Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged religion

A Book of Silence

I'm not sure why I wanted to read A Book of Silence; I think I must have read a review somewhere because, as a memoir by a religious feminist, it seems an unlikely choice for me. But when I came upon it on Green Metropolis, I decided to buy it—a bargain since I got the hardback edition. Another weird thing about this book is the feeling I have that somewhere, sometime I've met the author...

Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible

Torah Queeries is a compilation of sixty drashot, short exegetical essays, each of which addresses one of the parshiyot, segments of the Torah that comprise the yearly cycle of the reading of the Five Books of Moses. The reason there are sixty drashot rather than the usual fifty-four is because six additional ones are included, each dealing with one of the major Jewish holidays.

Transforming Faith: The Story of Al-Huda and Islamic Revivalism Among Urban Pakistani Women

In Transforming Faith, Sadaf Ahmad explores the role of Al-Huda, a women’s Islamic religious school, in promoting the spread of a particular kind of Islam, especially among educated middle- and upper-class women in Islamabad, Pakistan. Ahmad sets the scene by situating her topic in an historical and global context. She provides a broad overview of the various branches of Islam, and she tells the history of Pakistan’s self-conception as an Islamic state.

Religion at the Corner of Bliss and Nirvana: Politics, Identity and Faith in New Immigrant Communities

Religion at the Corner of Bliss and Nirvana, a collection of essays on the religious activities and identity formation of immigrants to the United States, is the fruit of a four-year study conducted by researchers from the Religion and Immigration Project (TRIP) at the University of San Francisco.

Amy and Gully with Aliens

Amy and Gully with Aliens looks promising from the title, and the immediate jump into action makes this Buddhist children’s book a breeze.

Yasodharā, the Wife of the Bōdhisattva: The Sinhala Yasodharavata (The Story of Yasodhara) and the Sinhala Yasodharapadanaya (The Sacred Biography of

I approached Ranjini Obeyesekere’s book with slight trepidation: though the subject of Buddhism has always interested me, I was worried about my ability to write about a religion with such a long detailed history that I had only a surface knowledge of. I was well aware from the start that my Christian background would affect my interpretation of this text, and in the end this book did leave me questioning every rose-coloured, perhaps orientalist view I had of Buddhism.

Women and Judaism: New Insights and Scholarship

Why is it that so many scholars—people well-versed in captivating ideas and history—are dry writers? Being a feminist with Jewish roots, I was really excited to review Women and Judaism. Divided into four sub-categories: classical tradition, history, contemporary life, and literature—the volume did present some very interesting thoughts on women's role within the Jewish religion.

Chosen By Desire (The Guardians of Destiny)

Kate Perry is a pretty kickass chick. Her childhood dream was to be a ninja, and she's now a seventh degree Kung Fu blackbelt.

Mitzvah Girls: Bringing Up the Next Generation of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn

A “mitzvah” is colloquially translated as “a good deed,” but this Hebrew word actually means “commandment,” and observant Jews believe in 613 “mitzvot.” The commandments structure daily life and religious rituals, such as prayer, dietary habits, and romantic and sexual relationships.

NIV: 39 & 27

Hayes' new volume of poetry, NIV: 39&27 is theology that travels. Most people know a story of someone accosted at an airport with a copy of The Bhagavad Gita.

Transcendent Wisdom

This recent translation of a teaching presented by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on a chapter of the same name written by Indian scholar Shantideva in A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life serves as a guide to more thoroughly understanding of this particular work.

City of Borders

I grew up in Berlin. The images of the wall, of barbed wire around strips of no-man’s land dividing the city, and of rigorous border controls and heavily armed border guards were a normal part of my life for a long time.

Oh My God

Oh My God is the kind of documentary that holds you in wonder from start to finish. Once the credits begin to roll, you finally exhale and find yourself muttering “Wow.” Peter Rodger's trek across every inhabited continent in search of the answer to one of humankind's ultimate questions—“What is God?”—is both a revelation on the unifying conceptualization of something higher and a celebration of what elevates us.

Not That Kind of Girl

Carlene Bauer was a seven-year-old child when her mother became a born-again Christian, catapulting the family into a regimen that put avoiding devilish distraction front and center.

Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women

_We are not [wo] men for whom it is a question of either-or. For us, the problem is not to make a utopian and sterile attempt to repeat the past, but go beyond it.

Football Under Cover

I encountered one major problem with Football Under Cover very early on: it wouldn’t play either on my U.S. regional DVD player or through a few of the many video players on my computer. Eventually, I managed to get it to run in Windows Media Center and sat down to watch. The earliest scenes were so well done, I started to doubt my own memory.

Inside The Koran

Inside the Koran is an excellent insight into Islam through the interpretations of a vast category of people from ayatollahs, clerics, and scholars to farmers, activists, housewives, and modern Muslim women.

A Cup of Comfort, Women of the Bible Devotional: Daily Reflections Inspired by Scripture's Most Beloved Heroines

Let’s face it, regardless of our daily routines or obligations we can all use a bit of comfort from time to time. As such, I would strongly recommend A Cup of Comfort Women of the Bible Devotional, which I found to be less of a daily devotional and more of a mystical adventure. It seemed that each day’s message had been distinctly crafted just for me.

The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday: Unexpected Encounters in the Changing Middle East

The brash leather-clad sex columnist who hosts her own television show, The Biography of Love, is: a) a Parisian whose show airs in France b) an American whose show airs in the U.S. c) a Kuwaiti whose show is broadcast throughout the Middle East The surprising answer is C.

The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism

This new collection of essays, solicited from among the world’s most brilliant scholars of rabbinic literature, interpreters of the Torah, and professors of gender studies, is the first book I would recommend for those preparing to teach advanced courses in Jewish Studies. The essays range in tone from playfulness to fairly turgid exegesis, but the pieces are—without exception—bold, honest, and unabashed.

Judah's Lion

I was a bit wary when I received Judah's Lion. Its title and that of many of its poems made clear to me that we were going to be talking about The Almighty, and not in a sort of New Age everything-is-divine kind of way; I’m talking about Old Testament smiting and personal conversations. As a member of the liberal elite who often chuckles evilly as she writes, I had a hard time getting into it at first. Cruddy, I thought, throwing it down. I’ve wasted a good poetry pick on a nurse who writes about Jesus. The second time I picked it up, I read it straight through and loved it.


Some say the mark of a great film is that it defies our expectations. If that's the case, then Oldboy director Park Chan-wook's latest should be considered one of the best. Thirst is the story of a Catholic priest who becomes a vampire, and has thus earned the label of a horror flick, but the film itself is virtually genre-proof.

The Mosque in Morgantown

Reading the official synopsis of The Mosque in Morgantown, I quickly got the impression that it was a documentary film that revolved around the battle between journalist-activist Asra Nomani and “the extremists” in her hometown Morgantown, West Virginia.

The House of Secrets: The Hidden World of the Mikveh

I felt very divided when reading The House of Secrets. On one end of my ever-teetering religious spectrum, I find joy in the empowerment a woman gains while embracing her belief system. On the other end, even though I am a non-Jewish woman, I found the commonalities in my childhood religion and the mikveh to be somewhat disheartening.

Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace

Faith: not wanting to know what is true.- Frederick Nietzsche William Lobdell was a twenty-something flake. He blew one marriage and was on his way to blowing a second when a friend dragged him to a gathering of evangelical Christians. Lobdell was born again, and he started attending Sunday services. His wife, a lapsed Catholic, appreciated his newfound Christianity and joined with him in a subsequent odyssey through various Christian denominations. Lobdell was a born again with one difference: he was a journalist.

I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah’s Witness Upbringing

Kyria Abrahams’ searing, if flawed, memoir about growing up in a deeply-observant family of Jehovah’s Witnesses calls to mind Karl Marx’s quip that “religion is the opiate of the masses.” Her original voice is by turns funny, whiny, clear-eyed, and churlish as she chronicles the Witness’ blind obedience to religious dogma. Abrahams’ writing is deft, even evocative, as she vividly describes the purple haze in which her community languishes.

The Non-Believer’s Bible

The Non-Believers Bible was passed along to me for review by a colleague who found the writing style to be painful, thereby foreclosing the possibility of her writing a deliberate review. Rather than headache-inducing, I found the text to be perplexing. Both while in the midst of reading it and after finishing it, one question continuously echoed in my mind: How to read this text?

A Garland of Feminist Reflections: Forty Years of Religious Exploration

Preeminent feminist Buddhism scholar Rita M. Gross’ A Garland of Feminist Reflections is an indispensable collection of her best collected writing from the past forty years. Drawing together theory, philosophy, and religious exploration, Gross’ self-selected anthology is deeply thought provoking and can serve as an introduction to her vital scholarship, or a necessary refresher on important concepts and ideas.

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement

When I attended a production of Jesus Christ Superstar as a wee lad of fifteen, I marveled at the song-writing, vocal skills, and daunting cross that loomed amidst a gloomy set design. Being then (and now) agnostic, I was appalled by the religious persecution depicted. I have always been puzzled by the penultimate utterance of Jesus.

Letting Go of God

The nation appears to be greatly moved by the election of our first African American President. I eagerly await the election of the first open atheist to the highest office in the land, or at least the public consensus that religious practice or lack thereof is someone's own business, and by no means indicates competence as an executive.