Top 10 Books in Religion & Spirituality: 2009

Here is list of popular works- the kinda stuff from the public library. I assume that everyone has read some of them. Two books on loss of faith.  Three defenses of liberal faith, one book on genesis and science, one on Islam, and one summarizing the new thinking on Paul.   I discussed Karen Armstrong two months ago – here.

Top 10 Books in Religion & Spirituality: 2009

Olson, Ray November 15, 2009

The best adult religion books reviewed since the October, 1, 2008, Spotlight on Religion & Spirituality are presented below. A poetic retelling of a momentous era in Islam leads off the list, while a history of God is third on it. The other eight turn toChristianity past, present, and future.

After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam. By Lesley Hazleton. 2009. Doubleday, $27 (9780385523936).

Basing her account on the great texts of early Islam, Hazleton thrillingly and intelligently distills one of the most consequential trains of events in all history.

The Bible and the People. By Lori Anne Ferrell. 2008. Yale, $32.50 (9780300114249).

That the laity enjoyed considerable access to scripture before the Reformation and Gutenberg is just one revelation in Ferrell’s history of interplay between the Word and readers.

The Case for God. By Karen Armstrong. 2009. Knopf, $27.95 (9780307269188).

Presenting difficult ideas with utter lucidity, Armstrong stresses that the most common response to questions about God has been apophatic silence.

The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary behind the Church’s Conservative Icon. By Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan. 2009. HarperOne, $24.99 (9780061430725).

The great epistolary apostle is revealed as neither anti-Semitic, anti-sex, nor misogynist, but a preacher of social and political equality.

The Future of Faith. By Harvey Cox. 2009. HarperOne, $25.99 (9780061755521).

Religion is becoming spiritual rather than creedal, egalitarian rather than mediated by clergy, Cox argues, and Christianity, as in the early church, more rooted in behavior.

The Genesis Enigma: Why the Bible Is Scientifically Accurate. By Andrew Parker. 2009. Dutton, $25.95 (9780525951247).

Nonbelieving biologist Parker demonstrates that, from “Let there be light”—the concretion of the sun—to the debut of birds, Genesis 1 accurately outlines what science now believes really happened.

The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why. By Phyllis Tickle. 2008. Baker, $17.99 (9780801013133).

Considering modern Christian history and the impacts of cultural, social, and technological upheavals, a new and “more vital” Christianity is emerging, Tickle says.

I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah’s Witness Upbringing. By Kyria Abrahams. 2009. Touchstone, $25 (9781416556848).

Stand-up comic and spoken-word poet Abrahams mixes throwaway humor and painful memories in a compelling and very funny memoir of growing up and away from her childhood faith.

Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America—and Found Unexpected Peace. By William Lobdell. 2009. Collins, $25.95 (9780061626814).

Lobdell’s trajectory from agnosticism to belief to atheism, prompted by covering religion for the Los Angeles Times, is fascinating, ironic, even astonishing.

The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. By Philip Jenkins. 2009. HarperOne, $26.95 (9780061472800).

In the most eye-opening religious history book of the year, Jenkins outlines and analyzes the first global Christian establishment, which lasted 1,000 years and spread from Egypt to China. Few present-day Christians have ever heard of it.

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