Including the Golden Rule, Love
and Kindness, World Religions, Sacred Texts, Ethics,
Morality, and Values, Christianity,
Judaism, Humanism, Ecotheology, The Chalice and the Blade, and New Age Spirituality
The Golden Rule is something that almost all religions can agree upon. I'm including a page of quotes on the Golden Rule as expressed by 11 different religions. You can print it out as a free mini-poster. The Golden Rule advocates love and kindness. You can click here for some good books on love and kindness.
World Religions. by John Bowker. This is a colorful, well-illustrated and detailed compendium of the world's major religions. Includes a section on the Golden Rule. Published in 1997. Reviewed by Amazon.com.
Sourcebook of the World's Religions: An Interfaith Guide to Religion and Spirituality. by Joel Beversluis. Revised 3rd edition, published in July 2000. Most of this book is available online. This book provides very concise descriptions of 19 religions and then focuses on the collective work of people of faith working together in the World Parliament of Religions. Reviewed by Amazon.com. (This is the source for my quotes on the Golden Rule and Who Lives in the "Global Village?". Also check out the related website United Communities of Spirit.)
Publisher out of stock in Dec. 2000.
The Eliade Guide to World Religions, by Mircea Eliade and Ioan P. Couliano. An intellectual scholarly analysis of the beliefs and history of 33 major religious traditions. Reviewed by Amazon.com.
Places of Peace and Power. The Sacred Site Pilgrimage of Martin Gray.
Different religions believe in and have faith in different sacred texts.
Three major sacred texts include the Jewish Torah, the Christian Bible, and the Islamic Qur'an (also sometimes spelled Koran). Most Eastern religions have more than one sacred text.
Ethics, Morality, and Values
The Aesop for Children, with pictures by Milo Winter. Aesop's fables, while delightfully entertaining children, also each contain a moral to the story. For example, one of the first morals taught is "Heaven helps those who help themselves." I like the stories because they portray a freewheeling version of life, morality, and wisdom. These fables, thousands of years old, are an enduring part of folk wisdom. Reviewed by Amazon.com.
What Do You Stand For? A Kid's Guide to Building Character, by Barbara A. Lewis. Reviewed by Amazon.com.
The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories, by William J. Bennett. Reviewed by Amazon.com.
The PBS Adventures from Book of Virtues video series offers an entertaining approach to teaching virtue. You can buy the gift set of volumes 1-6, or volume 1: Courage, volume 2: Honesty, volume 3: Compassion, volume 4: Self-Discipline, volume 5: Work, volume 6: Responsibility, volume 7: Friendship, volume 8: Generosity, and also faith, humility, loyalty, perseverance, and respect. Reviewed by Amazon.com. Also reviewed by PBS.
The Christian sacred text is the bible. Some devout Christians often refer to the Christian Bible as Scripture. There are many different translations to choose from.
Out of print.
The Universe Bends Towards Justice: A Reader on Christian Nonviolence in the U.S., edited by Angie O'Gorman, with a foreword by Colman McCarthy. Published by New Society Publishers. My favorite chapter in this book is "Jesus' Third Way" by Walter Wink. A key quote from this chapter is "A proper translation of Jesus' teachings would then be, 'Do not strike back at evil (or, one who has done you evil) in kind. Do not give blow for blow. Do not retaliate against violence with violence.' Jesus was no less committed to opposing evil than the anti-Roman resistance fighters. The only difference was over the means to be used: how one should fight evil.
There are three general responses to evil: 1) passivity, 2) violent opposition, and 3) the third way of militant nonviolence articulated by Jesus."
The Quakers have often been in the forefront of nonviolent Christian struggle for social change. (For example, here's a recent column about the activism of a Quaker from Washington, D.C., An Alternative To Cynicism, by William Raspberry, from The Washington Post, 6/9/97, page A19.) [Post archive search.]
The Unitarian Universalist Church is an open-minded liberal faith, and I for one have gone to many events held at Unitarian Churches.
From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians, by PBS. This is fascinating 4-hour PBS Frontline documentary on the early history of Christianity from its origin through its becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire. Reviewed by PBS. Expensive, so you may want to rent a copy from a video store or library.
Here's a recent article on one woman's view on selecting a church that is right for her, from The Washington Post, Sunday, May 11 1997; Page C3. [Post archive search.]
Some Christians have embraced the human potential movement and/or New Age beliefs. For example, the delightful elf-help mini-booklets, which provide plenty of love and encouragement on a number of topics, are published by Abbey Press.
Many Christian and other religious organizations are working for social justice. Here is a large list of links.
Some Christians are advocating voluntary simplicity and stewardship of the earth. Alternatives for Simple Living, a Christian organization advocating voluntary simplicity, offers some good books on voluntary simplicity.
In my opinion, Christianity, or more broadly organized religion, offers many benefits, including religious faith, a sense of values, community, and a moral code, and it motivates some people to volunteer for community service. But I would add a caution about religious fundamentalism, extremism, or religious belief that leads to judging others, hatred, and/or attempting to control other people's lives. A powerful example of what I would caution against is the wholesale violation of women's rights that occurred in Afghanistan after Islamic fundamentalists took over.
Where does America stand on religion and spirituality? Here are 2 interesting articles from The Washington Post. "Poll Finds America 'as Churched as Ever'- Beliefs in God, Afterlife Have Changed Little Since 1947, but Faithful Sample More Forms of Spirituality". From The Washington Post, 5/31/97; Page B7. (It includes interesting poll results on religion.) "Christian Pollster and Analyst Sees Country at Spiritual Crossroads", from The Washington Post, 5/31/97, page B7. [Post archive search.]
The Jewish sacred text is the Torah.
Christianity and Islam are both descended from the Jewish tradition. The Jewish Torah is incorporated in the Christian Bible as the Old Testament. Here is a brief introduction to Judaism excerpted from A Sourcebook for Earth's Community of Religions.
The Story of the Jews: A 4,000-Year Adventure, by Stan Mack. An entertaining cartoon history of 4,000 years of Jewish history. Reviewed by Amazon.com.
Many people choose to be non-religious. Some consciously non-religious people got organized and established the Council for Secular Humanism. If you want to find out more about their beliefs, you can read The Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles.
The Lost Gospel of the Earth: A Call for Renewing Nature, Spirit, and Politics, by Tom Hayden and B. Ras. Published in 1996 by Sierra Club Books. Tom Hayden, a founder of SDS, member of the Chicago Seven, and longtime progressive California legislator presents an impassioned plea for reclaiming our spiritual bond with the Earth. Extensively reviewed by Amazon.com.
Out of print.
The Green Bible, by Stephen B. Scharper and Hilary Cunningham. As its book cover states, "The Green Bible seeks out the word of God for our diminished planet. Its sources range from the Hebrew and Christian scriptures to religious and political leaders, scientists, and environmentalists today. Their voices bring home the urgent task we face: to mend our household which is Creation, and to inspire hope that life will continue- and flourish- for all Earth's beings." Published by Orbis Books, which is associated with the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, Maryknoll. Note: this is not an official religious document, but is instead the work of 2 authors to combine Christianity and ecology. Reviewed by Amazon.com.
The Chalice and The Blade
The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future, by Riane Eisler. This book gets some rave reviews and is the first book I would recommend to anyone interested in feminist spirituality. Reviewed by Amazon.com.
New Age Spirituality
The Earthsteward's Handbook: A Guide to Healing Ourselves and Healing the Earth, by Danaan Parry and Lila Forest. In the book's own words, "...this handbook presents the concept of the "Sevenfold Path of Peace"- a series of practical steps designed to help bring spiritual awareness into your life. The path consists of:
Earth as a Living Organism
Sacredness of All Life
The Awakened Heart: Finding Harmony in a Changing World, by John Robbins and Ann Mortifee. This is their 1997 revised version of their 1991 book In Search of Balance: Discovering Harmony in a Changing World. It is full of wisdom and sage advice (but is without the graceful line drawings that adorn their earlier book). Reviewed by Amazon.com.
Handbook to Higher Consciousness (cassette tape & mini-guide), by Ken Keyes, Jr. Reviewed by Amazon.com. I recommend this as your first introduction to the Ken Keyes living love method. Reviewed by Amazon.com.
Handbook to Higher Consciousness, by Ken Keyes, Jr. Reviewed by Amazon.com.
If you want more information and books on some spiritual traditions outside of our Judeo-Christian religious tradition, click here. I personally find some non Judeo-Christian spiritual traditions very interesting, but I also recognize that in America many people are firmly attached to a Judeo-Christian religious worldview. So I've set up a separate category called New Age Spirituality to allow those people interested in it to check it out while allowing conservative people with a traditional religious faith to avoid being offended by ideas that may differ from their faith.
- See also inspirational books. -
- See also consciousness-raising information -
- See also utopian/ecotopian visions. -
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