BookMarks

December 1, 2008

Gustav Niebuhr was a longtime religion reporter for the New York Times and is the grandson of H. Richard Niebuhr. In this book, he reflects on both of those experiences and how they shaped his understanding of America’s diverse religious landscape. He goes in search of places where religions do not simply stand side by side, but are engaged in active and meaningful exchange. His book contains stories of interfaith relationships after 9/11 and suggests ways—philosophical, practical and historical—that Americans can deepen their compassion and their understanding of one another in order to move “beyond tolerance.”

Rob Hopkins is founder of the British-led Transition movement, which aims to address the problem of a peak in oil supplies by helping communities begin a process of environmental transformation. The Transition Handbook is a practical guide for small groups that want to start moving their communities toward more sustainable and resilient models. The book has three parts: “The Head” helps readers understand why transition is necessary, and “The Hands” offers practical guidance as to exactly what groups can do to become a driving force for change. “The Heart” section, however, may be what makes this book most useful for congregations. Focusing on how crucial celebration is to the sustenance of any group, Hopkins warns that a group based on fear and scolding will not survive. People must see meaningful progress and celebrate that progress, no matter how small.

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