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Religion

Awe-Filled Wonder: The Interface of Science and Spirituality

Awe-Filled Wonder: The Interface of Science and Spirituality

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We live in extraordinary times of transformation when the growth in human knowledge and the expansion of consciousness have reached unparalleled proportions and are affecting the totality of our self understanding, of our worldview and the religions that have flowered there. The purpose of Awe-filled Wonder is to deepen our understanding of the impact that recent discoveries of science are having on our God-quest. The book hopes to stimulate thought, to encourage dialogue, to open up long needed questions--to legitimate them and explore where and how they have arisen. All human longing for the Ultimate is rooted in the context of the time in which it arises. It formulates its vision out of the language and symbols of its age in order to present a time-relevant approach to that which, nevertheless and at all times--in spite of all our striving, will remain holy Mystery. Part One of the book identifies the implosion of our dualistic ways of understanding and interpreting reality and of naming our God. It explores the recent discoveries in the scientific community that have directly impacted this implosion and, in the light of the changes these invite in our understanding of reality, suggests the need for new religious metaphors and symbols. Part Two of the book concretely engages the new. The author invites the reader to let go of a God image "above" or "beyond" us and to embrace one that experiences "presence," at-onement, the flow of Love as the energy that courses through the universe rather than "acting on it" from above. +
Backpacking with the Saints: Wilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice

Backpacking with the Saints: Wilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice

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Carrying only basic camping equipment and a collection of the world's great spiritual writings, Belden C. Lane embarks on solitary spiritual treks through the Ozarks and across the American Southwest. For companions, he has only such teachers as Rumi, John of the Cross, Hildegard of Bingen, Dag Hammarskjöld, and Thomas Merton, and as he walks, he engages their writings with the natural wonders he encounters--Bell Mountain Wilderness with Søren Kierkegaard, Moonshine Hollow with Thich Nhat Hanh--demonstrating how being alone in the wild opens a rare view onto one's interior landscape, and how the saints' writings reveal the divine in nature.

The discipline of backpacking, Lane shows, is a metaphor for a spiritual journey. Just as the wilderness offered revelations to the early Desert Christians, backpacking hones crucial spiritual skills: paying attention, traveling light, practicing silence, and exercising wonder. Lane engages the practice not only with a wide range of spiritual writings--Celtic, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sufi Muslim--but with the fascination of other lovers of the backcountry, from John Muir and Ed Abbey to Bill Plotkin and Cheryl Strayed. In this intimate and down-to-earth narrative, backpacking is shown to be a spiritual practice that allows the discovery of God amidst the beauty and unexpected terrors of nature. Adoration, Lane suggests, is the most appropriate human response to what we cannot explain, but have nonetheless learned to love.

An enchanting narrative for Christians of all denominations, Backpacking with the Saints is an inspiring exploration of how solitude, simplicity, and mindfulness are illuminated and encouraged by the discipline of backcountry wandering, and of how the wilderness itself becomes a way of knowing-an ecology of the soul.

Bad Catholic's Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins: A Vital Look at Virtue and Vice, with Quizzes and Activities for Saintly Self-Improvement

Bad Catholic's Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins: A Vital Look at Virtue and Vice, with Quizzes and Activities for Saintly Self-Improvement

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The latest installment of the Bad Catholic's Guides examines the greatest threats to the virtuous life--the seven deadly sins. Theological and historical insights, tongue-in-cheek vignettes of history's greatest saints and sinners, and cringe-inducing quizzes entice readers to tally their scores on the virtue and vice index and calibrate to what degree they have imperiled their immortal souls. Andy Warhol, Ayn Rand, and Mother Angelica are invoked as exemplars of the best and worst of human behavior, while a heady blend of serious theology and pointed satire--punctuated by trivia, charts, and vignettes--brings theology into sharp, hilarious relief, and demonstrates that religious education need not be boring.

Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics

Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics

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From the popular New York Times columnist, a powerful and original critique of how American Christianity has gone astray--and the deeply troubling consequences for American life and politics.

As the youngest-ever op-ed columnist for the New York Times, Ross Douthat has emerged as one of the most provocative and influential voices of his generation. In Bad Religion he offers a masterful and hard-hitting account of how American Christianity has gone off the rails--and why it threatens to take American society with it.

Writing for an era dominated by recession, gridlock, and fears of American decline, Douthat exposes the spiritual roots of the nation's political and economic crises. He argues that America's problem isn't too much religion, as a growing chorus of atheists have argued; nor is it an intolerant secularism, as many on the Christian right believe. Rather, it's bad religion: the slow-motion collapse of traditional faith and the rise of a variety of pseudo-Christianities that stroke our egos, indulge our follies, and encourage our worst impulses.

These faiths speak from many pulpits--conservative and liberal, political and pop cultural, traditionally religious and fashionably "spiritual"--and many of their preachers claim a Christian warrant. But they are increasingly offering distortions of traditional Christianity--not the real thing. Christianity's place in American life has increasingly been taken over, not by atheism, Douthat argues, but by heresy: debased versions of Christian faith that breed hubris, greed, and self-absorption.

In a story that moves from the 1950s to the age of Obama, he brilliantly charts institutional Christianity's decline from a vigorous, mainstream, and bipartisan faith--which acted as a "vital center" and the moral force behind the civil rights movement--through the culture wars of the 1960s and 1970s to the polarizing debates of the present day. Ranging from Glenn Beck to Barack Obama, Eat Pray Love to Joel Osteen, and Oprah Winfrey to The Da Vinci Code, Douthat explores how the prosperity gospel's mantra of "pray and grow rich," a cult of self-esteem that reduces God to a life coach, and the warring political religions of left and right have crippled the country's ability to confront our most pressing challenges and accelerated American decline.

His urgent call for a revival of traditional Christianity is sure to generate controversy, and it will be vital reading for all those concerned about the imperiled American future.

Baker Compact Bible Dictionary

Baker Compact Bible Dictionary

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What do you do when you need a quick, compact, and convenient resource for helping you understand biblical books, people, places, imagery, or topics? Now readers can turn to The Baker Compact Bible Dictionary. It provides students of the Bible with quick access to the essential information needed to read the Bible with increased understanding and confidence.

Carefully selected and abridged from The Baker Illustrated Bible Dictionary, this dictionary is truly portable, yet packed with more than 1,000 clear and accurate entries that draw on up-to-date evangelical scholarship in biblical studies, archaeology, geography, history, and theology. For anyone who studies the Bible, this little dictionary will prove to be a trove of information to aid in personal study and in preparation for teaching.

Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook

Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook

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One of the keys to enjoying an in-depth and rewarding experience of reading the Bible is recapturing the ancient world--its cultures, customs, and histories. With this innovative guide, readers can enrich their study with fascinating insights into the Bible and the world in which it was written.

The Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook offers the most up-to-date evangelical biblical scholarship in a format that is readable and easy to understand. This book-by-book guide brings the Bible to life with more than 1,100 full-color pages packed with illustrations, maps, and photos, and 112 in-depth articles on a wide range of topics important to students of the Bible. Readers will discover how each part of the Bible fits into and informs every other part, giving them a cohesive understanding of God's Word.

No reference collection will be complete without this incredible new handbook to the Bible.

Baptized in Tear Gas: From White Moderate to Abolitionist

Baptized in Tear Gas: From White Moderate to Abolitionist

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For years Elle Dowd considered herself an advocate for justice, but her well-meaning support always took a back burner to what Martin Luther King Jr. called the tension-free, ordered "negative peace" of white moderates. Then Michael Brown, a Black man, was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent Uprising changed everything.

In Baptized in Tear Gas, minister and activist Elle Dowd tells the gripping story of her transformation into an Assata Shakur-reading, courthouse-occupying abolitionist with an arrest record, hungry for the revolution. Thanks to deep relationships with people in Ferguson and St. Louis, and to experiencing a fraction of the system for herself--including the fear of rubber bullets, the shock of sound cannons, and running from tear gas--Dowd fully committed to the work of anti-racism and abolition. Now she wants to help other white allies do the same.

Like in baptism, this transformation requires parts of us to die: our lack of power analysis, our commitment to white niceness, our tone policing, our respectability politics--all of those impulses we have been socialized by since birth must die so that something new can be resurrected in our lives and in the world. The uprising in Ferguson changed Dowd, and through it, God made her into something new.

Now it's our turn.

Barking to the Choir

Barking to the Choir

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"This is a beautiful and important and soul-transporting book. . . . Please read it." --Elizabeth Gilbert

"If you're in the market for genuine inspiration, I urge you to read Barking to the Choir." --Ann Patchett

In a moving example of unconditional love in dif-ficult times, the Jesuit priest and bestselling author of Tattoos on the Heart, Gregory Boyle, shares what three decades of working with gang members in Los Angeles has taught him about faith, compassion, and the enduring power of kinship.

In his first book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, Gregory Boyle introduced us to Homeboy Industries, the largest gang-intervention program in the world. Critics hailed that book as an "astounding literary and spiritual feat" (Publishers Weekly) that is "destined to become a classic of both urban reportage and contemporary spirituality" (Los Angeles Times). Now, after the suc-cessful expansion of Homeboy Industries, Boyle returns with Barking to the Choir to reveal how com-passion is transforming the lives of gang members.

In a nation deeply divided and plagued by poverty and violence, Barking to the Choir offers a snapshot into the challenges and joys of life on the margins. Sergio, arrested at nine, in a gang by twelve, and serving time shortly thereafter, now works with the substance-abuse team at Homeboy to help others find sobriety. Jamal, abandoned by his family when he tried to attend school at age seven, gradually finds forgive-ness for his schizophrenic mother. New father Cuco, who never knew his own dad, thinks of a daily adventure on which to take his four-year-old son. These former gang members uplift the soul and reveal how bright life can be when filled with unconditional love and kindness.

This book is guaranteed to shake up our ideas about God and about people with a glimpse at a world defined by more compassion and fewer barriers. Gently and humorously, Barking to the Choir invites us to find kinship with one another and reconvinces us all of our own goodness.

Basic Judaism

Basic Judaism

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Concise and elegant, this is a book about the Jewish religion - not about the Jewish culture or Zionism, but about those beliefs, ideals, and practices that make up the historic Jewish faith. Including both the modernist and the traditionalist view in his exploration, Rabbi Steinberg discusses the Torah, what Judaism says about God and the relationship, and what exists in the Kingdom of God. He also talks about the laws that define Judaism, the practices and rituals that sustain it, and the synagogue and the rabbinate that support it.

For all students of Judaism - be they practicing Jews, uncommitted Jews, or curious non-Jews - Rabbi Steinberg offers a brilliant chance to understand what the Jewish faith is, why it has elicited such intense devotion, and why it remains such a mighty force in the lives of its believers and, beyond them, the world.

Basic Teachings of the Buddha

Basic Teachings of the Buddha

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In Basic Teachings of the Buddha, Glenn Wallis selects sixteen essential dialogues drawn from more than five thousand Pali-dialect suttas of the Buddhist canon. The result is a vibrant introductory guide to studying Buddhist thought, applying its principles to everyday life, and gaining a deeper understanding of Buddhist themes in modern literature. Focusing on the most crucial topics for today's readers, Wallis presents writings that address modern psychological, religious, ethical, and philosophical concerns. This practical, inspiring, and engaging volume provides an overview of the history of Buddhism and an illuminating analysis of the core writings that personalizes the suttas for each reader.

"Glenn Wallis brings wisdom and compassion to this work of scholarship. Everyone should read this book."
-Christopher Queen, Harvard University

"A valuable sourcebook with a good selection of the fundamental suttas enhanced by an eloquent introduction and comprehensive notes-altogether a very useful text."
-Peter Matthiessen (Roshi), author of The Snow Leopard and Nine-Headed Dragon River

"Glenn Wallis's new and accessible translations of some of the Buddha's lectures to his original students, along with Wallis's elegant guide to the texts, gives twenty-first-century readers in the modern West a fresh chance to learn from this teacher."
-Charles Hallisey, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Battle for God

Battle for God

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In the late twentieth century, fundamentalism has emerged as one of the most powerful forces at work in the world, contesting the dominance of modern secular values and threatening peace and harmony around the globe. Yet it remains incomprehensible to a large number of people. In The Battle for God, Karen Armstrong brilliantly and sympathetically shows us how and why fundamentalist groups came into existence and what they yearn to accomplish.

We see the West in the sixteenth century beginning to create an entirely new kind of civilization, which brought in its wake change in every aspect of life -- often painful and violent, even if liberating. Armstrong argues that one of the things that changed most was religion. People could no longer think about or experience the divine in the same way; they had to develop new forms of faith to fit their new circumstances.

Armstrong characterizes fundamentalism as one of these new ways of being religious that have emerged in every major faith tradition. Focusing on Protestant fundamentalism in the United States, Jewish fundamentalism in Israel, and Muslim fundamentalism in Egypt and Iran, she examines the ways in which these movements, while not monolithic, have each sprung from a dread of modernity -- often in response to assault (sometimes unwitting, sometimes intentional) by the mainstream society.

Armstrong sees fundamentalist groups as complex, innovative, and modern -- rather than as throwbacks to the past -- but contends that they have failed in religious terms. Maintaining that fundamentalism often exists in symbiotic relationship with an aggressive modernity, each impelling the other on to greater excess, she suggests compassion as a way to defuse what is now an intensifying conflict.

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Karen Armstrong's Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.

Be Here Now

Be Here Now

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Beloved guru Ram Dass tells the story of his spiritual awakening and gives you the tools to take control of your life in this "counterculture bible" (The New York Times) featuring powerful guidance on yoga, meditation, and finding your true self.

When Be Here Now was first published in 1971, it filled a deep spiritual emptiness, launched the ongoing mindfulness revolution, and established Ram Dass as perhaps the preeminent seeker of the twentieth century.

Just ten years earlier, he was known as Professor Richard Alpert. He held appointments in four departments at Harvard University. He published books, drove a Mercedes and regularly vacationed in the Caribbean. By most societal standards, he had achieved great success. . . . And yet he couldn't escape the feeling that something was missing.

Psilocybin and LSD changed that. During a period of experimentation, Alpert peeled away each layer of his identity, disassociating from himself as a professor, a social cosmopolite, and lastly, as a physical being. Fear turned into exaltation upon the realization that at his truest, he was just his inner-self: a luminous being that he could trust indefinitely and love infinitely.

And thus, a spiritual journey commenced. Alpert headed to India where his guru renamed him Baba Ram Dass--"servant of God." He was introduced to mindful breathing exercises, hatha yoga, and Eastern philosophy. If he found himself reminiscing or planning, he was reminded to "Be Here Now." He started upon the path of enlightenment, and has been journeying along it ever since.

Be Here Now is a vehicle for sharing the true message, and a guide to self-determination.

Be Kind to Yourself: Releasing Frustrations and Embracing Joy

Be Kind to Yourself: Releasing Frustrations and Embracing Joy

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When we experience frustrations in daily life, many of us hold ourselves to blame. Self-criticism is often our default setting. But we can have a more gracious posture toward ourselves. We can practice disciplines of self-kindness. Editor and spiritual director Cindy Bunch calls us to self-care through greater compassion for ourselves. She helps us pay attention to the frustrations that bug us in order to identify negative thinking about ourselves or others. As we do so, we can discern what we need to let go. This allows us to lean into the things that bring us joy. Each chapter is filled with spiritual practices and creative exercises for reflection and celebration. The pages of the appealing smaller book format are illustrated with photographs and art from the author. Be kind to yourself. And discover new opportunities to embrace joy.

Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation

Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - ECPA BESTSELLER - "When it comes to the intersection of race, privilege, justice, and the church, Tasha is without question my best teacher. Be the Bridge is THE tool I wish to put in every set of hands."--Jen Hatmaker

WINNER OF THE CHRISTIAN BOOK AWARD(R) - Winner of the Christianity Today Book Award - A leading advocate for racial reconciliation calls Christians to move toward deeper understanding in the midst of a divisive culture.

In an era where we seem to be increasingly divided along racial lines, many are hesitant to step into the gap, fearful of saying or doing the wrong thing. At times the silence, particularly within the church, seems deafening.

But change begins with an honest conversation among a group of Christians willing to give a voice to unspoken hurts, hidden fears, and mounting tensions. These ongoing dialogues have formed the foundation of a global movement called Be the Bridge--a nonprofit organization whose goal is to equip the church to have a distinctive and transformative response to racism and racial division.

In this perspective-shifting book, founder Latasha Morrison shows how you can participate in this incredible work and replicate it in your own community. With conviction and grace, she examines the historical complexities of racism. She expertly applies biblical principles, such as lamentation, confession, and forgiveness, to lay the framework for restoration.

Along with prayers, discussion questions, and other resources to enhance group engagement, Be the Bridge presents a compelling vision of what it means for every follower of Jesus to become a bridge builder--committed to pursuing justice and racial unity in light of the gospel.

Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists

Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists

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A must-read for modern sanghas--Asian American Buddhists in their own words, on their own terms.

Despite the fact that two thirds of U.S. Buddhists identify as Asian American, mainstream perceptions about what it means to be Buddhist in America often whitewash and invisibilize the diverse, inclusive, and intersectional communities that lie at the heart of American Buddhism.

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.

Championing nuanced representation over stale stereotypes, Han and the 89 interviewees in Be the Refuge push back against false narratives like the Oriental monk, the superstitious immigrant, and the banana Buddhist--typecasting that collapses the multivocality of Asian American Buddhists into tired, essentialized tropes. Encouraging frank conversations about race, representation, and inclusivity among Buddhists of all backgrounds, Be the Refuge embodies the spirit of interconnection that glows at the heart of American Buddhism.

Bearing False Witness

Bearing False Witness

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As we all know and as many of our well established textbooks have argued for decades, the Inquisition was one of the most frightening and bloody chapters in Western history, Pope Pius XII was anti-Semitic and rightfully called "Hitler's Pope," the Dark Ages were a stunting of the progress of knowledge to be redeemed only by the secular spirit of the Enlightenment, and the religious Crusades were an early example of the rapacious Western thirst for riches and power. But what if these long held beliefs were all wrong?
In this stunning, powerful, and ultimately persuasive book, Rodney Stark, one of the most highly regarded sociologists of religion and bestselling author of The Rise of Christianity (HarperSanFrancisco 1997) argues that some of our most firmly held ideas about history, ideas that paint the Catholic Church in the least positive light are, in fact, fiction. Why have we held these wrongheaded ideas so strongly and for so long? And if our beliefs are wrong, what, in fact, is the truth?
In each chapter, Stark takes on a well-established anti-Catholic myth, gives a fascinating history of how each myth became the conventional wisdom, and presents a startling picture of the real truth. For example,
  • Instead of the Spanish Inquisition being an anomaly of torture and murder of innocent people persecuted for "imaginary" crimes such as witchcraft and blasphemy, Stark argues that not only did the Spanish Inquisition spill very little blood, but it was a major force in support of moderation and justice.
  • Instead of Pope Pius XII being apathetic or even helpful to the Nazi movement, such as to merit the title, "Hitler's Pope," Stark shows that the campaign to link Pope Pius XII to Hitler was initiated by the Soviet Union, presumably in hopes of neutralizing the Vatican in post-World War II affairs. Pope Pius XII was widely praised for his vigorous and devoted efforts to saving Jewish lives during the war.
  • Instead of the Dark Ages being understood as a millennium of ignorance and backwardness inspired by the Catholic Church's power, Stark argues that the whole notion of the "Dark Ages" was an act of pride perpetuated by anti-religious intellectuals who were determined to claim that theirs was the era of "Enlightenment."
  • In the end, readers will not only have a more accurate history of the Catholic Church, they will come to understand why it became unfairly maligned for so long. Bearing False Witness is a compelling and sobering account of how egotism and ideology often work together to give us a false truth.
    Beating the Cloth Drum

    Beating the Cloth Drum

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    Hakuin Ekaku (1685-1769) is one of the most influential figures in Zen Buddhism. He revitalized the Rinzai Zen tradition (which emphasizes the use of koans, or unanswerable questions, in meditation practice), and all masters of that school today trace their lineage back through him. He is responsible for the most famous of all koans: What is the sound of one hand clapping? He is also famous for his striking and humorous art, which he also regarded as teaching. This book provides a rare, intimate look at Hakuin the man, through his personal correspondence. Beating the Cloth Drum contains twenty-eight of Hakuin's letters to students, political figures, fellow teachers, laypeople, and friends. Each letter is accompanied by extensive commentary and notes. They showcase Hakuin's formidable, thoughtful, and sometimes playful personality--and they show that the great master used every activity, including letter-writing, as an opportunity to impart the teachings that were so close to his heart.
    Become A Better You

    Become A Better You

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    Updated for its tenth anniversary, this #1 New York Times bestseller is an inspiring and motivating guide to help you uncover your God-given strengths and live with more joy, hope, and peace every day.

    Joel Osteen, pastor of America's largest church, has inspired millions to live to their fullest potential. His practical insights in Become a Better You have helped people look within themselves to find their authentic soul and become a better person.

    Celebrating its tenth anniversary, Become a Better You has been updated for a whole new generation of readers with a new foreword and new chapter--inside Osteen offers seven simple yet profound steps to help you discover your purpose and destiny, and includes key biblical principles, devotions, and personal testimonies that will uplift and enlighten. As you incorporate these key principles into your life, you will be amazed by how much more God has in store for you.

    Become a Better You encourages you to reach your full, unique, God-given potential and helps you enjoy every day of life, no matter your circumstances.