Reading the Bible Again for the First Time
By Marcus Borg

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In a follow-up to his immensely popular "Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time," "Reading the Bible Again..." takes Borg's fans through chunks of the Bible, carefully explicating key stories and putting them into context. Like "Meeting Jesus," a darling of the liberal church-Bible study set, "Reading" is an accessible exposition of the "historical-critical" method of reading the Good Book. "I see the Bible as a human product." Borg writes. "But if so, what then is its relation to God? Is it in any sense "the Word of God"? On the one hand, I see the Bible as the response of two ancient communities to God. On the other hand, I see the Bible as a sacrament, a means for God to speak to us today."
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Best Contemporary Jewish Writing
By Michael Lerner

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Lerner has collected a wide range of Jewish figures--from Al Gore's sometime counselor Naomi Wolf to novelist Philip Roth to U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman--writing on topics as far-flung as politics, poetry, gay and lesbian issues, and the Palestinian problem. What holds these disparate views together, Lerner writes in the introduction, is their committment to "healing and transformation." For Lerner, this means challenging Jews to make room for a more spiritual understanding of the Holocaust, Israel, and other core Jewish issues.
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Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God
By Jack Miles

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Miles's approach to basic theological questions about suffering and the nature of the divine is to treat the Bible not as a guide to how we should act, but as a literary text, with God as its protagonist. In his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1995 book "God: A Biography," he drew a picture of the Old Testament deity as an extremely changeable, sometimes loving, sometimes violent figure. In "Christ," God has come to earth because he realizes he has not lived up to his side of the bargain with his people. "The world is a great crime," Miles writes. This is the story of how God took responsibility for what he had wrought.

The Illumined Heart: The Ancient Christian Path of Transformation
By Frederica Mathewes-Green

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Mathewes-Green is an articulate and often charming advocate of the Eastern Orthodox view of Christianity, arguing that its commitment to ancient tradition has much to say to modern readers. Contrasting early Christians' yearning for Christ with our need for a God who's there for us, "The Illumined Heart" is shorter, more spare and ardent than her other books. "I hope not to say anything original," Mathewes-Green cautions the reader at the outset. "If I do, ignore it." Whether or not she succeeds at hewing to established wisdom, no one who picks it up is likely to ignore this beautifully written book. Read more

A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith Is Dying and How a New Faith Is Being Born
By John Shelby Spong

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The ever-fiery Bishop John Shelby Spong doesn't pull his punches--ever. And in this new book, "A New Christianity for a New World," he declares that it's time for Christians to get beyond traditional ideas of a theistic God and of evil. The theistic God, he said, is over. Humans are rooted in God, he says, but matured beyond the need for a supernatural parental deity. Spong says God is a source of life and love and the church must embrace these ideas in order to survive.

Common Prayers: Faith, Family, and a Christian's Journey Through the Jewish Year
By Harvey Cox

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In this year when the tortured history of Christian-Jewish relations stirred the religious book world ("Constantine's Sword," "The Popes Against the Jews"), Harvey Cox's book is a welcome calmative. Cox, a Christian theologian from Harvard whose wife and son are Jewish, takes us through the Jewish year, from Passover to Hanukkah, to holidays Gentiles will have little heard of, like Tisha B'av, commemorating the destruction of the Temple. Drawn from his family's experiences, Cox's discussions of Judaism are personal and anecdotal, and yet characteristically informative and imbued with his fascination for the world of faith.

Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God
By Cynthia Bourgeault

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These meditations attempt to widen our sources for hope. Too often, we limit our hopes to immediate satisfactions, such as better jobs, or wishes for our friends and relatives. Bourgeault teaches us to use prayer to tap into God's intentions for us, and to link our hope to the power of the universe.
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