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Tikkun Recommends
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The Human Spark
Jerome Kagan
Basic Books, 2013

In his latest book, Jerome Kagan, an emeritus professor of psychology at Harvard and one of the pioneers of the field of developmental psychology, details the range of factors that shape the human mind, revealing many of the fallacies of neuroscience. He debunks the various pessimistic theories of human nature that condemn us to being aggressive, selfish, or otherwise unable to transform and heal the world. Every spiritual progressive should read this important work, which can be a handbook for liberals and progressives and a challenge to those who dismiss radical individual and social change as “unrealistic” on allegedly scientific grounds.

Yes, And...
Richard Rohr
Franciscan Media, 2013

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
Reza Aslan
Random House, 2013

The Liars’ Gospel
Naomi Alderman
Little, Brown, and Company, 2013

The Sacredness of Human Life
David P. Gushee
Eerdmans, 2013

Christianity is in the process of a dramatic renewal, reclaiming the spiritual wisdom, ethical seriousness, and revolutionary fervor of Jesus of Nazareth. These four new books—when read in conjunction with Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister, Father John Dear, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Rev. Brian McLaren, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Walter Brueggemann, Robin Meyers, Matthew Fox, Wes Howard-Brook, Shane Claiborne, and Rev. Tony Campolo—will show you why.

First and foremost, there is the great Catholic teacher Richard Rohr. Books of daily meditations can be bland and boring, but the meditations Rohr has selected for Yes, And… are exciting, soul-renewing, and deep. Reza Aslan highlights Jesus the revolutionary zealot who walked across the Galilee gathering an army of disciples with the goal of establishing the Kingdom of God on earth. He describes Jesus as a magnetic preacher who defied the authority of the Temple priesthood in Jerusalem, a radical Jewish nationalist who challenged the Roman occupation and lost. Naomi Alderman’s novel reimagines Jesus from the standpoint of his mother Miriam (Mary), his disciple Yehudah (Judas), Caiaphas the high priest of the Temple, and Bar-Avo (a Jewish terrorist against Rome). The reader comes away with a picture of the complexity and power of Jesus. Meanwhile, David Gushee takes the best ethical tradition within Christianity and shows how it still provides a significant and sensitive path for dealing with the complexities and conundrums of the contemporary world.

Shattered Hopes
Josh Ruebner
Verso, 2013

Josh Ruebner is the national advocacy director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and at one point also worked for Tikkun , coordinating our attempts to present members of Congress with a peace and reconciliation perspective on the Middle East. In assessing Obama’s failure to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace, he cites not only Obama’s unwillingness to go to the mat with the Israel lobby over the issue of fully freezing Israeli settlements, and not only the scattershot, frenetic, lurching quality of Obama’s policy initiatives, but also the fact that Obama’s “approach relied solely on providing Israel with carrots” and never with “the proverbial stick.” He concludes that the more Israel deliberately frustrated and humiliated U.S. efforts to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace, the more rewards it was offered by the United States as a result. Ruebner’s book is a stinging indictment of the absurdity of the Obama administration’s failed peace process.

The Peacemakers: India and the Quest for One World
Manu Bhagavan
Harper Collins, 2012

The tragic assassination of Mahatma Gandhi need not have destroyed the huge support for a politics of nonviolence that he had helped to create in India and in progressive circles around the world. Manu Bhagavan recounts how Jawaharlal Nehru (Gandhi’s successor and the prime minister of India) and Nehru’s sister, Madame Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, sought to create “one world” that would be free of empire, exploitation, and war. This proto-spiritual progressive vision was derailed by the Cold War and by China’s anger at India for providing security for the Dalai Lama. It was likely also derailed by the narrow political focus of Nehru and his inability to build a powerful grassroots movement in India capable of overcoming either the corrosive psychological and ethical corruption of the ethos of global...

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