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.”
Atheism and Secularity is not a philosophical, polemic work, but rather an exploration of who atheists are, what they believe, how they relate to the world, and how the world relates to them. The first volume focuses on topics such as family life, gender, sexuality, politics, and social movements. The second volume looks at atheism and secularity around the world, exploring the lives of non-religious people in North America, Japan, China, India, Europe, the Arab World, and other locations.
Sincere faith in watchful Big Gods unleashed unprecedented cooperation within ever-expanding groups, yet at the same time it introduced a new source of potential conflict between competing groups. And in some parts of the world, societies with atheist majorities—some of the most cooperative and prosperous in the world—have climbed religion's ladder, and then kicked it away.
Big Gods answers fundamental questions about the origins and spread of world religions and helps us understand the rise of cooperative societies without belief in gods.
From Sam Harris, neuroscientist and author of numerous New York Times bestselling books, Waking Up is for the twenty percent of Americans who follow no religion but who suspect that important truths can be found in the experiences of such figures as Jesus, the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Rumi, and the other saints and sages of history. Throughout this book, Harris argues that there is more to understanding reality than science and secular culture generally allow, and that how we pay attention to the present moment largely determines the quality of our lives.
Waking Up is part memoir and part exploration of the scientific underpinnings of spirituality. No other book marries contemplative wisdom and modern science in this way, and no author other than Sam Harris—a scientist, philosopher, and famous skeptic—could write it.
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.
From the Hardcover edition.
In this enlightening book, Sam Harris argues that this truth about the human mind does not undermine morality or diminish the importance of social and political freedom, but it can and should change the way we think about some of the most important questions in life.
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.
From as early as three years old, Juliana, Celeste and Kristina were treated as sexual beings by their 'guardians' in the infamous religious cult known as the Children of God. They were made to watch and mimic orgies, received love letters and sexual advances from men old enough to be their grandfather, and were forced into abusive relationships. They were denied access to formal schooling, had to wander the streets begging for money, and were mercilessly beaten for 'crimes' as unpredictable as reading an encyclopaedia.
Finally, unable to live with the guilt of what had happened to her children, their mother escaped with Kristina, cutting herself off from her remaining children in a bid to save at least one child. Desperate to save her sisters, Kristina eventually returned to the place of her torture to free Celeste. Years later, Juliana found the courage to escape, knowing that the child she was carrying would be subjected to the same fate if she did not.
Now the three sisters have finally come together to reveal in full and horrific detail their existence within the Children of God cult. Their stories reveal a community spread throughout the world and its legacy of anorexia, depression, drug abuse, suicide and even murder. Lives are ripped apart and painstakingly mended with a shared strength that finally enabled the sisters to free themselves from the shadows of their past.
Studies show that religion makes us happier, healthier and more giving, connecting us to our past and creating tight communal bonds. Most Americans are raised in a religious tradition, but in recent decades many have begun to leave religion, and with it their ancient rituals, mythic narratives, and sense of belonging.
So how do the nonreligious fill the need for ritual, story, community, and, above all, purpose and meaning without the one-stop shop of religion? What do they do with the space left after religion? With Nones swelling to one-fourth of American adults, and more than one-third of those under thirty, these questions have never been more urgent.
Writer, journalist, and secular mother of three Katherine Ozment came face-to-face with the fundamental issue of the Nones when her son asked her the simplest of questions: “what are we?” Unsettled by her reply—“Nothing”—she set out on a journey to find a better answer. She traversed the frontier of American secular life, sought guidance in science and the humanities, talked with noted scholars, and wrestled with her own family’s attempts to find meaning and connection after religion.
Insightful, surprising, and compelling, Grace Without God is both a personal and critical exploration of the many ways nonreligious Americans create their own meaning and purpose in an increasingly secular age.
Humanity has had a long fascination with blood sacrifice. In fact, it has been by no means uncommon for a child to be born into this world only to be patiently and lovingly reared by religious maniacs, who believe that the best way to keep the sun on its course or to ensure a rich harvest is to lead him by tender hand into a field or to a mountaintop and bury, butcher, or burn him alive as offering to an invisible God. The notion that Jesus Christ died for our sins and that his death constitutes a successful propitiation of a “loving” God is a direct and undisguised inheritance of the superstitious bloodletting that has plagued bewildered people throughout history. . .
At the core of Krakauer’s book are brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a commandment from God to kill a blameless woman and her baby girl. Beginning with a meticulously researched account of this appalling double murder, Krakauer constructs a multi-layered, bone-chilling narrative of messianic delusion, polygamy, savage violence, and unyielding faith. Along the way he uncovers a shadowy offshoot of America’s fastest growing religion, and raises provocative questions about the nature of religious belief.
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.
"The Teacha" also discusses the origination of Hip Hop Kulture and relays specific instances in history wherein one can discover the same spirit and ideas that are at the core of Hip Hop’s current manifestation. He explains Hip Hop down to the actual meaning and linguistic history of the words “hip” and “hop,” and describes the ways in which "Hiphoppas" can change their current circumstances to create a future that incorporates Health, Love, Awareness, and Wealth (H-LAW).
Committed to fervently promoting self-reliance, dedicated study, peace, unity, and truth, The "Teacha" has drawn both criticism and worship from within and from outside of Hip Hop Kulture. In this beautifully written, inspiring book, KRS ONE shines the light of truth, from his own empirical research over a 14-year period, into the fascinating world of Hip Hop.
Far from being eyewitness accounts, as is traditionally held, the Gospels are actually Jewish adaptations of ancient Pagan myths of the dying and resurrecting godman Osiris-Dionysus. The supernatural story of Jesus is not the history of a miraculous Messiah, but a carefully crafted spiritual allegory designed to guide initiates on a journey of mystical discovery.
A little more than a century ago most people believed that the strange story of Adam and Eve was history; today it is understood to be a myth. Within a few decades, Freke and Gandy argue, we will likewise be amazed that the fabulous story of God incarnate -- who was born of a virgin, who turned water into wine, and who rose from the dead -- could have been interpreted as anything but a profound parable.
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.
From the Hardcover edition.
Durkheim edited L'Année Sociologique, the first journal of sociology, and was instrumental in establishing the field as a social science. With The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, he explores totemism among Australia's Aborigines, offering the opportunity "to yield an understanding of the religious nature of man, by showing us an essential and permanent aspect of humanity." Durkheim's study focuses on the need and capacity of humans to relate to one another socially, with religion as the core of the moral universe. An excellent introduction to the influential sociologist's ideas, this book continues to speak to new generations about the intriguing origin and nature of religion and society.
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.
“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.
New to This Edition*Revised and updated with the latest theories, methods, and empirical findings.*Many new research examples.*Restructured with fewer chapters for better “fit” with a typical semester.*More attention to the differences between religion and spirituality*Covers emerging topics: genetics and neurobiology, positive psychology, atheism, and more.
Blaise Pascal was not a gambler, but he posited one of the most famous wagers of all time: Every man’s life is a bet against God. It is a wager that any man can win, however. Sacrifice earthly pleasures—drink, lust, sin, etc.—and a lifetime of happiness awaits, in this world or the next. Live every day as if God exists, and you can’t lose.
Pascal devised his wager in the seventeenth century, but the lessons written by this brilliant man ring true today. In this collection of fragments intended as a defense of Christianity, everything is up for debate. From the nature of love to the relationship between scientific inquiry and religious faith, Pascal shows that skepticism and devotion go hand in hand.
The authors challenge the popular image of the Amish as a homogeneous, static, insulated society, showing how the Amish balance tensions between individual needs and community values. They find that self-made millionaires work alongside struggling dairy farmers; successful female entrepreneurs live next door to stay-at-home mothers; and teenagers both embrace and reject the coming-of-age ritual, rumspringa.
An Amish Paradox captures the complexity and creativity of the Holmes County Amish, dispelling the image of the Amish as a vestige of a bygone era and showing how they reinterpret tradition as modernity encroaches on their distinct way of life.
The Editor in Chief of The Economist and its Lexington columnist show how the global rise of religion will dramatically impact our century in God Is Back. Contrary to the popular assumption that modernism would lead to the rejection of faith, American-style evangelism has sparked a global revival. On the street and in the corridors of power the authors shine a bright light on a vast yet until now hidden world of religion.
Twenty-first-century faith is being fueled by a very American emphasis on competition and a customer-driven attitude toward salvation. Revealing how the religion boom is destabilizing politics and the global economy, God Is Back concludes by showing how the same American ideas that created our unique religious style can be applied to channel the rising tide of faith away from volatility and violence.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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.
In The God Delusion, philosopher Richard Dawkins evaluates popular arguments for the existence of God. The idea that God is not an object that can be accessed and reviewed using human reason is rejected. Instead, evidence that proves with at least 51% certainty is presented to prove that God does, in fact, not exist, casting reasonable doubt on the efficacy and usefulness of belief in God.
Genuine curiosity as disciplined by a sound scientific method is far more useful than religions. Religion is all too often based on superstition. An in depth investigation of the intellectual bankruptcies of polytheism and monotheism, the secular beliefs of the Founding Fathers, and the Galton and Stannard prayer experiments underscore this idea. In contrast, the argument for natural selection shows it can account for the whole of human life rather than the idea that there is one divine creator, a statement that in itself leads to more questions, such as the origins of that single creator…
PLEASE NOTE: This is key takeaways and analysis of the book and NOT the original book.
Inside this Instaread of The God Delusion:Overview of the bookImportant PeopleKey TakeawaysAnalysis of Key Takeaways
Can you be a committed Christian without having to condemn or convert people of other faiths? Is it possible to affirm other religious traditions without watering down your own?
In his most important book yet, widely acclaimed author and speaker Brian McLaren proposes a new faith alternative, one built on "benevolence and solidarity rather than rivalry and hostility." This way of being Christian is strong but doesn't strong-arm anyone, going beyond mere tolerance to vigorous hospitality toward, interest in, and collaboration with the other.
Blending history, narrative, and brilliant insight, McLaren shows readers step-by-step how to reclaim this strong-benevolent faith, challenging us to stop creating barriers in the name of God and learn how affirming other religions can strengthen our commitment to our own. And in doing so, he invites Christians to become more Christ-like than ever before.
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
Loveday Alexander, Stephen C. Barton, Richard Bauckham, Richard Burridge, Michael B. Thompson, and Francis Watson examine such topics as the extent of communication between early Christian churches, book production and circulation in the Graeco-Roman world, the Gospel genre and its audience, the relationships between the Gospels, the faulty enterprise of reconstructing Gospel communities, and the hermeneutical and theological pitfalls of reading the Gospels as community texts. By putting in question a large body of assumptions that are almost universally accepted in contemporary scholarship, this book could fundamentally change both the method and the findings of Gospel interpretation.