, rigid ones. The traditionalists won, fostering perceptions of Islam as antithetical to modernity. However, Akyol traces a flourishing of liberalism in the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire and explores the unique "Islamo-liberal synthesis" of present-day Turkey. Only by accepting a secular state, he asserts, can Islamic societies thrive. Persuasive and inspiring, Islam without Extremes offers an intellectual basis for the reconcilability of Islam and religious, political, economic and social freedoms.

When Islam Is Not a Religion: inside America's fight for religious freedom

American Muslim religious liberty lawyer Asma Uddin has long considered her work defending people of all faiths to be a calling more than a job. Yet even as she seeks equal protection for Evangelicals, Sikhs, Muslims, Native Americans, Jews, and Catholics alike, she has seen an ominous increase in attempts to criminalize Islam and exclude Muslim Americans from those protections.Somehow, the view that Muslims aren’t human enough for human rights or constitutional protections is moving from the fringe to the mainstream—along with the claim “Islam is not a religion.” This conceit is not just a threat to the First Amendment rights of American Muslims. It is a threat to the freedom of all Americans.Her new book reveals a significant but overlooked danger to our religious liberty. Woven throughout this national saga is Uddin’s own story and the stories of American Muslims and other people of faith who have faced tremendous indignities as they attempt to live and worship freely.Combining her experience of Islam as a religious truth and her legal and philosophical appreciation that all individuals have a right to religious liberty, Uddin examines the shifting tides of American culture and outlines a way forward for individuals and communities navigating today’s culture wars.

Taoism

For the first time, the great depth and diversity of Taoist spirituality is introduced in a single, accessible manual. Taoism, known widely today through the teachings of the classic Tao Te Ching and the practices of t'ai chi and feng-shui, is less known for its unique traditions of meditation, physical training, magical practice, and internal alchemy. Covering all of the most important texts, figures, and events, this essential guide illuminates Taoism's extraordinarily rich history and remarkable variety of practice. A comprehensive bibliography for further study completes this valuable reference work.

A History of Judaism

"Judaism is one of the oldest religions in the world, and it has preserved its distinctive identity despite the extraordinarily diverse forms and beliefs it has embodied over the course of more than three millennia ... In this ... book, Martin Goodman takes readers from Judaism’s origins in the polytheistic world of the second and first millennia BCE to the temple cult at the time of Jesus. He tells the stories of the rabbis, mystics, and messiahs of the medieval and early modern periods and guides us through the many varieties of Judaism today."--Dust jacket flap.
"Judaism is one of the oldest religions in the world, and it has preserved its distinctive identity despite the extraordinarily diverse forms and beliefs it has embodied over the course of more than three millennia. A History of Judaism provides the first truly comprehensive look in one volume at how this great religion came to be, how it has evolved from one age to the next, and how its various strains, sects, and traditions have related to each other. In this magisterial and elegantly written book, Martin Goodman takes readers from Judaism’s origins in the polytheistic world of the second and first millennia BCE to the temple cult at the time of Jesus. He tells the stories of the rabbis, mystics, and messiahs of the medieval and early modern periods and guides us through the many varieties of Judaism today. Goodman’s compelling narrative spans the globe, from the Middle East, Europe, and America to North Africa, China, and India. He explains the institutions and ideas on which all forms of Judaism are based, and masterfully weaves together the different threads of doctrinal and philosophical debate that run throughout its history."--Publisher’s description.

American Judaism

Summarizes recent scholarship and takes into account important historical, cultural, and political developments in American Judaism over the past fifteen years.

Masculinity and the Making of American Judaism

"How did American Jewish men experience manhood, and how did they present their masculinity to others? In this distinctive book, Sarah Imhoff shows that the project of shaping American Jewish manhood was not just one of assimilation or exclusion. Jewish manhood was neither a mirror of normative American manhood nor its negative, effeminate opposite. Imhoff demonstrates how early twentieth-century Jews constructed a gentler, less aggressive manhood, drawn partly from the American pioneer spirit and immigration experience, but also from Hollywood and the YMCA, which required intense cultivation of a muscled male physique. She contends that these models helped Jews articulate the value of an acculturated American Judaism. Tapping into a rich historical literature to reveal how Jews looked at masculinity differently than Protestants of other religious groups, Imhoff illuminates the particular experience of American Jewish men"-- Provided by publisher.

The New American Judaism

A leading expert provides an engaging firsthand portrait of American Judaism today-American Judaism has been buffeted by massive social upheavals in recent decades. Like other religions in the United States, it has witnessed a decline in the number of participants over the past forty years, and many who remain active struggle to reconcile their hallowed traditions with new perspectives--from feminism and the LGBTQ movement to "do-it-yourself religion" and personally defined spirituality. Taking a fresh look at American Judaism today, Jack Wertheimer, a leading authority on the subject, sets out to discover how Jews of various orientations practice their religion in this radically altered landscape. Which observances still resonate, and which ones have been given new meaning? What options are available for seekers or those dissatisfied with conventional forms of Judaism? And how are synagogues responding? Wertheimer provides new and often-surprising answers to these questions by drawing on a wide range of sources, including survey data, visits to countless synagogues, and revealing interviews with more than two hundred rabbis and other informed observers.
"A leading expert provides an engaging firsthand portrait of American Judaism today-American Judaism has been buffeted by massive social upheavals in recent decades. Like other religions in the United States, it has witnessed a decline in the number of participants over the past forty years, and many who remain active struggle to reconcile their hallowed traditions with new perspectives--from feminism and the LGBTQ movement to "do-it-yourself religion" and personally defined spirituality. Taking a fresh look at American Judaism today, Jack Wertheimer, a leading authority on the subject, sets out to discover how Jews of various orientations practice their religion in this radically altered landscape. Which observances still resonate, and which ones have been given new meaning? What options are available for seekers or those dissatisfied with conventional forms of Judaism? And how are synagogues responding? Wertheimer provides new and often-surprising answers to these questions by drawing on a wide range of sources, including survey data, visits to countless synagogues, and revealing interviews with more than two hundred rabbis and other informed observers."-- (Source of summary not specified).

Dangerous Religious Ideas : the deep roots of self-critical faith in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Scripture’s abiding relevance can inspire great goodness, such as welcoming the stranger and extending compassion for the poor. But its authority has also been wielded to defend slavery, marginalize LGBTQ individuals, ignore science, and justify violence. Grounded in close readings of scripture and tradition in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, religious scholar Rachel Mikva shows us that the Abrahamic religions have always been aware of their tremendous power both to harm and to heal. And so they have transmitted their sacred stories along with built-in tools—interpretive traditions—to do the necessary work of taking on dangerous religious ideas and fostering self-critical faith.

The Chosen Wars

"[This] is the important story of how Judaism enhanced America and how America inspired Judaism. Steven R. Weisman tells the dramatic history of how Judaism redefined itself in America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries--the personalities that fought each other and shaped its evolution and, crucially, the force of the American dynamic that transformed an ancient religion. The struggles that produced a redefinition of Judaism illuminate the larger American experience and the efforts by all Americans to reconcile their faith with modern demands. The narrative begins with the arrival of the first Jews in New Amsterdam and plays out over the nineteenth century as a massive immigration takes place at the dawn of the twentieth century. First there was the practical matter of earning a living. Many immigrants had to work on the Sabbath or traveled as peddlers to places where they could not keep kosher. Doctrine was put aside or adjusted. To take their places as equals, American Jews rejected their identity as a separate nation within America. Judaism became an American religion. These profound changes did not come without argument. The Chosen Wars tells the stories of the colorful rabbis and activists, including women, who defined American Judaism and whose disputes divided it into the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox branches that remain today. Isaac Mayer Wise, Mordecai Noah, David Einhorn, Rebecca Gratz, and Isaac Lesser are some of the major figures in this wonderful story."--Dust jacket.

Jewish Mysticism: From Ancient Times through Today

Questions of how the divine presence is understood and interacts within the world have been around since the time of the biblical prophets. The Jewish mystical tradition conceives God as active, just, powerful, and present while allowing for divine limitation so as to understand the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people in their history.  Jewish Mysticism surveys Jewish visionary and mystical experience from biblical and ancient Near Eastern times through the modern period and the emergence of modern Hasidism. Marvin Sweeney provides a comprehensive treatment of one of the most dynamic fields of Jewish studies in the twenty-first century, providing an accessible overview of texts and interpretative issues.  Sweeney begins with the biblical period, which most treatments of Jewish mysticism avoid, and includes chapters on the ancient Near East, the Pentateuch, the Former Prophets and Psalms, the Latter Prophets, Jewish Apocalyptic, the Heikhalot Literature, the Sefer Yetzirah and early Kabbalistic Literature, the Zohar, Lurianic Kabbalah and the Shabbetean Movement, and the Hasidic Movement.  Placing Jewish apocalyptic literature into the larger development of ancient Jewish visionary and mystical experience, Sweeney fills gaps left by the important but outdated work of others in the field. Ideal for the scholar, student, or general reader, Jewish Mysticism provides readers with a fresh understanding of the particular challenges, problems, needs, and perspectives of Judaism throughout its history.

Crucible of Faith

In The Crucible of Faith, Philip Jenkins argues that much of the Judeo-Christian tradition we know today was born between 250-50 BCE, during a turbulent "Crucible Era." It was during these years that Judaism grappled with Hellenizing forces and produced new religious ideas that reflected and responded to their changing world. By the time of the fall of the Temple in 70 CE, concepts that might once have seemed bizarre became normalized-and thus passed on to Christianity and later Islam. Drawing widely on contemporary sources from outside the canonical Old and New Testaments, Jenkins reveals an era of political violence and social upheaval that ultimately gave birth to entirely new ideas about religion, the afterlife, Creation and the Fall, and the nature of God and Satan.

Sacred Liberty

"Sacred Liberty offers a dramatic, sweeping survey of how America built a unique model of religious freedom, perhaps the nation's "greatest invention." Steven Waldman, the bestselling author of Founding Faith, shows how early ideas about religious liberty were tested and refined amidst the brutal persecution of Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, Quakers, African slaves, Native Americans, Muslims, Jews and Jehovah's Witnesses. American leaders drove religious freedom forward--figures like James Madison, George Washington, the World War II presidents (Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower) and even George W. Bush. But the biggest heroes were the regular Americans--people like Mary Dyer, Marie Barnett and W.D. Mohammed--who risked their lives or reputations by demanding to practice their faiths freely."--Page [2] of cover.

A History of Magic, Witchcraft, and the Occult

Discover the beguiling history of witchcraft, magic, and superstition through the centuries in this stunningly illustrated title. A History of Magic, Witchcraft and the Occult charts the extraordinary narrative of one of the most interesting and often controversial subjects in the world, covering everything from ancient animal worship and shamanism, through alchemy and divination to modern Wicca and the resurgence of the occult in 21st-century literature, cinema, and television. Providing readers with a balanced, and unbiased account of everything from Japanese folklore and Indian witchcraft to the differences between black and white magic, and dispelling myths such as those surrounding the voodoo doll and Ouija, the book explores the common human fear of, and fascination with spells, superstition, and the supernatural. The perfect introduction to magic and the occult, this wide-ranging volume explores forms of divination from astrology and palmistry to the Tarot and runestones, mystical plants and potions such as mandrake, the presence of witchcraft in literature from Shakespeare's Macbeth to the Harry Potter series, and the ways in which magic has interacted with religion. The most comprehensive illustrated history of witchcraft available, A History of Magic, Witchcraft and the Occult will enthrall and fascinate you with its lavish illustrated, accessible entries, whether you are a believer or skeptic.

A Storm of Witchcraft

"Beginning in January 1692, Salem Village in colonial Massachusetts witnessed the largest and most lethal outbreak of witchcraft in early America. Villagers--mainly young women--suffered from unseen torments that caused them to writhe, shriek, and contort their bodies, complaining of pins stuck into their flesh and of being haunted by specters. Believing that they suffered from assaults by an invisible spirit, the community began a hunt to track down those responsible for the demonic work. The resulting Salem Witch Trials, culminating in the execution of 19 villagers, persists as one of the most mysterious and fascinating events in American history. Historians have speculated on a web of possible causes for the witchcraft that stated in Salem and spread across the region-religious crisis, ergot poisoning, an encephalitis outbreak, frontier war hysteria--but most agree that there was no single factor. Rather, as Emerson Baker illustrates in this seminal new work, Salem was "a perfect storm": a unique convergence of conditions and events that produced something extraordinary throughout New England in 1692 and the following years, and which has haunted us ever since. Baker shows how a range of factors in the Bay colony in the 1690s, including a new charter and government, a lethal frontier war, and religious and political conflicts, set the stage for the dramatic events in Salem. Engaging a range of perspectives, he looks at the key players in the outbreak--the accused witches and the people they allegedly bewitched, as well as the judges and government officials who prosecuted them--and wrestles with questions about why the Salem tragedy unfolded as it did, and why it has become an enduring legacy." -- Amazon.com

Wicca: a Modern Practitioner's Guide

Go beyond the basics of witchcraft and take your study of wicca to the next level: everything you need to know to have a deeper understanding of wicca, its teachings, and the meaning behind its rituals and practices. You've bought your crystals and cast your basic spells, planted your herb garden and smudged your home--now what? Wicca: A Modern Practitioner's Guide takes you beyond the trendy witchy basics to the deeper roots the practice. This book will guide you in reexamining basic Wicca and teach you to create rich rituals that will foster your personal growth. It also includes comprehensive explanations of the traditions, beliefs, and rituals that make up the Wiccan religion. Read about Solitary Wicca, which teaches you how to practice wicca--whether you work with a coven or practice alone--and goes beyond the "how" of different practices to explore the "why": for example, when should you create a sacred space rather than cast a circle? How and why do you purify yourself before a ritual? What is grounding and why is it important for you to ground yourself before doing spellwork? For those who seek them, Wicca has all the answers.

The Green Witch

In The Green Witch, you will learn the way of the green witch, from how to use herbs, plants, and flowers to make potions and oils for everyday healing as well as how crystals, gems, stones, and even twigs can help you find balance within. You’ll discover how to find harmony in Earth’s great elements and connect your soul to every living creature. The green witch focuses on harmony, healing, and balance with the Earth, but also with humanity and yourself. This guide also contains easy-to-understand directions for herbal blends and potions, ritual suggestions, recipes for sacred foods, and information on how to listen to and commune with nature. Not only will you attune yourself to nature, but you will also embrace your own power. Learn about the world of the green witch and discover what the power of nature has in store for you.

Witches of America

"Witches are gathering." When most people hear the word "witches," they think of horror films and Halloween, but to the nearly one million Americans who practice Paganism today, witchcraft is a nature-worshipping, polytheistic, and very real religion. So Alex Mar discovers when she sets out to film a documentary and finds herself drawn deep into the world of present-day magic. Witches of America follows Mar on her immersive five-year trip into the occult, charting modern Paganism from its roots in 1950s England to its current American mecca in the San Francisco Bay Area; from a gathering of more than a thousand witches in the Illinois woods to the New Orleans branch of one of the world’s most influential magical societies. Along the way she takes part in dozens of rituals and becomes involved with a wild array of characters. This sprawling magical community compels Mar to confront what she believes is possible--or hopes might be. With keen intelligence and wit, Mar illuminates the world of witchcraft while grappling in fresh and unexpected ways with the question underlying every faith: Why do we choose to believe in anything at all?--Adapted from book jacket.


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