Spirituality and Religion
To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism by Ross DouthatWhat it is: a thought-provoking account of Pope Francis' attempts to change the Catholic Church, focusing particularly on his decision to allow communion for the divorced and remarried. The future of Catholicism -- with a clear divide between conservative and liberal views -- is also discussed.
Reviewers say: While New York Times columnist Ross Douthat identifies as conservative when it comes to Catholicism, reviewers agree that To Change the Church is a balanced overview.
Box of Butterflies: Discovering the Unexpected Blessings All Around Us by Roma DowneyAuthor alert: Fans of the television show Touched by an Angel will recognize Roma Downey's name; here, she shares stories and reflections from her life, along with inspiring quotes, poems, scripture, and artwork.
Why you might like it: readers looking for encouragement will find hope in Downey's faith in -- and gratitude for -- God.
Flunk. Start. Reclaiming My Decade Lost in Scientology by Sands HallWhat it is: a candid memoir of a woman's seven years in the Church of Scientology.
Is it for you? Readers looking for a scathing exposé should look elsewhere (try Lawrence Wright's sobering Going Clear), but those who want a thoughtful examination of what was ultimately the wrong choice (and why she stayed for so long) will appreciate the author's spiritual journey.
Paul: A Biography by N.T. WrightWhat it's about: Combining solid scholarship of what is known about the apostle Paul with a careful reading of the writings he left behind, Anglican bishop N.T. Wright provides both a biography and an examination of Paul's intentions.
Reviewers say: Written "not for the skeptic but for the believer" (Kirkus Reviews), this is a thought-provoking analysis that will inform interested readers and likely prompt debate amongst scholars.
Evolution of the Word: Reading the New Testament in the Order It Was Written by Marcus J. BorgWhat it is: an explanation of how the traditional order of the New Testament differs from the order in which the different books were written (the letters of St. Paul were actually written first).
What does that mean? Theology professor Marcus Borg, the author of several popular works on Christianity and the Bible, argues that the Gospels and other later writings were influenced by St. Paul's opinions.
Reviewers say: "eminently readable and eye-opening" (Booklist).
How to Read the Bible by Harvey CoxWhat it is: an accessible, insightful discussion of biblical interpretation through history and into the present day.
Who it's for: those who would like to study the Bible at a deeper level.
Further reading: John Dominic Crossan's How to Read the Bible and Still Be a Christian.
The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus by John Dominic CrossanWhat it is: a lucid explanation of how Jesus used parables to engage and challenge his audience -- and how the role of parables can be used to explain much of the Bible, too.
What reviewers say: The Power of the Parable is "one of the best, most enthralling Bible-study courses" (Booklist).
Further reading: Amy-Jill Levine's Short Stories by Jesus.
The First Love Story: Adam, Eve, and Us by Bruce FeilerWhat it's about: the impact that biblical figures Adam and Eve have had on Western society, from masterpieces by Michelangelo to more contemporary pop culture.
Who it's for: readers interested in how learning about Adam and Eve can help us understand couplehood today.
Further reading: Try Stephen Greenblatt's The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve.
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