Religion and Spirituality

Book reviews on the subject of religion and spirituality.

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    Expanding research on the themes of fear, mistrust, and even hatred of women that are prevalent in the Catholic Church and Hollywood. These deeply ingrained attitudes suggest that Catholic women still have a long ways to go in obtaining equality with their male counter-parts. In "Hollywood and Catholic Women," author Kathryn Schleich discusses eighteen films and two television series which were produced between 1943 and 2008. The first part discusses “Nuns and Virgins” on film. The movies discussed begin in 1943, with “The Song of Bernadette,” and continue through to “Doubt,” which was released in 2008. The second discussion covers “Mothers, Tramps and Even Some Good Girls.” The movies reviewed begin with “The Quiet Man (1954),” and go through to “Return to Me (2000).” The third part covers “Crime Fighters and Mob Wives – A Sampling of Catholic Women on the Small Screen.” This section analyzes two television series, “Saving Grace,” and “The Sopranos.”

    In "Are We Our Past Lives?," author Marie Gates discusses negative karma, emotional challenges, and the roles we play. Her book is very informative, and readers will need to read this slowly, jot down notes or questions, and do some research of your own. After reading this book, readers might be undecided as to what you believe - some of us are on the fence. Ms. Gates’ information, research, and excellent writing skills will give readers food for thought - this is a journey all should take.

    In "Giving God the Helm," author Mark Kuhne tells personal stories of adversities, highlighting them with tips, biblical stories and passages, and much advice and inspiration about how to deal with life’s adversities. Central to the biblical stories used is that of the evil Old Testament queen, Jezebel, whose spirit Kuhne sees as an illustration of the spiritual battles humans face, and how we can armor ourselves to overcome the forces of adversity, including anxiety, fear, and depression. Faith is the foremost weapon in the battle of adversity, and faith requires letting God be captain of the ship.

    To align our hearts with heaven we need the right images of heaven. What does it look like? What will we do when we are there? With a fresh approach that dispels our cultural myths and renovates our images of heaven, "Rehearsing for Heaven" by author Mark B. Reed nourishes our imagination about heaven's potential. Sharper images of heaven give us better focus in this life. Written in the format of a stage play, "Rehearsing for Heaven" describes both heaven and earth from heaven's point of view and will change the way you think about the afterlife and your life now.

    "Destined To Live, Despite Me," by author Yolanda Shanks, speaks on the topic of suicide directly to the actual attempter in terms of spiritual direction, after they have sought counseling. It's coffee table tone also invites anyone, including individuals who may not have ever contemplated suicide, but who simply need direction in living a meaningful and purposeful life built on biblical truth. While "Destined to Live, Despite Me" steers clear of giving medical or psychological guidance, it doesn't apologize for its direct approach in providing spiritual guidance for the rebuilding of one's life on the fundamentals of our faith in God, and salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

    In "Women, War & Hypocrites," Dr. Campbell expands the journey through his analysis of the thematic structure of the fourth surah (The Women), a large and complex surah containing some of the most controversial verses and ideas in the Qur’an. The key issues addressed are women (on marriage, lewdness, wife beating and hijab), war (on killing, battle, jihad and terrorism) and hypocrites (on believers, the People of the Book, idolatry, intoxication and the crucifixion of Jesus). Given that Islam traces its prophetic heritage from Noah through to Abraham, Moses, Jesus and finally Muhammad, much of the content of the Qur’an will be familiar to those with even a passing exposure to the scriptures of the Jews and Christians.

    Barack Obama may well be the most predicted leader in world history after Jesus Christ. Fabio R. de Araujo, Brazilian historian, has been interpreting prophecies for more than twenty years and believes Obama is the fulfillment of many of those prophecies. In "2012: The Year of the Changes," de Araujo analyzes legitimate prophecies and dismisses fabricated ones to show which predictions about Obama are likely to come true, including that both Obama and Putin will be reelected in the 2012 elections.

    If you could ask a Shaman Elder any question, what would you want to know? Forty-five questions are answered through the words of Shaman Elder Maggie who has practiced for over 50 years her centuries-old family lineage of Traditional Shamanism, trained by her own Shaman Grandmother. See your life from a Traditional Shamanic perspective and eliminate the fears and problems that interfere with your own happiness. The questions in "The Shaman Speaks"come from the thousands of emails that Shaman Elder Maggie receives through her Internet course and her free counseling service online.

    "The True Nature of Tarot" dispels the myths and negative connotations that surround the tarot by sharing the personal experiences of the author, Diane Wing, a tarot reader with 25 years of experience. Tarot is discussed as a tool of enlightenment and understanding. Diane Wing shares intuitive techniques for reading that take you beyond the conventional card meanings and deep into tarot as a tool to channel energy and increase psychic sensitivity.

    In his bestselling book, "The Language of God," Francis Collins the scientist who led the National Institutes of Health's Human Genome Project attempted to harmonize the findings of scientific research with Christian belief. In this response to Collins's work, fellow geneticist George C. Cunningham presents a point-by-point rebuttal of "The Language of God," arguing that there is no scientifically acceptable evidence to support belief in a personal God and much that discredits it. Written with admirable clarity for the nonscientist, "Decoding the Language of God" covers much of the same ground addressed by Collins in his book. Cunningham also devotes chapters to the unreliability of the Bible as a basis for belief; the conflict between naturalistic explanations of reality, which are anchored in scientific research, and supernatural interpretations, which are not; and the many difficulties in conceptualizing the origins of the universe in terms of a personal God. Unlike recent hostile attacks on religious belief, Cunningham's respectful, well-reasoned discussion will appeal to open-minded people across the whole spectrum of belief and unbelief.

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