Comparative Religion
The Lost Art of Scripture: Rescuing the Sacred Texts
The Lost Art of Scripture
Rescuing the Sacred Texts
Hardcover      ISBN: 0451494865
Today the Quran is used by some to justify war and acts of terrorism, the Torah to deny Palestinians the right to live in the Land of Israel, and the Bible to condemn homosexuality and contraception. The significance of scripture may not be immediately obvious in our secular world, but its misunderstanding is perhaps the root cause of many of today's controversies.

In this timely and important book, one of the most trusted and admired writers on the world of faith examines the meaning of scripture. The sacred texts have been coopted by fundamentalists, who insist that they must be taken literally, and by others who interpret scripture to bolster their own prejudices. These texts are seen to prescribe ethical norms and codes of behavior that are divinely ordained: they are believed to contain eternal truths. But as Karen Armstrong shows in this chronicle of the development and significance of major religions, such a narrow, peculiar reading of scripture is a relatively recent, modern phenomenon. For most of their history, the world's religious traditions have regarded these texts as tools that enable the individual to connect with the divine, to experience a different level of consciousness, and to help them engage with the world in more meaningful and compassionate ways.

At a time of intolerance and mutual incomprehension, The Lost Art of Scripture shines fresh light on the world's major religions to help us build bridges between faiths and rediscover a creative and spiritual engagement with holy texts.
Inner Journey Home: The Soul's Realization of the Unity of Reality
Inner Journey Home
The Soul's Realization of the Unity of Reality
Paperback      ISBN: 1590301099

What is the soul, and how do we come to know it? What is its journey in life, and what stages and obstacles are encountered along the way? These questions are explored here in detail according to the Diamond Approach, a spiritual path that combines systematic inquiry into personal experience, the practice of traditional spiritual methods, and the application of modern psychological research. The Inner Journey Home is the centerpiece of the Diamond Approach literature, providing a complete overview of the teaching with references to the author's other books for more details on certain topics.

Breathing as Spiritual Practice: Experiencing the Presence of God
Breathing as Spiritual Practice
Experiencing the Presence of God
Paperback      ISBN: 1620556871

A guide to meditative breathing practices in Western religions and how these practices provide a direct experience of God

- Reveals how Western spiritual traditions, such as the Book of Genesis, the Jewish teachings of ruach, and the poetry of Rumi, contain hidden instruction for meditative breathing practices

- Explains how breathing practices can bring all of us, including Christians, Muslims, and Jews, closer to a direct experience of the palpable presence of God

- Provides guidelines and best practices for meditative breathing through a personal journal of the author's own meditative retreat

Surprised by the number of attendees from Western spiritual traditions at his Buddhist retreats, Will Johnson wanted to understand what drew them to this type of spiritual experience. He found many devoted Christians were in search of a more direct experience of God beyond faith alone, so he began exploring what breathing practices could be found in the sacred texts of Western monotheistic religions. Johnson discovered that, like their Eastern counterparts, Western traditions speak of gaining direct access to God via the breath. After experimenting with these teachings during a 10-day retreat at a desert monastery, he discovered that each of us has the potential to open up to the presence of spirit in every breath.

In this book, the author offers a close look at the importance of breath in each major Western religion, including the Jewish teachings of ruach as life-giving spirit in the form of breath and the Islamic poetry of Rumi, which describes breath as essential for cleansing the soul. He then ties each breathing tradition to the Book of Genesis, sacred to Christians, Muslims, and Jews alike: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being." Just as God blew life into Adam, every breath we take--if we follow the breathing practice of surrendering completely to inhalation--can open us up to the presence of God.

Through his own contemplative journey, Johnson shares his experience of striving to surrender to the fullest presence of God through each breath. As he takes the reader step-by-step through his own breathing practice, the author explains his physical and mental techniques for meditating successfully through breath and provides helpful guidelines to get the most out of meditative retreats. Johnson also offers deep reflections on how these shared practices of experiencing God through the breath transcend religious differences.
Ex-Muslim: How One Daring Prayer to Jesus Changed a Life Forever
Ex-Muslim
How One Daring Prayer to Jesus Changed a Life Forever
Paperback      ISBN: 1400206073

Jesus revealed himself to a young, brash, Pakistani Muslim. But he didn't just reveal himself; he turned Naeem Fazal's world upside down.

Moving from Kuwait to Charleston, South Carolina, had been an adventure. Surrendering his life to Jesus Christ was actual treason. And yet, Jesus brought Fazal the most powerful peace he had ever experienced: "It filled the room. It grew roots in my heart and in my soul. It intoxicated me."

In this riveting memoir, Fazal describes how God used extraordinary means to bring a young, underachieving, Muslim immigrant through Desert Storm, across the oceans, into college, and ultimately to pastor a Christian church in North Carolina. He demonstrates that no character flaw, no distance, no cultural chasm is too great for Jesus to reach across.

Fazal is candid about his shortcomings, practical about the challenges of cross-cultural engagement, and ultimately inspiring that God is capable of far more than we have grown to expect. He says, "Jesus consistently, stubbornly refuses to limit himself to my expectations. Which makes getting to know him an unfolding adventure of epic proportions."

Whether you are a Muslim, Christian, or neither, Ex-Muslim makes a compelling case that life with Jesus Christ is a true adventure.

God Against the Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism
God Against the Gods
The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism
Paperback      ISBN: 0142196339

"Lively... points out that the conflict between the worship of many gods and the worship of one true god never disappeared." --Publishers Weekly

"Jonathan Kirsch has written another blockbuster about the Bible and its world." --David Noel Freedman, Editor-in-Chief of the Anchor Bible Project

"Kirsch tackles the central issue bedeviling the world today - religious intolerance... A timely book, well-written and researched." --Leonard Shlain, author of The Alphabet and the Goddess and Sex, Time and Power

"An intriguing read." --The Jerusalem Report

"A timely tale about the importance of religious tolerance in today's world." --San Francisco Chronicle

"Kirsch is a fine storyteller with a flair for rendering ancient tales relevant and appealing." --The Washington Post

The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief
The Masque of Africa
Glimpses of African Belief
Paperback      ISBN: 0307454991

A remarkable work of reportage by Nobel Prize Laureate V. S. Naipaul that surveys belief and religion among the disparate peoples of Africa.

Like all of Naipaul's "travel" books, The Masque of Africa encompasses a much larger narrative and purpose: to judge the effects of belief (in indigenous animisms, the foreign religions of Christianity and Islam, the cults of leaders and mythical history) upon the progress of civilization. It is a masterly achievement by one of the world's keenest observers and one of its greatest writers.
Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths
Abraham
A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths
Paperback      ISBN: 0060525096

Noting Abraham as a shared patriarchal figure common to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the author recounts his visits to war zones, ancient shrines, and other locations to trace Abraham's life from an interfaith perspective.

Lessons from the Dying
Lessons from the Dying
Paperback      ISBN: 0861711408

Are a person's perceptions and values altered when facing the end of life? Do the dying see the world in a way that could help the rest of us learn how to live? This book takes us into the lessons of the dying. Through the words and circumstances of the terminally ill, we become immersed in their wisdom and in our own mortality. The dying speak to us in direct and personal ways, pointing toward a wise and sane way to live.

In everyday language we can all understand, Rodney Smith extends the conversation about death to people of all ages and states of health. Through exercises and guided meditative reflections at the end of each chapter, the lessons of the dying become a blueprint for our own growth.
The Fruitful Darkness: Reconnecting With the Body of the Earth
The Fruitful Darkness
Reconnecting With the Body of the Earth
Hardcover      ISBN: 0062503693

The long-awaited reflections of a celebrated world traveler--notes on the extraordinary life and spiritual pilgrimage of anthropologist, ecologist, educator, and author Halifax. In her first book in nearly 12 years, Halifax shares her intensely personal voyage into the fruitful darkness of the earth body, her encounters with Buddhist masters, Mexican shamans, and Native American elders.

The Case for God
The Case for God
Hardcover      ISBN: 0307269183

A nuanced exploration of the part religion plays in human life, past and present, from one of the foremost commentators on religion at work today.
Moving from the Paleolithic Age to the present, Karen Armstrong details the great lengths to which humankind has gone in order to experience a sacred reality that it has called God, Brahman, Nirvana, Allah, or Dao. Focusing especially on Christianity but including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Chinese spirituality, Armstrong examines the diminished impulse toward religion in our own time, when a significant number of people either want nothing to do with God or question the efficacy of faith. Why has God become incredible? Why is it that atheists and theists alike now think and speak about God in a way that deviates so profoundly from the thinking of our ancestors? Answering these questions with the same depth of knowledge and profound insight that have marked all of her acclaimed books, Armstrong makes clear how the changing face of the world has necessarily changed the importance of religion at both the societal and the individual level. And she makes a powerful, convincing argument for drawing on the insights of the past in order to build a faith that speaks to the needs of our dangerously polarized age.