Recommended Articles to Read Online
Interesting articles available for reading online will be added to this list periodically as we become aware of them. Please check back here regularly to keep abreast of timely news items.
Democratic Lawmakers Introduce New Proposal for Puerto Rico Statehood
White Nationalists are Once Again Using Christian Symbols to Spread Hate
Cherokee Nations Acknowledges that Descendants of People Once Enslaved by the Tribe Should Also Qualify as Cherokee
Bill Gates on When We’ll Stop Wearing Masks
Supreme Court Once Again Sides with Houses of Worship in Dispute Over Covid Restrictions
50 Prominent Men Join Push for ‘Marshall Plan for Moms’ Proposal
AOC Criticizes Manchin Over Apparent Targeting of Biden’s Nominees of Color
With or Without Trump, Republicans Will Likely Keep Right and Head South
New Survey Shows 3 of 5 White Evangelicals Say Joe Biden Wasn’t Legitimately Elected
The Milky Way May Be Swarming With Planets That Have Continents and Oceans Like Earth
Senate Acquits Donald Trump: Vote Shows Depth of Trumpism Pandemic
'It's Going To Be Hard': A New West Point Leader On Confronting Extremism In Military
Science Always Defeats Religion, by James A. Haught
Supreme Court Spreads Church Preference and Covid-19 FFRF Article
The Spotlight is on White Nationalism – Will it Wither?
7 Senate Republicans Vote to Convict Trump – the Most Bipartisan Impeachment Trial Verdict Ever
Convict Donald Trump and Banish 45th President From American Democracy
USA Today Editorial (published the day before Trump’s acquittal)
Christian Nationalism is a Threat, and Not Just from Capitol Attackers Invoking Jesus
Can the Forces Unleashed by Trump’s Big Election Lie Be Undone?
The Democrats Owe Their New Control of the Senate to Black Voters in Georgia
The Politics of Dishonesty
From Charlottesville to the Capitol: How Rightwing Impunity Fueled the Pro-Trump Mob
Will Trump and His Republican Allies Ever Face Consequences?
How QAnon’s Lies Are Hijacking the National Conversation
Biden’s Victory Does Not Guarantee a Progressive Agenda. We Must Fight for It.
Presidential Elections and Senate Seats Underscore Fact That This is Not a Democracy
Shaming? Absolution? Jail? How to Treat Those Complicit in Trump’s Wrongdoing
Pope Francis’ Support for Same-Sex Civil Unions and LGBTQ Attitudes Worldwide | The Washington Post
Enough With Militias. Let’s Call Them What They Really Are: Domestic Terrorists
The Problem With the U.S. Economy Is There Are Too Many Poor People
The Conservatives Who Want to Undo the Enlightenment
More and More Americans Aren’t Religious. Why Are Democrats Ignoring These Voters?
Why Republicans are Desperate to Keep the White Status Quo as it Disintegrates.
What Defund the Police Really Means: Swapping Social Control for Investment, by Robert Reich.
The Religious Roots of Trump's Magical Thinking on Coronavirus.
Some Evangelicals Fear the “Mark of the Beast” from a Coronavirus Vaccine.
Support for Big Government Rises to Record Levels Amid Coronavirus Crisis.
Trump's Judges Are a Giant Step Backward for America.
Classic Online Articles
An Expert on Human Blind Spots Gives Advice on How to Think: How to Fight the Dunning-Kruger Effect, by David Dunning.
Neoliberalism – the Ideology at the Root of All our Problems, by George Monbiot.
The Real Origins of the Religious Right: They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation, by Randall Palmer.
Recommended Books for Secular Progressives
We live in an age in which books of all kinds, representing so many varying points of view, are available to readers – particularly in the U.S. With thousands of titles available, it is often difficult for a person to find the titles that may explain the issues one is interested in investigating. For this reason, I’m presenting here (below) a list of titles for visitors to this website to browse through. If you are interested in reading about politics from a progressive point of view, you will find titles dealing with the subject that you will be able to purchase online or from your local bookstore, check out from your local library, or perhaps listen to on Kindle or Audiobooks. Likewise, if you want to read about secularism and its relationship to religion, there are titles here for that, too.
If you find a book title on the list that looks intriguing, I encourage you to look it up online. (I use Amazon.com, but you may prefer other websites that review books and their authors.) Read through the reviews of the tome you’re interested in. Be sure and read both the reviews that give the book high ratings (3-5 stars) and also those that give it low ratings (1-2 stars). That way you’ll become aware of what critics think about the volume, and why. See if you can judge by their comments what their political or religious preconceptions are, and whether you agree with their arguments.
The long list of books below will be divided into categories. First, books that have been published recently (within the last five years or so); then, a longer list of books from my own bookshelves, divided into categories (which includes books by some of my favorite authors). I hope you’ll find the listings useful. As time goes on I will be anxious to hear from you. Tell me which books you find most convincing; which are easiest to understand; which you would recommend to someone who is not a secular progressive; what titles we should add to our listings; and so on. For now, I’ll let you start looking for an interesting read. Good luck. – Gary M. Linscott
For Possible Purchase
Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America,
by Oluo Ijeoma (2020)
Searing.... Oluo lays out a sweeping cultural history of white men failing upward, from education to sports to politics.... Mediocre is a fast, engaging read, and Oluo is a warm, evenhanded narrator."
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson (2020)
Reviewer Liz Wright explains that due to the popularity of author Wilkerson’s previous book, The Warmth of Other Suns, she was really looking forward to Caste. “When I previously thought of castes, I thought only of India. Wilkerson posits that the Third Reich was also a caste system. And, of course, the US. In fact, the Nazis used American race laws to design their own system. Unlike the Indian caste system, which had hundreds if not hundreds of separate castes, [Americans] basically have two: White and Black, in which the poorest White is still above a Black person. Wilkerson uses the first section to set out her premise. By Part Two, she gets down to the history, spelling out how it came to be and evolved through time. From 1619 until 1865, the slaves were the obvious lowest caste. But even after Emancipation, the country found ways to keep the Blacks in the lowest segment of society. The surprise is how current this book is. She not only covers the Obama presidency, but also the Trump election and his first three years. Even the corona virus is covered. One of the most important points she makes is that racism is not just the personal hatred by one person, but a systematic abuse, often so deeply ingrained in society as to be oblivious to those in the upper caste. And that the upper caste will do everything to keep their privilege intact.
The Lie That Binds, by Ilyse Hogue and Ellie Langford (2020)
Public support for the legal right to abortion in the United States is at an all-time high. Yet we're in the midst of an all-out assault on reproductive freedom, and Roe v. Wade is hanging on by a thread. is the indispensable account of how the formerly non-partisan, back-burner issue of abortion rights was reinvented as the sharp point of the spear for a much larger movement bent on maintaining control in a changing world. Written by NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue and Research Director Ellie Langford, their book traces the evolution of some of the most dangerous and least understood forces in U.S. politics, offering an unflinchingly incisive analysis of the conservative political machinery designed to thwart social progress – all built around the foundational lie that their motivations are based in moral convictions about individual pregnancies. This book introduces the colorful cast of characters behind the Radical Right – from anti-Equal Rights Amendment protestors to men's rights activists – and explains how conservative political operatives intentionally targeted abortion as a rallying cry for their followers as their other prejudices fell from favor. Ultimately, opposing abortion rights was a Trojan horse to move a deeply unpopular, regressive policy agenda under the guise of "morality." Hogue and Langford's deeply-researched investigation is an essential primer for political observers, journalists, and engaged citizens, pulling back the curtain on how this radical operation drives our politics and threatens our democracy. Read it and learn the truth behind the lie.
Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History, by Kurt Andersen (2020)
During the twentieth century, America managed to make its economic and social systems both fairer and more prosperous. A huge, secure, and contented middle class emerged. All boats rose together. But then the New Deal gave way to the Raw Deal. Beginning in the early 1970s, by means of a long war conceived of and executed by a confederacy of big business CEOs, the superrich, and right-wing zealots, the rules and norms that made the American middle class possible were undermined and dismantled. The clock was turned back on a century of economic progress, making greed good, workers powerless, and the market all-powerful, while weaponizing nostalgia, lifting up an oligarchy that served only its own interests, and leaving the huge majority of Americans with dwindling economic prospects and hope. Why and how did America take such a wrong turn? In this deeply researched and brilliantly woven cultural, economic, and political chronicle, Kurt Andersen offers a fresh, provocative, and eye-opening history of America’s undoing, naming names, showing receipts, and unsparingly assigning blame – to the radical right in economics and the law, the high priests of high finance, a complacent and complicit Establishment, and liberal “useful idiots,” among whom the author includes himself. Only a writer with Andersen’s deep insight, and ability to connect disparate dots and see complex systems with clarity could reckon with our current high-stakes inflection point, and show the way out of this man-made disaster.
The Riches of this Land: The Untold True Story of America’s Middle Class, by Jim Tankersley (2020)
This vivid character-driven narrative, fused with important new economic and political reporting and research, busts myths about middle class decline and points the way to its revival. For over a decade, Jim Tankersley has been on a journey to understand what happened to the world's greatest middle-class success story – the post-World-War-II boom that faded into decades of stagnation and frustration for American workers. In The Riches of This Land, the author fuses the story of forgotten Americans – struggling women and men who he met on his journey into the travails of the middle class – with important new economic and political research, providing fresh understanding how to create a more widespread prosperity. He begins by unraveling the real mystery of the American economy since the 1970s – not where did the jobs go, but why haven't new and better ones been created to replace them? His analysis begins with the revelation that women and minorities played a far more crucial role in building the post-war middle class than today's politicians typically acknowledge, and policies that have done nothing to address the structural shifts of the American economy have enabled a privileged few to capture nearly all the benefits of America's growing prosperity. Meanwhile, the "angry white men of Ohio" have been sold by Trump and his ilk a theory of the economy that is dangerously backward, one that pits them against immigrants, minorities, and women who should be their allies. At the culmination of his journey, Tankersley lays out specific policy prescriptions and social undertakings that can begin moving the needle in the effort to make new and better jobs appear. By fostering an economy that opens new pathways for all workers to reach their full potential – men and women, immigrant or native-born, regardless of race – America can once again restore the upward flow of talent that can power growth and prosperity.
Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, by Mary L. Trump, Ph.D. (2020) In this revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him, Mary L. Trump, a trained clinical psychologist and Donald’s only niece, shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.
Separated: Inside an American Tragedy, by Jacob Soboroff (2020). The award-winning NBC News correspondent lays bare the full truth behind the Trump administration’s systematic separation of families at the US-Mexico border. In June 2018, Donald Trump’s most notorious decision as president had secretly been in effect for months before most Americans became aware of the astonishing inhumanity being perpetrated by their own government. Jacob Soboroff was among the first journalists to expose this reality after seeing firsthand the living conditions of the children in custody. His influential series of reports ignited public scrutiny that contributed to the president reversing his own policy. But beyond the headlines, the complete, multilayered story lay untold. How, exactly, had such a humanitarian tragedy – now deemed “torture” by physicians – happened on American soil? Most important, what has been the human experience of those separated children and parents? The author has spent the past two years reporting the many strands of this complex narrative, developing sources from within the Trump administration who share critical details for the first time. He also traces the dramatic odyssey of one separated family from Guatemala, where their lives were threatened by narcos, to seek asylum at the U.S. border, where they were separated – the son ending up in Texas, and the father thousands of miles away, in the Mojave desert of central California. And he joins the heroes who emerged to challenge the policy, and who worked on the ground to reunite parents with children. In this essential reckoning, Soboroff weaves together these key voices with his own experience covering this national issue. Separated lays out compassionately, yet in the starkest of terms, its human toll, and makes clear what is at stake in the 2020 presidential election.
The Book of Rosy: A Mother's Story of Separation at the Border,
by Rosayra Pablo Cruz and Julie Schwieter Collazo (2020)
Compelling and urgently important, this book is the unforgettable story of one brave mother and her fight to save her family. When Rosayra "Rosy" Pablo Cruz made the agonizing decision to seek asylum in the United States with two or her children, she knew the journey would be arduous, dangerous, and quite possibly deadly. But she had no choice: violence -- from gangs, from crime, from spiraling chaos -- was making daily life hell. Rosy knew her family's one chance at survival was to flee Guatemala and go north. After the brutal journey that left them dehydrated, exhausted, and nearly starved, she and her two little boys arrived at the Arizona border. Almost immediately they were seized and forcibly separated by government officials under the Department of Homeland Security's new "zero tolerance" policy. To her horror Rosy discovered that her flight to safety had only just begun. With an unprecedented level of sharp detail and soulful intimacy, Rosy tells her story, aided by Julie Schwietert Collazo, founder of Immigrant Families Together, the grassroots organization that reunites mothers and children. She reveals the cruelty of the detention facilities, the excruciating pain of feeling her children ripped from her arms, the abiding faith that staved off despair -- and the enduring friendship with Julie, which helped her navigate the darkness and the bottomless Orwelian bureaucracy. A gripping account of the human cost of inhumane policies, the book is also a paean to the unbreakable will of people united by true love, a sense of justice, and a hope for a better future.
White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, by Robert P. Jones (2020) Drawing on history, public opinion surveys, and personal experience, Robert P. Jones delivers a provocative examination of the unholy relationship between American Christianity and white supremacy, and issues an urgent call for white Christians to reckon with this legacy for the sake of themselves and the nation. As the nation grapples with demographic changes and the legacy of racism in America, Christianity’s role as a cornerstone of white supremacy has been largely overlooked. But white Christians – from evangelicals in the South to mainline Protestants in the Midwest and Catholics in the Northeast – have not just been complacent or complicit. Rather, as the dominant cultural power, they have constructed and sustained a project of protecting white supremacy and opposing black equality that has framed the entire American story.
Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation, by Kristin Kobes Du Mez (2020) A scholar of American Christianity presents a seventy-five-year history of evangelicalism that identifies the forces that have turned Donald Trump into a hero of the Religious Right. How did a libertine who lacks even the most basic knowledge of the Christian faith win 81 percent of the white evangelical vote in 2016? And why have white evangelicals become a presidential reprobate’s staunchest supporters? These are among the questions acclaimed historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez asks in Jesus and John Wayne, which delves beyond facile headlines to explain how white evangelicals have brought us to our fractured political moment. Challenging the commonly held assumption that the “moral majority” backed Donald Trump for purely pragmatic reasons, Du Mez reveals that Donald Trump in fact represents the fulfillment, rather than the betrayal, of white evangelicals’ most deeply held values. The tome is a sweeping account of the last seventy-five years of white evangelicalism, showing how American evangelicals have worked for decades to replace the Jesus of the Gospels with an idol of rugged masculinity and Christian nationalism, or in the words of one modern chaplain, with “a spiritual badass.”
Shadow Network: Media, Money, & the Secret Hub of the Radical Right, by Anne Nelson (2019) In 1981, a group of some fifty Republican operatives, evangelicals, oil barons, and gun lobbyists met in a Washington suburb to coordinate their attack on civil liberties and the social safety net. They called their coalition the Council for National Policy. Over four decades, this elite club has become a strategic nerve center for channeling money and mobilizing votes behind the scenes. Its secretive membership rolls represent a high-powered roster of fundamentalists, oligarchs, and their allies, from Oliver North, Ed Meese, and Tim LaHaye in its early days to Kellyanne Conway, Ralph Reed, Tony Perkins, and the DeVos and Mercer families today. The author chronicles this astonishing history and illuminates the coalition's key figures and their tactics. She traces how the collapse of American local journalism laid the foundation for the Council for National Policy's information war, and listens in on the hardline broadcasting its members control. And she reveals how the group has collaborated with the Koch brothers to outfit Radical Right organizations with state-of-the-art apps and a shared pool of captured voter data – outmaneuvering the Democratic Party in a digital arms race whose result has yet to be decided.
Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism, by Anne Case and Angus Deaton. (2020) A groundbreaking account of how the flaws in capitalism are fatal for America's working class. Life expectancy in the United States has recently fallen for three years in a row—a reversal not seen since 1918 or in any other wealthy nation in modern times. In the past two decades, deaths of despair from suicide, drug overdose, and alcoholism have risen dramatically. Their book paints a troubling portrait of the American dream in decline. For the white working class, today's America has become a land of broken families and few prospects. As the college educated become healthier and wealthier, adults without a degree are literally dying from pain and despair.
The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism, by Katherine Stewart (2020) Employing a sharp investigative eye, Stewart connects the dots between radical theocratic groups that want to create an officially ‘Christian nation’ and extreme free-market libertarians who despise social programs for the poor, taxes and public institutions. After reading this book, you should be prepared to fight back like nothing less than our democracy is at stake – because it is." - Rob Boston, Americans United for Separation of Church and State
The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, by David Wallace-Wells. (2020) "The Uninhabitable Earth is the most terrifying book I have ever read. Its subject is climate change, and its method is scientific, but its mode is Old Testament. The book is a meticulously documented, white-knuckled tour through the cascading catastrophes that will soon engulf our warming planet.” — Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times
It Was All A Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump, by Stuart Stevens. (Hardcover available August 4, 2020; Now available on Kindle and Audiobook) Political consultant Stevens, a strategist for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid, debuts with a searing critique of the current state of the Republican Party. Contending that Donald Trump’s rise calls the GOP’s fundamental integrity into question, Stevens connects Trumpism to the rhetoric and policies of predecessors including Joe McCarthy and Newt Gingrich. In reviewing the party’s “Southern strategy” of appealing to former Democrats aggrieved by the civil rights movement, Stevens admits to playing the race card …
Permanent Record, by Edward Snowdon (2019) Edward Snowden, the man who risked everything to expose the US government’s system of mass surveillance, reveals for the first time the story of his life, including how he helped to build that system and what motivated him to try to bring it down. In 2013, 29-year-old Edward Snowden shocked the world when he broke with the American intelligence establishment and revealed that the United States government was secretly pursuing the means to collect every single phone call, text message, and email. The result would be an unprecedented system of mass surveillance with the ability to pry into the private lives of every person on earth. Six years later, Snowden reveals for the very first time how he helped to build this system and why he was moved to expose it.
Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society, by Nicholas A. Christakis. (2019) For too long, scientists have focused on the dark side of our biological heritage: our capacity for aggression, cruelty, prejudice, and self-interest. But natural selection has given us a suite of beneficial social features, including our capacity for love, friendship, cooperation, and learning. Beneath all our inventions – our tools, farms, machines, cities, nations – we carry with us innate proclivities to make a good society.
The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American, by Andrew Seidel (2019) Does the motto "In God We Trust," the Declaration of Independence, and other historical "evidence" prove that America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles? Are the Ten Commandments the basis for American law? A constitutional attorney dives into the debate about religion's role in America's founding. Christian nationalists assert that our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and advocate an agenda based on this popular historical claim. But is this belief true? Author Seidel answers the question once and for all. He compares the Ten Commandments to the Constitution and contrasting biblical doctrine with America's founding philosophy, showing that the Bible contradicts the Declaration of Independence's central tenets. Thoroughly researched, this persuasively argued and fascinating book proves that America was not built on the Bible and that Christian nationalism is, in fact, un-American.
What It Means to Be Moral: Why Religion Is Not Necessary for Living an Ethical Life, by Phil Zuckerman (2019) The author argues that morality does not come from God. Rather, it comes from us: our brains, our evolutionary past, our ongoing cultural development, our social experiences, and our ability to reason, reflect, and be sensitive to the suffering of others. By guiding [readers and] listeners through the premises and promises of secular morality, Zuckerman argues that the major challenges facing the world today – from global warming and growing inequality to religious support for unethical political policies to gun violence and terrorism – are best approached from a nonreligious ethical framework. In short, we need to look to our fellow humans and within ourselves for moral progress and ethical action.
Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, by Anand Giridharadas (2018) Reviewer T. Rucker writes, “[The author’s] purpose for writing this book was as an “inquiry into the apparatus of justification” that permits the wealthy to win at all costs, including extractive business practices that result in growing inequality and environmental damage, only to position themselves as having the answers to the problems that they have contributed to creating and accelerating. [He] tenaciously exposes a universal human deficit: We all struggle to recognize our two selves—the person we aspire to be and the person we are …. the need people have to be seen as good, but not being able to make the personal sacrifices (i.e. not winning) that real goodness demands.
Godless Citizens in a Godly Republic: Atheists in American Public Life, by Isaac Kramnick & R. Laurence Moore (2018) Author Geoffrey Stone writes: “[The two authors] trace the often-shocking history of atheism in America. In a nation dedicated to the separation of church and state, we have seen furious battles over compulsory school prayer, discrimination against nonbelievers, and continuing efforts to declare this to be ‘a Christian nation.’ [Their book] brings to life a continuing struggle to make this nation what the Founders intended it to be.”
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo (2018). In this New York Times best-selling book, author and antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo explores the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality. He deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility. Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.
Democracy In Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, by Nancy MacLean ((2017) Author Greg Grandin writes: “How did we get to where we are today? How did corporations come to possess ‘rights?’ How did democracy come to be defined as selfish individualism? Or money as free speech? Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains provides the answers. It is essential reading in order to understand the ideas that billionaires use to justify their control of our political institutions. I can’t imagine a more timely or urgent book.
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, by Steven Pinker (2018). "My new favorite book of all time." – Bill Gates. If you think the world is coming to an end, think again: people are living longer, healthier, freer, and happier lives, and while our problems are formidable, the solutions lie in the Enlightenment ideal of using reason and science. Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing. Far from being a naïve hope, the Enlightenment, we now know, has worked. But more than ever, it needs a vigorous defense. The Enlightenment project swims against currents of human nature – tribalism, authoritarianism, demonization, magical thinking – which demagogues are all too willing to exploit. Many commentators, committed to political, religious, or romantic ideologies, fight a rearguard action against it. The result is a corrosive fatalism and a willingness to wreck the precious institutions of liberal democracy and global cooperation. With intellectual depth and literary flair, Enlightenment Now makes the case for reason, science, and humanism: the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progress
Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia, by Michael Shermer (2018). A scientific exploration into humanity’s obsession with the afterlife and quest for immortality from the bestselling author and skeptic Michael Shermer. In his most ambitious work yet, Shermer sets out to discover what drives humans’ belief in life after death, focusing on recent scientific attempts to achieve immortality by radical life extentionists, extropians, transhumanists, cryonicists, and mind-uploaders, along with utopians who have attempted to create heaven on earth. For millennia, religions have concocted numerous manifestations of heaven and the afterlife, the place where souls go after the death of the physical body. Religious leaders have toiled to make sense of this place that a surprising 74% of Americans believe exists, but from which no one has ever returned to report what it is really like. Heavens on Earth concludes with an uplifting paean to purpose and progress and what we can do in the here-and-now, whether or not there is a hereafter.
Grace Without God: The Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging in a Secular Age, by Katherine Ozment (2017)“An engagingly personal exploration of parenting without religion that’s clear and honest, thoughtful and deeply felt. This is a brilliant addition to the growing chorus of voices in nonreligious parenting. Grace Without God is just that good.” (Dale McGowan, author of Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers)
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, by Timothy Snyder (2017) Timothy Snyder is professor of history at Yale and the author of several award-winning books. He has made the study of how tyrannies systematically dismantle established democratic government stage-by-stage his specialist subject and has become a leading thinker on the methods of autocracy as practiced through the past century, especially in Europe. This brief 128-page book is a guide for the responsible citizen to help maintain their democratic society’s institutions and norms in the age of rising authoritarian populism. Snyder illustrates each chapter with examples from history of how autocrats took control in stages in Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and communist states in Eastern Europe. Donald Trump is hardly mentioned and this book is not about Trump as president per se, but about principled actions each citizen might undertake to support democracy in the face of those in power who would seek to undermine or destroy it.
Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible, by Jerry A. Coyne (2016) “Many people are confused about science—about what it is, how it is practiced, and why it is the most powerful method for understanding ourselves and the universe that our species has ever devised. In Faith vs. Fact, Coyne has written a wonderful primer on what it means to think scientifically, showing that the honest doubts of science are better—and more noble—than the false certainties of religion. This is a profound and lovely book. It should be required reading at every college on earth.” — Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith, The Moral Landscape, and Waking Up
One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America (2015) We're often told that the United States is, was, and always has been a Christian nation. But in [his book], historian Kevin M. Kruse reveals that the belief that America is fundamentally and formally Christian originated in the 1930s.To fight the "slavery" of FDR's New Deal, businessmen enlisted religious activists in a campaign for "freedom under God" that culminated in the election of their ally Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. The new president revolutionized the role of religion in American politics. He inaugurated new traditions like the National Prayer Breakfast, as Congress added the phrase "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance and made "In God We Trust" the country's first official motto. Provocative and authoritative, Kruse reveals how an unholy alliance of money, religion, and politics created a false origin story that continues to define and divide American politics to this day.
The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom, by Michael Shermer (2015) Best-selling author Michael Shermer’s most accomplished and ambitious book to date demonstrates how the scientific way of thinking has made people, and society as a whole, more moral. Ever since the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment thinkers consciously applied the methods of science to solve social and moral problems. The experimental methods and analytical reasoning of science created the modern world of liberal democracies, civil rights and civil liberties, equal justice under the law, open political and economic borders, free minds and free markets, and prosperity the likes of which no human society in history has ever enjoyed.
Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. (2015) Continuing her journey from a deeply religious Islamic upbringing to a post at Harvard, the charismatic, controversial, and #1 bestselling author of Infidel and Nomad makes a powerful plea for a Muslim Reformation as the only way to end the horrors of terrorism, sectarian warfare and the repression of women and minorities. Today, she argues, the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims can be divided into a minority of extremists, a majority of observant but peaceable Muslims and a few dissidents who risk their lives by questioning their own religion.
Coup 53: 1953, The CIA, and the Roots of Modern US-Iranian Relations, by Ervand Abrahamian (2015
Austrailian reviewer Satya Chari asks: Should we be surprised that Iran might have trust issues with the West, its intent and commitment to fair play and justice? The 1953 coup in Iran, engineered by CIA and MI6 with the Western Oil giants and their cohorts, had far-reaching consequences in other parts of the world. It induced American policy makers to conclude that troublesome governments elsewhere could easily be overthrown. In subsequent years the CIA carried out strikingly similar coups in Guatemala, Indonesia, and Chile. Some resulted in mass killings on a genocidal scale. The killing fields of Guatemala and Indonesia could well match the best known horrors of the twentieth century. Obsequious to the West, terrorizing his subjects, the murderous Shah of Iran inadvertently replaced the secular and democratically elected opposition with a religious one that proved in the long run to be far more lethal. Iran and the Iranian people had to endure 25 years of murderous tyranny under the Pahlavi regime, propped up by the West’s cloak and dagger, to finally gain control of what was rightfully theirs all along – Their Oil & Gas. Energy Imperialism – Oil Terrorism; the bane of Industrial Era shenanigans continues to this day in ever newer avatars, with newer players and forms replacing older and fading ones ....
No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, by Glenn Greenwald A 2014 non-fiction book by American investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald. The author discusses how he became involved with the 2013 global surveillance disclosures. He began by traveling to Hong Kong to meet Edward Snowden, who had contacted the author as an anonymous source having evidence of government surveillance. As Greenwald continued to investigate, he uncovered information that he later published, to much controversy. In the book Greenwald also discusses establishment media, which he states will traditionally avoid publishing anything that would put them at odds with the government and as such, are less helpful when it comes to the interests of the general public. In a positive assessment, The Guardian reviewer Henry Porter says he found "reacquainting myself with the details of surveillance and intrusion by America's NSA and Britain's GCHQ was simply shocking. As the stories rolled out…there was almost too much to absorb...Greenwald's book is a tough read if you find these things disturbing.” He wondered "...how we let the spies probe our lives with such inadequate controls, and how on earth we fell for the propaganda that this massive apparatus was there to protect, not control, us.”
Living the Secular Life: New Answers to Old Questions, by Phil Zuckerman (2014) Reviewer Paul Beusterien writes: In contrast to some atheistic literature, this book concentrates on what non-believers are or can be, instead of what they're not. Some of the topics: Morality - Morality is developed from socialization, culture, intelligence and experience. Religion may or may not be included. Societies - Explores the correlation that secular societies tend to be better places to live. Trying times - Examines the myth "There are no atheists in foxholes" and provides several example of how secularism helps people deal with crises. Death - You didn't exist 100 years ago and won't exist 100 years from now – so live NOW!
From Gary’s Bookshelves
God, The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist, by Victor Stenger
The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason, by Victor Stenger
The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins
God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, by Christopher Hitchens
The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, Selected authors, with introductions
by Christopher Hitchens
The Six Ways of Atheism: New Logical Disproofs of the Existence of God, by Geoffrey Berg.
Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists, by Dan Barker
Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity, by John W. Loftus
Atheism Explained: From Folly to Philosophy, by David Ramsay Steele
Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, by Daniel C. Dennett
Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris
The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, by Sam Harris
Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, by Michel Onfray
Atheism: A Reader, by S.T. Joshi
Atheism: The Case Against God, by George H. Smith
Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, by Bart D. Ehrman
Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, by Bart D. Ehrman.
God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question – Why We Suffer, by Bart D. Ehrman
Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them), by Bart D. Ehrman.
Forged: Writing in the Name of God – Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are, by Bart D. Ehrman.
How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee, by Bart D. Ehrman.
Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior, by Bart D. Ehrman.
The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition? by Robert M. Price.
Deconstructing Jesus, by Robert M. Price.
The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman.
The Jesus Papers: Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History, by Michael Baigent.
God Against The Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism, by Jonathan Kirsh.
A History of the End of the World: How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible Changed the Course of Western Civilization, by Jonathan Kirsh.
What Your Minister Is Afraid to Tell You About the Bible, by Terry Cain.
On Humanism and Freethought
The Philosophy of Humanism, by Corliss Lamont (Posthumous publication 2006).
Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, by Susan Jacoby.
Humanism: Beginners Guide, by Peter Cave.
Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, by Greg M. Epstein.
Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans, by David Niose.
The Humanist Tradition in the West, by Alan Bullock.
The Religious Right
American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, by Chris Hedges
Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back, by Frank Schaeffer
Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, by Michelle Goldberg
Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right, by Mel White
The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values, by Sam Harris.
Moral Minds: The Nature of Right and Wrong, by Marc D. Hauser.
The Science of Good & Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule, by Michael Shermer.
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, by Richard Dawkins.
Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway.
The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science, by Natalie Angier.
Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? by Paul Kurtz, et al.
The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God, by Carl Sagan. (Edited by Ann Druyan, 2006)
Why Evolution Is True, by Jerry A. Coyne, Victor Bevine, et al.
The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, by Richard Dawkins.
Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction, by Eugenie C. Scott.
The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin, with Foreword by Edward J. Larson.
American History (from a Progressive Perspective)
A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present, by Howard Zinn. (Reissued 2005)
When Corporations Rule the World, by David C. Korten. (Second Edition, 2001)
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins.
The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth About Global Corruption, by John Perkins.
Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It, by Richard D. Wolf.
The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Nomad: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
The Trouble With Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call to Reform Her Faith, by Irshad Manji.
Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy, by Fawaz A. Gerges.
Why I Am Not A Muslim, by Ibn Warraq.
Virgins? What Virgins? And Other Essays, by Ibn Warraq.
Death With Dignity
Death With Dignity: The Case for Legalizing Physician-Assisted Dying and Euthanasia, by Robert Orfali
The Right to Die: An Historical and Legal Perspective of Euthanasia, by Derek Humphry and Ann Wickett.