Articles to Read Online


Interesting articles available for reading online will be added to this list periodically as we become aware of them. For now, this is a work in progress. Please check back here from time to time.

  • Trump's Reelection Strategy is Torn from White Supremacist Playbooks | Jean Guerrero

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/09/trumps-reelection-strategy-is-torn-from-white-supremacist-playbooks

  • I Look White to Many. I’m Black. This Is What White People Say to Me

 

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/white-passing-black-woman-racism_n_5f54efc0c5b6578026cf935e?ncid=engmodushpmg00000006

  • ‘We’re No. 28! And Dropping!’ The Quality of Life Has Dropped in America Over the Last Decade

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/09/opinion/united-states-social-progress.html

 

  • Is Trump Planning A Coup d’État? Observers – Including Republicans – Organizing to Stop Him

 

https://www.thenation.com/article/society/trump-coup-elections-gop/

 

  • Remember This: Trump’s America Works Only for the Rich by Robert Reich

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/06/labor-day-donald-trump-joe-biden-election

 

 

  • Kenosha Residents Discuss Long-Standing Racism in City – Insider

 

https://www.insider.com/kenosha-race-relations-jacob-blake-police-kyle-rittenhouse-shootings-2020-8

 

  • People Who Trust Trump Are More Likely To Discriminate Against Asians: Study | HuffPost

https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5f45955ac5b697186e2df9ff

  • Black Homeowners Face Discrimination in Appraisals - New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/25/realestate/blacks-minorities-appraisals-discrimination.html

  • A second Trump Term Might Injure the Democratic Experiment Beyond Recovery - The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/21/second-trump-term-might-injure-democratic-experiment-beyond-recovery/?arc404=true 

  • I Was a Republican, and I Drew My Red Line Too Late. I’ll Answer For My Choices For Years To Come. | Beth Fukumoto: The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/07/i-was-republican-i-drew-my-red-line-too-late-where-is-yours/

 

  • The Unraveling of America: Anthropologist Wade Davis on How COVID-19 Signals the End of the American Era

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/political-commentary/covid-19-end-of-american-era-wade-davis-1038206/ 

  • Oregon Could Become The First State To Decriminalize Drugs.

 

https://www.yahoo.com/now/oregon-drug-decriminalization-initiative-173734330.html

  • To Fight Racism, American Colleges Must Prioritize Teaching History.

 

https://timesofsandiego.com/opinion/2020/07/28/to-fight-racism-american-colleges-must-prioritize-teaching-history/

 

  • Why Republicans are Desperate to Keep the White Status Quo as it Disintegrates.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/03/why-republicans-are-desperate-to-keep-the-white-status-quo-as-it-disintegrates

 

  • Despite Some Disapproval, White Evangelicals Haven't Budged On Voting For Trump.

 

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-white-evangelical-pew_n_5efb544ec5b6ca97091565a3?ncid=engmodushpmg00000006

 

  • What Defund the Police Really Means: Swapping Social Control for Investment, by Robert Reich.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/20/defund-the-police-social-control-investment-donald-trump-protests-race-george-floyd?CMP=share_btn_link

 

  • The Religious Roots of Trump's Magical Thinking on Coronavirus.

 

https://www.stltoday.com/news/national/the-religious-roots-of-trumps-magical-thinking-on-coronavirus/article_98c6208b-93c3-5381-a580-a89f026e67bc.html

 

  • Government Poll Shows Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Spreading on the Right May Hamper Vaccine Efforts.

 

https://news.yahoo.com/new-yahoo-news-you-gov-poll-shows-coronavirus-conspiracy-theories-spreading-on-the-right-may-hamper-vaccine-efforts-152843610.html

 

  • Some Evangelicals Fear the “Mark of the Beast” from a Coronavirus Vaccine.

 

http://news.yahoo.com/evangelicals-fear-the-mark-of-the-beast-from-a-coronavirus-vaccine-183249943.html?soc_src=community&soc_trk=ma

  • Why Liberal Californians Don’t Want to Go Back to Normal.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/04/us/coronavirus-california-liberals.html?module=MoreInSection_AMP 

 

  • How Progressives Can Get Behind Joe Biden Without Losing Their Credibility.

 

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/04/joe-biden-progessives-2020.html

 

  • Support for Big Government Rises to Record Levels Amid Coronavirus Crisis.

 

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/04/28/exclusive-support-big-government-coronavirus-help-recovery/3032969001/

 

  • Coronavirus Lockdown Protests Expose a Far Deeper Sickness.

 

https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/494814-coronavirus-lockdown-protests-expose-a-far-deeper-sickness

 

  • Trump's Judges Are a Giant Step Backward for America.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/28/trump-judges-giant-step-backward-america

 

  • An Expert on Human Blind Spots Gives Advice on How to Think: How to Fight the Dunning-Kruger Effect, by David Dunning.

 

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2019/1/31/18200497/dunning-kruger-effect-explained-trump

 

  • Neoliberalism – the Ideology at the Root of All our Problems, by George Monbiot.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-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.

 

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/religious-right-real-origins-107133

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

Recent Releases

  • 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 Schwietert Collazo (2020) Compelling and urgently important, The Book of Rosy 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 of 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 a brutal journey that left them dehydrated, exhausted, and nearly starved, Rosy 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 Orwellian 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 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.”

  • Cult of Glory: The Bold and Brutal History of the Texas Rangers, by Doug J. Swanson (2020). A twenty-first century reckoning with the legendary Texas Rangers that does justice to their heroic moments while also documenting atrocities, brutality, oppression, and corruption. The Texas Rangers came to life in 1823, when Texas was still part of Mexico. Nearly 200 years later, the Rangers are still going – one of the most famous of all law enforcement agencies. In Cult of Glory, Doug J. Swanson has written a sweeping account of the Rangers that chronicles their epic, daring escapades while showing how the white and propertied power structures of Texas used them as enforcers, protectors and officially sanctioned killers.

  • 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.”

  • The Fifth Risk, by Michael Lewis. (2018) Reviewer Mal Warwick writes: What does government do for us? Do we really need it? What happens if government ceases to do those things? These are the questions Michael Lewis comes to grip with in his powerful little book, The Fifth Risk. By drilling down into the day-to-day realities in a handful of little-recognized federal agencies, Lewis convincingly demonstrates how government protects us from some of "the most alarming risks facing humanity." By extension, he relates the dangers we (and the world as a whole) now face as the direct result of inattention, greed, and misguided policy by the Trump Administration.

  • 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!

  • Deconverted: A Journey from Religion to Reason, by Seth Andrews A former religious radio host raised in the cradle of Christianity, Seth Andrews battled his own doubts for many years. His attempts to reconcile faith and the facts led him to a conclusion previously unthinkable, and this once-true believer ultimately became host of one of the most popular atheist communities on the internet.

 

From Gary’s Bookshelves

 

On Atheism

  • 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

 

Biblical Studies

  • 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.

  • Jesus: A Life, by A.N. Wilson.

  • 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

 

On Morality

  • 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.

 

On Science

  • 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)

 

On Evolution

  • 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.

 

On Islam

  • 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.

 

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