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Old 08-12-2002, 01:09 AM   #1
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Books That Influence Your Spirituality

I was at the library the other day and I decided to look up "The Message" since we've been talking about it so much around here... Alas, they did not have it, but they did have another Eugene Peterson book which I have found very interesting.

It's called "Take And Read: Spiritual Reading, An Annotated List"

Basically he lists all the books that have been influential spiritually to Christians throughout the ages. Then he lists books that have been influential for himself.

It's not really a book about anything...it's just more of a list. But I thought that it did provide me with some excellent resources for studying and reading in the future.

I wanted to let you all know about this, because I know we're all interested in learning as much as possible.

I was also curious about another thing...what books have been influential to your spirituality? My list is below. But first I wanted to say that the only thing that kind of disappointed me about this book is that Peterson doesn't include other religions. He mainly focuses on Christianity. I do understand, though, that listing influential books from all spiritualities would get pretty extensive. In any case, I have been influenced by other religions and so my list includes books from those other religions.
[list=1][*]The Bible (of course)[*]Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis[*]Bhagavad-Gita[*]Rumi's Divan of Shems of Tabriz[*]The Cloud of Unknowing[*]The Dhammapada[*]Jesus Christ Superstar (yes, it's a movie, but it has had untold influence on my life)[*]The Last Temptation of Christ (book and the movie)[*]Barrabas, Par Lagerkvist[/list=1]

These are the books (and movies) that have had the most impact in forming my spirituality and my view of religion.

I'm really interested to see other people's lists.
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Old 08-12-2002, 04:59 AM   #2
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Generally I am hesitant to look to books on Christianity for guidance. I'd rather seek guidance in people I trust at church or faith meetings. For eg, even though I think Philip Yancey is terrific, I do spot exaggerated and romantic notions in his writing. That said, my short list is

Jesus Christ, film directed by Roger Young (cast inc. Debra Messing and Gary Oldman)
The Jesus I Never Knew, book by Philip Yancey
writings of C.S. Lewis
writings of Keith Green
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Bono's intro to Psalms
the film about Muhammad, starring Anthony Quinn (I forget the title)
philosophical texts, like Perry's dialogues, Sophie's World, Questions That Matter..

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Old 08-12-2002, 01:46 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by foray
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Thanks foray! I'm interested in how this one has influenced you?
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Old 08-12-2002, 04:41 PM   #4
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foray, I think I'm almost the opposite. lol. I'm quite skeptical of the church and what I hear there and it's going to take a lot to get me back. Right now I really get a lot out of reading books, not necessarily always BY Christian authors, but some of them are. Yancey is probably one author who has had a large enough impact on my life to say that he has influenced me to hold on to my faith and try to work through my cynicism. And that's saying a lot.

While I'm studying this fall in Switzerland, I hope to read some Kierkegaard. So hopefully I will have more to add to this discussion.
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Old 08-12-2002, 08:45 PM   #5
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Oh my, there is so much to say about The Little Prince. I feel spiritually moved when I read it and it has followed me on my travels just like my Bible has. I have had the same copy since I was thirteen and every time I read it something new crops up.

While a teen, I found a kindred spirit in it, because it reaffirmed my thinking of the importance and rarity of innocence and curiosity. (My peers and teachers pressured me to accept whatever I was taught and not ask so many questions.) The book also warned me against cynicism that comes with the business of growing up, and I have held fast to that teaching.
If you were to say to the grown-ups: "I saw a beautiful house made or rosy brick, with geraniums in the windows and doves on the roof," they would not be able to get any idea of that house at all. You would have to say to them: "I saw a house that cost $4,000." Then they would exclaim: "Oh, what a pretty house that is!"

Now that I am a horrid grown up ( ) I find that this book has an even deeper spiritual level. Many times, the physical world is rejected:
[i]I cannot carry this body with me. It is too heavy.[i]
What is essential is invisible to the eye.

It is also a story of love, a journey, a prodigal son even who discovers what is truly important for him - things he had not seen with his physical eye before. He realises that love was with him all the while and eventually returns to that love.
---------------

Sula, that is interesting to note that you are the opposite. I'd like to elaborate on my earlier point. I am very aware of the persuasiveness of the written word. But when I read I'd prefer to get lost in the text; that is why reading Christian/evangelical texts (you know, books that talk on how to improve your faith and suchlike) seems dangerous to me. The few texts I have actually picked up were recommended to me by people I trust.

In the case of receiving teaching from church groups, I am the first person to play devil's advocate and contrarian to whatever is preached. Just to make sure, and keep my groupmates on their toes. But there are a couple of people whom I respect and trust, whom I have made my mentors of sorts. These are the people who influence me.

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Old 08-12-2002, 11:55 PM   #6
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foray, thanks for explaining that! I see what you mean. I was just interested because I've read the Little Prince a couple of times and enjoyed it as a story and as something more. I thank you for sharing your experience with the book!

sula, I'm much like you... I'm VERY wary of people...I've found some of my greatest spiritual guidance from the books I've read...and not necessarily "spiritual" books, either.

Thanks for participating in the discussion
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Old 08-14-2002, 02:04 AM   #7
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I found this difficult to do, since I see spirituality as something very personal, in the sense of sharing what I believe with people on here, knowing that many of you don't really know me personally, but just my words...people often look at the things you say and do, and form opinions about you around those things said on here.

The Bible by God
My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers (the only devotional I've ever read)
Wishful Thinking by Frederick Buechner (a "beguiling" adventure in language for the restless believer, the doubter, and all who love words.

Chris
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Old 08-19-2002, 07:42 PM   #8
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Try "A Celebration of Discipline" by Richard J. Foster. I found it very meaningful without being legalistic or trying to make me feel good.
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Old 08-19-2002, 08:44 PM   #9
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I didn't enjoy that Foster book at all...
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Old 08-19-2002, 11:14 PM   #10
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life, god, the universe and everything

Illusions by Richard Bach
and
Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch...
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Old 08-19-2002, 11:18 PM   #11
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Re: life, god, the universe and everything

Quote:
Originally posted by charbono
Illusions by Richard Bach
I just read this last week and I would have to agree. It was a great book!
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Old 08-31-2002, 04:43 PM   #12
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Normal

In no particular order:
Dr. M. Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled and People of the Lie
Thomas Merton's No Man Is an Island
C.S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters
Philip Yancey's The Jesus I Never Knew and What's So Amazing about Grace
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Old 09-04-2002, 08:25 AM   #13
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The Sacred Romance
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Old 09-15-2002, 08:35 PM   #14
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Mere Christianity - CS Lewis

Imitation of Christ - St Thomas a Kempis

Seven Storey Mountain - Thomas Merton
(I think his autobiography is a necessary intro to his other works)

Story of a Soul - St Therese of Lisieux

What's So Amazing about Grace - Philip Yancey

The Lamb's Last Supper - Scott Hahn

I second the idea of Jesus Christ Superstar and add the musical Godspell, if only for it's joyful songs.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but my readings lean toward Catholic and Anglican writers as this fits in best with my personal theology - but I can appreciate a lot Methodist, Luthern, Presbyterian, etc writers as well. I've been investigating Dietrich Bonhoffer as of late (Cost of Discipleship).

I've also been able to appreciate some of Joyce Meyer's and T D Jakes books for the aspect of applying Christian theology to everyday living.

I like this thread because I'm always interested in what inspires people in their relationship toward God.

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Old 06-28-2005, 02:04 AM   #15
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The Tanakh

"The JPS Guide To Jewish Tradtitions" by Ronald Eisenberg

"Operation Solomon: The Daring Rescue Of The Ethiopian Jews" by Stephen Spector

"The Jewish State" by Theodor Herzl

"Tevye The Dairyman And The Railroad Stories" by Sholem Aleichem

"The Diary Of A Young Girl" by Anne Frank

The Noble Qur'an

"No God But God : The Origins, Evolution, And Future of Islam" by Reza Aslan

The Complete Artscroll Siddur

"Why the Jews Rejected Jesus : The Turning Point in Western History" by David Klinghoffer

"Abraham : A Journey To The Heart Of Three Faiths" by Bruce Feiler

"Islam : A Short History " by Karen Armstrong

"The Trouble with Islam : A Muslim's Call For Reform In Her Faith" by Irshad Manji

"The Satanic Verses" by Salman Rushdie

"Moses : A Life" by Jonathan Kirsch

"God Against the Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism" by Jonathan Kirsch

"King David: A Biography" by Steven L. McKenzie
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Old 06-28-2005, 06:54 AM   #16
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Lately, the book that has influenced the spiritual side of my life is "Living Buddha, Living Christ" by Thich Nhat Hanh. The author boldly attempts to establish similarities between Buddhism and Christianity. You would be surprised how many similarities those two religions share.
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Old 06-28-2005, 11:32 AM   #17
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Anything by James White or John Piper.
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Old 06-29-2005, 07:17 AM   #18
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John Piper is rather scary. I used to go to his church and was pretty good friends with one of his sons. His views on gender roles are archaic and his insistence on Calvinism (repacked under the name "desiring God") imho is a barrier to faith. But that's just me.
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Old 06-29-2005, 07:43 AM   #19
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I don't really read many books about Christian living, etc. The Bible is my book. However, here are 2 that have meant a great deal to me.


Lifetime Guarantee by Bill Gillham
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...738779-5559248

Speechless by Steven Curtis Chapman
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...738779-5559248
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Old 06-29-2005, 08:28 AM   #20
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Other than the Bible, which I try to read every day, I strongly recommend Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. It's subtitle is "Non-religious thoughts on Christianity." It's unlike anything you've ever read. He has another book I just started called "Searching for God Knows What" that's pretty good as well.
I also would recommend books from Relevant. I'm currently reading (yes, another book at the same time) "Red Moon Rising," about the 24-7 prayer movement. It's very inspiring. (The first words in the book are lyrics from "Electrical Storm," which is cool.)
Check out www.relevantbooks.com, and there's a book on U2's faith, Johnny Cash's faith (both really good) as well as many other awesome books.

I also recently read the first part of Jim Wallis' God's Politics. I checked it out from the library, but I couldn't renew it to finish it because there's a long waiting list for it. Yes, it's more about politics than spirituality, but it could be argued that they're one and the same.
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