Archive for Saturday, March 11, 2006

How should I choose books to read that enhance my spirituality?

March 11, 2006


Holy Scriptures are a best bet for bolstering faith

Dave Whetter, vicar, Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 N.H.:

What an interesting term spirituality is!

This is a term that appears nowhere in the Bible, yet it is all the rage today. People from all different faith traditions, and even those who claim no religious faith, speak of their spirituality.

From a Christian perspective, this is a term that speaks of a relationship between humanity and the Triune God, between the secular and the sacred. For me, to enhance one's spirituality means to bridge that gap in our lives that we have created between the secular and the holy.

To enhance one's "spirituality," I would recommend reading the Holy Scriptures to find a topic that challenges you or interests you, and then choosing a book(s) that speaks to that topic.

One of the first topics I can remember choosing in this manner was how the Bible speaks of the relationship between men and women in marriage. My wife and I began to read together, and as we did, we discovered that our relationship with Christ grew tremendously, as did our own relationship.

I would recommend that, to be most effective, one might choose to read in community, that is, in discussion with others and with the Bible. As you read, test the author's arguments not only against your own thoughts but those of others and those of the Holy Scriptures. Challenge yourself, the author and the Scriptures, and experience a new relationship between the secular and the sacred.

- Send e-mail to Dave Whetter at

Practice, not research, is integral to a healthy spirit

Judy Roitman, guiding teacher, Kansas Zen Center, 1423 N.Y.:

Like any good book, a good religious book is alive. It has integrity. It has bone. But it can manifest this in surprising ways.

A very long time ago, I bought a book called "Zen for the West." I understood almost nothing in it, but the author, Sohaku Ogata, was this jolly guy with a huge smile, and I would open the book just to see his picture. Something stuck. Eventually I began to practice Zen. Even though I never really read it, it was the best Zen book I ever owned.

You may have heard the phrase "a finger pointing at the moon." This means that someone is pointing at the moon, but instead of looking at the moon, we look at the finger. There is this beautiful crescent moon low and huge on the horizon, but we don't see it.

We tend to read like that. We get lost in the words, but we have no idea what they are saying. We talk and argue and analyze endlessly, but really we are clueless. That's why Ogata's picture was so great. Nothing to talk about. You just wanted to be this guy. But I still couldn't understand his book.

That's why practice is essential. You can read a thousand books about spirituality, but without practice they don't mean anything. With practice, everything you read can be helpful, from the Bible to the Buddhist sutras to the Talmud to the Koran to the Bhagavad Gita to People magazine to Guns and Ammo to, even the Lawrence Journal-World.

- Send e-mail to Judy Roitman at


Daniel Speicher 12 years ago

Well said, Ragingbear... I also really enjoyed Lewis' "Mere Christianity" and "The Great Divorce." But, in a way, I agree with the vicar above... Nothing beats scripture if you are truly looking to see what the Judeo-Christian God is all about. I never have seen the harm in looking into other people's faith. I have read excerpts from the Koran and read through a great majority of the Book of Mormon. My faith was not shaken and I found a lot of what I read enlightening to what the other faiths believed.

Personally, I think it is important for everyone to explore faith... Start with any faith. And, I have a strong belief that the Truth will draw you close. But, go into each study with an open mind. If there truly is a God, if we truly have souls (and I believe with all my heart there is and we do), there is an afterlife. And, if there is an afterlife what more important thing would there be than to study that which could determine your destiny? Moreover, if there truly is a God who loves you (and I know there is), He can give you peace and strength to live a more fulfilling life today. Krishna, Buddha, Allah, Yeshua, Jesus... Study them all... Study them all with an open heart and see what you find.

--Danny Speicher

Ragingbear 12 years ago

Step away from the indroctrinated books, and look at books taken from other perspectives on general spirituality. A few good reads include: A Stranger in a Strange Land, By Robert Heinlien, The Screwtape Letters, and About Christianity. Both by the Narnia Author C.S. Lewis.

Watch out for ANYTHING that claims to be a teaching aid, or an in depth review of anything that is published or endorsed by any church or religious group.

xenophonschild 12 years ago

How about throwing the Bible and the rest of that junk in the trash, where it belongs. If you want to improve your "spirituality," read Spinoza, then study the parallels between God and natural physical laws, then study the universe, for it is in the universe that we can get the best glimpse of the nature of God.

Since the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the 1700s, and the concommitant rise of empirical science, all the old sky-god religions (Christianity, Judiasm, Islam) are dead . . . it's just taking them a really, really long and frustrating time to die. Hopefully, someday we can rid the planet of religions, and human beings will pursue only truth and reason.

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