Everything is Spiritual: Who We Are and What We're Doing Here by Rob BellWhat it's about: This impassioned memoir of a former evangelical Christian minister who left behind his megachurch in search of a more inclusive faith community includes his reflections on his faith journey, mysticism, and situating yourself in the universe.
About the author: Rob Bell founded the Mars Hill Bible Church near Grand Rapids, Michigan before leaving in 2011 after the publication of Love Wins. His other books include What We Talk About When We Talk About God and Jesus Wants to Save Christians.
White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity by Robert P. JonesWhat it is: a comprehensive, well-researched exploration of racism in American Christianity and a compelling call to action for modern Christians to address the sins of the past and work for a more inclusive present.
You might also like: The Color of Christ by Paul Harvey and Edward J. Blum; Reconstructing the Gospel by Jonathan Wilson-Hargrove.
God's Shadow: Sultan Selim, His Ottoman Empire, and the Making of the Modern World by Alan MikhailWhat it's about: the reign of Sultan Selim I, whose conquests, foreign policy, and role as Caliph led to a rapid expansion of the Ottoman Empire and subsequently, the further spread of Islamic influence into an already religiously divided Europe.
Why you should read it: The Ottoman Empire was a hugely important player in Europe's turbulent 15th and 16th centuries, and God's Shadow provides an accessible view of familiar events of the Renaissance and Reformation eras from an Eastern perspective.
Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man, and the Gospel of Jesus's Wife by Ariel SabarWhat it is: the well-researched, thought-provoking true crime story of a fraudulent historical document that allegedly quoted Jesus as referring to Mary Magdalene as his wife and how respected Harvard religious scholar Karen King fell for the hoax.
Read it for: The author's ability to describe the events in journalistic detail while simultaneously examining King and her involvement through a humanizing lens of compassion.
Searching for the Messiah: Unlocking the Psalms of Solomon and Humanity's Quest for... by Barrie WilsonWhat it's about: the messiah concept, from the earliest and most specific definition of the word in a Jewish context to interpretations of the New Testament that broadened the meaning and lastly, to modern secular messianic figures.
About the author: Barrie Wilson is a Canadian scholar and religious studies professor whose previous books early Christianity include How Jesus became Christian and Paul vs. James.
Books You Might Have Missed
The Power of Ritual: Turning Everyday Activities into Soulful Practices by Casper ter KuileWhat it is: a thoughtful examination of the concept of ritual and the ways that intentionally approaching any habitual activities can enhance spiritual fulfillment.
Why you might like it: The author's deep knowledge of theology when discussing ritual in a religious context is refreshingly juxtaposed with modern ritual activities such as CrossFit, gratitude journaling, and book clubs.
About the author: Casper ter Kuile is a fellow at Harvard Divinity School who cohosts the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.
The Hope of Glory: Reflections on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross by Jon MeachamWhat it's about: the final seven sayings attributed to Jesus from the cross, including the a survey of the different references to them in the gospels, important historical and theological background to consider when reflecting upon them, and what lessons Christians can take from them today.
About the author: Jon Meacham is a journalist and editor whose previous books have included religious histories of the United States and presidential biographies, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Andrew Jackson American Lion.
In the Name of God: The Role of Religion in the Modern World: A History of Judeo-Christian... by Selina O'GradyWhat it is: a sweeping, thought-provoking history of different societies' attempts at religious pluralism and the varying results those efforts have delivered.
Topics include: the role of nationalism in religious identity; the similarities between the Christian Reformation and the Sunni-Shia split; the dramatic cultural and religious fallout of Napoleon's invasion of Egypt.
Reviewers say: "This perceptive, masterly history will change how many readers think about toleration and the supposed clash between Christian and Muslim worlds" (Publishers Weekly).
Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump by Sarah PosnerWhat it's about: the gap between the espoused views of many "values voters" and their statistically significant backing of Donald Trump, and how some of the less savory parts of the history of Evangelical Christianity in America explain their fervent support for him.
Who it's for: anyone interested in the intersection of religion and politics, or with the ongoing fight for the soul of Evangelical Christianity in the United States.
For All Who Hunger: Searching for Communion in a Shattered World by Emily M.D. ScottWhat it is: the reflective and inspiring memoir of Lutheran minister Emily M.D. Scott and the unique church community she founded, St. Lydia's Dinner Church, which serves as a welcoming place for people who feel out of place in more traditional church environments.
For fans of: Rachel Held Evans, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Katie Hayes, and other memoirist ministers with unique approaches to their faith.
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