Whidbey Island Freethinkers Message Board › Worst books and best books about religion

Worst books and best books about religion

Stephen K.
StephenKahn
Group Organizer
Langley, WA
Post #: 22
I'll start with one of the worst. (Just as people are much more fascinated by Hell than by Heaven. The two greatest Christian poems are Dante's Divine Comedy and Milton's Paradise Lost. Both do a much better job conveying imaginary Hell than imaginary Heaven.)

I have never been religious, but I have always found religious belief interesting (causing many religious believers to mistake my "Why do people believe this nonsense" curiosity to mean, "This guy must really be hungry for 'salvation'") so I have been subjected to lots of extra prosetylizing.

My neighbor (a wonderful person and very devout) once told a group to which we belong that the most inspirational book he ever read (I presume after the Bible) was THE SHACK http://en.wikipedia.o...­.

I won't say it's the worst book book I ever read in my life, but it's right up there in close competition. It's certainly the strongest argument against religious belief I've ever read masquerading as religious apologetics. It was a major best seller, so if someone WANTS to believe, every argument against belief only makes

If you read the Wikipedia article, a huge irony is after the book brought in huge amounts of money, the authors had a big falling out resulting in a lawsuit about who gets the money. You go, loving, selfless Christians.
Wayne B.
user 56597772
Langley, WA
Post #: 5
As a Historian I've always been fascinated with the origins of Christianity. How exactly did it begin? Naturally this leads to a study of the Historiography of the Gospels. Each Gospel has a background behind it that shapes its view. There are many books on the topic but one that grabbed me was John Dominic Crossan-- "Who Killed Jesus." Another blockbuster for me was of course Sam Harris--"The End of Faith."

A lot of good work out there but we need more people seeking to see by "reason" and not through the eyes of "faith." The works of Robert G. Ingersoll would be at the top of anyone's list. Perhaps one of our goals could be to get works like these out to the young people in High School. By the way, I wonder what kind of books the school allows on their library shelves. Religious books? Atheist books? What is their policy? Would be interesting to find out.










































































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Stephen K.
StephenKahn
Group Organizer
Langley, WA
Post #: 25
I was a public school teacher and worked for a public library (though not a librarian). By and large, libraries and librarians have fairly strong values supporting free speech, though they tend to pick their battles carefully and a bit slyly. Community standards also play in this arena and vary from place to place. The number of books about (and supporting) religion hugely outnumbers the number of books about (and supporting) secularism. I think we will get better results by lobbying with a quiet and tactful hand rather than approaching with the fervor and intensity of religionists. In my experience, they allow all kinds of books on shelves, but tend not to include obvious red flags and controversy inciters. Sex is usually the most volatile issue--probably not many high school libraries are going to have the most famous pornographic books, but will have factual books on sexuality. (In other words, no Lady Chatterly's Lover, Candy, etc., but certainly books about "How your body is changing" etc.

Perhaps making a compact list (close to what you discuss above) of secular books and requesting that they be included in the school's library would be the best approach. Age-appropriate is a relevant issue. For example, what books would be best for junior high school and elementary school? (I don't think kids that age are going to read Ingesoll, Hitchens, Crossan, etc.
Stephen K.
StephenKahn
Group Organizer
Langley, WA
Post #: 26
Here is a pretty good article on the topic at infidels.org http://www.infidels.o...­ .
(Incidental bit of name dropping, I once met with Dan Barker after a debate on atheism. He might be a good speaker sometime if we can get him out here.)

http://en.wikipedia.o...­. He is not as big a name as Hitchens, Harris, et al, but he is a very experienced speaker and atheism advocate, and a "turncoat" from religion. He was a minister and prominent Christian music performer, and now president of freedom from religion foundation.
Stephen K.
StephenKahn
Group Organizer
Langley, WA
Post #: 35
A very peculiar book I picked up at a thrift store one day is titled An Atheist Defends Religion by Bruce Sheiman. It makes me imagine a book that might be called A gay person defends heterosexuality.

My ancestors were Jewish, a label I consider meaningless and useless. Is "Jewish" a race? Is "Jewish" a religion? Jews do no deserve the persecution they have received, but when a group of people claim to be the "Chosen people of God," they are kind of asking for it. A Christian I was talking with (who happens to be black) was telling me how much he admired Jews and how much he wants to visit Israel. He seems quite taken with the military effectiveness and self defense skills of the Israelis. It would take a 100 pages to deconstruct how confused and incoherent he is on this subject.

If a new Nazi onslaught arose, I would probably fight against it and identify myself as a Jew and be prepared to die. But I have never experienced serious anti-semitism in the US, and the formation of Israel as a state is very problematic from a political-ethical point of view. When I expressed skepticism on this issue and express the belief that the term "Jew" is mostly meaningless, I have been called a "self-hating Jew." This is sort of like an atheist defending religion.
Stephen K.
StephenKahn
Group Organizer
Langley, WA
Post #: 47
Jack Myers sent me a Kindle book called Biblical Nonsense: A Review of the Bible for doubting Christians. Although in my case (and I suspect most of your cases) it's sort of like "Carrying Coals to Newcastle," it's an excellent book and might be useful to a perhaps struggling and wriggling Christian just not quite out of their "enchantment" with religious belief. Thanks, Jack.
Anne
librarianguish
Oak Harbor, WA
Post #: 5
I just finished Messiah by Gore Vidal today. I definitely have to put it into the best books category, though to be honest I've read very few books specifically about religion.

I enjoyed it - quite the damnation of religion and cultist behavior. And very ironic, as the cult that overtook religion was based on a total lack of superstition, yet spiraled into many of the same issues surrounding religion and the way it manipulates people.

Well worth the read!
Stephen K.
StephenKahn
Group Organizer
Langley, WA
Post #: 51
Once upon a time, many years ago, I read that book. Not to brag -- OK -- I will brag -- many years ago my wife and I destroyed a cult near Eugene, OR. While it was a triumphant (and profitable) experience, it was a sobering and frightening experience as well. Because in my zeal to battle with this group (which had caused people losses for many people over twenty years that I estimated came to close to a million dollars in total), I also detected myself turning into a self-righteous monster. Remember this song?



Always a good song to hum once a day.
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