Robert Wright, The Evolution of God, Call Number 200.9 Wri 2009, believes that religion does not shape politics; rather geopolitics shapes religion. That is, people’s religious beliefs reflect the geopolitical environment in which they live. Wright’s theories lead him to all sorts of interesting speculations. For example, how did Yahweh change from the most important God among many lesser gods and goddesses into the only God in the universe? Was Jesus’ execution a disastrous shock to his followers which had to be explained after the fact by the early Christian church? Was Allah an indigenous Arabic monotheistic god, or was the Koran an explanation of the monotheistic character of a common Abrahamic God shared by Jews and Christians as well as Arabs? This book is not for the faint-hearted, but for the reader who is secure in his/her faith and can appreciate the ambiguities of the Abrahamic traditions.
Jon D. Levenson, Inheriting Abraham, call Number 222.11 Lev 2012, argues that although Judaism, Christianity and Islam all have Abrahamic traditions, their respective traditions are so profoundly different that Abraham cannot be used to reconcile the three different religions. Specifically, Jews emphasize their genetic descent from Abraham and Isaac; Christians believe that their Abrahamic inheritance comes through faith; and Muslims believe that Christian faith wrongfully identifies Jesus with God. Levenson’s book was written as a response to Bruce Feiler, Abraham : a Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths, Call Number 222.1109 Fei 2002, and Karl-Josef Kuschel, Abraham : Sign of Hope for Christians and Muslims (1995) who were searching for a common origin of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Maybe we need to recognize the differences among the three traditions before we look for common ground.
Eben Alexander, M.D. writes about his personal near-death-experience in Proof of Heaven: a Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, Call Number 617.48 Ale 2012. Is a doctor’s mystical experience more important than other peoples’ experiences, because he is a doctor? Let the reader decide.
For a more accessible introduction to Jewish meditation, see Gail Albert, Mending the Heart, Tending the Soul, Call Number 296 Alb 2012. Dr. Albert is a psychologist who explores the five books of Moses in the Torah, offering new interpretations of the traditional stories for purposes of meditation. Albert treats the scriptures as spiritual metaphors, an approach which opens her interpretations to readers from all spiritual traditions without arguing over sectarian differences. This book comes with a well-deserved recommendation by Father Brian Taylor.
A number of new books are in the collection, especially regarding Navajo and Native American spirituality.
We have also received some generous donations of works in theology and church history from retired clergy.