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Born-Again Deist [Kindle Edition]

Beth Houston
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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  • Length: 339 pages
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Book Description

Research, philosophy, personal experience, and a dash of creative re-vision season this intelligent spiritual memoir recounting poet Beth Houston's four-decade journey "from being spiritually inclined to born-again Christian to progressive Christian to disillusioned agnostic to delighted Deist." Although in high school Houston felt an affinity with the natural philosophy known as deism, which she associated with her own childhood experience of spiritual “Presence,” in college she adopted quasi-fundamentalist Christianity as her religion of choice and continued to consider herself Christian despite years of grappling with contradictions inherent in any form of fundamentalism. While acknowledging that her Christian born-again experience was spiritually real, she explains how her religious experience was socially constructed. Broadly deconstructing "text worship," including biblical literalism, Houston argues that religious myths, superstitions, and claims of "special revelation" must be transcended by a belief that does not contradict our innate, God-given faculties of reason, conscience, intuition, experience, and aesthetic sensibility, referred to collectively as common sense. She reminds us that belief is belief, not absolute truth. Deism, literally God-ism, a humanist, minimalist religion "of God and only God," protects the believer from presumptuous theology and from the exploitation of religious leaders and spiritual con artists. To underscore her case for democratic religion, on the one hand she cites American revolutionaries like Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Adams, and on the other hand exposes the dark side of faith with examples ranging from the medieval Inquisition to TV evangelism to the documented connection between religion and crime to the "divine-right Dominionist alliance" of evangelists, rightwing politicians, major corporations, and the neocon. In the end, Houston challenges the reader to experience a similar paradigm shift from anxious blind faith to spiritual delight derived from the integrity of common sense.

Product Details

  • File Size: 635 KB
  • Print Length: 339 pages
  • Publisher: New Deism Press (July 29, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005F9ZOP2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #645,086 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Beth Houston offers people who feel religious and those who deny religion an opportunity to rethink their ideas about God. Whether they agree with Houston or not, they will gain insights by hearing her views.

One broad way of describing religious views is to differentiate between people who insist that religion is based on beliefs and those who claim that beliefs are irrational. A belief is the acceptance of an idea as being true even though science, logic, and a person's senses confirm that the idea is wrong and perhaps even impossible. The first group accepts the many miracles mentioned in the Bible even though they are clearly impossible, while the second states that these things never happened. Traditionalists fall into the first class and deists into the second. Deists reject most of the trappings of religion because they are unnatural and focus instead on God; the word deist is from the Greek deus, which means God. Deists recognize that there is a God but do not associate God with any particular religion. Deists are convinced that religions are human inventions that detour people to grubby byways away from God.

Beth Houston relates her attempts to understand God's relationship to people and to religion. She had a childhood experience of a spiritual "Presence," when she was five or six years old, a "quite tangible" feeling of God being present in her life. She never forgot this experience and it is still important, even fundamental in her life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An indictment of fundamentalism and atheism April 23, 2013
Born-again Deist by Beth Houston, New Deism Press, Florida, 339 pages, 2009.

The opening chapter details the author's spiritual journey: in summary, she embraced deism because `it made the most sense'. The interpretation of deism Houston uses is one based on the ideas of Edward Herbert, the 17th century Anglo-Welsh religious philosopher. Houston emphasizes that deism was the religion of the Founding Fathers of America and she explains how it differs from theism or humanism. Deism, she says, `is a universally inclusive natural religion [founded on] God as truth' and, quoting the works of Thomas Paine, makes a very persuasive case which, as a Doctor of Divinity, she is well qualified to do. Chapter 2 discusses the philosophical significance of belief in deism, with commentary on scepticism and faith, and on good and evil. Houston makes the valid point that worship of the sky-God of western orthodox religion is the same as idol worship.

In Chapter 3 Houston elaborates on how she came to adopt deist beliefs and how important she felt her own, innate spirituality to be. She gives a stinging criticism of American evangelism, pointing out that awareness of the divine - like all knowledge - has to originate from within the individual. This is followed in the next chapters by a critique of the barbarism of the exhortations of the Old Testament, a critique that leaves no doubt about the Bible's human authors; and a chapter on how the Bible can be more meaningfully interpreted as myth.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Beth Houston waits until page 323 to reveal that she is gay. The fact that she is gay is irrelevant to her scathing indictment of fundamentalist Christianity; but, since this is billed as a memoir, her revelation is, I suppose, necessary. What being a lesbian in a fundamentalist environment (which is where Houston spent a lot of her life)--Christian or otherwise, by the way--means is that you are taught a lot of self-hatred, indeed you are made to feel that what you are is a "witch" who needs to be burned at the stake, or worse.

Consequently one understands why Houston graphically detailed (counting the bulleted paragraphs in her text) 18 different methods of tortured used by the Church during the days of the Inquisition. (See Chapter 10: "The Witches' Hammer in the Twenty-First Century.") While I don't need to read about the Iron Maiden nor how convenient "thumb screws" were to the practitioners of those Holy Arts, I think Houston makes a good point: let's be clear about what really happened in the name of Jesus Christ under the direction of those very unholy men who ran the Catholic Church, a couple of whom took on the grossly ironic name of "Innocent." What they were innocent of was any sense of humanity or spirituality, being as far from the example of Christ as is humanly possible.

But the real core of this book is that "scathing indictment" mentioned above. Houston wants in particular for the reader to understand just how fraudulent, contradictory, and anti-human is the Bible.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Agenda driven Deist
The book is, for the most part, very interesting and contains some good information. Well researched . Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kenneth burns
5.0 out of 5 stars Book review
This is the kind of book for those that question absolutes in religious work and how fundamentalists are in error. I enjoyed reading about the importance of public education. Read more
Published 5 months ago by christopher
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Opinions are excessively negative about groups such as christian fundamentalists and Darwin's followers .
Published 7 months ago by richard e. vandusen
3.0 out of 5 stars A sad memoir
This book is a good account of biblical inconsistencies, contradictions, and absurdities; however, it stops short of outright disbelief of all that is in the Christian Bible. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly and Informed
Houston writes from both a scholarly and an informed stance. Her writing style appeals to the intellectual, yet is not overly lofty or "text book-ish". Read more
Published 12 months ago by Brian
4.0 out of 5 stars I was intrigued!
The book started slow, but I really enjoyed her descriptions of the inconsistencies of biblical text.Her thoughts on the Apostle Paul were thought provoking.
Published 21 months ago by Kathleen Arthur
4.0 out of 5 stars Born Again
Wow! The emotion behind this book springs out at you like a thoroughbred leaving the gate at the Kentucky Derby. Read more
Published on August 16, 2011 by The Seeker
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read to understand the value it will have on your life.
The words in this book offer a solution to one-step thinking ignorance. Challenging ingnorance while still offering the ability to grow in your own beliefs.
Published on July 30, 2011 by Truth Seeker
1.0 out of 5 stars A "new" religion for those rejected by Christianity
Beth Houston's "Born-Again Deist" is a book about her personal spiritual and religious journey "from being spiritually inclined to born-again Christian to progressive Christian to... Read more
Published on April 24, 2011 by Q
5.0 out of 5 stars "Replacing Blind Faith With Truth Can Be Deeply Religious".
This is an interesting & a well written spiritual journey/memoir by the author, professor Beth Houston, titled "Born-Again Deist". Read more
Published on October 3, 2010 by M. Mariba
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More About the Author

Professor Beth Houston, MA, MFA, has taught creative writing, literature, and/or composition at San Francisco State University; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Santa Cruz; Eckerd College; University of Central Florida; University of South Florida; University of Tampa; Polk State College; and Manatee Community College/State College of Florida. She has published six poetry books, nearly three hundred works in literary and professional journals, and two nonfiction books, Born-Again Deist and Natural God: Deism in the Age of Intelligent Design. She is a Deist minister with a Doctor of Divinity (DD) and Doctor of Metaphysics (DM).

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