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Beside Still Waters: Searching for Meaning in an Age of Doubt Paperback – October 20, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (October 20, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688172237
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688172237
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,461,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Gregg Easterbrook says the ideal readers of Beside Still Waters: Searching for Meaning in an Age of Doubt are "those who seek the spiritual center--whose hearts are open to higher purpose but whose heads are aware of the many valid objections." To these readers, Easterbrook offers the gift of his contemplative, witty, well-informed essays on questions such as "whether the wars and repressions staged in the name of religion invalidate the ideals that arise from faith; whether our increasing knowledge of history demonstrates spiritual thought to have begun in mythology or superstition; [and] whether faith is on balance an advantageous force for society." Easterbrook is a reporter, not a religion expert, but he's managed to float an extraordinary amount of erudition on his fluid journalistic style. Because his learning is passionate rather than professional, he's able to explore his questions with openness and zeal. Beside Still Waters concludes with a startlingly scriptural refutation of God's omnipotence and a strong, smart argument that monotheism is inherently opposed to rigid denominationalism. Yet with equal strength and good sense, he defends the value of denominations. Maybe you're a good Christian, or a good Jew, or a good atheist. The balanced, vigorous, loving thoughts contained in Beside Still Waters can help you become something better than all of those, and necessary for being any of them--a good person. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

An award-winning journalist noted for challenging our assumptions?his A Moment on the Earth (LJ 2/1/95) was an upbeat take on the environmental crisis?here argues that doubt and rationality can coexist with faith.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

I was born in Buffalo, New York, to parents who were naturalized Canadians. I'm a graduate of Colorado College and a lover of the Rocky Mountains region throughout North America. Because my wife was until recently as U.S. foreign service officer, I've lived in countries including Pakistan and Belgium. I wish there was still a little family-owned patisserie in walking distance from my house like there was in Brussels. My character flaw is that I watch too much football.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Sauropod on November 18, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Written in a conversational, "non-preachy" style, this book explores the question of what it means to have faith (or to look for a reason to believe) in the modern world. The author limits himself to the Judeo-Christian tradition, exploring obstacles to belief that may arise from the more problematic parts of the Bible -- particularly God's wrathful "smiting" of his enemies (and even, sometimes, his friends). The heart of the book is an extended discussion of the possibility of an evolving God who is neither all-knowing nor all-powerful. Much of this material parallels Jack Miles's GOD: A BIOGRAPHY (written, apparently, at around the same time), though Easterbook's treatment is more concise and focused, and covers the New Testament along with the Old. The development of God from vengeful warrior-king to peaceful redeemer is certainly a story of great interest, although one could (perhaps more plausibly) see it as a record of the moral improvement of human beings whose writings reflect God in their own image. (Edith Hamilton's excellent SPOKESMEN FOR GOD, out of print but worth finding, presents the issue from this perspective.) Easterbrook's thesis is provocative, and he states it in a clear, readable style, with wit and subtlety. A worthwhile book that leaves you feeling that you've just had an extended philosophical conversation with an intelligent and sympathetic friend.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who like myself has always had an urge to believe that there was a God and that life is not as meaningless as many modern scientists seem to think it is but are unable to believe in the God presented in most conservative and even mainline protestant churches. Although the author doesn't elude to it in the title, this book is definitely written from a very Christian(liberal Christian) perspective, which is what I was looking for. Especially of interest to me was Easterbrooks proposed explanations for some of the appauling events in the Old Testament that had always been a stumbling block to my belief in Christianity. Also facinating was the possibilities he raised regarding the omnipotence of God. Of course there is probably nothing in this book that could not be found in other volumes by other authors but I quite liked the way that Gregg Easterbrook put it all together and made it very accesible. Although I don't quite agree with all of the authors propositions I would definitely recommend this book highly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book begins with a wonderful identification of the current state of spirituality. It does however get bogged down into a longer than necessary prooftext against omnipotence. What is a shame is the fact that I thought Phillip Yancey's exploration and explanation in Disappointment With God on the same subject was heartfelt and plausible. The theory in this book meanders a bit and is not as interesting and heartfelt.
I respect the fact that it is virtually impossible to write a book on spirituality without your own bias surfacing, but the author does seem to have a works-oriented bias. His criticism of Luther's "Salvation exclusively by faith" is perhaps among the oldest criticisms of faith in grace and forgiveness vs. punishment and judgment. If grace runs around loose we fear some might take advantage of it and we won't have any reason to work on our "moral" behavior. This is the ever-present gray area of Christianity. I would love to see a book on this subject that addresses this gray area head on. For excellent books on grace, refer to Max Lucado, Phillip Yancey, and Brennan Manning.
I will have to give the author credit for a conclusion that is practical - whether you prefer it or not. For a book on spirituality, that is not an easy task. Then again, it sure beats a lifetime of contemplation.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael Hirsch (mhirsch@theonion.com) on October 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Easterbrook tackles the lofty subject of God from the Bible and pulls Him down-to-earth in a way that can be understood by ordinary lay folk. You don't have to be a priest or a religious nut to enjoy and benefit from this book. A great read for anyone interested in spirituality, religion, and the question as to just who/what is God? A great companion to the Bible, with its interesting character analysis of God from the Old Testament and New. I recommend this book as an entertaining, provocative history of God.
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