Featured new additions to DPL’s Religion and Spirituality collections! Click on the title to place a hold. For more new books, visit our Upcoming Releases page. As always, if there’s a title you would like to read, please send us a purchase suggestion.

51j2QVhAyfL__SX334_BO1,204,203,200_  Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber – Tattooed, angry and profane, this former standup comic turned pastor stubbornly, sometimes hilariously, resists the God she feels called to serve. But God keeps showing up in the least likely of people—a church-loving agnostic, a drag queen, a felonious Bishop and a gun-toting member of the NRA. As she lives and worships alongside these “ac­cidental saints,” Nadia is swept into first-hand en­counters with grace and by this grace, people are trans­formed in ways they couldn’t have been on their own.
y450-293  Grounded: Finding God in the World by Diana Butler Bass – The headlines are clear: religion is on the decline in America as many people leave behind traditional religious practices. Author and commentator Diana Butler Bass argues that what appears to be a decline actually signals a major transformation in how people understand and experience God. The distant God of conventional religion has given way to a more intimate sense of the sacred that is with us in the world. This shift, from a vertical understanding of God to a God found on the horizons of nature and human community, is at the heart of a spiritual revolution that surrounds us.

The Vatican Prophecies: Investigating Supernatural Signs, Apparitions, and Miracles in the Modern Age by John Thavis – A behind-the-scenes look at how the Vatican investigates claims of miraculous events. Apocalyptic prophecies and miraculous apparitions are headline-grabbing events that often put the Catholic Church’s concept of “rational faith” at odds with the passion of its more zealous followers. To some, these claims teeter on the edge of absurdity. Others see them as evidence of a private connection with God. For the Vatican, the issue is much more nuanced as each supposed miraculous event could have serious theological and political consequences. In response, the Vatican has developed a highly secretive and complex evaluation system to judge the authenticity of supernatural phenomena. Former journalist John Thavis sheds light on this little-known process,
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Why I Am a Salafi by Michael Muhammad Knight – The Salafi movement invests supreme Islamic authority in the precedents of the Salaf, the first three generations of Muslims, who represent a “Golden Age” from which all subsequent eras can only decline. In Why I Am a Salafi, Michael Muhammad Knight confronts the problem of origins, questioning the possibility of accessing pure Islam through its canonical texts. It is also a confrontation of Knight’s own origins as a Muslim, exploring not only Salafism’s valorization of the origins, but takes the Salafi project further than its advocates are willing to go, and reflects upon the consequences of surrendering the origins forever.
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Witches of America by Alex Mar – When most people hear the word “witches,” they think of horror films and Halloween, but to the nearly one million Americans who practice Paganism today, witchcraft is a nature-worshipping, polytheistic, and very real religion. So Alex Mar discovers when she sets out to film a documentary and finds herself drawn deep into the world of present-day magic. With keen intelligence and wit, Mar illuminates the world of witchcraft while grappling in fresh and unexpected ways with the question underlying every faith: Why do we choose to believe in anything at all? Whether evangelical Christian, Pagan priestess, or atheist, each of us craves a system of meaning to give structure to our lives. Sometimes we just find it in unexpected places.
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Where I am Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond by Billy Graham – Now in his 97th year, preacher and evangelist Graham invites readers to follow the “Gospel Plan of Salvation” to the “ultimate destination… Heaven found in Jesus Christ.” Graham evokes biblical authority with his trademark “the Bible says,” interspersing stories from scripture alongside reminiscences from his lengthy global ministries. In the moving final chapter of what may be his last book, Graham’s reflections on “when the Lord calls me home” proclaim his steadfast faith in the gospel message he has preached.

 

As you can reliably guess from the fact that I write for this blog, I am a librarian. So I knew I would love Among Others by Jo Walton as soon as I read the dedication page:

This is for all the libraries in the world, and the librarians who sit there day after day lending books to people.

among othersThis book is for me! Awesome!* And this Hugo & Nebula award-winning novel is a treat. Mori is a well read 15 year old who has already accomplished a lot: she overthrew her mother, an evil witch, in a magical battle that killed her twin and left Mori with a shattered hip. She’s read just about everything that’s ever been published in the SF genre (well, everything before 1979, when this novel is set), besides Philip K. Dick, whom she dislikes. In the Wales of Mori’s childhood, magic and fairies are very real, but they aren’t all-powerful. Magic isn’t even the focus of this story; what could have been a bombastic, typical tale of good triumphing over evil (at a great cost) in a climactic magical duel  is instead a bildungsroman, the story of a smart, confident, magical girl discovering her identity. Mori’s most important challenge is discovering the value in her life now that her deed is done and her twin is dead.

When you are the hero, when you’ve already saved the world, and you’re a teenager stuck at boarding school based on the whim of a father you’ve never known, where the other girls taunt you for your Welsh accent and your limp, and where both the fairies and the magic of your childhood and your twin – your other half – can never reach you, what is the point of living? On Halloween, Mori sees the ghostly remnant of her sister near a portal to the next world and is tempted to follow and join her in death, but:

…I was halfway through Babel 17, and if I went on I would never find out how it came out. There may be stranger reasons for being alive.

Her love of books, libraries, writing, and the other worlds of the SF genre buoy Mori through the turbulent year after her sister’s death and lead her to the path her adulthood will take, so though her tale may sound grim, it’s really effervescent and uplifting.

Among Others is a fantasy novel, but Mori’s engagement with the realm of science fiction is so cogent, meaningful, and pervasive in the novel that this is a must read for fans of both genres.

 

*I have to add, though, that we do a lot more than sit and lend books! Sometimes we stand and lend DVDs 🙂

The thing about librarians is, they’re always reading about books and hearing about books and reading books. So they’re bound to know the best books. Here’s the next in our end-0f-year recap of best books.

Rita listened to her favorite book, Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. “When historian Diana Bishop opens a bewitched alchemical manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, it represents an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordinary life. Though descended from a long line of witches, she is determined to remain untouched by her family’s legacy. She banishes the manuscript to the stacks, but Diana finds it impossible to hold the world of magic at bay any longer. Chief among the creatures who gather around Diana is vampire Matthew Clairmont, a geneticist with a passion for Darwin. Together, Diana and Matthew embark on a journey to understand the manuscript’s secrets. But the relationship that develops between the ages-old vampire and the spellbound witch threatens to unravel the fragile peace that has long existed between creatures and humans – and will certainly transform Diana’s world as well.

“This recording kept my attention from beginning to end. It is the first in a trilogy and I can’t wait for the next one. The writing is excellent, her description and use of words is brilliant. This book is for anyone who enjoys good literature and fantasy”.

Halloween is fast approaching, and of course this makes an ideal time to read some of those gory horror books. However, if you’re not a big Horror fan (like me) you might enjoy these titles of a kinder, gentler nature.

Brida by Paul Coelho

Well, I should’ve known better. This popular Spanish author, Paul Coelho, has written other books about witches (The Witch of Portobello most recently) but from the title and the cover art, I guess I was expecting something different. And, really, it’s more of a light romance. The main character, Brida, is a 21 year old Irish lass who wants to become a witch, so the story line revolves around her search and/or efforts to become one. There’s some pulling together of Christian and spiritualist themes which I personally didn’t understand, but then, I kept reminding myself that it was a work of fiction.

Mozart’s Ghost by Julia Cameron

As for ghosts, I’m just finishing up Mozart’s Ghost, by Julia Cameron. This, also, has turned out to be a light romantic story. Here, the main character is Anna, a 30-something “medium –medium” as she calls herself. Anna moved to New York a few years ago in part to escape the conservative Midwestern views present in her home town of Ann Arbor, Michigan. In order to pay the rent, she teaches school by day, but her main focus is to establish herself as a medium, someone who helps others contact recently departed loved ones (i.e. – ghosts). When a struggling young pianist moves into her apartment building, she finds his constant practicing very distracting. Even more disturbing, though, are the frequent intrusions she gets from Mozart’s ghost, who is anxious for Anna to “help” the pianist correctly interpret his complex musical compositions. I’m not going to spoil the ending for you. Besides, as I said, I haven’t finished it – yet!

Unfortunately, I really haven’t read any goblin stories recently – but if you’d like to recommend one, I’d certainly give it a shot. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy these “Halloween Light” suggestions.