2008 was a pivotal year in my life because of significant advancements I made in several areas of my life, especially in intellectual and spiritual matters. I attribute these advancements to the words and ideas found in these ten books. Of the fifty books I completed this year, these ten had the most influence.
- Open Mind Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel, Fr. Thomas Keating: This book explained the techniques and benefits of centering prayer, a practice that began the process of liberating my mind from a spiritual darkness that had its grip on me for a couple of years.
- Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger: I devoured this book over a weekend. The depth of feeling in both Franny and Zooey was fantastic. Of course, I also was drawn in by the religious ideas surrounding the Russian mystical books The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way, books I read after finishing Franny and Zooey.
- God is Red: A Native View of Religion, Vine Deloria Jr.: Indigenous people interest me a great deal, especially matters concerning their history and religion. Deloria was a powerful voice for many native people in the United States. This book is important for one to read if they want to understand how many native people understand religion.
- The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Milan Kundera: Every book I have read by Kundera has been a treasure of intellectual challenges. This particular book, like so many by Kundera, weaves together difficulties of being a human in the environment of Czechoslovakia during the Iron Curtain era.
- The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions, Wayne Teasdale: This book helped outline my life’s work involving global spirituality in spiritual terms. Teasdale’s life experiences were valuable for me to realize that my vision of religion and God was not insane.
- Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World, Ken Wilbur: Wilbur puts forth a complex and, in my opinion, a convincing argument for integral spirituality. Wilbur’s book is the blueprint I use for understanding global spirituality in scientific terms.
- The Qur’an (Oxford World’s Classics), translated by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem: From what I understand from authoritative reviews and from what I read personally (based on previous experience and education on the Qur’an), this translation of the Qur’an is excellent. This translation is a wonderful tool for one to educate people about the Qur’an.
- The Wordy Shipmates, Sarah Vowell: I wrote about this on Minnesota Reads a few weeks ago. Vowell writes for geeks like me. [review]
- The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness, Karen Armstrong: Armstrong’s journey out of spiritual darkness was a source of strength for my own journey out of the same type of darkness. It is comforting to know about and learn from other people that have traveled a similar path as my own.
- Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami: This was a great work of mystical fiction and was one of those books that I had a hard time putting down. Like Kundera’s settings in Czechoslovakia, Murakami brings out the Japanese environment in this book.
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