Saturday, July 13, 2013

Weekly Book Post: Pleasures of Reading and Christianity After Religion


This week I've learned a lesson - one I've heard for a very long time - Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover.

Two books in my TBR pile had rather, well, bland covers.  And as I pulled books off the pile to read, those lingered unread.  I left them until I noticed that their due dates at the library were getting close, and I should try them out.

Both turned out to be books I enjoyed very much.

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs is a love letter to the act of reading.  It briefly flirts with brain science, the "threat" of new technologies, and doom and gloom prophecies of the death of reading, but then quickly dismisses those concerns.  Jacobs advises us to read at Whim, to read because we want to, to read to challenge ourselves, and to read to join in the conversation.  It was a balm to my soul, actually, after all the books such as The Shallows that I've read recently.

Christianity After Religion by Diana Butler Bass is a love letter to religio (that which binds us together) and experiential spirituality.  She examines all the evidence that institutional religion is on the decline, and then proposes that yes this may be true but we may also be in the midst of a rebirth of transformative experiential religion, or a Fourth Great Awakening.  Another balm to my soul - things decline but change is part of transformation.  These are hard times, not the end times, as Bass says in the book (quoting John Stewart).

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