Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Books, Books, Books - Your Suggestions?

"I had no idea," wrote one of my Intro to Religion students, a middle-aged man who works in information technology, "that there were entire fields of the history and philosophy of religion.  I thought either you believed in it or you didn't, and that was that."  He went on to ask for some reading suggestions and, realizing that he is far from alone, I'm working on a list today to send out tonight after the final exam.

Most of my students are considerably younger, typical college freshmen and sophomores.  About half are Catholic, some having been educated in Catholic schools all of their lives; one is Jewish; one, though Catholic herself, is from a predominantly Muslim majority country. Few of them arrived in the first class in possession of more than a passing acquaintance with the academic study of religion.  We've studied Freud and Tillich, the documentary hypothesis and gospel parallels, and the tiniest bit of Hinduism and Islam.  

I'd love some suggestions for my list, which I'm calling Reading for the Next Decade.  I have Dostoyevsky and C.S. Lewis and Shakepeare and Robert Barron and Heschel and Elizabeth Johnson and Dietrich Bonhoeffer and a list of poets.  I'm about to eyeball our own library and head over to the RevGals and to Quotidian Grace for more ideas.  

If you could make a few suggestions to a college student, what would they be?


  1. One of my very favorites is Brueggemann's The Prophetic Imagination. I might throw some Gerald May, particularly The Awakened Heart in for some basic contemplative spirituality (which isn't the same as philosophy or history of religion, but might still be something students aren't exposed to). I think I'd want to include some Catholics that normal parishioners might not get much of-- Oscar Romero, Merton, etc.

  2. Merton is a favorite and perhaps Matthew Fox. I can sympathize with your older student. I've been shocked by how much I don't know and how much we don't hear about on Sunday mornings.

  3. I second the Gerald May and would also add Parker Palmer's "An Hidden Wholeness". I am sure there are more and if they come to mind I'll add them as well.

  4. TS Eliot
    Frederick Buechner
    Macrina Wiederkehr
    Two by Jung: Modern Man in Search of a Soul
    Memories, Dreams & Reflections
    Thomas Keating

  5. Robin - these are suggestions for the beginner on the journey, or someone who is dipping in .... I think it's important to find things that invite someone in (at the beginning) yet are still meaty, real and true.

    Sorry there are two posts - there was a glitch in my computer.

  6. I am with Cindy--- Buechner.

    Anne Lamott, Kathleen Norris, Robert Farrar Capon

  7. Oh yes, of course!! Anne Lamott!

  8. For a bit of a different flavor perhaps some Karen Armstrong.

  9. Charles Dickens. Dombey & Son is particularly good. Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning.

  10. Atheist Delusions, David Bentley Hart