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Recommended Books

The Trouble With Christmas Tom Flynn (Editor, Free Inquiry magazine)
This is an enlightening and thoughtful book, and an easy read. It presents the Puritans' historical opposition to Christmas; creation of Santa's "invented tradition" by 5 Dead White Anglophone Males and A Queen (Washington Irving, Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria, Clement C. Moore, Thomas Nast, Francis Church); and Santa's damage to our multi-cultural children.

Who Wrote the New Testament: The Making of the Christian Myth Burton L. Mack, School of Theology at Claremont
This is a great book. Atheists can learn of the good parts of Christianity. Christians can learn much about the origins of their faith, if they can forgive Burton's use of the word "myth."

Who Wrote the Bible Richard Elliott Friedman, UCSD Dept. of Literature
Modern scholarship establishes that the Five Books of Moses were spliced together from four major works. Loving detail, little perspective?

The Dark Side of Christian History Helen Ellerbe
"Without understanding the dark side of religious history, one might think that religion and spirituality are one and the same. Yet, organized religion has a very long history of curtailing and containing spirituality, one's personal and private relationship with God, the sacred, or the divine."

Woe to the Women: The Bible Tells Me So Annie Laurie Gaylor, Director of the Freedom From Religion Foundation
"Most religionists are familiar only with the 'Ten Commandments' but there are more than 600 such commandments supposedly dictated by Jehovah to Moses, many self-contradictory. As the sinfulness of sex is one of the Mosaic preoccupations, and women are typcast as sin-citing Eves, Delilahs and Jezebels, one need not be a prophet to predict how poorly women fare in the biblical scheme of justice."

The Case Against Christianity Michael Martin, Dept. of Philosophy, Boston U.
"Well's argument against the historicity of Jesus is sound, and recent criticisms against his argument can be met. So, on the basis of Well's argument, there is good reason to reject not only Orthodox Christianity but even those versions of Liberal Christianity that assume that although Jesus was not the Son of God he was an ethical teacher who lived in the first century. However, since Well's thesis is controversial and not widely accepted, I will not rely on it in the rest of this book." [Conclusion, Chapter 2]

A Theory of Religion Rodney Stark, formerly Sociology at Univ. of Washington, now Baylor Univ
A theoretical perspective on religion, based on social exchange theory. When people cannot achieve a desired reward, they will accept a compensator (unverifiable IOU) instead, treating the compensator as if it were a tangible reward. [Used as a graduate text at UCSD].

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