Bass, Diana Butler. A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2009). People often confuse the entire story of Christianity with what Diana Butler Bass calls “Big C” militant Christianity. The author, however, demonstrates that there is also a “Great Command” Christianity through which the faithful have sought to live as Jesus instructed—by loving God with all their hearts and loving their neighbors as themselves.
Borg, Marcus J. and John Dominic Crossan. The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church’s Conservative Icon (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2009). Biblical scholars Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan argue for a new understanding of Paul’s letters. While thirteen letters are attributed to Paul, the authors assert that seven are genuine, three are “non-Pauline,” and three are in dispute. The authors also explore the historical context of these letters and the identity of Paul as a “Jewish Christ mystic.”
Hedges, Chris. American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (New York, NY: Free Press, 2008). Journalist and Harvard Divinity School graduate Chris Hedges examines the Christian “dominionist” movement in America, a movement—rooted in radical Calvinism—which seeks to promote a theocratic state. Profiling current and former members, and outlining the movement’s agenda, Hedges demonstrates that the dominionists’ goals, if achieved, would seriously threaten “the very concept and practice of an open society.”
Kondrath, William M. God’s Tapestry: Understanding and Celebrating Differences (Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 2008). A tapestry, notes Bill Kondrath, “depends on differences, thrives on multiplicity.” And vital congregations, as expressions of God’s “tapestry,” do the same thing. Kondrath helps congregations embrace multiculturalism (defined as “the process of seeing, understanding, and appreciating differences so that they transform individuals and communities”). Included are guidelines for group interactions and an annotated bibliography.
Luskin, Fred. Forgive for Good (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2002). Psychologist Fred Luskin, director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, shows that forgiving “for good” means forgiving for our own good and that forgiveness is integral to physical and mental health. The HEAL approach to forgiveness (Hope, Educate, Affirm, and Long-term) enables us to forgive, control our pain, and make positive choices.
McDonnell, Kilian, OSB. God Drops and Loses Things (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2009). This third collection of poems from Father Kilian McDonnell presents biblical passages, following each passage with imagined reflections from players in the passage’s drama. We read “reflections” from Adam, Isaac, Miriam, Mary, Peter, Lazarus, and many others. Like Jacob wrestling with the angel, Father Kilian holds that—in these poems—“I am contending with God.”
Mortenson, Greg and David Oliver Relin. Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2006). In a world where the “war on terror” is equated with pre-emptive strikes and interrogations, Greg Mortenson chose a path that addresses the roots of terror. Mortenson founded the Central Asia Institute, which has constructed over fifty schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This book narrates his experiences and affirms his conviction that education is the best response to extremists.
Stepanek, Mattie J. T. and Jimmy Carter. Just Peace: A Message of Hope (Riverside, NJ: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2006). Mattie Stepanek, a young man who died at the age of thirteen from a neuromuscular disease that also claimed the lives of his siblings, wrote numerous poems and reflections. This book was written in collaboration with Mattie’s “real-life hero for peace,” former President Jimmy Carter. It offers poems, prayers, and essays that demonstrate an inspiring commitment to world peace.
Taylor, Barbara Brown. An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2009). Barbara Brown Taylor suggests that when people talk about spirituality, they often are referring to a reality deeper than the one they usually experience. They are seeking a “More” in life and they wonder where it can be found. This book demonstrates that it can be found here and now, in the “everyday activities, accidents, and encounters” of our lives.