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National Book Award Finalist


A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower, the now-classic study of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack. Based on more than two hundred personal interviews with current and former Scientologists—both famous and less well known—and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative ability to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.

At the book’s center, two men whom Wright brings vividly to life, showing how they have made Scientology what it is today: The darkly brilliant science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, whose restless, expansive mind invented a new religion. And his successor, David Miscavige—tough and driven, with the unenviable task of preserving the church after the death of Hubbard.

We learn about Scientology’s complicated cosmology and special language. We see the ways in which the church pursues celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and how such stars are used to advance the church’s goals. And we meet the young idealists who have joined the Sea Org, the church’s clergy, signing up with a billion-year contract.

In Going Clear, Wright examines what fundamentally makes a religion a religion, and whether Scientology is, in fact, deserving of this constitutional protection. Employing all his exceptional journalistic skills of observation, understanding, and shaping a story into a compelling narrative, Lawrence Wright has given us an evenhanded yet keenly incisive book that reveals the very essence of what makes Scientology the institution it is.

Sam Harris’s first book, The End of Faith, ignited a worldwide debate about the validity of religion. In the aftermath, Harris discovered that most people—from religious fundamentalists to nonbelieving scientists—agree on one point: science has nothing to say on the subject of human values. Indeed, our failure to address questions of meaning and morality through science has now become the most common justification for religious faith. It is also the primary reason why so many secularists and religious moderates feel obligated to "respect" the hardened superstitions of their more devout neighbors.

In this explosive new book, Sam Harris tears down the wall between scientific facts and human values, arguing that most people are simply mistaken about the relationship between morality and the rest of human knowledge. Harris urges us to think about morality in terms of human and animal well-being, viewing the experiences of conscious creatures as peaks and valleys on a "moral landscape." Because there are definite facts to be known about where we fall on this landscape, Harris foresees a time when science will no longer limit itself to merely describing what people do in the name of "morality"; in principle, science should be able to tell us what we ought to do to live the best lives possible.

Bringing a fresh perspective to age-old questions of right and wrong and good and evil, Harris demonstrates that we already know enough about the human brain and its relationship to events in the world to say that there are right and wrong answers to the most pressing questions of human life. Because such answers exist, moral relativism is simply false—and comes at increasing cost to humanity. And the intrusions of religion into the sphere of human values can be finally repelled: for just as there is no such thing as Christian physics or Muslim algebra, there can be no Christian or Muslim morality.

Using his expertise in philosophy and neuroscience, along with his experience on the front lines of our "culture wars," Harris delivers a game-changing book about the future of science and about the real basis of human cooperation.
The inspiration for the film starring Anthony Hopkins, journalist Matt Baglio uses the astonishing story of one American priest's training as an exorcist to reveal that the phenomena of possession, demons, the Devil, and exorcism are not merely a remnant of the archaic past, but remain a fearsome power in many people's lives even today.

Father Gary Thomas was working as a parish priest in California when he was asked by his bishop to travel to Rome for training in the rite of exorcism. Though initially surprised, and slightly reluctant, he accepted this call, and enrolled in a new exorcism course at a Vatican-affiliated university, which taught him, among other things, how to distinguish between a genuine possession and mental illness. Eventually he would go on to participate in more than eighty exorcisms as an apprentice to a veteran Italian exorcist. His experiences profoundly changed the way he viewed the spiritual world, and as he moved from rational skeptic to practicing exorcist he came to understand the battle between good and evil in a whole new light. Journalist Matt Baglio had full access to Father Gary over the course of his training, and much of what he learned defies explanation.

The Rite provides fascinating vignettes from the lives of exorcists and people possessed by demons, including firsthand accounts of exorcists at work casting out demons, culminating in Father Gary's own confrontations with the Devil. Baglio also traces the history of exorcism, revealing its rites and rituals, explaining what the Catholic Church really teaches about demonic possession, and delving into such related topics as the hierarchy of angels and demons, satanic cults, black masses, curses, and the various theories used by modern scientists and anthropologists who seek to quantify such phenomena.

Written with an investigative eye that will captivate both skeptics and believers alike, The Rite shows that the truth about demonic possession is not only stranger than fiction, but also far more chilling.
Now a major motion picture! Starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams. Written and directed by John Patrick Shanley from his Pulitzer Prize–winning play.

“The best new play of the season. That rarity of rarities, an issue-driven play that is unpreachy, thought-provoking, and so full of high drama that the audience with which I saw it gasped out loud a half-dozen times at its startling twists and turns. Mr. Shanley deserves the highest possible praise: he doesn’t try to talk you into doing anything but thinking-hard-about the gnarly complexity of human behavior.”—Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal

“A breathtaking work of immense proportion. Positively brilliant.”—Melissa Rose Bernardo, Entertainment Weekly

“#1 show of the year. How splendid it feels to be trusted with such passionate, exquisite ambiguity unlike anything we have seen from this prolific playwright so far. In just ninety fast-moving minutes, Shanley creates four blazingly individual people. Doubt is a lean, potent drama . . . passionate, exquisite, important and engrossing.”—Linda Winer, Newsday

John Patrick Shanley is the author of numerous plays, including Danny in the Deep Blue Sea, Dirty Story, Four Dogs and a Bone, Psychopathia, Sexualis, Sailor’s Song, Savage in Limbo, and Where’s My Money? He has written extensively for TV and film, and his credits include the teleplay for Live from Baghdad and screenplays for Congo; Alive; Five Corners; Joe Versus the Volcano, which he also directed; and Moonstruck, for which he won an Academy Award for best original screenplay.

A guided tour through the burgeoning business of exorcism and the darker side of American life.
There is no other religious ritual more fascinating, or more disturbing, than exorcism. This is particularly true in America today, where the ancient rite has a surprisingly strong hold on our imagination, and on our popular entertainment industry. We’ve all heard of exorcism, seen the movies and read the books, but few of us have ever experienced it firsthand.
Conducted by exorcists officially appointed by Catholic archdioceses and by maverick priests sidestepping Church sanctions, by evangelical ministers and Episcopal charismatics, exorcism is alive and well in the new millennium. Oprah, Diane Sawyer, and Barbara Walters have featured exorcists on their shows. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Time, and other publications have charted the proliferation of exorcisms across the United States. Last year, the Archdiocese of Chicago appointed its first full-time exorcist in its 160-year history; in New York, four priests have officially investigated about forty cases of suspected possession every year since 1995.

American Exorcism is an inside look at this burgeoning phenomenon, written with objectivity, insight, and just the right touch of irony. Michael W. Cuneo attended more than fifty exorcisms and interviewed many of the participants–both the exorcists who performed the rituals and the people from all walks of life who believed they were possessed by the devil. He brings vividly to life the ceremonies themselves, conjuring up memories of Linda Blair’s astonishing performance in the 1973 movie The Exorcist and other bizarre (and sometimes stomach-churning) images. Cuneo dissects, as well, the arguments of such well-known exorcism advocates as Malachi Martin, author of the controversial Hostage to the Devil, self-help guru M. Scott Peck, and self-professed demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren of Amityville Horror fame.

As he explores this netherworld of American life, Cuneo reflects on the meaning of exorcism in the twenty-first century and on the relationship between religious ritual and popular culture. Touching on such provocative topics as the “satanic panics” of the 1980s, repressed memory, and ritual abuse, American Exorcism is a remarkably revealing, consistently entertaining work of cultural commentary.
Natacha Tormey was born into the infamous religious cult known as The Children of God. Abused, exploited, and brainwashed by ‘The Family’, Natacha’s childhood was stolen.

Born to French hippy parents attracted to the religious movement by the unusual mix of evangelical Christianity, free love and rejection of the mainstream, from an early age Natacha was brainwashed to believe she had a special destiny – that she was part of an elite children’s army bestowed with superpowers that would one day save the world from the Anti-Christ.

Torn away from their parents, Natacha and her siblings were beaten on a daily basis and forced to sing and dance for entertainment in prisons and malls. Natacha never expected to live to adulthood.

At the age of 18 Natacha escaped, but quickly found herself hurtling through a world she had no understanding of. Alone, and grappling to come to terms with an unbelievable sense of betrayal, she was stuck in a kind of limbo – confused and unable to feel part of either way of life.

Natacha is one of the lucky ones; not all of her family survived the battle to shed the shame and pain of their past. To date over 40 ex-Children of God members of Natacha’s generation have committed suicide.

All Natacha ever wanted was to feel normal, but escaping the cult was only the beginning. Shocking, moving, but ultimately inspiring, this is Natacha’s full story; it is both a personal tale of trauma and recovery, and an exposé of the secret world of abuse hidden behind commune walls.

PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • Hailed by The Washington Post as “mandatory reading,” and praised by Fareed Zakaria as “intelligent, compassionate, and revealing,” a powerful journey to help bridge one of the greatest divides shaping our world today.

If the Oceans Were Ink

is Carla Power's eye-opening story of how she and her longtime friend Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi found a way to confront ugly stereotypes and persistent misperceptions that were cleaving their communities. Their friendship-between a secular American and a madrasa-trained sheikh-had always seemed unlikely, but now they were frustrated and bewildered by the battles being fought in their names. Both knew that a close look at the Quran would reveal a faith that preached peace and not mass murder; respect for women and not oppression. And so they embarked on a yearlong journey through the controversial text.

A journalist who grew up in the Midwest and the Middle East, Power offers her unique vantage point on the Quran's most provocative verses as she debates with Akram at cafes, family gatherings, and packed lecture halls, conversations filled with both good humor and powerful insights. Their story takes them to madrasas in India and pilgrimage sites in Mecca, as they encounter politicians and jihadis, feminist activists and conservative scholars. Armed with a new understanding of each other's worldviews, Power and Akram offer eye-opening perspectives, destroy long-held myths, and reveal startling connections between worlds that have seemed hopelessly divided for far too long.

Praise for If the Oceans Were Ink

“A vibrant tale of a friendship.... If the Oceans Were Ink is a welcome and nuanced look at Islam [and] goes a long way toward combating the dehumanizing stereotypes of Muslims that are all too common.... If the Oceans Were Ink should be mandatory reading for the 52 percent of Americans who admit to not knowing enough about Muslims.”—The Washington Post

“For all those who wonder what Islam says about war and peace, men and women, Jews and gentiles, this is the book to read. It is a conversation among well-meaning friends—intelligent, compassionate, and revealing—the kind that needs to be taking place around the world.”—Fareed Zakaria, author of The Post-American World

“Carla Power’s intimate portrait of the Quran, told with nuance and great elegance, captures the extraordinary, living debate over the Muslim holy book’s very essence. A spirited, compelling read.”—Azadeh Moaveni, author of Lipstick Jihad

“Unique, masterful, and deeply engaging. Carla Power takes the reader on an extraordinary journey in interfaith understanding as she debates and discovers the Quran’s message, meaning, and values on peace and violence, gender and veiling, religious pluralism and tolerance.”—John L. Esposito, University Professor and Professor of Islamic Studies, Georgetown University, and author of The Future of Islam

“A thoughtful, provocative, intelligent book.”—Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Birds Of Paradise and The Language of Baklava

The call to make the world a better place is inherent in the Christian belief and practice. But why have efforts to change the world by Christians so often failed or gone tragically awry? And how might Christians in the 21st century live in ways that have integrity with their traditions and are more truly transformative? In To Change the World, James Davison Hunter offers persuasive--and provocative--answers to these questions. Hunter begins with a penetrating appraisal of the most popular models of world-changing among Christians today, highlighting the ways they are inherently flawed and therefore incapable of generating the change to which they aspire. Because change implies power, all Christian eventually embrace strategies of political engagement. Hunter offers a trenchant critique of the political theologies of the Christian Right and Left and the Neo-Anabaptists, taking on many respected leaders, from Charles Colson to Jim Wallis and Stanley Hauerwas. Hunter argues that all too often these political theologies worsen the very problems they are designed to solve. What is really needed is a different paradigm of Christian engagement with the world, one that Hunter calls "faithful presence"--an ideal of Christian practice that is not only individual but institutional; a model that plays out not only in all relationships but in our work and all spheres of social life. He offers real-life examples, large and small, of what can be accomplished through the practice of "faithful presence." Such practices will be more fruitful, Hunter argues, more exemplary, and more deeply transfiguring than any more overtly ambitious attempts can ever be. Written with keen insight, deep faith, and profound historical grasp, To Change the World will forever change the way Christians view and talk about their role in the modern world.
The headlines are clear: religion is on the decline in America as many people leave behind traditional religious practices. Diana Butler Bass, leading commentator on religion, politics, and culture, follows up her acclaimed book Christianity After Religion by arguing that what appears to be a decline actually signals a major transformation in how people understand and experience God. The distant God of conventional religion has given way to a more intimate sense of the sacred that is with us in the world. This shift, from a vertical understanding of God to a God found on the horizons of nature and human community, is at the heart of a spiritual revolution that surrounds us – and that is challenging not only religious institutions but political and social ones as well.

Grounded explores this cultural turn as Bass unpacks how people are finding new spiritual ground by discovering and embracing God everywhere in the world around us—in the soil, the water, the sky, in our homes and neighborhoods, and in the global commons. Faith is no longer a matter of mountaintop experience or institutional practice; instead, people are connecting with God through the environment in which we live. Grounded guides readers through our contemporary spiritual habitat as it points out and pays attention to the ways in which people experience a God who animates creation and community.

Bass brings her understanding of the latest research and studies and her deep knowledge of history and theology to Grounded. She cites news, trends, data, and pop culture, weaves in spiritual texts and ancient traditions, and pulls it all together through stories of her own and others' spiritual journeys. Grounded observes and reports a radical change in the way many people understand God and how they practice faith. In doing so, Bass invites readers to join this emerging spiritual revolution, find a revitalized expression of faith, and change the world.

In the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), girls can become valuable property as plural wives, but boys are expendable, even a liability. In this powerful and heartbreaking account, former FLDS member Brent Jeffs reveals both the terror and the love he experienced growing up on his prophet’s compound—and the harsh exile existence that so many boys face once they have been expelled by the sect.

Brent Jeffs is the nephew of Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned leader of the FLDS. The son of a prominent family in the church, Brent could have grown up to have multiple wives of his own and significant power in the 10,000-strong community. But he knew that behind the group’s pious public image—women in chaste dresses carrying babies on their hips—lay a much darker reality. So he walked away, and was the first to file a sexual-abuse lawsuit against his uncle. Now Brent shares his courageous story and that of many other young men who have become “lost boys” when they leave the FLDS, either by choice or by expulsion.

Brent experienced firsthand the absolute power that church leaders wield—the kind of power that corrupts and perverts those who will do anything to maintain it. Once young men no longer belong to the church, they are cast out into a world for which they are utterly unprepared. More often than not, they succumb to the temptations of alcohol and other drugs.

Tragically, Brent lost two of his brothers in this struggle, one to suicide, the other to overdose. In this book he shows that lost boys can triumph and that abuse and trauma can be overcome, and he hopes that readers will be inspired to help former FLDS members find their way in the world.
National Book Award Finalist

The enhanced eBook edition of Lawrence Wright’s revelatory study of Scientology includes additional photographs and documents, plus more than thirty minutes of original video—taped interviews with former members of the church speaking about what drew them to Scientology and about discovering past lives, the church’s position on abortion and homosexuality, and how the Guardian’s Office functions; and in interviews with the author, Lawrence Wright speaks about his aims in writing this book, his respect for his sources, and methods of research.

A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower, the now-classic study of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack. Based on more than two hundred personal interviews with current and former Scientologists—both famous and less well known—and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative ability to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.

At the book’s center, two men whom Wright brings vividly to life, showing how they have made Scientology what it is today: The darkly brilliant science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, whose restless, expansive mind invented a new religion. And his successor, David Miscavige—tough and driven, with the unenviable task of preserving the church after the death of Hubbard.

We learn about Scientology’s complicated cosmology and special language. We see the ways in which the church pursues celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and how such stars are used to advance the church’s goals. And we meet the young idealists who have joined the Sea Org, the church’s clergy, signing up with a billion-year contract.

In Going Clear, Wright examines what fundamentally makes a religion a religion, and whether Scientology is, in fact, deserving of this constitutional protection. Employing all his exceptional journalistic skills of observation, understanding, and shaping a story into a compelling narrative, Lawrence Wright has given us an evenhanded yet keenly incisive book that reveals the very essence of what makes Scientology the institution it is.
As the youngest-ever op-ed columnist for the New York Times, Ross Douthat has emerged as one of the most provocative and influential voices of his generation. In Bad Religion he offers a masterful and hard-hitting account of how American Christianity has gone off the rails—and why it threatens to take American society with it.

Writing for an era dominated by recession, gridlock, and fears of American decline, Douthat exposes the spiritual roots of the nation’s political and economic crises. He argues that America’s problem isn’t too much religion, as a growing chorus of atheists have argued; nor is it an intolerant secularism, as many on the Christian right believe. Rather, it’s bad religion: the slow-motion collapse of traditional faith and the rise of a variety of pseudo-Christianities that stroke our egos, indulge our follies, and encourage our worst impulses.

These faiths speak from many pulpits—conservative and liberal, political and pop cultural, traditionally religious and fashionably “spiritual”—and many of their preachers claim a Christian warrant. But they are increasingly offering distortions of traditional Christianity—not the real thing. Christianity’s place in American life has increasingly been taken over, not by atheism, Douthat argues, but by heresy: debased versions of Christian faith that breed hubris, greed, and self-absorption.

In a story that moves from the 1950s to the age of Obama, he brilliantly charts institutional Christianity’s decline from a vigorous, mainstream, and bipartisan faith—which acted as a “vital center” and the moral force behind the civil rights movement—through the culture wars of the 1960s and 1970s to the polarizing debates of the present day. Ranging from Glenn Beck to Barack Obama, Eat Pray Love to Joel Osteen, and Oprah Winfrey to The Da Vinci Code, Douthat explores how the prosperity gospel’s mantra of “pray and grow rich,” a cult of self-esteem that reduces God to a life coach, and the warring political religions of left and right have crippled the country’s ability to confront our most pressing challenges and accelerated American decline.

His urgent call for a revival of traditional Christianity is sure to generate controversy, and it will be vital reading for all those concerned about the imperiled American future.
In the Afro-Cuban Lukumi religious tradition—more commonly known in the United States as Santería—entrants into the priesthood undergo an extraordinary fifty-three-week initiation period. During this time, these novices—called iyawo—endure a host of prohibitions, including most notably wearing exclusively white clothing. In A Year in White, sociologist C. Lynn Carr, who underwent this initiation herself, opens a window on this remarkable year-long religious transformation.
 
In her intimate investigation of the “year in white,” Carr draws on fifty-two in-depth interviews with other participants, an online survey of nearly two hundred others, and almost a decade of her own ethnographic fieldwork, gathering stories that allow us to see how cultural newcomers and natives thought, felt, and acted with regard to their initiation. She documents how, during the iyawo year, the ritual slowly transforms the initiate’s identity. For the first three months, for instance, the iyawo may not use a mirror, even to shave, and must eat all meals while seated on a mat on the floor using only a spoon and their own set of dishes. During the entire year, the iyawo loses their name and is simply addressed as “iyawo” by family and friends.
 
Carr also shows that this year-long religious ritual—which is carried out even as the iyawo goes about daily life—offers new insight into religion in general, suggesting that the sacred is not separable from the profane and indeed that religion shares an ongoing dynamic relationship with the realities of everyday life. Religious expression happens at home, on the streets, at work and school.
 
Offering insight not only into Santería but also into religion more generally, A Year in White makes an important contribution to our understanding of complex, dynamic religious landscapes in multicultural, pluralist societies and how they inhabit our daily lives.
 
“Silver” Winner of the 2008 Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award, Religion Category
Before he began his recent travels, it seemed to Phil Zuckerman as if humans all over the globe were “getting religion”—praising deities, performing holy rites, and soberly defending the world from sin. But most residents of Denmark and Sweden, he found, don’t worship any god at all, don’t pray, and don’t give much credence to religious dogma of any kind. Instead of being bastions of sin and corruption, however, as the Christian Right has suggested a godless society would be, these countries are filled with residents who score at the very top of the “happiness index” and enjoy their healthy societies, which boast some of the lowest rates of violent crime in the world (along with some of the lowest levels of corruption), excellent educational systems, strong economies, well-supported arts, free health care, egalitarian social policies, outstanding bike paths, and great beer.
Zuckerman formally interviewed nearly 150 Danes and Swedes of all ages and educational backgrounds over the course of fourteen months. He was particularly interested in the worldviews of people who live their lives without religious orientation. How do they think about and cope with death? Are they worried about an afterlife? What he found is that nearly all of his interviewees live their lives without much fear of the Grim Reaper or worries about the hereafter. This led him to wonder how and why it is that certain societies are non-religious in a world that seems to be marked by increasing religiosity. Drawing on prominent sociological theories and his own extensive research, Zuckerman ventures some interesting answers.
This fascinating approach directly counters the claims of outspoken, conservative American Christians who argue that a society without God would be hell on earth. It is crucial, Zuckerman believes, for Americans to know that “society without God is not only possible, but it can be quite civil and pleasant.”
TREACHERY, INTRIGUE, AND WORLD DOMINATION BEHIND THE VATICAN WALLS

The last pope narrative regained importance with the historical abdication of Pope Benedict XVI in February, 2013. His resignation led to the surprising election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the first Jesuit pope in history. It’s very unusual to have two popes living in the Vatican at the same time. What’s more, Pope Francis fits the profile of one whom many have prophesied to be the last, and who will oversee the final transformation and destruction of the Catholic Church. This book details the history of various prophecies, some of which were hidden away in the Vatican for hundreds of years, and predicts that the reign of the last pope will herald the beginning of “great apostasy” followed by “great tribulation.”

Pope Francis: The Last Pope? Money, Masons and Occultism in the Decline of the Catholic Church also explores the recent scandals within the Catholic Church and addresses questions including: What pressures decreed the end of the pontificate of Benedict XVI? What powers have an interest for the Church to end? and What is the relationship between the Vatican and the New World Order? Ideal for anyone interested in prophecies about the end of times, Pope Francis: The Last Pope? reveals the truth about the extent of Freemasonry’s influence in the Vatican and the darkness that may follow the parallel institutions, as well as fascinating investigations into the Gay Lobby, presence of Islamic prayers in the Vatican, the Jesuit agenda, the legend of the White Pope and the Black Pope, the Third Secret of Fátima, and how Benedict’s resignation may fulfill an ancient prophecy. The author substantiates his research by including secret, never before seen documents, as well as hard evidence from the heart of Freemasonry and the Holy See. 

A nuanced exploration of the part that religion plays in human life, drawing on the insights of the past in order to build a faith that speaks to the needs of our dangerously polarized age.
 
Moving from the Paleolithic age to the present, Karen Armstrong details the great lengths to which humankind has gone in order to experience a sacred reality that it called by many names, such as God, Brahman, Nirvana, Allah, or Dao. Focusing especially on Christianity but including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Chinese spiritualities, Armstrong examines the diminished impulse toward religion in our own time, when a significant number of people either want nothing to do with God or question the efficacy of faith. Why has God become unbelievable? Why is it that atheists and theists alike now think and speak about God in a way that veers so profoundly from the thinking of our ancestors?

Answering these questions with the same depth of knowledge and profound insight that have marked all her acclaimed books, Armstrong makes clear how the changing face of the world has necessarily changed the importance of religion at both the societal and the individual level.  Yet she cautions us that religion was never supposed to provide answers that lie within the competence of human reason; that, she says, is the role of logos. The task of religion is “to help us live creatively, peacefully, and even joyously with realities for which there are no easy explanations.” She emphasizes, too, that religion will not work automatically. It is, she says, a practical discipline: its insights are derived not from abstract speculation but from “dedicated intellectual endeavor” and a “compassionate lifestyle that enables us to break out of the prism of selfhood.”
How did the preaching of a peasant carpenter from Galilee spark a movement that would grow to include over two billion followers? Who listened to this "good news," and who ignored it? Where did Christianity spread, and how? Based on quantitative data and the latest scholarship, preeminent scholar and journalist Rodney Stark presents new and startling information about the rise of the early church, overturning many prevailing views of how Christianity grew through time to become the largest religion in the world.

Drawing on both archaeological and historical evidence, Stark is able to provide hard statistical evidence on the religious life of the Roman Empire to discover the following facts that set conventional history on its head:

Contrary to fictions such as The Da Vinci Code and the claims of some prominent scholars, Gnosticism was not a more sophisticated, more authentic form of Christianity, but really an unsuccessful effort to paganize Christianity.

Paul was called the apostle to the Gentiles, but mostly he converted Jews.

Paganism was not rapidly stamped out by state repression following the vision and conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine in 312 AD, but gradually disappeared as people abandoned the temples in response to the superior appeal of Christianity.

The "oriental" faiths—such as those devoted to Isis, the Egyptian goddess of love and magic, and to Cybele, the fertility goddess of Asia Minor—actually prepared the way for the rapid spread of Christianity across the Roman Empire.

Contrary to generations of historians, the Roman mystery cult of Mithraism posed no challenge to Christianity to become the new faith of the empire— it allowed no female members and attracted only soldiers.

By analyzing concrete data, Stark is able to challenge the conventional wisdom about early Christianity offering the clearest picture ever of how this religion grew from its humble beginnings into the faith of more than one-third of the earth's population.

"Out of the Ashes is a full-throated, stout-hearted call to arms—soul-stirring,uncompromising, and irresistible." —ROD DREHER, author of The Benedict Option

"Out of the Ashes is an astonishing combination of energy, humor, insight, and exceptional erudition, topped off by a vivid personal style and a special gift for tweaking the nose of secularist nonsense-peddlers. If you’re looking for a guide to our current cultural predicament (and how to fix it), one that’s sobering and invigorating at the same time, start with this book." —CHARLES J. CHAPUT, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia

"Anthony Esolen is one of our nation’s best writers because he’s one of our best thinkers. Out of the Ashes is vintage Esolen: eloquent, bold, insightful, profound." — RYAN T. ANDERSON, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation, and author of Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and ReligiousFreedom



What do you do when an entire civilization is crumbling around you?

You do everything. This is a book about how to get started.

The Left’s culture war threatens America’s foundation and its very civilization, warns Esolen in his brand new book, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture. They will tell you that babies in the womb are fetuses, that gender is a social construct, and that the backbone of society is government not the community.

In Out of the Ashes, Esolen outlines his surprisingly simple plan to take back American culture— start at home. Esolen urges us to demand a return to values in our homes, our schools, our churches, and our communities, and to reject political correctness.

“We must become tellers of truth again—and people who are willing to hear truths, especially when it hurts to hear them.”
A new world of religious satire illuminated through the layers of religion and humor that make up the The Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy.

Drawing on the worldviews put forth by three wildly popular animated shows – The Simpsons, South Park, and Family Guy– David Feltmate demonstrates how ideas about religion’s proper place in American society are communicated through comedy. The book includes discussion of a wide range of American religions, including Protestant and Catholic Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Native American Religions, New Religious Movements, “Spirituality,” Hinduism, and Atheism. Along the way, readers are shown that jokes about religion are influential tools for teaching viewers how to interpret and judge religious people and institutions.




Feltmate, develops a picture of how each show understands and communicates what constitutes good religious practice as well as which traditions they seek to exclude on the basis of race and ethnicity, stupidity, or danger. From Homer Simpson’s spiritual journey during a chili-pepper induced hallucination to South Park’s boxing match between Jesus and Satan to Peter Griffin’s worship of the Fonz, each show uses humor to convey a broader commentary about the role of religion in public life. Through this examination, an understanding of what it means to each program to be a good religious American becomes clear.




Drawn to the Gods is a book that both fans and scholars will enjoy as they expose the significance of religious satire in these iconic television programs.
A new world of religious satire illuminated through the layers of religion and humor that make up the The Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy.

Drawing on the worldviews put forth by three wildly popular animated shows – The Simpsons, South Park, and Family Guy– David Feltmate demonstrates how ideas about religion’s proper place in American society are communicated through comedy. The book includes discussion of a wide range of American religions, including Protestant and Catholic Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Native American Religions, New Religious Movements, “Spirituality,” Hinduism, and Atheism. Along the way, readers are shown that jokes about religion are influential tools for teaching viewers how to interpret and judge religious people and institutions.




Feltmate, develops a picture of how each show understands and communicates what constitutes good religious practice as well as which traditions they seek to exclude on the basis of race and ethnicity, stupidity, or danger. From Homer Simpson’s spiritual journey during a chili-pepper induced hallucination to South Park’s boxing match between Jesus and Satan to Peter Griffin’s worship of the Fonz, each show uses humor to convey a broader commentary about the role of religion in public life. Through this examination, an understanding of what it means to each program to be a good religious American becomes clear.




Drawn to the Gods is a book that both fans and scholars will enjoy as they expose the significance of religious satire in these iconic television programs.

Winner of a 2013 Leadership Journal Book Award ("Our Very Short List" in "The Leader's Outer Life" category) 2014 Readers' Choice Awards Honorable Mention Despite Jesus' prayer that all Christians "be one," divisions have been epidemic in the body of Christ from the beginning to the present. We cluster in theological groups, gender groups, age groups, ethnic groups, educational and economic groups. We criticize freely those who disagree with us, don't look like us, don't act like us and don't even like what we like. Though we may think we know why this happens, Christena Cleveland says we probably don't. In this eye-opening book, learn the hidden reasons behind conflict and divisions. Learn: Why I think all my friends are unique but those in other groups are all the same Why little differences often become big sources of conflict Why categorizing others is often automatic and helpful but can also have sinister side effects Why we are so often victims of groupthink and how we can avoid it Why women think men are judging them more negatively than men actually are, and vice versa Why choices of language can actually affect unity With a personal touch and the trained eye of a social psychologist, Cleveland brings to bear the latest studies and research on the unseen dynamics at work that tend to separate us from others. Learn why Christians who have a heart for unity have such a hard time actually uniting. The author provides real insight for ministry leaders who have attempted to build bridges across boundaries. Here are the tools we need to understand how we can overcome the hidden forces that divide us.
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