Saturday, January 31, 2015

Check Out a New Blog!

If you like book reviews, be sure to check out this new blog, This Weird Evangelical Zeal. It's brand new! Bookmark it and return often -- I'm sure you'll find some great book suggestions there!

The Future of God

The Future of God by Deepak Chopra is the voice bridging the gap for all seekers who find themselves wandering in the wilderness between the camps of raging atheism on the one hand and empty religion on the other hand--both of which fail to address the nagging sense that something of significance is missing from life.

Chopra spends ample time in the opening two-thirds of the book laying out the arguments made by modern day atheism and science regarding their belief that there can be no God. He also lays open the arguments made by religion that leave educated seekers feeling that something is missing in the dogma of the faith system in which they were raised. I can identify with both of these plights! Having been seminary trained and serving as an ordained Lutheran minister for 13+ years, I know full well the theological underpinnings of Christianity. I also personally experienced the pitfalls and short comings of Christianity's theological dogmas and practices. When I saw the many ways in which the church seemed to miss on connecting to the divine, I could no longer remain a part of it. At the same time, I was being barraged constantly by questions and arguments from both genuine seekers and atheists with their own agenda. These encounters left me an odd mix of excited, exhausted, questioning my own faith, and angry.

Thus the first two-thirds of The Future of God felt a bit slow to me, because I found my own personal issues and struggles being resurrected. It felt as though weights were attached to my feet, with more weight being added and the terrain growing muddier as I read. This was not necessarily a bad thing, however.

Because of the journey I had taken through the beginning of the book, I found myself thinking, "Yes." "YES." "YES!" as I read "Stage 3: Knowing." Reading Chopra's words, "You remember that you are the dreamer who is in charge of the dream," I recalled riding in the back seat of my parents' station wagon as a child, contemplating life and thinking to myself, "What if everything we know as 'life' is really just a dream? And what if death is simply waking up?" The fact that a man from a predominantly Hindu country, who grew up surrounded by the religious thinking and teaching of the world's main polytheistic religion should be proclaiming the truth of Oneness, God in all things, everywhere and nowhere at one and the same time strikes me as profound, authentic and true. I have long harbored the belief that God is much bigger and beyond what any one religious system can capture. Chopra says that the universal truth of God is that God cannot be put (refuses to stay put!) in a box. To this, something within me shouts "YES!" Anything other would not be divine, would not be God.

If you have questions about life's meaning; if you ponder the deeper questions of faith, meaning, purpose; if you sense there may be more to your faith you should read The Future of God. I will recommend this book to those who struggle with questions posed to them by skeptics, atheists, science, and followers of blind faith. Chopra has some answers. He opens possibilities. He restores faith and in doing so, provides hope.

Many thanks to Blogging For Books who supplied the complimentary review copy for this review. From the Publisher . . .

Can God be revived in a skeptical age? What would it take to give people a spiritual life more powerful than anything in the past? Deepak Chopra tackles these issues with eloquence and insight in this book. He proposes that God lies at the source of human awareness. Therefore, any person can find the God within that transforms everyday life.

God is in trouble. The rise of the militant atheist movement spearheaded by Richard Dawkins signifies, to many, that the deity is an outmoded myth in the modern world. Deepak Chopra passionately disagrees, seeing the present moment as the perfect time for making spirituality what it really should be: reliable knowledge about higher reality. Outlining a path to God that turns unbelief into the first step of awakening, Deepak shows us that a crisis of faith is like the fire we must pass through on the way to power, truth, and love.

“Faith must be saved for everyone’s sake,” he writes. “From faith springs a passion for the eternal, which is even stronger than love. Many of us have lost that passion or have never known it.” In any age, faith is a cry from the heart. God is the higher consciousness that responds to the cry. “By itself, faith can’t deliver God, but it does something more timely: It makes God possible.”

For three decades, Deepak Chopra has inspired millions with his profound writing and teaching. With The Future of God, he invites us on a journey of the spirit, providing a practical path to understanding God and our own place in the universe. Now, is a moment of reinvigoration, he argues. Now is moment of renewal. Now is the future.

About the Author . . .

DEEPAK CHOPRA is the author of more than fifty books translated into more than thirty-five languages—including numerous New York Times bestsellers in both the fiction and nonfiction categories. Dr. Chopra is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, adjunct professor at the Kellogg School of Management, and a senior scientist with the Gallup Organization. He is founder and president of the Alliance for a New Humanity. Time magazine heralds Deepak Chopra as one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century and credits him as “the poet–prophet of alternative medicine.”

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sunday Suppers Worth Lingering Over

They say we eat with our eyes first. It's certainly true of Karen Mordechai's tome which serves up readers a sumptuous feast for the soul!

Mordechai writes in her introduction, "Sunday Suppers is a communal cooking center and food website based out of Brooklyn, New York, whose premise is to bring together food, gatherings, and community. Through inspiration and instruction, Sunday Suppers allows people to gather and cook in their homes, and experience the world's oldest act of community: sharing a meal." This was the impetus for my excitement at receiving my review copy of Sunday Suppers. Fewer and fewer people remember the days of weekly meals shared with family or friends or entertaining dinner parties with colleagues. (In my childhood my parents frequently hosted or attended card parties with neighbors or friends which always began with delicious pot-luck meals which I recall with great fondness. I have heard people bring to mind stories of Sunday dinners at grandma's house with extended family with the same sort of nostalgic happiness.)

As the introduction states, the goal of Sunday Suppers is to "remove much of the fuss and formality of 'entertaining'. The table is set in a modest manner, and the food is honest and straightforward." I found this to be the bulk of the appeal of the photographs, recipes and table presentation suggestions. When I cook for others, especially people I am "entertaining," there are a few simple things at which I aim: tasty, nourishing food which is easy to prepare and the ability to spend time enjoying the people with whom I have gathered. Mordechai's recipe format ensures that even those with little to no experience at putting together dishes and meals for others will succeed. Ingredients are listed in the left-hand column. Step by step preparation instructions are presented in the right-hand column. Extraneous tips on unusual ingredients or techniques follow at the bottom in easy-to-spot print.

I loved that the gatherings and dishes are presented according to times in the day. Several options for breakfasts, lunches (including a birthday gathering and a camping excursion!), and evening meals provide the organization of the cookbook. This strikes me as very user-friendly and intuitive!

Accompanying each gathering (meal) and the individual dishes are some of the most beautiful food and scenic photography I have witnessed in a cookbook. They elevate Mordechai's writing more to the level of a coffee-table book. (Certainly a recipe book I would be worried about splattering up on my kitchen counter during a tragic accident with the hand-held mixer!) It is bound in a linen feel cover and uses luxurious quality paper stock on which to present Mordechai's fabulous recipes, photographs, tips, and suggestions.

Thanks to Mordechai's encouragement that anyone can make delicious food and share it with others, I will be trying many of the recipes from this book! I am thankful to Blogging For Books for providing me with the complimentary copy for this review.

From The Publisher . . .

Rediscover the art of cooking and eating communally with a beautiful, simple collection of meals for friends and family.

With her dinner series Sunday Suppers, Karen Mordechai celebrates the magic of gathering, bringing together friends and strangers to connect over the acts of cooking and sharing meals. For those who yearn to connect around the table, Karen’s simple, seasonally driven recipes, evocative photography, and understated styling form a road map to creating community in their own kitchens and in offbeat locations. This collection of gatherings will inspire a sense of adventure and community for both the novice and experienced cook alike.

About The Author . . .

KAREN MORDECHAI, a photographer and stylist, is the founder of Sunday Suppers, a Brooklyn-based food community and blog that has won many accolades, including a 2013 Food and Wine Digital Award, top food blog by Saveur, and #6 in’s Top 50 Design Blogs. Karen’s work is regularly featured in the New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Remodelista, New York magazine, and more. She lives with her husband and daughter in Brooklyn, New York.