There is a principle that says that all truth is God's truth and thus we should not be afraid to follow it wherever it leads. Addison Hodges Hart is a...moreThere is a principle that says that all truth is God's truth and thus we should not be afraid to follow it wherever it leads. Addison Hodges Hart is a Christian and a retired pastor. In this book he shows how Christ can be found along a path that is laid out by Buddhism.
In this book Hart takes a look at a set of ten pictures produced by a twelfth century Chinese Zen master named Kakuan Shien. These pictures focus on three figures -- an ox, a boy, and a man. The Ox is the true self. In the course of the pictures (with accompanying poems), the boy, who is the disciple or learner, becomes lost and then finds the inner self. It is, a meditation of finding one's identity. In this set of paintings along with commentary provided, we find a pathway to connecting ourselves spiritually to the inner self. It is not until the tenth picture that the Man (Hotei) appears. Hotei appears to be a Buddha figure or a bodhisttva, an enlightened one.
In the processof discovery the boy and the ox are united and in the end Hotei appears, as a figure of joy and abundance. Hart writes that in the course of this journey we discover that the spiritual pathway is not simply that of asceticism, though it can include some ascetic practices, but is ultimately a way to finding divine abundance. (less)
I have long had an interest in Liberation Theology, at least as early as my seminary days in the early -mid 1980s. The worldhas changed much in the pa...moreI have long had an interest in Liberation Theology, at least as early as my seminary days in the early -mid 1980s. The worldhas changed much in the past thirty years, and the Latin Americn version of liberation theology may seem dated and outmoded, but the idea of liberative themes and tenets within the Christian faith and other faith traditions is not dated.
Miguel De La Torre offers us a brief and accessible introduction to Liberation Theology in its many forms. It is a contribution to WJK's Armchair Theologians tradition. There is, of course irony in this title, for Liberation Theology is by its very nature focused on doing -- on acting -- on getting out of our arm chairs in the pursuit of justice.
It is a brief book, but it gives a fairly thorough overview of all facets. If you've heard of Liberation Theology -- perhaps from Glen Beck -- but know little, this is a book for you. If you've read a bit, but need a refresher, this is a good place to start.
And for anyone, even folks who have explored it with some depth, this is still a good book to use to reflect on how the theme of liberation can and should be central to our faith. And for those of you who are like me white and middle class, this is a reflection that needs to be had!
99 Psalms written by SAID, an Iranian born and raised poet who has spent most of his life living in exile in Germany. Like the Biblical Psalms these a...more99 Psalms written by SAID, an Iranian born and raised poet who has spent most of his life living in exile in Germany. Like the Biblical Psalms these are poem/prayers/hymns that are deeply personal and yet can be expressive of the reader's own sense of the divine.
The number 99 is rooted in the Islamic understanding that God has ninety-nine names, the last being hidden and thus unknown. The poems, originally written in German and now rendered in English by Mark Burroughs,address god (all words in the poems/psalms are lower case) as lord (German herr). Most are written in the form of a complaint, and all address God with a sense of bluntness that is reflective of the Psalms of the Bible, but might make some readers uncomfortable.
I'm not a reader of poetry, so I must admit that I'm not the best person to analyze the poetics of these psalms. But, I can get a sense of their spiritual value as a means of directing one's spirit toward God, and SAID does so in a way that transcends and bridges the vision inherent in the three Abrahamic religions.
The 99 psalms, all brief, are surrounded by a preface and afterword written by the translator. The afterword is, in my estimation, very helpful in understanding the vision that is set forth in the psalms. I recommend! (less)
Richard Rohr has a way of bringing to the fore ways of understanding spirituality that is both future oriented, broad in concept and outreach, and rev...moreRichard Rohr has a way of bringing to the fore ways of understanding spirituality that is both future oriented, broad in concept and outreach, and revelatory. He has a way of connecting as well with a person like me who isn't by inclination contemplative. He challenges me, pushes me, and enlightens me.
In this book Rohr speaks of a search for our true self -- that is union with God. Too often we're satisfied with a false self, a self that is disconnected from the divine that has been implanted within us. It is the false self that gives place to greed, pride, anger, vanity, whereas the true self allows the love and grace of God to burst forth from our lives. Although Rohr's thinking is rooted in his Christian faith, he seeks to draw from other traditions, what he calls the Perennial Tradition, that builds bridges across our religious boundaries.
I should note that while Rohr addresses traditional Christians, the community he truly desires to reach is that which lies beyond the church walls, seeking to connect with their own search for intimacy with God.
I am biased regarding the book. The author is a good friend, with whom I have shared the blessings of writing together. We've shared in leadership and...moreI am biased regarding the book. The author is a good friend, with whom I have shared the blessings of writing together. We've shared in leadership and teaching in interfaith settings. As I read the story, I could hear the voice of my friend. It's been a while since we've broken bread together, but as I read I could sense being part of the story.
The book is a first novel -- a mystery story involving a murder to be solved, a future to be decided, and a major dose of embodied spirituality. The lead character in the story is a rabbi who happens to be a lawyer and professor. The author knows all of these roles well, as they describe him. We experience a lot of Judaism here, as well as Native American spirituality. There's even a conversion story involved.
I don't want to tell the whole story as that would take away the joy of reading. You may not have the same experience as I did because you don't share a deep friendship with the author, but I still think you will find it a worthy read! (less)
Miroslav Volf has brought together a series of essays that emerged from two conferences. The opening essays are written by Christian theologians Amy P...moreMiroslav Volf has brought together a series of essays that emerged from two conferences. The opening essays are written by Christian theologians Amy Plantiga Pauw, Christoph Schwobel, and Denys Turner. To these essays, Volf adds essays by Jewish philosophers/theologians Peter Ochs annd Alon Goshen-Gottstein, as well as Muslim scholar Reza Shah-Kazemi.
The essays offer a hopeful response to the question, but note the challengages. presented by very different beliefs. As Reza Shah-Kazemi notes we're more able to affirm the proposition when we stay at the metaphysical and stay away from defining to closely the details of what our beliefs mean. (less)
The story of one man's journey from his roots in Islam into Christianity, finally resting in Roman Catholicism. As an African convert, the road was a...moreThe story of one man's journey from his roots in Islam into Christianity, finally resting in Roman Catholicism. As an African convert, the road was a long and winding one. This isn't a breezy memoir, but it is a fitting read. For those who are engaged in interfaith conversations and wonder about the whole issue of conversion, this is a compelling story that might run counter to expectations. Sanneh's story includes his move to America for college, and experiencing the early stages of the Civil Rights movement, wherein he didn't fit anyone's expectations, to study in Europe and the Middle East. Though a convert from Islam to Christianity, his graduate work took him back into the world of Islam, and then in the end to a call to teach world Christianity.
It is a story with many twists and turns. Because Sanneh is an academic by training and disposition, this book has a scholarly flavor to it. But, it is a compelling read.(less)
Two Jewish scholars, a Christian scholar, and a Muslim scholar respond to the question of whether the Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the same G...moreTwo Jewish scholars, a Christian scholar, and a Muslim scholar respond to the question of whether the Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the same God. The answer can be summed up best as "It's Complicated." On a more generic level you could say -- yes, but once you start digging deeper the differences become more apparent.
I must confess to finding the Neusner and Chilton essays frustrating, but the piece by Vincent Cornell from a Muslim perspective was quite helpful -- especially as he did respond to Miroslav Volf's important book -- Allah.
Lee Camp has done a wonderful job in answereing Christian objections to respecting and engaging with Muslims, including objections that Islam is inher...moreLee Camp has done a wonderful job in answereing Christian objections to respecting and engaging with Muslims, including objections that Islam is inherently violent. He shows that in practice Christians and Muslims look at the world in much the same way. He notes the contrast between the way of Jesus and the way of Muhammad are inherently contradictory, showing that in practice Christians have adopted Muhammad's vision of the use of force to achieve justice. In fact Muhammad's vision looks a lot like the Just War Tradition, which modern Christians have failed to live by.
Amos Yong has offered us a clearly stated, Holy Spirit-based, rationale for engaging in the hospitality of God with our neighbors of different faith t...moreAmos Yong has offered us a clearly stated, Holy Spirit-based, rationale for engaging in the hospitality of God with our neighbors of different faith traditions. The book develops a thoughtful and useful theology of interreligious practices that rest in the hospitality of God who comes as both host and guest.
If you're interested in interfaith dialogue you'll want to explore this most helpful book. (less)
Real Peace, Real Security offers a sober and practical vision for achieving true security. Such security will come, not at the point of the sword, nor...moreReal Peace, Real Security offers a sober and practical vision for achieving true security. Such security will come, not at the point of the sword, nor will it come from marches or rallies. It will come as we take the difficult steps toward keeping, making, and building peace. It comes when we recognize our own limits and fragility, that on both sides of the debate on the use of force there can be unintended consequences. It will require honesty and hope, along with what Welch calls “aesthetic pragmatism.” We must begin the move toward true peace, but recognizing that we must deal with the world as it is. This is a book deeply rooted in a commitment to nonviolence, but it is also deeply rooted in a pragmatic sense of what can be done and what must be done. As one who struggles with this issue, and has been unable to move toward pacifism, this book offers a helpful middle way, that in the end might lead to security without violence.(less)
I will confess -- I'm a big fan of Eboo Patel's work. I enjoyed immensely Acts of Faith, and this book is no different. He shares the importance of li...moreI will confess -- I'm a big fan of Eboo Patel's work. I enjoyed immensely Acts of Faith, and this book is no different. He shares the importance of living one's faith, faithfully, in a world of religious diversity, while building bridges of cooperation. He begins with the story of the opposition to the so-called Ground Zero Mosque and concludes with a story of raising his own son as a faithful Muslim in this world of religious diversity -- where respecting the other and finding one's own faith relevant go together.
Great book to move us forward on the journey of building the world that Martin Luther King called the Beloved Community. (less)
Being that I've become heavily engaged in the process of community organizing here in Metro-Detroit and am learning the ropes, I've been looking for g...moreBeing that I've become heavily engaged in the process of community organizing here in Metro-Detroit and am learning the ropes, I've been looking for good guides to help me better understand the process and theology behind it. Kendall Clark Baker has written a great book. It's brief, fluid, to the point, explains all aspects of the process. The only thing that stops me from giving it 5 stars are some minor publishing issues. The book lacks a table of contents, and since I was using a Kindle version, this would have been helpful.
But if you're interested in faith-based or congregation-based community organizing please read this. Additionally, if you're seeking to be missional, I think this would be a great introduction to a process that I think can really enhance the missional calling. (less)