Great for giv­ing

Re­li­gion-themed reads per­fect for your presents

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - RELIGION - FRAN­CISCA JONES Fran­cisca Jones edits the Re­li­gion sec­tion for the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette in Lit­tle Rock. Email her at [email protected]­line.com.

Christ­mas and the hol­i­day sea­son are upon us, and the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette’s an­nual list of gift-giv­ing rec­om­men­da­tions is here.

Fo­cused on books in the theme of re­li­gion and spir­i­tu­al­ity, this year’s non­fic­tion se­lec­tions span top­ics in­clud­ing mu­sic, lit­er­a­ture and the ex­am­i­na­tion of mir­a­cles. The list starts this week and will con­clude next week.

On Read­ing Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Books

By Karen Swal­low Prior

(Bra­zosPress, $19.99)

Karen Swal­low Prior ex­plores the themes of car­di­nal, the­o­log­i­cal and heav­enly virtues by tak­ing a closer look at lit­er­ary clas­sics by authors such as Mark Twain, Leo Tol­stoy, Jane Austen and Flan­nery O’Con­nor. Be­yond the lens of virtues, for ex­am­ple, she ex­plores not just their pres­ence or ab­sence; she widens the scope of un­der­stand­ing and rel­e­vance by em­ploy­ing doc­u­mented mod­ern-day ex­am­ples. Dis­cus­sion ques­tions are in­cluded for each lit­er­ary work, fa­cil­i­tat­ing the use of this book for study by larger groups, and the au­thor also ex­plores her own ideas on what makes a book “good,” and what it means to read “well.”

The Case for Mir­a­cles: A Jour­nal­ist In­ves­ti­gates Ev­i­dence for the Su­per­nat­u­ral

By Lee Stro­bel

(Zon­der­van, $24.99)

Fans of Lee Stro­bel’s award-win­ning best-seller The Case for Christ, which was made into a movie last year, and other vol­umes in The Case for se­ries will be fa­mil­iar with the lay­out of his lat­est book, which in­ves­ti­gates events and cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing mir­a­cles that are both his­tor­i­cal and mod­ern.

Stro­bel spends time with ex­perts in­clud­ing Univer­sity of Ok­la­homa physics pro­fes­sor Michael Strauss, who was part of the col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort that re­sulted in the dis­cov­ery of the Higgs Bo­son, also known as the “God par­ti­cle”; and vis­its the of­fices of Skep­tic mag­a­zine with Michael Sher­mer, founder of The Skep­tics So­ci­ety and au­thor of a col­umn on skep­ti­cism for Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can mag­a­zine. The Case for Mir­a­cles also in­cludes dis­cus­sion ques­tions and rec­om­men­da­tions for fur­ther read­ing. By Sa­j­jad Shah and Imam Ma­houi

(Abrams, $19.99)

Based on the In­sta­gram ac­count of the same name, this com­pi­la­tion give faces and voices to more than 60 Mus­lims liv­ing around the world and in the United States as they tell sto­ries of faith, fam­ily, love and loss, and what it means to each per­son to live by their Is­lamic faith in both tan­gi­ble and un­seen ways through those life ex­pe­ri­ences.

Or­ga­nized into chap­ters by theme, the ma­jor­ity of pro­files fea­tures peo­ple in their 20s and 30s, but in­clude nar­ra­tives from some as young as 11 and oth­ers in their 70s with decades of life ex­pe­ri­ence be­hind them. Shah’s jour­ney to pro­duc­ing the book be­gan by col­lect­ing sto­ries from Mus­lims where he grew up in In­di­ana, and branched out into the In­sta­gram ac­count sev­eral years ago, which now has sev­eral hun­dred thou­sand fol­low­ers.

Or­tho­doxy and Hetero­doxy

By An­drew Stephen Dam­ick (An­cient Faith Pub­lish­ing, $29.95) Sub­ti­tled “Finding the Way to Christ in a Com­pli­cated Re­li­gious Land­scape,” this re­vised and ex­panded ver­sion of Dam­ick’s 2011 book in part has a twofold goal: to help Ortho­dox Chris­tians un­der­stand other re­li­gious be­lief sys­tems, and to help the non-Ortho­dox with an un­der­stand­ing of Ortho­dox Chris­tian­ity. A com­pre­hen­sive lay­out of the Ortho­dox faith is com­ple­mented with sub­stan­tive chap­ters on Pen­te­costal­ism and the Charis­matic move­ments, Evan­gel­i­cal­ism and Re­vival­ism; and read­ers will cross paths with other ma­jor non-Chris­tian re­li­gions. Dam­ick, an Ortho­dox pas­tor in Penn­syl­va­nia, in­cludes an ap­pen­dix on athe­ism and ag­nos­ti­cism, and a sec­ond one de­tail­ing his up­bring­ing and back­ground as a for­mer Evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tian be­fore dis­cov­er­ing Or­tho­doxy.

A Prophet With Honor: The Billy Gra­ham Story

By Wil­liam Martin (Zon­der­van, $29.99)

Re­leased less than two weeks af­ter Gra­ham’s death in Fe­bru­ary, this is an up­dated ver­sion of the orig­i­nal 1991 edi­tion that Gra­ham him­self re­quested that orig­i­nally chron­i­cled his life from its be­gin­nings in ru­ral North Carolina. This vol­ume con­tin­ues to tell Gra­ham’s story up through the evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tian leader’s 95th birth­day in 2013, along with the de­vel­op­ments of his chil­dren’s re­spec­tive min­istries as adults.

A re­tired pro­fes­sor of re­li­gion and pub­lic pol­icy at Rice Univer­sity, Martin in­ter­viewed more than 100 peo­ple for this up­dated vol­ume, and draws on his decades of study in re­li­gious fun­da­men­tal­ism and pol­i­tics.

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