Reading List

Here are some books I’ve found helpful and insightful:

Books related to Christianity or the Christian contemplative tradition:
Leo Tolstoy, The Gospel in Brief and The Kingdom of God is Within You
Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers
Thomas Keating, Foundations for Centering Prayer
(Unknown Author), The Cloud of Unknowing
Thomas Merton’s works

Books I’ve found especially useful in learning about other religions
Soyen Shaku, Zen for Americans
Paul Carus, The Gospel of the Buddha
Thich Nhat Hanh: Living Buddha, Living Christ
Eknath Easwaran, Nonviolent Soldier of Islam: Badshah Khan
Reza Aslan, No God But God
Thomas Arnold, The Preaching of Islam
The Qur’an (go figure, it helps to read it directly!)
Taha Jabir Al-Alwani, Apostasy in Islam: A Historical and Scriptural Analysis

New Atheists:
Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape
Richard DawkinsThe God Delusion 



2 thoughts on “Reading List

  1. Recommendations for your list: The Moral Landscape, Free Will, both by Sam Harris; Religion for Athiests by Alain de Botton (caveat: have not read myself, just seen him talk, and I don’t like him); The First Muslim by Lesley Hazleton

    This is an interesting and big endeavor. How are you going to separate the baby from the bathwater? What could post-religion spiritual practice look like? Will it be institutionalized? What will motivate or compel people to leave current belief systems, since we all know a solid argument is of little practical utility?

    • Hey Charlie! Great to hear from you! I definitely should have put Moral Landscape up there. I will do that. I actually haven’t read Free Will yet…or the others for that matter. I’ll look into them a bit.

      One thing that I’ve found is that there have been lots (never enough!) of people who have tried to separate the baby from the bathwater, or the pearls of wisdom from the ashes/garbage of religion, and so forth. Highlighting them and their stories, processes, and thoughts will certainly help. I’m also a firm believer in meeting people where they’re at. A lot of atheists swoop in and totally demolish religion, but very legitimate aspects of peoples’ lives (social, support, some of the genuine wisdom of religion, etc) are built around religion so destroying everything all at once is actually too much and just shuts people down. I think I do a good job of acknowledging the good in where people are at, and creating a safe space to (sometimes slowly) begin to question and search more deeply. Some people are ready for atheist critques of religion to swoop in and liberate them – great! But I think a lot of people aren’t, and that there’s a real need for a more balanced, realistic approach.

      Post-religion spiritual practice can look like a lot of things. And it can be institutionalized or not. Unitarian Universalists and unversalist Quakers are good examples of non-religious, non-dogmatic spiritual groups that are institutional. There is a growing interspiritual movement, and an integral movement as well. Some people may choose to identify with a religion but move toward more universalist and accepting understandings. Others may be on a more lonely, solitary path before they find other like-minded people. Also people like Sam Harris who are atheist nonetheless see the value of practices like meditation, so there are already groups like that out there (TM – Transcendental Meditation…although that might get New Agey here and there).

      Some people may never be motivated to leave their current belief system, I don’t know. But from my experience, what i hear from others, and my own intuition (not always reliable, I know!) I do think that a lot of people have at least some questions and inclinations to search. These impulses are often not acceptable or supported in many communities, so if people can find a safe space to pursue them that might be all the motivation or space they need! It’s not going to work for everyone, but if even 10% of people out there fall into this category that’s an awful lot. (Or some other percentage).

      Listening to peoples’ stories, recognizing the good in them, sharing my own stories, pointing out others who have gone similar paths. These are some of the tools I hope to use, in addition to solid argument, logic, history, etc.

      Btw, I lookd up the potavida project briefly! That looks great – I will look into it more for sure. I’m really involved with Engineers Without Borders so I have a strong interest in this kind of stuff!

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