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Last 5 Books Read
425. Title: Before You Lose Your Mind
Author: Giles, Keith (Editor)
Date Finished: 2024-01-11
My Comments: Way too conservative for me. This is for people moving from Hard Right to middle. It does cover many church problems, but I'd rather read "Do I Stay Christian?" which is so much further left when finished. Not recommended.
So, you're deconstructing your faith?
It can be painful. It can be scary. But the good news is that you're not alone, and you don't have to lose your mind in the process.
It doesn't matter whether you are questioning hell, penal substitution, or the end times; or you're troubled by how politics has invaded the pulpit; or you're uncomfortable with the way Christians treat people in the LGBTQ+ community; or you're just not convinced that the Bible is really inerrant, infallible, or inspired. There are many reasons to find yourself deconstructing Christianity.
Before You Lose Your Mind features contributions from Brandon Andress, Michelle Collins, Derrick Day, Brandon Dragan, Matthew J. Distefano, Jason Elam, Maria Francesca French, Keith Giles, Mark Karris, Matthew J. Korpman, Josh Roggie, Rev. Dr. Katy Valentine, and Skeeter Wilson.
This book was created to give you hope for your journey from faith to doubt and back again. To a place where embracing mystery is what true faith is all about.
Because the opposite of faith isn't doubt. It's certainty.
426. Title: Our Strangely Warmed Hearts
Author: Oliveto, Karen P.
Date Finished: 2024-01-22
My Comments: This is a two part book, with the first half being a description of the development of awareness of homosexuality in the United Methodist Church (where Karen is a Bishop) and then ten stories of how badly that development has come along. I enjoyed the first part, although I already knew most of it. The second part is just more sad stories of the failure of UMC to move into the 21st century. Most other mainline churches have already moved past accepting gay and lesbian (and other) folks into full membership and leadership in their churches. Methodists are an international church, and much of the problem comes from the influence of non-North American members and churches. This is not (really) talked about in this book. If you need the history and enjoy sad stories, I'd recommend this book. If you know the history and avoid sad stories, not so much.
Amazon Description: As John Wesley discovered his true spiritual identity, he experienced a strangely warmed heart. Through poignant stories and well-reasoned principles, Karen Oliveto discloses why and how spiritual renewal and a personal call to ministry emerge in the strangely warmed hearts of lesbian and gay Christians.
In The United Methodist Church (and other Christian denominations), it is difficult or impossible for lesbian, gay, transsexual, and bisexual clergy or laity to become a visible and outward channel for God’s saving grace. This book traces the history of the church’s struggle with homosexuality, highlighting critical incidents in the culture and church polity which shape the church’s response. The issues are deeply rooted in the way God’s people understand scriptures, which are interpreted as a means of grace for some and as a rule-book for others. This book includes first-person narratives of LGBTQ persons faithfully serving in a denomination that denies their calls and—in some cases—their presence. These stories will show how the coming out process is deeply spiritual as one grows into an authentic, God-created and graced self.
427. Title: A Prayer for the Crown-Shy
Author: Chambers, Becky
Date Finished: 2024-01-18
My Comments: A follow up to her previous Monk & Robot book, this one goes the way of many author's second books. It's just not as interesting since most of the good ideas have already been used. There are more places she could go with this idea, but they're not presented here. You will get most of the benefit from reading the first one.
Amazon Description: After touring the rural areas of Panga, Sibling Dex (a Tea Monk of some renown) and Mosscap (a robot sent on a quest to determine what humanity really needs) turn their attention to the villages and cities of the little moon they call home.
They hope to find the answers they seek, while making new friends, learning new concepts, and experiencing the entropic nature of the universe.
Becky Chambers's new series continues to ask: in a world where people have what they want, does having more even matter?
428. Title: Seven Types of Atheism
Author: Gray, John
Date Finished: 2024-01-23
My Comments: This book is similar to Jennifer Hecht's Doubt, but rather than looking at 2400 years of doubt, Gray covers a more modern range more deeply. Unfortunately I had a hard time with his ideas. I thought I could understand the philosophies of his examples, but I think he has a narrow and rather orthodox view of Christianity, his main target. No recommendation.
Amazon Description: When you explore older atheisms, you will find that some of your firmest convictions - secular or religious - are highly questionable. If this prospect disturbs you, what you are looking for may be freedom from thought.
For a generation now, public debate has been corroded by a shrill, narrow derision of religion in the name of an often vaguely understood “science.” John Gray’s stimulating and enjoyable new book, Seven Types of Atheism, describes the complex, dynamic world of older atheisms, a tradition that is, he writes, in many ways intertwined with and as rich as religion itself.
Along a spectrum that ranges from the convictions of “God-haters” like the Marquis de Sade to the mysticism of Arthur Schopenhauer, from Bertrand Russell’s search for truth in mathematics to secular political religions like Jacobinism and Nazism, Gray explores the various ways great minds have attempted to understand the questions of salvation, purpose, progress, and evil. The result is a book that sheds an extraordinary light on what it is to be human.
429. Title: Jesus, InterruptedNew Search
Author: Ehrman, Bart
Date Finished: 2024-02-14
My Comments: This is another fun book by Bart Ehrman, and it sounds a lot like the others. So many of the ideas are the same. This one has a chapter explaining his religious development more completely than others. It does a good job of describing the development of the Bible and Christianity, but is too heavy on Jesus' apocalypticism. Recommended.
Amazon Description: The problems with the Bible that New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman discussed in his bestseller Misquoting Jesus - and on The Daily Show with John Stewart, NPR, and Dateline NBC, among others - are expanded upon exponentially in his latest book: Jesus, Interrupted. This New York Times bestseller reveals how books in the Bible were actually forged by later authors, and that the New Testament itself is riddled with contradictory claims about Jesus - information that scholars know… but the general public does not. If you enjoy the work of Elaine Pagels, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, and John Shelby Spong, you’ll find much to ponder in Jesus, Interrupted.