It's time to reduce the pile of new books on my desk by introducing you to them through either short reviews or brief mentions that will link you to more information about them if they sound interesting.
* Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self, by Richard Rohr. The many fans of Rohr, a Franciscan priest and spiritual teacher, will be delighted with his latest book, and no doubt it will attract many new followers of this wise man. Here Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, describes four ways people tend to split up their lives, causing them to be out of touch with who and whose they really are. Yes, I suppose you could call this a self-help book, but it's more than that. It's a guide to help readers think about what really matters and how to stay focused on that. I especially liked this: "There is a good dying and there is a bad dying. Good dying is unto something bigger and better; bad dying is just damn stupid dying that profits nobody." Now there's some Christian theology to imbibe.
* Falling Upward: A Companion Journal, also by Rohr. As the title suggests, this is a follow-up journal to be used by readers of Rohr's 2011 book, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.
* Revealing Heaven: The Christian Case for Near-Death Experiences, by John W. Price. The author is a long-time Episcopal priest and a member of the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation. After listening to dozens and dozens of stories about what people encountered in these NDEs, as they're called, he decided to write not an account of a stack of them or some kind of scientific exploration of them but a pastoral book that seeks to place these mystifying experiences within the context of Christian theology. Clearly Price believes that these NDEs confirm the existence of a God of love and mercy and an afterlife of joy and reunion. He writes: "For far too long pastors, clergy and lay Christians around the world have dismissed these experiences as meaningless flights of fancy that run counter to our faith. My argument is the exact opposit. I believe these experiences are central to our Christian faith."
* Enticed by Eden: How Western Culture Uses, Confuses, (and Sometimes Abuses) Adam and Eve, by Linda S. Schearing and Valarie H. Ziegler. The story of Adam and Eve is told in the second and third chapters of the opening book of the Bible, Genesis. And as the authors of this book -- both professors of religious studies -- note, "Genesis 2-3 is a good story. And good stories are capable of being told and retold in a number of different ways." What this book does, then, in a highly engaging and entertaining way, is to recount for us the various ways Adam and Eve show up in our contemporary culture. And oh, my, they're everywhere from commercials to Internet jokes. In some ways, people in the Christian and Jewish traditions are divided between those who believe Adam and Eve were real people and that the Genesis account of creation is literally true and those who, by contrast, take Scripture seriously and understand what is metaphor and myth and what isn't. That split -- uneven and shifting as it is -- accounts for some of the differences in the ways we find Adam and Eve showing up in our lives. At least some Kansas Citians will have a special interest in this book because the first person mentioned in the "Acknowledgments" is Kris Kvam, who teaches at St. Paul School of Theology and who, with the authors, was co-editor of a 1999 book on Eve and Adam.
And now some others that may interest you:
* Sharing Eden: Green Teachings from Jews, Christians and Muslims, by Natan Levy, David Shreeve and Harfiyah Haleem. Here, as predicted in the previously mentioned book, we find Eden used again in contemporary culture, but in a helpful interfaith way. This book won't be released until April 2, but you can sign up at the Amazon site to which I've linked you to be notified when it's available.
* Know Yourself, Forget Yourself: Five Truths to Transform Your Work, Relationships, and Everyday Life, by Marc Lesser. The author is a Zen teacher based in California.
* A Guide to Zen: Lessons from a Modern Master, by Katsuki Sekida. This book and the previous one might go well together.
* Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics, by Bart D. Ehrman. This is something of a companion -- or outgrowth -- of Ehrman's earlier book, Forged, in which he recounts the old and unsurprising news that some of the names attached to some New Testament books aren't really the authors of them.
*Love & Salt: A Spiritual Friendship Shared in Letters, by Amy Andrews and Jessica Mesman Griffith.
* The Art of True Healing: The Ulimited Power of Prayer and Visualization, by Israel Regardie, edited by Marc Allen.
* Daybreak, by Shelley Shepard Gray. This is book one in a new series, "The Days of Redemption," by an author who focuses on Amish life.
If you get through all of these books, feel free to order more of my books, about which information is available under my photo in the upper right-hand corner of this page.
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SPEEDING TOWARD THE 20TH CENTURY
The Church of England is moving closer to having female bishops. Why is religion so often the follower when it comes to liberation movements when it should be the leader?
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P.S.: My friends over at Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ have been all over the news both locally and nationally recently for standing up for gay Boy Scouts. To read the pastor's take on all this, click here. Good for CCCUCC.