Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Good Book(s)

PeaceBangers, I hope you will help me out.

I am recommending to my congregation that they go forth and study during our summer hiatus. I am encouraging them to find some books about the theological orientation that resonates most with them, and to acquaint themselves in an intentional way with the Great Thinkers of their various philosophies.

So, recommend away! What would you pull off your book shelves that would nurture the souls of: the Christian Humanist, the Mystic, the Secular Humanist, the Religious/Spiritual Humanist, the Buddhistly-interested, the Jewish-curious, the Biblically-inclined? The Classical Unitarian? The Universalist Beginner? The Atheist, the Committed Skeptic? The Deist and the Pagan? The Wiccan, the vaguely feminine-divinely-oriented, the Otherwise Not Mentioned Here?

How about the Generally Seeking? The disenchanted and disenfranchised?

I await your recommendation with bated breath and a grateful heart.

(Word of the night: "panoply")


Anonymous Philocrites said...

For the Christian humanist: "Whose Bible Is It?" by Jaroslav Pelikan.

For the religious naturalist/humanist: "The Sacred Depths of Nature" by Ursula Goodenough and "The Immense Journey" by Loren Eiseley.

For the committed skeptic (who has a rarely acknowledged religious itch): "Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible" by Jeff Sharlet (of TheRevealer.org) and Peter Manseau.

For the classical Unitarian: Wouldn't it be great if someone issued a small anthology of the best essays and sermons by the Broad Church Unitarians? Bellows, Hedge, Clarke, et al. I always hesitate suggesting that people curl up with "An American Reformation" simply because of its ominous size and scholarliness, but Bellows's "Suspense of Faith" is awfully good.

For the non-ideologically-defined spiritual person: "Breakfast at the Victory" by James P. Carse.

For people with a voyeuristic impulse into religious oddities: "Roadside Religion" by Timothy Beal.

Anonymous Catherine said...

"Good Omens" by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

"Nine Stories" by JD Salinger

The Chronicles of Narnia series by CS Lewis

Power of the Witch by Laurie Cabot

Anonymous Terrance said...

OK. There are two I have to recomment. "Jesus and the Disinherited" by Howard Thurman." And "God's Long Summer by Charles Marsh, which is about the theological leanings of various individuals on both sides of the civil rights movement and the "Mississippi Freedom Summer" of 1964.

Blogger Obijuan said...

Someone already beat me to Good Omens. I'll add to that Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (really, anything by Terry Pratchett), and Lamb, the gospel according to Biff, Christ's childhood pal by Christopher Moore.

No serious reading whatsoever.

Anyone caught reading anything that even remotely looks like it belongs on a divinity school syllabus during the summer months shall be mercilessly and brutally mocked. (cue Nelson Muntz "haha!")

Blogger Denise said...

Darn, someone beat me to Lamb! Loved it and so has everyone I've recommended it to.

How about Sue Monk Kidd's The Dance of the Dissident Daughter?

Blogger fausto said...

Jaroslav Pelikan, ed., World Treasury of Modern Religious Thought.

Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club.

I second the Narnia recommendation for anyone who has kids, especially if they never read it as a kid themselves, especially The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

More C. S. Lewis: The Screwtape Letters.

I second American Reformation, but I'm weird.

Myself, I'm thinking whether to take on Moby Dick again this summer, now that I've lived long enough to have a clue what it's really about. (Did I mention I'm weird?)

Ivan Doig, English Creek and Dancing at the Rascal Fair. Darn good American novels.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

People of color and white allies: "Is God a White Racist?" by Willaim R. Jones (Beacon Press) -- read sections one and three, but skip section two.

Feminist spirituality: "Beyond God the Father" by Mary Daly -- still in print, still awesome.

For parents: "The Gift of Faith" by Jeanne Nieuwejaar (Skinner HOuse) -- very well received by the UU parents I know.

Transcendentalists: "Walden" by Henry Thoreau -- why not?

Since it's the 200th anniversary of the first publication of "A Treatise on Atonement," it's worth recommending (out of print, widely avaible used for about 25 bucks).

Classic Unitarianism: Channing's sermon on "Unitarian Christianity" is still changing lives (in "Three Prophets of Religious Liberalism").

For any UU: "The Essential JLA" ed. K. Beach.

My $.02 worth. -- Dan Harper

Anonymous SOPB said...

How about the psychological-gothic-scary-doll-haunted-children minded?


Anonymous martinet said...

(Word of the night: "panoply")

Damn skippy. I love people who use this word--even more since my husband mispronounced it and came out with "the full penelope." I decided that must be the female version of "the full monty" and have used it accordingly since.

Anonymous Jessica Alexander said...

I found Karen Armstrong's book "Buddha" vastly interesting and inspiring-- so much so I have been recommending it to people left and right. For the younger folks or older folks who like children's books, "The Cat Who Went to Heaven" is a fine introduction to some of the stories surrounding Buddha as a young man and Buddha in previous lives. Warning: the cat dies. She dies happily, but she dies. It makes me cry every time. If possible, get an edition that has the original woodcut illustrations, they do enhance the story.
Leon Kass's book "Reading Genesis: the Beginning of Wisdom" is a huge tome (bigger than the most recent Harry Potter), very dense, and I wish he would write another such tome for every other book in the Bible. He is reading the book in a "wisdom-seeking spirit" and uses close textual analysis and conversations with students to come to his conclusions. I don't agree with all of them, but some of them are stunning (finally, a good explanation about why all those "begats" were included before the flood story and why it makes sense that light and days were created before the sun) and it's such a pleasure to have someone writing in this spirit.


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