A religion book recommendation: Crimes of the Father: A Novel by Thomas Keneally

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2CXsKCK.
Keneally’s theme is sadly familiar, but in the hands of a world-renowned writer – still, on this evidence, at the height of his powers, and with a long record of shining a light on human frailty and injustice – Crimes of the Father goes way beyond the familiar.
Book description from Google Books:
From one of our greatest living writers, a bold and timely novel about sin cloaked in sacrament, shame that enforces silence, and the courage of one priest who dares to speak truth to power.Sent away from his native Australia to Canada due to his radical preaching against the Vietnam War, apartheid, and other hot button issues, Father Frank Docherty made for himself a satisfying career as a psychologist and monk. When he returns to Australia to lecture on the future of celibacy and the Catholic Church, he is unwittingly pulled into the lives of two people—a young man, via his suicide note, and an ex-nun—both of whom claim to have been sexually abused by a prominent monsignor. As a member of the commission investigating sex abuse within the Church, and as a man of character and conscience, Docherty decides he must confront each party involved and try to bring the matter to the attention of both the Church and the secular authorities. What follows will shake him to the core and call into question many of his own choices. This riveting, profoundly thoughtful novel is “the work of a richly experienced and compassionate writer [with] an understanding of a deeply wounded culture” (Sydney Morning Herald). It is an exploration of what it is to be a person of faith in the modern world, and of the courage it takes to face the truth about an institution you love.
The book is rated 3.86/5 at goodreads.com, from 355 ratings. See 77 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CuYYnz.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CZBJTG.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A religion book recommendation: Crimes of the Father: A Novel by Thomas Keneally

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2CXsKCK.
Keneally’s theme is sadly familiar, but in the hands of a world-renowned writer – still, on this evidence, at the height of his powers, and with a long record of shining a light on human frailty and injustice – Crimes of the Father goes way beyond the familiar.
Book description from Google Books:
From one of our greatest living writers, a bold and timely novel about sin cloaked in sacrament, shame that enforces silence, and the courage of one priest who dares to speak truth to power.Sent away from his native Australia to Canada due to his radical preaching against the Vietnam War, apartheid, and other hot button issues, Father Frank Docherty made for himself a satisfying career as a psychologist and monk. When he returns to Australia to lecture on the future of celibacy and the Catholic Church, he is unwittingly pulled into the lives of two people—a young man, via his suicide note, and an ex-nun—both of whom claim to have been sexually abused by a prominent monsignor. As a member of the commission investigating sex abuse within the Church, and as a man of character and conscience, Docherty decides he must confront each party involved and try to bring the matter to the attention of both the Church and the secular authorities. What follows will shake him to the core and call into question many of his own choices. This riveting, profoundly thoughtful novel is “the work of a richly experienced and compassionate writer [with] an understanding of a deeply wounded culture” (Sydney Morning Herald). It is an exploration of what it is to be a person of faith in the modern world, and of the courage it takes to face the truth about an institution you love.
The book is rated 3.86/5 at goodreads.com, from 355 ratings. See 77 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CuYYnz.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CZBJTG.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A religion book recommendation: Every Third Thought: On Life, Death and the Endgame by Robert McCrum

A critic review (source The Economist) can be read at: http://econ.st/2ChxD8t.
Mr McCrum’s bravery in staring into the abyss cannot be overestimated; reading his book inevitably brings moments of terror. But “Every Third Thought” has something positive to offer, too.
Book description from Google Books:
AS READ ON BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK’Thoughtful, subtle, elegantly clever and oddly joyous, Every Third Thought is beautiful’ Kate Mosse In 1995, at the age of forty two, Robert McCrum suffered a dramatic and near-fatal stroke, the subject of his acclaimed memoir My Year Off. Ever since that life-changing event, McCrum has lived in the shadow of death, unavoidably aware of his own mortality. And now, twenty-one years on, he is noticing a change: his friends are joining him there. Death has become his contemporaries’ every third thought. The question is no longer ‘who am I?’ but ‘how long have I got?’ and ‘what happens next?’ With the words of McCrum’s favourite authors as travel companions, Every Third Thought, takes us on a journey through a year and towards death itself. As he acknowledges his own and his friends’ ageing, McCrum confronts an existential question: in a world where we have learnt to live well at all costs, can we make peace with what Freud calls ‘the necessity of dying’? Searching for answers leads him to others for advice and wisdom, and Every Third Thought is populated by the voices of brain surgeons, psychologists, cancer patients, hospice workers, writers and poets. Witty, lucid and provocative, Every Third Thought is an enthralling exploration of what it means to approach the ‘end game’, and begin to recognize, perhaps reluctantly, that we are not immortal. Deeply personal and yet always universal, this is a book for anyone who finds themselves preoccupied by matters of life and death. It is both guide and companion.
The book is rated 3.61/5 at goodreads.com, from 31 ratings. See 9 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CMieOx.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CMiFbD.

A religion book recommendation: When the English Fall: A Novel by David Williams

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2Dg1xdi.
I never realized I wanted a postapocalyptic Amish novel, but the premise is so perfect I can’t believe that it’s never been done before — or that someone did it so well on the first try.
Book description from Google Books:
A riveting and unexpected novel that questions whether a peaceful and non- violent community can survive when civilization falls apart. Again, all are asleep, but I am not. I need sleep, but though I read and I pray, I feel too awake. My mind paces the floor. There are shots now and again, bursts here and there, far away, and I cannot sleep. I think of this man in his hunger, shot like a rabbit raiding a garden. For what, Lord? For stealing corn intended for pigs and cattle, like the hungry prodigal helpless in a strange land. I can hear his voice. When a catastrophic solar storm brings about the collapse of modern civilization, an Amish community is caught up in the devastating aftermath. With their stocked larders and stores of supplies, the Amish are unaffected at first. But as the English (the Amish name for all non-Amish people) in the cities become increasingly desperate, they begin to invade nearby farms, taking whatever they want and unleashing unthinkable violence on the gentle communities. Written as the diary of an Amish farmer named Jacob who tries to protect his family and his way of life, When the English Fall examines the idea of peace in the face of deadly chaos. Should members of a nonviolent society defy their beliefs and take up arms to defend themselves? And if they do, can they survive? David Williams’s debut novel is a thoroughly engrossing look into the closed world of the Amish, as well as a thought-provoking examination of how we live today and what remains if the center cannot hold.
The book is rated 3.74/5 at goodreads.com, from 1458 ratings. See 350 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2C9IB0G.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2C6ODip.

A religion book recommendation: Stranger in a Strange Land: Searching for Gershom Scholem and Jerusalem by George Prochnik

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2CclaDH.
But that’s only one thread of this ardent, beautifully written book. The other is Prochnik’s parallel rebellion and Zionist awakening in the late 1980s when he quit the US, converted to Judaism, learned Hebrew and settled in Jerusalem.
Book description from Google Books:
Taking his lead from his subject, Gershom Scholem–the 20th century thinker who cracked open Jewish theology and history with a radical reading of Kabbalah–Prochnik combines biography and memoir to counter our contemporary political crisis with an original and urgent reimagining of the future of Israel. In Stranger in a Strange Land, Prochnik revisits the life and work of Gershom Scholem, whose once prominent reputation, as a Freud-like interpreter of the inner world of the Cosmos, has been in eclipse in the United States. He vividly conjures Scholem’s upbringing in Berlin, and compellingly brings to life Scholem’s transformative friendship with Walter Benjamin, the critic and philosopher. In doing so, he reveals how Scholem’s frustration with the bourgeois ideology of Germany during the First World War led him to discover Judaism, Kabbalah, and finally Zionism, as potent counter-forces to Europe’s suicidal nationalism. Prochnik’s own years in the Holy Land in the 1990s brings him to question the stereotypical intellectual and theological constructs of Jerusalem, and to rediscover the city as a physical place, rife with the unruliness and fecundity of nature. Prochnik ultimately suggests that a new form of ecological pluralism must now inherit the historically energizing role once played by Kabbalah and Zionism in Jewish thought.
The book is rated 3.76/5 at goodreads.com, from 21 ratings. See 4 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CgrIkE.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2Dn7a9x.

A religion book recommendation: Modern Gods: A Novel by Nick Laird

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2Dq1bAU.
For a novel that ultimately aims to expose the dangers of political and religious orthodoxies, Modern Gods winds up getting awfully preachy.
Book description from Google Books:
A powerful novel about two sisters who must reclaim themselves after their lives are dramatically upended, from an award-winning author with “a wonderfully original and limber voice” (The New York Times) “[Nick Laird’s] kinetic prose, full of insight about politics, history and religion, dazzles eye and ear.” -The New York Times Book Review “Nick Laird takes two experiences poles apart and unites them in gorgeous language…[with] fierce tenderness. ” -Dave Eggers, author of Heroes of the FrontierAlison Donnelly has suffered for love. Still stuck in the small Northern Irish town where she was born, working for her father’s real estate agency, she hopes a second marriage will help her get her life back together. Her sister Liz, a fiercely independent professor who lives in New York City, is about to return to Ulster for Alison’s wedding, before heading to an island off the coast of Papua New Guinea to make a TV show about the world’s newest religion. Both sisters hope to write their own futures, but the past has other ideas. Alison wakes up the day after her wedding to find that her new husband has a past neither of them can escape. While Liz, in a rainforest on the other side of the planet, finds herself increasingly entangled in the eerie, charged world of Belef, the charismatic middle-aged woman she has come to film, the leader of a cargo cult. As Modern Gods ingeniously interweaves the stories of Liz and Alison, it becomes clear that both sisters must learn how to negotiate with the past, with the sins of fanaticism, and decide exactly what the living owe to the dead. Laird’s brave, innovative novel charts the intimacies and disappointments of a family trying to hold itself together, and the repercussions of history and belief.
The book is rated 3.57/5 at goodreads.com, from 232 ratings. See 59 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DqktWO.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2Cip2D8.

A religion book recommendation: 42 Faith: The Rest of the Jackie Robinson Story by Ed Henry

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2D8CbOy.
Mr. Henry’s intriguing book has added an important new chapter in Jackie Robinson’s life and career. We now understand the faith that family, friends and fans put in his God-given abilities provided additional strength to his own commitment to faith.
Book description from Google Books:
New York Times Bestseller Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey, and the hidden hand of God that changed history Journalist and baseball lover Ed Henry reveals for the first time the backstory of faith that guided Jackie Robinson into not only the baseball record books but the annals of civil rights advancement as well. Through recently discovered sermons, interviews with Robinson’s family and friends, and even an unpublished book by the player himself, Henry details a side of Jackie’s humanity that few have taken the time to see. Branch Rickey, the famed owner who risked it all by signing Jackie to his first contract, is also shown as a complex individual who wanted nothing more than to make his God-fearing mother proud of him. Few know the level at which Rickey struggled with his decision, only moving forward after a private meeting with a minister he’d just met. It turns out Rickey was not as certain about signing Robinson as historians have always assumed. With many baseball stories to enthrall even the most ardent enthusiast, 42 Faith also digs deep into why Jackie was the man he was and what both drove him and challenged him after his retirement. From his early years before baseball, to his time with Rickey and the Dodgers, to his failing health in his final years, we see a man of faith that few have recognized. This book will add a whole new dimension to Robinson’s already awe-inspiring legacy. Yes, Jackie and Branch are both still heroes long after their deaths. Now, we learn more fully than ever before, there was an assist from God too.
The book is rated 4.17/5 at goodreads.com, from 124 ratings. See 22 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2C1rrSU.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2C1rFJK.

A religion book recommendation: Modern Gods: A Novel by Nick Laird

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2Dq1bAU.
For a novel that ultimately aims to expose the dangers of political and religious orthodoxies, Modern Gods winds up getting awfully preachy.
Book description from Google Books:
A powerful novel about two sisters who must reclaim themselves after their lives are dramatically upended, from an award-winning author with “a wonderfully original and limber voice” (The New York Times) “[Nick Laird’s] kinetic prose, full of insight about politics, history and religion, dazzles eye and ear.” -The New York Times Book Review “Nick Laird takes two experiences poles apart and unites them in gorgeous language…[with] fierce tenderness. ” -Dave Eggers, author of Heroes of the FrontierAlison Donnelly has suffered for love. Still stuck in the small Northern Irish town where she was born, working for her father’s real estate agency, she hopes a second marriage will help her get her life back together. Her sister Liz, a fiercely independent professor who lives in New York City, is about to return to Ulster for Alison’s wedding, before heading to an island off the coast of Papua New Guinea to make a TV show about the world’s newest religion. Both sisters hope to write their own futures, but the past has other ideas. Alison wakes up the day after her wedding to find that her new husband has a past neither of them can escape. While Liz, in a rainforest on the other side of the planet, finds herself increasingly entangled in the eerie, charged world of Belef, the charismatic middle-aged woman she has come to film, the leader of a cargo cult. As Modern Gods ingeniously interweaves the stories of Liz and Alison, it becomes clear that both sisters must learn how to negotiate with the past, with the sins of fanaticism, and decide exactly what the living owe to the dead. Laird’s brave, innovative novel charts the intimacies and disappointments of a family trying to hold itself together, and the repercussions of history and belief.
The book is rated 3.58/5 at goodreads.com, from 231 ratings. See 59 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DqktWO.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2Cip2D8.

A religion book recommendation: Stranger in a Strange Land: Searching for Gershom Scholem and Jerusalem by George Prochnik

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2CclaDH.
But that’s only one thread of this ardent, beautifully written book. The other is Prochnik’s parallel rebellion and Zionist awakening in the late 1980s when he quit the US, converted to Judaism, learned Hebrew and settled in Jerusalem.
Book description from Google Books:
Taking his lead from his subject, Gershom Scholem–the 20th century thinker who cracked open Jewish theology and history with a radical reading of Kabbalah–Prochnik combines biography and memoir to counter our contemporary political crisis with an original and urgent reimagining of the future of Israel. In Stranger in a Strange Land, Prochnik revisits the life and work of Gershom Scholem, whose once prominent reputation, as a Freud-like interpreter of the inner world of the Cosmos, has been in eclipse in the United States. He vividly conjures Scholem’s upbringing in Berlin, and compellingly brings to life Scholem’s transformative friendship with Walter Benjamin, the critic and philosopher. In doing so, he reveals how Scholem’s frustration with the bourgeois ideology of Germany during the First World War led him to discover Judaism, Kabbalah, and finally Zionism, as potent counter-forces to Europe’s suicidal nationalism. Prochnik’s own years in the Holy Land in the 1990s brings him to question the stereotypical intellectual and theological constructs of Jerusalem, and to rediscover the city as a physical place, rife with the unruliness and fecundity of nature. Prochnik ultimately suggests that a new form of ecological pluralism must now inherit the historically energizing role once played by Kabbalah and Zionism in Jewish thought.
The book is rated 3.76/5 at goodreads.com, from 21 ratings. See 4 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CgrIkE.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2Dn7a9x.

A religion book recommendation: When the English Fall: A Novel by David Williams

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2Dg1xdi.
I never realized I wanted a postapocalyptic Amish novel, but the premise is so perfect I can’t believe that it’s never been done before — or that someone did it so well on the first try.
Book description from Google Books:
A riveting and unexpected novel that questions whether a peaceful and non- violent community can survive when civilization falls apart. Again, all are asleep, but I am not. I need sleep, but though I read and I pray, I feel too awake. My mind paces the floor. There are shots now and again, bursts here and there, far away, and I cannot sleep. I think of this man in his hunger, shot like a rabbit raiding a garden. For what, Lord? For stealing corn intended for pigs and cattle, like the hungry prodigal helpless in a strange land. I can hear his voice. When a catastrophic solar storm brings about the collapse of modern civilization, an Amish community is caught up in the devastating aftermath. With their stocked larders and stores of supplies, the Amish are unaffected at first. But as the English (the Amish name for all non-Amish people) in the cities become increasingly desperate, they begin to invade nearby farms, taking whatever they want and unleashing unthinkable violence on the gentle communities. Written as the diary of an Amish farmer named Jacob who tries to protect his family and his way of life, When the English Fall examines the idea of peace in the face of deadly chaos. Should members of a nonviolent society defy their beliefs and take up arms to defend themselves? And if they do, can they survive? David Williams’s debut novel is a thoroughly engrossing look into the closed world of the Amish, as well as a thought-provoking examination of how we live today and what remains if the center cannot hold.
The book is rated 3.75/5 at goodreads.com, from 1433 ratings. See 348 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2C9IB0G.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2C6ODip.