Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Summer Reading

God is Not One by Stephen Prothero is a wonderful introduction into various world religions but it also explores areas often forgotten (like the mystical areas of each, such as sufism, Kabbalah, Christian mystics, etc.) and reminds us that each of our religions are distinctive that there are things that overlap but it is at our peril that we see all our religions as one.

It was an enjoyable read and I encourage you to read this book!

In Prothero's own words:
I hope people consider seeing both the good and bad of religions and the similarities and differences. Religion is tremendously important and horribly misunderstood.

We keep racing to pretend that all religions are the same — both among multiculturalists who want to say they’re all good, and atheists who say they’re all bad. That doesn’t help us understand the world we live in.
Heaven by Lisa Miller was an interesting exploration of heaven.

Looking at heaven historically and through the eyes of different religions, it gives us a fascinating insight into our struggles and hope with heaven.

Miller writes:
Resurrection may be unbelievable, but belief in a traditional heaven requires it. I think often of Jon D. Levenson, a Jewish scholar at Harvard Divinity School who hopes to bring the idea of resurrection back to mainstream Judaism, where it has been lost in practice for generations. I visited him one cold November afternoon because, as a literal-minded skeptic, I wanted him to explain to me how it works. How does God put bodies—burned in fire or pulverized in war—back together again? Levenson looked at me, eyes twinkling, and said, "It's no use to ask, 'If I had a lab at MIT, how would I try to resurrect a body?' The belief in resurrection is more radical. It's a supernatural event. It's a special act of grace or of kindness on God's part." For my part, I don't buy it. I do, however, leave the door open a crack for radical acts of grace and kindness—and for humbling ourselves before all that we don't understand.
I may not agree with all that she said, but it does get me thinking about heaven and preaching on it more! It is worth a look.

My next book: The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude by P.M. Forni

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