A new feature of the bulletin each Sunday is a brief book review of a book that might interest the people of Cedar Park. If you have a book that you found helpful and interesting, please submit a brief review and we will add it to the bulletin and also put it on our website. You will most likely find these books available at the public library, at the church, or at Amazon.ca through this website at http://cedarparkunited.org/giving/.

“Caring Enough to Confront: How to understand and express your deepest feelings toward others” by David Augsburger.

Conflict is natural, neutral and normal and we all have different life experiences, personal perspectives and often desire different outcomes. This observation can allow us to be less anxious as we explore with others the source of our differences and possible solutions. In chapters entitled “Care-fronting”, “Truthing It”, “Owning Anger”, “Inviting Change” etc, the author goes though practical approaches to improved communication, personal growth and change based on a blend of modern psychology and the Christian tradition. These tips and techniques are, in my view, useful tools as we seek to live out our Covenant of Harmony. I found some of the later chapters of this short 142-page book less helpful. (Reviewed by Norman Jones)

“Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home” by Richard J. Foster

This book became an instant classic from the moment it was published in 1992. Foster carefully takes the reader into many (21) types of praying, and does it with gentle affirming grace. If you’ve never prayed, or if you’ve prayed all your life, there is a warm welcome in this book, and you will find at least one way of praying that works for you. Foster also dares to ask the questions we are afraid of asking: “What about unanswered prayers?”  “Will my praying make any difference?” “Maybe prayer is just a mind-game?” I won’t say he has answers to these questions, but his explorations of these mysteries are well worth reading. (Reviewed by Rev. Ron Coughlin)

“Soul Weavings: A Gathering of Women’s Prayers” Edited by Lyn Klug

This delightful little hardback book has been my prayer companion for 15 years. For those days when I can’t find the words to pray, this collection almost always has just what my soul is looking for. Klug has collected prayers by women from around the world and across the centuries (Mother Teresa and Medieval mystic Julian of Norwich to name two examples). She has also arranged them thematically so that you can find a prayer “in times of joy” or “for courage” or during times of suffering, or self-reflection. Can men read these too? Absolutely!
(Reviewed by Elisabeth Jones)

“Reading the Bible Again for the First Time” by Marcus J. Borg (HarperSanFrancisco, 2001)
This is a very easy read that appreciates the profound richness of the Bible and provides a bold new understanding of scripture that respects both tradition and reality, blending the best of biblical scholarship with a profound concern for faith and how it can be lived today. The best introduction to the Bible I have found. (Reviewed by Rev. Ron Coughlin)

“The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant (Picador Press, 1997)
This award-winning author has written a novel about the traditions and turmoil of womanhood in ancient Israel. Beginning with the story of the four wives of Jacob – Leah, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhal – it tells the story of the daughter Dinah. While this is a novel, it is a rich story filled with insights of the role of women in the ancient Israelite world. A very worthwhile read! (Reviewed by Rev. Ron Coughlin)

“Misquoting Jesus: the Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why” by Bart Ehrman (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005)
This book caused something of a sensation when it was published.  A world-class Biblical Scholar, Ehrman compares the differences in New Testament manuscripts and tells the story behind the mistakes and changes that ancient scribes made to the New Testament and its impact on the Bible we use today. An easily accessible book. (Reviewed by Rev. Ron Coughlin)

“Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt” and “Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana by Anne Rice (Alfred Knopf Canada, 2005 and 2008). Anne Rice, the well-known author of many novels about vampires, returned to the Roman Catholic Church and turned her writing energies to the subject of Jesus.  Recently, however, she has decided to leave the Roman Catholic Church over its treatment of women and gay and lesbian persons.  In these novels Anne Rice draws on the best in contemporary biblical scholarship to write novels about the life of Jesus.  The first is about Jesus’ childhood and his grappling with understanding his miraculous gifts.  The second is about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry from his baptism to the miracle at Cana of turning water into wine.  These are interesting for the background about the life and times of Jesus and one author’s take on his story.  (Reviewed by Rev. Ron Coughlin)

“The Misunderstood Jew:  The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus” by Amy-Jill Levine (Harper Collins, 2006). Amy-Jill Levine is the only Jewish person teaching New Testament at a theological school (Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville). This book shows how Christians often misunderstand Judaism, the New Testament and the Jesus movement by taking Jesus out of his Jewish context often resulting in intolerance of Jews. A valuable contribution to the study of Jesus. (Reviewed by Rev. Ron Coughlin)

“The God Part of the Brain: A Scientific Interpretation of Human Spirituality and God” by Matthew Alper (Sourcebooks, Inc. Paperback September 1, 2008). While Alper struggles with his belief in God, he embarks on a journey into the landscape of how the brain comes to perceive and form its model of reality. Our success in surviving as a species developed the physical structures and processing capabilities of our brains to cope with human mortality thus coming to terms with the dilemma of our survival and the transience of our existence. Alper provides a compelling argument about how we came to be endowed to receive religious experiences and thoughts just as we have come to have a capacity to nurture our curiosity for music, humour, sport, dance, math, and language. As you read this book be prepared to take some excursions as there are excellent citations on the works of numerous philosophers, scholars and scientists as well as religious texts. One caution I make is that Alper does not personally succeed in his quest to believe whereas I would say the reader should use a simple analogy:  just as we could think of ourselves as radio receivers possessing all the necessary structures to receive signals, it depends upon our choices what signals we “tune in” for morally acceptable and altruistic values. Ultimately we all must decide Who is sending The Message. (Reviewed by Bill Harvey)

“The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom” by Dr. Gerald Schroeder (Free Press; Reprint edition June 16, 2009). Dr. Schroeder is both a Genesis scholar and a physicist. He makes an interesting case for revisiting Genesis and the six days of creation in the light of modern cosmology and science. Additionally there are citations  from the Jewish tradition that include the Kabbalah, Maimonedes, and selected passages from the Talmud. Schroeder’s analysis of the Genesis time scale and the application of relativity theory yields an approximate reconciliation and also confirms that science supports to an interesting degree the sequence of events predicted by Genesis. A quick excursion to the Internet will show you that Dr. Schroeder has succeeded in opening up debate but there is one indisputable lesson to be learned from this book: by attempting to explore a complementary relationship between the Old Testament and science he has caused many to revisit both with renewed interest. Dr. Schroeder has written several other books and continues to seek the links between the Bible and science. (Reviewed by Bill Harvey)

“The Future of Faith” by Harvey Cox (HarperOne, 2009). Some of you may reach back and remember reading The Secular City in the late Sixties and remember the storm it created. Harvey Cox, Professor Emeritus of Harvard Divinity School, has done it again with his latest publication. He uses recent discoveries to shed light on some old questions that have plagued theologians. How did Christianity deteriorate from a people’s movement grounded on faith and hope into a religious empire stifled by dogmas and doctrines and ruled by a priestly class? How women, who played a dynamic role in the early church, were pushed aside. Cox suggests Christianity did not develop as it might have be expected, considering its roots. A challenging book about the future of Christianity. (Reviewed by John Howes)