Another month has gone, and we are half a year away from 2012, people! Half a year away from making new year's resolutions and posting lists of books we read in 2011 and putting away the Christmas decorations after yet another busy holiday season. Time sure does move quickly.
So in my May post I told y'all I read a book about a road (from Damascus) and this month I read about another road (Eastern Orthodoxy). Last month I read a book by an Indian (from Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh) who said very positive things about Christianity and the Bible. This month I read a book by an Indian (Native American) who didn't much care for most of the Christians he'd encountered. (I think he was OK with Jesus.) I finished my journey through America with Akbar Ahmed and his team. That book was rather long (500ish pages) and detailed, but kept my attention throughout. I read a book about two "promised lands" - Israel and the United States. The latter dealt with Moses' impact in inspiring the settlers here.
Have you read any good books lately?
Journey Into America by Akbar Ahmed -- fantastic book about American identity and culture and the ways minority groups have been treated here; see posts from late May and early June for many more details
"Through discussion and dialogue with my Jewish friends, I have learned about Jewish history and culture and how these shape Jewish identity -- the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the trauma of the Diaspora, and the tragedy of the Holocaust, which remains a dark and troubling cloud over the history of all humankind. I also learned of the deep attachment that Jews feel toward the city of Jerusalem and the land of Israel, which is more than just a country to the Jewish people. It is an expression of their religious and cultural identity. Becoming friends with Jews allowed me to view the Israeli narrative from their perspective. In this way, while they saw and hopefully understood my Muslim narrative, I tried to understand theirs." (pg. 395)
The chapter on Mormons and Muslims showed me how similar the two faiths are. In fact the Mormon university has a geography class where one professor gives handouts showing 21 similarities between the two faiths. Granted, they also have huge differences, but the team said Mormons they met seemed to be the most accepting of Muslims in America. When breaking down stats, Mormons over any other group put religion as number one in their lives (96%; Muslims were at 85%), When asked about the biggest threats to America, Mormons were more likely to say the "breakdown of the family," "ourselves," "immorality," and "the economy." One student "named pornography as the greatest threat to America, calling it 'the root of a lot of evil.'" "More Mormons saw America as a Christian country than did either Protestants or Catholics." (pg. 420-1)
When discussing the rise of Mormonism during what he calls "the Great White American Century" the author noted "Mormonism provided an optimistic theology in an era of hope and promise. Unlike the austere and puritanical preachings of Calvinism, Mormonism offered what scholar Fawn Brodie called an 'ingenious blend of supernaturalism and materialism, which promised in heaven a continuation of all earthly pleasures - work, wealth, sex and power.'" (pg. 405)
The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy by Alexander Schmemann -- I shared much more about this book here.
"In the record of Orthodoxy, as in the story of Christianity in general, there is no lack of defects and human sins. ... The true Orthodox way of thought has always been historical, has always included the past, but has never been enslaved by it. Christ is 'yesterday and today and forever the same,' and the strength of the Church is not in the past, present, or future, but in Christ." (pg. 341)
Speaking of Jesus by Carl Medearis -- after having read a book filled with Christian Church stuff, this book was almost simplistic by contrast. The author basically tells us to just talk about Jesus. He reminded us that the complicated doctrines, explanations, egg illustration of God and often horrid Christian history are not what people need. They just need Jesus. And he shares what a joy it is for him to talk about one he loves so dearly. I like too that he stressed discipleship - a commitment of relationship - rather than evangelism which is often a one-moment deal (e.g., one altar call, one revival meeting, one door-to-door soul winning evening). ; also see previous post
"We can't simply pull in our church boundaries, tell the rest of the world to drop dead, and then bomb the sand out of the Middle East. At least not if we are trying to follow Jesus. The conservative movement here in the West often tries to embrace the moral code of Christianity without the self-sacrificial teachings of Jesus." (pg. 148)
Here is an article of Carl's published at Huffington Post just yesterday.
Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto by Vine Deloria, Jr. -- Andrew asked why I got this book and I think it was in the footnotes of a book I read earlier this year. I decided I wanted to read a book about Indians from an American Indian rather than a white author so I found this one on Amazon and received it for my birthday. Read more about my thoughts on this book here.
And see my pictures from the Cherokee Indian Reservation here if you'd like. We were there last Saturday.
The Much Too Promised Land: America’s Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace by Aaron David Miller -- My brother found this book somewhere and gave it to me for my birthday. He said he saw the word "Arab" and knew how much I like them so he got this. About halfway through this nearly 400 page book I was ready to toss it aside because I was exasperated with how much time and money and energy has been used in trying to bring peace to this region! (Not to mention all the trees killed to write all those drafts and official treaties!) To read more go here.
America's Prophet: How the Story of Moses Shaped America by Bruce Feiler -- I saw this on Amazon.com and decided to buy it. It was inexpensive and I like Bruce Feiler. I've read at least three of his other books. See the previous post for some of the American Moseses (or Mosii per Amber's suggestion) discussed in this book. Also I'll probably add a bit more from this book in an upcoming post. I finished it just in time to add to June books!
If you want to see most of these books because you are a visual person and maybe like to see that people actually are nerdy enough to take photos of their stacks of books, go here. From my stack of 18 books pictured there, I have only one left to read! I actually went to the library once, had 3 books in my arms to check out and ...
(try not to faint when you read this)
PUT THEM BACK ON THE SHELVES!!!
I yielded not to temptation because I remembered I still had books at home that needed to be read. Just a few more to go now and then Helloooooo, Library! :)