College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
There are two groups of people who are going to be apt to preemptively judge this "book by its cover:" religious people and atheists. This is NOT a book about religion. Newberg does personally have a religious bent (neurological tendency?), but those seeking a scientific proof of God are going to have to go elsewhere. This is NOT a promotion of religion. So do not come at this book and have a knee-jerk negative reaction because of two words in the title. It IS a book about the neurological basis of religious EXPERIENCE. Get that? EXPERIENCE. That people have an experience of religion means neither that it is true or false or anything other than that they tend to experience something in a very subjective way. This is a scientific, neurological examination of the pre-wiring of the human brain to potentially think in religious terms. Now, if you need more reassurance, devout atheists such as V. Ramachandran have explored this topic and used Newberg's "nun study" in their work. (Ramachandran studied a split brain patient whose left brain was atheist and whose right brain was religious: he quipped that he wondered if half the man would go to heaven and the other half to hell.) Steven Pinker, also an atheist, has quoted Newberg's work in his examination of whether or not the tendency toward religiosity or atheism is heritable (it seems to be). There are also other interesting case studies to consider. The religious experience has been identified more or less with the right temporal lobe, and those with temporal lobe epilepsy (like Vincent Van Gogh) are prone to very vivid religious hallucinations (visions?)--Van Gogh had them. Again and again: this is a neurological study of the religious EXPERIENCE in humans, not a book advocating religion. So go in prepared. (O, and it's a really good lecture series too, if you were wondering...)
is that, like Bonhoeffer, he took what he did very seriously and wrote passionately about the Christian life, not as a "presto-chango-once-saved-always-saved-say-the-magic-words-and-win-heaven" affair, but rather as an ongoing struggle toward goodness and rightness and justice--in short, a living of life in such a fashion that goodness was wrought in the physical world, in which the self and ego were sacrificed for simplicity and charity toward all people, in which others were thought of before oneself, and God, eternal rightness and goodness, above all. It is a message that forever needs to be heard and heeded if the true Christian life is to live on at all.
to Aitken's biography of John Newton. Much of the material in Newton's little autobiography is used in Aitken's expansive book, but it is interesting to read the "eight letters" telling Newton's story all in a piece. Newton's life runs the gamut from vile slave boat captain to deeply religious follower of Christianity and author of "Amazing Grace," probably the best known of Christian hymns. His humility and honesty concerning his youthful misdeeds is refreshing and allows the reader to see the true power of religion for deep change in someone who approaches it with the true desire to be a better man.