Living The Questions

Posted in Book Review with tags , , on March 13, 2014 by seguewm

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This book was published in 2012 by HarperOne. I have just had the opportunity to read it and, to be honest, wish I had read it much earlier. If you would like a primer on Progressive Christian thinking, this would be the book. It is divided into three sections. First, the Journey. It begins with an honest look at the source for Christian belief – the bible. Can we really understand what it means to be a Christian if we don’t really understand the nature of inspiration? Then, moving forward, the author’s discuss what it means to ‘think theologically’. In our our world of skewed religious thinking the reader may, hopefully, find a refreshing and far more reasonable way to process religious teachings. How, though, can anyone understand what it means to be a Christian without grasping who Jesus the Christ was – and was not? Finally, since the writing attributed to the apostle Paul make up a large portion of the NT and have greatly influenced Christian thought, the authors introduce us to the best scholarship about Paul. The second section of the book discusses the derivation of key teachings within Christianity, noting their actual sources. The third section examines what a Christian life might look like from the perspective of a Christian progressive. The book is an easy to read, yet very informative presentation of Christianity. The reader will more clearly understand why questions are so important to a ‘wise’ faith.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

Behind The Shattered Glass, by Tasha Alexander

Posted in Book Review with tags , , , , on October 30, 2013 by seguewm

This series just gets better and better.

I love the historical details and the unexpected twists and turns of Alexander’s most recent ‘who dun it’.

Each character is developed nicely, but not tediously.

The settings are well described without distracting from the story.

The number of characters are sufficient enough to have several unfolding and concurrent story lines, giving depth to the overall book, without becoming an unnecessary diversion from the main narrative.

Enjoy.

Zealot, by Reza Aslan

Posted in Book Review with tags , , , on September 6, 2013 by seguewm

indexThough this book has created much controversy, that fact alone insists that it be read. Curiously, despite the fact that there is nothing new presented in this book, Aslan weaves the long established into a very readable account. Sadly, for many folks, much that he has written will be new. The temptation will be, as has been exhibited by the the vehemence of his critics, that the author has intentionally crafted his narrative as an original work with the sole, misguided intention of defeating faith in Christ. These antagonistic notions merely underscore the narrow mindedness that pervades Christian education from Sunday school to seminary.

Aslan parses out the difference between the historical probabilities of Jesus of Nazareth and the Christ that was created for religious purposes. His accounting of the details of history create a plausible rendering of the sequence and development of events – one that should not be thoughtlessly discounted simply because it isn’t familiar or pleasing. There are just too many details, too many facts of history, that require our consideration.

Having said all that, there are interpretations of scripture used in this book, used to bolster the author’s perspective, that may be honestly understood differently. Whatever the case, this book is a must read.

Immortal Diamond, by Richard Rohr

Posted in Book Review with tags on June 13, 2013 by seguewm

Immortal Diamond, by Richard Rohr

This is Rohr’s follow up book to ‘Falling Upward’, a book I highly recommend reading before beginning ‘Immortal Diamond’. In this book the author delves much deeper into the ‘second phase’ of life.

‘Immortal Diamond’ begins with this statement: “Your True Self is that part of you that knows who you are and whose you are, although largely unconsciously. Your False Self is just who you think you are – but thinking doesn’t make it so.” Rohr considers the True Self the ‘immortal diamond’ that is brought into consciousness through a process he calls resurrection.

The reader – Catholic, Protestant, or otherwise – will find the author’s notions divergent from what has been traditionally presented by religion. Some will no doubt consider several key points even heretical. Phraseology will occasionally be unfamiliar. Press on. Rohr presents many Bible references to anchor his conclusions in scripture. Additionally he references many church fathers as well. This book is well worth wrestling through Rohr’s perspective. What can be wrong with a conclusion that confirms that God is love..unless you have somehow come to believe that God really isn’t?

Juxtaposed, by Daisy Rain Martin

Posted in Book Review with tags on June 1, 2013 by seguewm

MartinCvr_1-202x300 Juxtaposed is the heart-breaking life story of Vegas woman. It is honest in every sense of the word. It is not for the faint of heart, but it is a must read for any woman who was sexually abused as a child.

This book will, undoubtedly, make you angry. Daisy would be the first one to admit – and actually does – that some will be so angry at the explicit way that she tells her story that they will toss the book away. Often it is easier to be angry at the messenger rather than the ‘stepmonster’.  Others will want to hunt down the perpetrators and introduce them to the ‘millstone’.

The story has an evil twist to it because all this takes place in the context of the ‘church’. Despite her ‘faithquake’, her faith grows. Yet all this begs the question, ‘why?’ Why would anyone persist in believing in a God who doesn’t deliver a heart attack to a sociopath who preys on helpless and innocent children? That question rises to the surface over and over again eliciting another flare of anger – at God.

Juxtaposed is well written. As in most of our lives, Daisey’s story is a mix of humor and agony.  She writes with such a vividness that her story will become etched within the readers’ minds as if it was their own. In fact, it may be very similar to your own story.

 

Evolution’s Purpose, by Steve McIntosh

Posted in Book Review with tags , , , , , , on May 18, 2013 by seguewm

Evolutions-Purpose-bookcoverBeauty, truth, and goodness. Wonderful virtues, but are they the ‘purpose’ of evolution? McIntosh challenges the conventional view of a purposeless evolution and turns it on it’s head. On the other hand, don’t expect to find him positing some external divine designer either. Rather, those who are evolving themselves give purpose to evolution.

It seems increasingly clear that the evolutionary process is progressive in nature. If this is actually true, then our philosophy of life ought to be commensurate with the reality of our observations. What would this mean for religion and government? Are there forms of spirituality and/or philosophies of governing that already reflect belief in progressive evolution?

Whether or not you agree with how he assembles his particular collage of observations, just his review of the issues makes this a worthwhile read.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

 

What We Talk About When We Talk About God

Posted in Book Review with tags , on March 22, 2013 by seguewm

9780062049667_300X300If you begin reading Bell by first scanning his bibliography, you will instantly reach for your seat belt and helmet. It portends be a wild and exciting ride. In the beginning he reviews our current conceptions of the universe, which neatly sets readers up for the next chapters in which we joyfully expect to be mercilessly whipped around mind-boggling theological curve after curve, shaking every long cherished conception of God out of our pockets and into the nearest black hole.

Unfortunately, Bell hedges his bets, much as he did in Love Wins, and – for all intents and purposes – assumes the existence and essence of the familiar Christian God. While Bell juggles in clever terms and shares many intriguing notions, which makes his book well worth reading, he never escapes the gravitational pull of his evangelical roots. Not that he has to, but something much more was expected from one so gifted. In our twenty-first century one would hope that our discussions about God could at least begin by stepping outside the world of mankind’s millennially exhausting pre-modern explanations of the universe and justly and intelligently ask the question, ‘what if there isn’t any God?’, rather than to discount that perspective out-of-hand, without any real discussion, which has only raised legitimate questions about the integrity of Christian scholarship.

So, all that being said, I recommend that you read this book and enjoy it for what it is. Then look for other authors who are willing to examine the idea of ‘God’ more thoroughly.