There are so many books out there it’s hard to choose only ten books that made an impact on your life. Earlier, I chose a list of books that influenced me and that were not necessarily religious in nature. But I’ve come up with a list of books that sit right next to me on my bookshelf when I have my morning reading, coffee, and journal writing time. They are within arm’s reach and I turn to them again and again for spiritual nourishment. They are:
1. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck
2. From Housewife to Heretic by Sonia Johnson
3. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
4. The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts
5. Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade
6. God and the Philosophers ed. by Thomas Morris
7. Beyond God the Father by Mary Daly
8. The Women’s Bible by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
9. The Living Bible (The Life Recovery Version)
10. The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
Peck’s book was the very first book that opened my eyes to a wider world full of love and without dogma. His book was a psychological awakening to the possibilities of a full life lived with love. I had never come across the concept before, because my life was decidedly with love until my husband entered the picture first and G*d entered it second. I read this book preconversion.
Sonia Johnson’s book was a startling revelation of a Mormon housewife who soon discovered the wider world outside the extremely narrow parameters of a cult. She learned to trust herself and her inner voice, which was telling her that there was a far more vast world “out there” than what the Mormon elders and her Mormon priest/ husband was telling her. I read this at the beginning of my feminist awakening phase in my early twenties.
Dallas Willard is to me what you would call a Protestant saint or mystic. His book was the most startling, complete exegesis of the Sermon on the Mount and the Lord’s Prayer than I’ve read anywhere else. He goes beyond simple do’s and don’t’s to discover the deeper, heartfelt meanings of Jesus’ sayings. Excellent!
Like all of Alan Watt’s books, the one listed is a jolt out of complacency and into a new way of looking at things. He describes how we want security so much that we are willing to make up things to keep us in that state of security, including religious dogma and ideas about G*d. We cling to the false in order to feel better and we damage our spirit doing it. I read this well into my spiritual journey and at exactly the right time I needed it.
de Caussade’s book is classic abandonment theory. Whatever comes your way, you accept as G*d’s gift to you at that moment. Don’t worry about anything else, but only receive. This concept would fit very well into Buddhist and Taoist teachings.
If you want a book to read over and over, one that will convince you that you don’t need to check your brains at the doors of your church, read God and the Philosophers. Whenever I’m fully convinced I need to abandon faith in G*d once and for all, I turn to this book.
Mary Daly is a psych-hyper-lesbian who does indeed want to see a world without men. But her books are fabulous! They take you deeply into women’s minds and territories and beyond the spaces that men carve out for themselves. (and for us without our permission) You learn to think in new ways and with new words. This book is tame by her standards, but I needed to read it as does every woman who values herself and the church.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote the most liberated book of her time. She dared to question the most heinous passages in the bible and called men to account for teaching it to women and children.
The Life Recovery Bible is a version of The Living Bible that takes the 12 step recovery method to Christianity. I find the title ironic. Are we recovering FROM life or back to life from dead Christianity? I use it to find a kinder, gentler G*d, if that’s possible and to bring my life back on course when I feel it’s out of control.
Last, but not least, Thomas Merton’s book made me think seriously about converting to Catholicism for the first time. His journey is not specifically religious, but his journey TOWARDS the Roman church is thoughtful and thought-provoking. I took steps immediately after to check out RCIA.
Well, there it is. I hope you’ll pick them up and enjoy them as much as I have.