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Western Religion

WAY OF THE ESSENES

WAY OF THE ESSENES

By: Meurois-Givaudan, Daniel
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Two thousand years after the fact, new light is shed on Christ's hidden life as an initiate in the mystical society of the Essene Brotherhood. In the first English-language edition of the European bestseller, Anne and Daniel Meurois-Givaudan describe the way of life in the Essene communities of first-century Palestine. Through direct revelation, the authors received--over a two-year period--detailed knowledge of the Essene teachings and their role in preparing Christ for his mission. At once unpretentious and astonishing, this beautifully written and evocative story lucidly recreates the life and personality of Christ and his role in the spiritual development of humankind.

Since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, questions continue to arise as to the identity of the Essenes and what role they might have played in the life of Jesus. This account complements the gospels, clarifying and enlarging upon mysterious parts of the record--including Christ's mystical and metaphysical teachings of Essene techniques for spiritual advancement. The authors' retelling of the Passion of Christ and its aftermath is an extraordinary account that may forever reshape our understanding of these biblical events.

WEIGHT OF GLORY

WEIGHT OF GLORY

By: Lewis, C S
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The classic Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis, the most important Christian writer of the 20th century, contains nine sermons delivered by Lewis during World War Two. The nine addresses in Weight of Glory offer guidance, inspiration, and a compassionate apologetic for the Christian faith during a time of great doubt.

WHAT IS GNOSTICISM?

WHAT IS GNOSTICISM?

By: King, Karen L
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A distinctive Christian heresy? A competitor of burgeoning Christianity? A pre-Christian folk religion traceable to "Oriental syncretism"? How do we account for the disparate ideas, writings, and practices that have been placed under the Gnostic rubric? To do so, Karen King says, we must first disentangle modern historiography from the Christian discourse of orthodoxy and heresy that has pervaded--and distorted--the story.

Exciting discoveries of previously unknown ancient writings--especially the forty-six texts found at Nag Hammadi in 1945--are challenging historians of religion to rethink not only what we mean by Gnosticism but also the standard account of Christian origins. The Gospel of Mary and The Secret Book of John, for example, illustrate the variety of early Christianities and are witness to the struggle of Christians to craft an identity in the midst of the culturally pluralistic Roman Empire. King shows how historians have been misled by ancient Christian polemicists who attacked Gnostic beliefs as a "dark double" against which the new faith could define itself. Having identified past distortions, she is able to offer a new and clarifying definition of Gnosticism. Her book is thus both a thorough and innovative introduction to the twentieth-century study of Gnosticism and a revealing exploration of the concept of heresy as a tool in forming religious identity.

WHAT THE QUR'AN MEANT: AND WHY IT MATTERS

WHAT THE QUR'AN MEANT: AND WHY IT MATTERS

By: Wills, Garry
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America's leading religious scholar and public intellectual introduces lay readers to the Qur'an with a measured, powerful reading of the ancient text

Garry Wills has spent a lifetime thinking and writing about Christianity. In What the Qur'an Meant, Wills invites readers to join him as he embarks on a timely and necessary reconsideration of the Qur'an, leading us through perplexing passages with insight and erudition. What does the Qur'an actually say about veiling women? Does it justify religious war?

There was a time when ordinary Americans did not have to know much about Islam. That is no longer the case. We blundered into the longest war in our history without knowing basic facts about the Islamic civilization with which we were dealing. We are constantly fed false information about Islam--claims that it is essentially a religion of violence, that its sacred book is a handbook for terrorists. There is no way to assess these claims unless we have at least some knowledge of the Qur'an.

In this book Wills, as a non-Muslim with an open mind, reads the Qur'an with sympathy but with rigor, trying to discover why other non-Muslims--such as Pope Francis--find it an inspiring book, worthy to guide people down through the centuries. There are many traditions that add to and distort and blunt the actual words of the text. What Wills does resembles the work of art restorers who clean away accumulated layers of dust to find the original meaning. He compares the Qur'an with other sacred books, the Old Testament and the New Testament, to show many parallels between them. There are also parallel difficulties of interpretation, which call for patient exploration--and which offer some thrills of discovery. What the Qur'an Meant is the opening of a conversation on one of the world's most practiced religions.

WHEN I LISTEN

By: Gatlin, Marilyn
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With the aid of prayer and meditation, When I Listen was conceived, composed, and hand-calligraphed in just five days. For sixteen years, this book was run off at the local print shop and circulated from hand to hand, providing inspiration and sustenance in homes, houses of worship, ceremonies, and celebrations.

Now, reissued in an elegant gift format, it reaches out to a nationwide readership. Its gentle teaching in trust, patience, and surrender to a higher force reminds us that with prayerful reflection we can accomplish any task. The flowing blue calligraphy on cream parchment soothes the eyes even before the words come into view.

WHERE GOD WAS BORN

WHERE GOD WAS BORN

By: Feiler, Bruce
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In Where God Was Born, Bruce Feiler once again takes up his unique physical and spiritual exploration of the Holy Land. Feiler travels throughout the most dangerous and war-torn areas of the Middle East, taking readers to biblical sites not seen by Westerners for decades and uncovering little-known details about the common roots of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

In his most daring adventure yet, Feiler brings readers along as he retraces the Bible through the bloodiest places on the planet, from the Garden of Eden in war-torn Iraq to the rivers of Babylon just south of Baghdad, from David's conquest of Jerusalem to Queen Esther's face-off with the King of Persia. At each site, Feiler discusses the Bible with local characters, from archaeologists to army chaplains, and draws lessons for fostering reconciliation in our time.

Where God Was Born is a powerful, inspiring story. It offers a rare, universal vision of God that can unite members of different faiths into a shared allegiance of hope.

Bruce Feiler is the bestselling author of Where God Was Born, Walking the Bible and Abraham, as well as four previous books of nonfiction. Feiler is a frequent contributor to NPR's "All Things Considered," a contributing editor for Gourmet, and has written for The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, USA Today, Esquire, and Conde Nast Traveler.

"Feiler [is] a real-life Indiana Jones." - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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WHO MADE EARLY CHRISTIANITY?: THE JEWISH LIVES OF THE APOSTLE PAUL

By: Gager Jr, John
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In this historical and theological study, John G. Gager undermines the myth of the Apostle Paul's rejection of Judaism, conversion to Christianity, and founding of Christian anti-Judaism. He finds that the rise of Christianity occurred well after Paul's death and attributes the distortion of the Apostle's views to early and later Christians.

Though Christian clerical elites ascribed a rejection-replacement theology to Paul's legend, Gager shows that the Apostle was considered a loyal Jew by many of his Jesus-believing contemporaries and that later Jewish and Muslim thinkers held the same view. He holds that one of the earliest misinterpretations of Paul was to name him the founder of Christianity, and in recent times numerous Jewish and Christian readers of Paul have moved beyond this understanding.

Gager also finds that Judaism did not fade away after Paul's death but continued to appeal to both Christians and pagans for centuries. Jewish synagogues remained important religious and social institutions throughout the Mediterranean world. Making use of all possible literary and archaeological sources, including Muslim texts, Gager helps recover the long pre-history of a Jewish Paul, obscured by recent, negative portrayals of the Apostle, and recognizes the enduring bond between Jews and Christians that has influenced all aspects of Christianity.

WHY PRIESTS?: A FAILED TRADITION

WHY PRIESTS?: A FAILED TRADITION

By: Wills, Garry
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New York Times-bestselling author Garry Wills provides a provocative analysis of the theological and historical basis for the priesthood

In a riveting and provocative tour de force from the author of What Jesus Meant, Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Wills poses the challenging question: Why did the priesthood develop in a religion that began without it and, indeed, was opposed to it? Why Priests? argues brilliantly and persuasively for a radical re-envisioning of the role of the church as the Body of Christ and for a new and better understanding of the very basis of Christian belief. As Wills emphasizes, the stakes for the writer and the church are high, for without the priesthood there would be no belief in an apostolic succession, the real presence in the Eucharist, the sacrificial interpretation of the Mass, and the ransom theory of redemption. This superb study of the origins of the priesthood stands as Wills's towering achievement and will be of interest to all inquiring minds, believers and non-believers alike.

WHY THE CHURCH?

WHY THE CHURCH?

By: Giussani, Luigi
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Giussani begins by focusing on the Church as a community composed of people who are aware of themselves as defined by the gift of the Spirit, from which they derive a new conception of existence, the fruit of conversion. He then describes the Church's developing self-awareness of its dual elements of the human and divine. Concerned with verifying the Church's claim to embody Christ, Giussani situates the locus of verification in human experience, arguing that a different type of life is born in those who try to live the life of the Church. Why the Church? is a seminal study that will engage both the scholar and the general reader.
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WINDS OF GRACE: POETRY, STORIES AND TEACHINGS OF SUFI MYSTICS AND SAINTS

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Drawing from the finest and most authentic texts available in the original Persian/Farsi language, Vraje Abramian offers this extensive collection of stories, teachings and poetry from both major and unknown saints and mystics in the Sufi tradition. Winds of Grace is a fresh and extensive collection that will both instruct and encourage individuals on the path of love and transformation. Readers today need such roadmaps of sanity and wisdom, pointing the way through life s obstacles and detours. Indeed, reading the works of saints and sages serves as a GPS for today s wayfarer. The reader will find selections from today s most well recognized and highly acknowledged Masters, like Rumi and Hafiz, as well as hidden saints such as Sheikh Biabanaki and Sheikh Ali Mesri. More uniquely, however, this book also introduces us to teachings and anecdotes of the obscure hermit, the mad but unknown dervish, the crazy, naked ascetic. Whether the mainstream punished, tolerated or ignored these crazy-wise people, those who knew something about the pain they spoke of venerated them as saints. Centuries ago, many of these voices offered a shock to his or her contemporaries, jarring them from the complacency that makes automatons of human beings. Other voices contained a paradoxical twist on the religious life or practice of the times, yet were soaked with an age-old wisdom that is still vital to spiritual practitioners today. The translator and editor Vraje Abramian advises readers that these secret sages often had to protect themselves from the powers-that-be in their society, and therefore cloaked their messages in words that only disciples and initiates or those with a vulnerable mind and open heart, could actually decipher. He further reminds us that the language adopted by Sufi teachers was designed to break the habits that normally deaden our sensitivities. Abramian has therefore selected pieces that remind us to wake up, to take stock, to continue carefully observing ourselves. And, by vigilant sequencing of topics, his book gently guides readers toward the essence-truths or core-teachings of these wise ones. The translator is uniquely qualified to make this offering to religious studies today. As an Iranian by birth, a lifelong practitioner of spiritual disciplines and an accomplished teacher of English, his renderings are characterized by academic authority, poetic word-craft, and spiritual wisdom."
WISDOM OF SUFISM

WISDOM OF SUFISM

By: Hazrat, Inayat Khan
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This is a translation of the Gathas, the Sacred Readings of Sufism. They contain a condensed expression of the wisdom of the mystic Inayak Khan, and guidance of the seven most important subjects in Sufism.
WISDOM OF THE DESERT

WISDOM OF THE DESERT

By: Merton, Thomas
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In the fourth century, the wildernesses of Egypt and Palestine were inhabited by a strange breed of spiritual nonconformists: the first Christian hermits. Thomas Merton's affection for these "Desert Fathers" shines in this much-loved treasury of their acts and words of wisdom. His free translation from the Latin source Verba Senorium illuminates their radical lives with insight and humor and sets them in close relation to Zen recluses, Hindu renunciants, and all those who have ever fled conventional life in search of higher wisdom.
WISDOM OF THE MASTER

WISDOM OF THE MASTER

By: Abdu'l-Baha
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'Abdu'l-Baha (1844-1921) was one of the first spiritual teachers from the East to visit Europe and North America. He spent most of his life a prisoner of the Iranian and Ottoman governments, exiled and imprisoned for five decades for advocating religious and political reforms. 'Abdu'l-Baha was finally released from prison in 1906 at the age of 62.
WISDOM OF THE SAINTS

WISDOM OF THE SAINTS

By: Adels, Jill Haak
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Covering over two thousand years of Church history, this unique anthology presents hundreds of aphoristic sayings from the writings and recorded works of both famous and obscure saints. Ranging from the polished literary statements of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists, to the cry of the martyr on the scaffold, these quotations treat a wide variety of themes such as joy, death, faith, hope, folly, and much more.
WOMEN IN CHRISTIAN TRADITIONS

WOMEN IN CHRISTIAN TRADITIONS

By: Moore, Rebecca
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Uncovers women's participation and impact on defining historical moments and themes of Christian traditions

Women in Christian Traditions offers a concise and accessible examination of the roles women have played in the construction and practice of Christian traditions, revealing the enormous debt that this major world religion owes to its female followers. It recovers forgotten and obscured moments in church history to help us to realize a richer and fuller understanding of Christianity.

This text provides an overview of the complete sweep of Christian history through the lens of feminist scholarship. Yet it also departs from some of the assumptions of that scholarship, raising questions that challenge our thinking about how women have shaped beliefs and practices during two thousand years of church history. Did the emphasis on virginity in the early church empower Christian women? Did the emphasis on marriage during the Reformations of the sixteenth century improve their status? These questions and others have important implications for women in Christianity in particular, and for women in religion in general, since they go to the heart of the human condition.

This work examines themes, movements, and events in their historical contexts and locates churchwomen within the broader developments that have been pivotal in the evolution of Christianity. From the earliest disciples to the latest theologians, from the missionaries to the martyrs, women have been instrumental in keeping the faith alive. Women in Christian Traditions shows how they did so.

ZOHAR THE BOOK OF SPLENDOR: Basic Readings From the Kabbalah

ZOHAR THE BOOK OF SPLENDOR: Basic Readings From the Kabbalah

By: Scholem, Gershom
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One of the great masterpieces of Western religious thought, the Zohar represents an attempt to uncover hidden meanings behind the world of appearances. It is the central work in the literature of the Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition.

This volume of selected passages from the Zohar, culled by the greatest authority on Jewish mysticism, offers a sampling of its unique vision of the esoteric wonders of creation; the life and destiny of the soul; the confluence of physical and divine love; suffering and death; exile and redemption.