Beliefnet
Constantine's Sword
by James Carroll

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This controversial study of Christianity's treatment of the Jews from imperial Rome to Auschwitz is a feat of research, literary skill and historical imagination. In exposing the two faiths' continuing deep entanglements, the book is a testament to what happens when any religion becomes invested with power. Carroll's attempt to expiate the Church's past avoids, Harvey Cox says in Beliefnet's review, self-righteous breast-beating. Instead, Carroll, an ex-Catholic priest, seems to have internalized the history of the Church since Constantine adopted Christianity as Rome's official religion, and presents it as a seamless and compelling story. It is our second Beliefnet Book of the Year. Our other finalists follow.


Paradise Park
by Allegra Goodman

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Sharon Spiegelman, the guileless narrator of this funny, sympathetic novel, begins her new life on a whale-watching cruise off Hawaii, where she sees God. Sharon's search to find that moment of bliss again leads her to Nature worship, Buddhism, born-again Christianity, self-help seminars and Judaism. Sharon's naive enthusiasm is occasionally exasperating, but serves Goodman in her unflinching examination of what we expect from religion, why it often fails us and we it.

A New Religious America
by Diana L. Eck

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This report from the director of Harvard University's Pluralism Project gets beyond the number-crunching and religious demographics to bring alive the ethnic diversity in the United States' houses of worship, and how it is affecting natives and immigrants alike.
The Places That Scare You
by Pema Chodron

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This guide to becoming a "spiritual warrior" by a prominent Buddhist nun became a book for the times after 9/11. While many try to be fearless by being strong, Chodron believes that we're more likely to hold our own by remaining open and vulnerable to all our feelings.
Living a Life That Matters
by Harold S. Kushner

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Taking the biblical patriarch Jacob as his model, the nationally known rabbi urges us--and shows us how--to make integrity our primary spiritual goal.
Heaven Below
by Grant Wacker

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We could recommend this history of early Pentacostalism on the basis of its wit and bright prose alone. It also happens to be a beautifully researched study of a group whose influence in the United States is at its peak.
My Name Is Red
by Orhan Pamuk

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A murder mystery set in the crumbling Ottoman empire, this novel, translated from the Turkish, entertainingly examines the clash between Islam and the West.
A New Kind of Christian
by Brian D. McLaren

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McLaren's dialogue between two fictional Christians is the latest--and among the best--contributions to evangelical Christians' continuing discussion about their place in the postmodern age.
The Truth of Catholicism
by George Weigel

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Weigel's latest is a striking and persuasive Catholic apologia for the 21st century.
The Particulars of Rapture
by Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg

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Zornberg approaches the Book of Exodus as a psychological document, turning the familiar story of Moses into a spiritual biography of the Jews.
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