Archives For Religion


Aligning Beliefs and Practice

A Feature Review of

THE ANSWER TO BAD RELIGION IS NOT NO RELIGION: A Guide to Good Religion for Seekers, Skeptics, and Believers.   
Martin Thielen

Paperback: WJK Books, 2014.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Bob Cornwall

*** This review originally appeared on the reviewer’s blog and is reprinted here with permission.
It’s no secret – fewer people are going to church than they used to.  Many give the bad state of religion as their reason for staying away.  People seem to have noticed that there is a lot of hypocrisy among Christians.  They’re too politicized, angry, exclusive, dogmatic, and self-righteous.  They’re simply not pleasant to be around.  So why spend your Sunday’s around such people.  Instead, we can be spiritual without the trappings of religion.  I can understand the sentiment – I’ve known these kinds of people.  I’ve even been counted among them a few times in my life.    But just because some religion is bad, doesn’t mean we have to totally give up on religion!
Martin Thielen, a United Methodist Pastor serving in Tennessee, and a former Southern Baptist pastor, doesn’t think that we have to give up on religion completely, because some representatives of the faith are not all that attractive.  In other words, he’s asking people to give the church a second look.
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Dreaming Freely about a Better World

A Feature Review of

Cinematic States: Stories We Tell, the American Dreamlife, and How to Understand Everything*

*(Mostly. But Not Really. But Sort Of.)

Gareth Higgins

Paperback: Burnside Books, 2013.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]


Reviewed by Brett David Potter


Film is oneiric. When we all sit together in a darkened room, fixated on the flickering shadows dancing on the luminous silver screen, we engage in a kind of collective dreaming. As film theorists have pointed out, it’s Plato’s cave without anyone standing up to interrupt the show.

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Free Ebooks

Looking for something to read?

Here are hundreds of classics that are available as FREE ebooks for your Kindle, iPad or other e-reader…

Mix up your reading habits, and read (or re-read) classics in addition to new books…

Broadly speaking, a classic is any book that is not a new book, or in other words that is worth reading five, ten or even one hundred years after its initial publication. ERB Editor Chris Smith has an article on The Huffington Post website arguing for reading a mix of classics and new books…

Stay tuned as as we will be adding
more categories to this list!

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Through Monday May 27, Amazon is running a huge sale on ebooks.


Over 500 ebooks have been marked down, with savings of up to 88%!!!


You can browse the full list here:


CLICK HERE to jump right into the Religion/Spirituality section


HOWEVER, if you don’t have the time or desire to browse the full collection, we have picked 10 essential ebooks that you should own and read:

1) The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Communities – John McKnight / Peter Block
Read an excerpt here
2) The Autobiography of Mark Twain
3) Abraham Lincoln: Lessons in Spiritual Leadership by Elton Trueblood

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Amazon currently has 100 Kindle ebook bargains in their Religion/Spirituality section.

We’ve highlighted some of the books that will be of the most interest to ERB readers below, but you may also want to BROWSE THE FULL SALE CATALOG.


 Check out these bargains for $3.99 or less! :

Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith
Henri Nouwen
 Rob Bell and a New American Christianity
James K. Wellman, Jr.
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Jacques Berlinerblau - How to be SecularWho is Fit for the Secular Kingdom?

A Review of

How to be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom

Jacques Berlinerblau

Hardback: HMH Books, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Matthew J. Kaul

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. I listened to a lot of Christian rock. One of my favorite bands was Audio Adrenaline. Audio A’s second album, and the one that introduced me to them, was called Don’t Censor Me. Listening to it now is a bewildering experience.


The album’s theme — remember, this is rock music — is a defense of what many would call “traditional values.” It’s full of rock-n-roll protest songs that call for a defense of the Christian family-values establishment. And no small amount of the Christian rock that I listened to (which is to say, the most popular Christian rock) took this form: in addition to several tracks on Don’t Censor Me, songs by the Newsboys and dc talk expressed similar sentiments.


What concepts help us understand such strange juxtapositions as rock and conservative politics? What’s the best way to understand what it means to headbang to lyrics like “You can take God out of my school / you can make me listen to you. / You can take God out of the pledge / but you can’t take God out of my head”? Who was I, as I was doing so?


In Jacques Berlinerblau’s terms, I would be a good little “revivalist.” What’s a revivalist? It’s tough to say, because he never defines the category. He’s not using it in the tradition sense of someone who works for or participates in a revival meeting. For Berlinerblau, the “Revival” (both terms are always capitalized, because they’re really scary) is simply the fact that religion hasn’t died off yet:

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Shane Hipps - Selling Water by the RiverSeeking Fulfillment.

A Feature Review of

Selling Water By The River: A Book About the Life Jesus Promised and The Religion That Gets In the Way

Shane Hipps

Hardback: Jericho Books, 2012.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by David Nash

*** Watch the trailer video for this book

While reading this book, I saw myself in a classroom listening to Shane Hipps gently and clearly leading a group of people into an understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.  Hipps is the teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids. This book comes out of his experience of teaching at Mars Hill. Having fourteen chapters, this book fits into a quarter year’s teaching schedule.


The book title shapes the theme of authentic spiritual experience contrasted to a religious faith that comes through institutional religion, a popular conversation for today.   To quench one’s thirst for God, a person can choose to reject the stagnant, polluted water of the world and choose, instead, to drink one’s fill of the Living Water which God provides through Christ.  Through this Living Water a person enters into the “peace, love, and joy” while living one’s life in the secular world.  Hipps writes especially for those who are caught up in a dogmatic creed that must be accepted as the only truth.


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J. Kameron Carter - RaceThis is a superb video from earlier this year in which J. Kameron Carter talks about Race, Religion, Obama, the Trayvon Martin Case and his superb book

Race: A Theological Account.

J. Kameron Carter.

Hardcover: Oxford UP, 2008.
Buy now from:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

This book was selected as our most important theological work of 2008,
and it is perhaps the most important theological work of the last decade.

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Dan Kimball - Adventures in Churchland Adventures in Buffet Style Eating

A Review of

Adventures in Churchland: Finding Jesus in the Mess of Organized Religion.

Dan Kimball.

Paperback: Zondervan, 2012.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Timothy Stege.

When I was in high school, my siblings and I loved to discover new buffets. We had our favorites spread throughout the southern suburbs of Chicago, but we always hungered for new smorgasbord experiences. We could rotate through our favorite ones based on our appetites – this one had great chicken wings and banana bread, another was all Polish food, yet another had rib night. One day, though, we finally hit pay dirt: Five Islands Buffet. This place seemed like a dream come true for us; the food was arranged in different islands, with the American-style food on Coney Island, then Italian, Chinese, Mexican, and dessert islands. It was buffet heaven – food for every mood, and all good. I’m pretty sure we wore out our welcome over a span of several months, and hopefully the eventual demise of Five Islands had nothing to do with the significant hit we would put in their food supply each visit.

Dan Kimball’s newest book, Adventures in Churchland: Finding Jesus in the Mess of Organized Religion, has a lot of the same appeal that made us frequent visitors of Five Islands. Continue Reading…


Diana Butler Bass - Christianity After ReligionThe End or the Beginning?

A Feature Review of

Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening
Diana Butler Bass.

Hardback: Harper, 2012
Buy now: [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]

Reviewed By Jess O. Hale, Jr.

As the age of “spiritual but not religious” just now hits its stride in American society, commentators and pundits fill the airwaves, the Internet and a host of books in order tells what it all means – most with a great deal more diffuse heat than helpful illumination.  Atheists and secularists trumpet religion’s demise as the less strident among them call for toleration of quaint tribal superstitions and the outright banishment of more troublesome expressions of religious practice.  Fundamentalists lament the rise of godless humanism, the pagan-like new age spiritualities and militant Islam as they themselves struggle to impose a gauzy “godly” bygone morality from the early 1950s.  Mainline denominations retrench themselves.  Church growth and mega-church devotees trot out new marketing schemes.  Many observant and not so observant Christian parents feel perplexed as their children leave the faith and never seem to come back to it.  Emergent Christians call for a new less sectarian, more world-engaging form of Christian practice.   Our time is one of change that seems to many to be one of fundamental transformation.  That change disorients many and we look for guides to this new age.  In Diana Butler Bass’ Christianity After Religion many readers will find an accessible, learned and hopeful guide to where our “brave new world” is taking us.

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