Tag Archives: spirituality

Staff Display: Matters of Faith


I wanted to put together some books that explored the idea of faith, but I wasn’t entirely comfortable with anything too overtly religious. The fact that I hesitated made me wonder why I felt this way. In New England, at least, we do not spend a lot of time publicly talking about our own personal religious beliefs (unless we are a politician). Why don’t we talk about our faith? Is it because faith and religion have become so polarized in our society? Even the words “faith” and “religion” are loaded with symbolism. We make so many assumptions about others based on what we know, or think we know, about their religious beliefs (or lack of them).

From the Table:

First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander M.D.

Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan

Glimpsing Heaven: The Stories and Science of Life After Death by Judy Bachrach

Nine Parts Of Desire: The Hidden World Of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks

Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death by Katy Butler

Dying Well: Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life by Ira Byock

Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth about Everything by Barbara Ehrenreich

How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee by Bart D. Ehrman

Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Talmud A Biography: Banned, censored and burned: The book they couldn’t suppress by Harry Freedman

Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise by Thich Nhat Hanh

Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul by Tony Hendra

Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman

Guide for the Perplexed by Dara Horn

Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott

Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott

Jewish Annotated New Testament: New Revised Standard Version Bible Translation by Amy Levine, Ed.

Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo

Lunch with Buddha by Roland Merullo

Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World by Thomas Moore

Pagans: The End of Traditional Religion and the Rise of Christianity by James J. O’Donnell

Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Opening Heaven’s Door: Investigating Stories of Life, Death, and What Comes After by Patricia

Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom a Toltec Wisdom Book by Don Miguel Ruiz

Frozen Rabbi by Steve Stern

New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

Age of Atheists: How We Have Sought to Live Since the Death of God by Peter Watson

Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Night by Elie Wiesel (new translation

Holy Bible: King James Version

DK Illustrated Family Bible

Other books that I would recommend:

  • The Sparrow, by Maria Doria Russell, about a Jesuit priest who travels to the Alpha Centauri solar system, in a misguided attempt to connect with a culture of artists.
  • Vatican Waltz, by Roland Merullo, explores what might happen when a modern day miracle threatens to upend the Catholic church.
  • American Saviour, also by Roland Merullo, explores what might happen if Jesus Christ appeared in modern day America.

Lysbeth Abrams

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Staff Review: Vatican Waltz

9780307452955Vatican Waltz

Roland Merullo

Crown Publishing Group (NY)


Available Now

I like everything that Roland Merullo has written — Breakfast with Buddha, Lunch with Buddha — and thoroughly enjoyed his new book, Vatican Waltz.

Cynthia Piantedosi is a devout Catholic who has experienced visions, or “spells”, since she was a young girl. When her beloved grandmother dies, Cynthia’s visions take on a greater intensity, pointing her towards becoming the first female Catholic priest. At least this is what she thinks God is telling her. She is so focused on this goal that she pursues it all the way to the Vatican. The backlash that results from this pursuit instead reveals God’s true intentions, which will inevitably lead to just as much upheaval in the church as inviting women into the priesthood.

Vatican Waltz is not thrilling in the manner of The DaVinci Code, but is instead a more thoughtful examination of how the Catholic church might respond to an elemental change in its foundational beliefs.

Merullo writes about religion, faith, and spirituality without trivializing them. He forces us to rethink what we truly believe and what we blindly adhere to. He pushes the boundaries of dogma without denigrating one’s beliefs. I read this novel slowly because I wanted to savor it. Merullo’s books are more about the journey than the destination, and this was a journey best traveled slowly.

 ~ Lysbeth Abrams

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