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What's the best religious book you've read?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by sandandfoam, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. Twilight Hue

    Twilight Hue Twilight, not bright nor dark, good nor bad.

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    I liked the Gateless Gate, Blue Cliff Records, and Moon in a Dewdrop (Dogen). Not sure if there is a best though for me. Cant decide as they all are on par as religious oriented books go.

    If I'm feeling like a wise-cracker I'll meander over to the writings of Brad Warner or Alan Watts.
     
  2. Onkara

    Onkara Well-Known Member

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    That is encouraging to read. I hope I have the chance to read it. I am not sure how it helps to go further into ancient texts, unless you mean the ideas are similar and it serves as a good introduction to ancient ideas (as well as value in itself)?
     
  3. Levite

    Levite Higher and Higher

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    Well, in terms of classical religious literature, of course Tanakh/Mikra'ot Gedolot and the Talmud with the traditional commentaries; but also Sefer Yetzirah (a book of Kabbalah) and Me'or Enayim (a Hasidic masterwork, by Rebbe Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl, 18th century).

    In terms of currant literature:

    Man's Quest For God and Heavenly Torah As Reflected Through The Generations, by Abraham Joshua Heschel
    For The Love Of God And People: A Philosophy Of Jewish Law and The Unfolding Tradition: Jewish Law After Sinai, by Elliot N. Dorff
    The Five Books of Moses, by Everett Fox
    Engendering Judaism: An Inclusive Theology And Ethics, by Rachel Adler
    Through A Speculum That Shines, by Elliot Wolfson
    Meditation and Kabbalah, by Aryeh Kaplan
    On The Mystical Shape Of The Godhead, by Gershom Scholem
    On Changes In Jewish Liturgy, by Daniel Sperber
     
  4. Charity

    Charity Let's go racing boys !

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    A book titled "Forgive, Forget And Be Free"....Since forgiveness and forgetting that I've been wronged is sometimes difficult for me, this book gave me a boost in the right direction.....
     
  5. UnityNow101

    UnityNow101 Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps my explanation was a bit "off". What I meant is that ever since I began my spiritual journey, whenever I would read ancient texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, books in the Tantric tradition, etc, I would always feel as though I was never grasping the inner meaning. Sure, I would read the words, but it never resonated with me in any meaningful way. When reading this book, it dawned on me that my focus was not what it should have been. What seems to be a simple phrase can carry a million different meanings, all of them which can help on the spiritual journey. You're right, the book never really addresses any of the other ancient traditions, but it has helped me to put it all into the proper persepctive and penetrate into the deeper meaning of it all..
     
    #25 UnityNow101, Oct 31, 2010
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2010
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  6. Penumbra

    Penumbra Veteran Member
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    The Bhagavad Gita.

    What did you like about it?
     
  7. strikeviperMKII

    strikeviperMKII Well-Known Member

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    The Naked Now, by Fr. Richard Rohr
     
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  8. tumbleweed41

    tumbleweed41 Resident Liberal Hippie

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    The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Carl Sagan.

    Not exactly a 'religious' book, but instrumental in my own religious path.
     
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  9. Smoke

    Smoke Done here.

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    I think the Hesychast tradition in Eastern Orthodoxy represents some of the best of Christianity. It eschews visualization and other cataphatic techniques, and likewise discourages visions and ecstatic religious experiences. It stands in stark contrast to the hysteria of the Catholic saints in the tradition of Francis, Teresa, Bernadette, and Padre Pio, and the ecstatic emotionalism of the Pentecostals. It's sober, aphophatic, and -- in my view -- beautiful.

    The Way of a Pilgrim is a book about a layman's experience of hesychasm. The Pilgrim reads the Philokalia and practices the Prayer of the Heart as he wanders. It was one of the first Orthodox books I read, and helped shape my entire experience of Orthodoxy. St. Gregory Palamas gives you the theory; the Pilgrim gives you the practice. :)

    St. Ignatius Brianchaninov wrote a good book about the Prayer of the Heart, and Mother Alexandra of Ellwood City, when she was still Princess Ileana of Romania, wrote an excellent little booklet about it. But I think The Way of a Pilgrim stands above them both.

    Even though I'm not a Christian anymore, I still think it's a beautiful book. And even if Palamite/hesychast theology is obviously less meaningful to an atheist, I think the Pilgrim archetype transcends traditions and schools of thought.
     
  10. Smoke

    Smoke Done here.

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    I'm a great admirer of Sagan's, and I think that's the best thing he ever wrote.
     
  11. Smoke

    Smoke Done here.

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    Heschel was one of my favorite authors when I was in my twenties. Your recommendation makes me want to take him up again. :)
     
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  12. Father Heathen

    Father Heathen Veteran Member

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    Does Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse count?
     
  13. Smoke

    Smoke Done here.

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    I don't see why not. Just about anything by Hesse should count.
     
  14. EverChanging

    EverChanging Well-Known Member

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    A History of God, by Karen Armstrong. She made me see very clearly how radical mystics in all three of the major Abrahamic faiths were in some ways barely distinguishable from atheists. It also made me see that a people's definition or conception of God or the divine is dependent upon their history and current circumstances. Beliefs about God or gods are always changing and in some sense dependent on a people's environment.
     
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  15. EverChanging

    EverChanging Well-Known Member

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    I just saw that someone mentioned Father Richard Rohr, a Roman Catholic monk and priest. I've only read one book by him, one a friend gave to me, but it was probably the best book I've ever read by a Christian theologian: Everything Belongs.

    It is highly mystical and often transcends differences between Christianity and other world religions. I found it poetic, useful, and contemplative as I continue to practice meditation and contemplation.
     
  16. tumbleweed41

    tumbleweed41 Resident Liberal Hippie

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    Very good book.:yes:
     
  17. Dezzie

    Dezzie Well-Known Member

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    The Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Daniken. :) It fits my beliefs perfectly.
     
  18. Copernicus

    Copernicus Godless Hierophant

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    I always have trouble with what-is-your-favorite questions, because there are usually so many candidates to choose from. That is especially true in the case of religion. For my early years, it was Bertrand Russell's Why I am not a Christian, because that was the most popular book of its type when I was young. Nowadays, there are plenty of very good books, but I'll just mention two of my favorites:

    Stewart Guthrie's Faces in the Clouds.
    Anthropologist Stewart Guthrie explains why theism exists--because of our inborn tendency to anthropomorphize inanimate objects and forces. Dawkins discussed his thesis in The God Delusion but was apparently unaware of the source.

    Bart Ehrman's God's Problem.
    Ehrman gives a detailed review of what the Bible has to say about human suffering, which was the issue that he claims drove him away from religious faith.

    I liked both of these books not because they were the best written works I've read on the subject, but because they gave me interesting insights that I did not have before I read them.
     
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  19. Nepenthe

    Nepenthe Tu Stultus Es

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    Faces in the Clouds is phenomenal. It had a big impact on me as an anthropology undergrad'.
    Why I am Not a Christian is one of the earliest critiques of religion I'd read as a kid and it definitely influenced me. But I think Kurtz's The Transcendental Temptation had the biggest influence if only for sheer volume and chutzpah in tackling so many diverse subjects.
     
  20. Penumbra

    Penumbra Veteran Member
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    I like that one too. I didn't think of it because I don't think of it much as a religious book either.
     
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