Best Religion Books Of 2013: A Roundup From Religion News Service
(RNS) Jesus, Paul, food, charity, and prayer were just some of the areas examined in this year’s crop of books under the broad heading of religion. Some of these titles rank at the top of the year’s best books, period. Others barely registered in the mainstream press, but are lavishly praised in their own fields. Here’s Religion News Service’s list of the year’s most interesting religion books, numbered but not ranked.
1. “My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer,” by Christian Wiman
When he learned he had a rare form of cancer at age 39, Wiman was the editor of Poetry magazine, perched atop the nation’s most prestigious journal of verse. He was also a lapsed Christian whose brush with mortality triggered a return to belief, surrendering to its depth, mystery and wonderment. His poetic reflections on the redemptive power of art and faith are moving and evocative, yet unsparingly harsh on atheist intellectuals, self-righteous fundamentalists, and his peers: professional poets preening with the pride of peacocks. Addressing suffering and sorrow through the prism of Christianity, Wiman’s ruminations glow with the “burn of being,” his term for pervasive spiritual longing in a world of materialism, violence and loss. “Please read this book,” urged journalist Andrew Sullivan, of The Dish blog, in a typically glowing review. “It truly is an essential book for our times.”
2. “Paul and the Faithfulness of God,” by N.T. Wright
In this magnum opus, one of the most prolific Christian theologians of our time lays out his case for Paul as a thinker on par with Aristotle and Plato. Clocking in at nearly 1,700 pages, including 70 just for the footnotes, this tome has been hailed as “magisterial” and is already being held up as the standard reference work on Christianity’s first and, arguably foremost, theologian. Wright’s vigorous prose provides an engaging introduction to the Judaism and Christianity of the first century. Wright contends that Paul’s writings are to be understood as those of a devout Jew who reworks Jewish redemptive theology around the figure of Jesus in the furtherance of “getting the Creation project back on track.”
3. “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” by Reza Aslan
If not for Aslan’s fortuitous Fox News interview — in which the creative writing professor was badgered on national TV to explain why a Muslim would write a book about Jesus — “Zealot” might not have made a dent in the public consciousness. Aslan’s premise, that Jesus of Nazareth preached socialism and plotted sedition against the Roman Empire, is not exactly original, and depends on a selective reading of the Gospels. But the YouTube clip of the Fox interview went viral and catapulted Aslan’s book into the best-seller stratosphere. Vivid and cinematic, Zealot offers a much-needed antidote to the ethnically sanitized, anodyne Jesus preserved in aspic in the Sunday hymnal.
Read the Full Article at The Huffington Post.
Op-Ed: Top 5 Atheist Books of 2013
Book number 4 is a big departure from most atheist, humanist or secular books as it is fiction. Kylie’s Heel by Susan K. Perry is an amazing story about a mother who overcomes tragedy and hardship all without relying on a god or religion. Picking herself up, dusting herself off and living her life. You can read a full review of this book here.
Dot Dot Dot: Infinity Plus God Equals Folly is the second book by James Lindsay and comes in on this list at number 3. Lindsay found a way to make math fun and interesting. He shows that infinity is an abstract idea and takes the argument of infinity away from the Christian apologists, such as William Lane Craig who attempt to exploit peoples basic misunderstanding of math to use a term like infinity to explain God’s existence, while James shows in a concise and readable manner that infinity is an abstraction, and shows that, in all likelihood, so is God, particularly if he has infinite properties.
Read the Full Article at Digital Journal.