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Why Faith Matters Paperback – Bargain Price, September 1, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rabbi Wolpe (Making Loss Matter) joins the throngs of authors responding to the new atheists with defenses of faith. Yet rather than tense up about atheism, its defenders and their dismissive attitudes about people of faith, Wolpe answers these challenges with such kindness and thoughtfulness that even the heart of Christopher Hitchens might find itself warmed. Wolpe does not make his case for faith by hiding the darkest moments of Western traditions. Rather, he shines a light on religion's deepest scars—for instance spending a good deal of time discussing the relationship between religion and violence—while at the same time showing how religions have also (almost) always been a force of good in the world. (Take Christianity's extraordinary response to the tsunami in Indonesia, Wolpe explains.) With gentle, wonderfully engaging prose, Wolpe scrolls through history and shows how faith traditions don't offer easy, simplistic answers for the intellectually weak, as the New Atheists imply. More often than not, religion sparks believers to ask even more difficult questions, while at the same time building a platform on which to live under a canopy of hope. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Why Faith Matters is an articulate defense of religion in America. It makes the case for faith and shows its relationship to history and science. Refuting the cold reason of atheists and the hatred of fanatics with a vision of religion informed by faith, love, and understanding, Rabbi David J. Wolpe follows in a literary tradition that stretches from Cardinal Newman to C. S. Lewis to Thomas Merton—individuals of faith who brought religion and culture together in their own works. Wolpe takes readers through the origins and nature of faith, the role of the Bible in modern life, and the compatibility of God and science, concluding with a powerful argument for the place of God, faith, and religion in today's world.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061633356
  • ASIN: B003F76HF2
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,515,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Elie K. Spitz on September 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
David Wolpe writes of Faith with eyes wide open, displaying both honesty and wonder. He reminds us of the humanizing gifts of faith with thoughtful quotes, stories, and erudition. For instance, I was unaware of historian Edward Gibbon's critic of Christianity, with its emphasis on peace, as the cause of the demise of the Roman Empire. Rabbi Wolpe writes personally, revealing his own health crises and how those encounters with vulnerability opened him to the power of prayer and the presence of a Divine, caring Being. Last, he writes with humility, acknowledging that religious questions are never answered completely and that wrestling with the questions is the ongoing homework of our lives. Why Faith Matters? has mattered to me, deepening my own exploration of what it means to believe and to live with faith.
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Format: Hardcover
Like many Americans, I have endured at various times in my life periods of faith and doubt in the existence of God. I was surprised to read that in his youth, Rabbi Wolpe also was a practicing atheist. So, from the beginning of the book it was easy to equally consider the arguments in favor of faith, knowing that Rabbi Wolpe contemplated these issues on a personal level, too.

While his writing is cerebral, the book is an easy read of an incredibly difficult subject. The book will help those with faith re-affirm their connection to their God, and for those without, the book will force you to seriously reflect on just who holds the tiller of your moral rudder. Without qualms, Rabbi Wolpe raises arguments about the importance of a religious component to your life.

His most poignant point may be the role that organized religion plays as a check and balance to government. Rabbi Wolpe does not take the unsupportable position that religious institutions are infallible. In fact, he openly acknowledges that just like out of control governments can wreak havoc, so can out of control religion. But his overall case that the scales of goodness ultimately tip in the favor of belief in God is compelling.
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Format: Hardcover
David Wolpe understands the words of Tennyson: "There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds.

At the same time, Wolpe understands the power of faith and gives comfort to those who make the leap of faith.

Truly a Renaissance man, Wolpe has the extraordinary ability to inspire readers to be introspective, which is a key to our essence and existence. His knowledge of history, philosophy, psychology and theology, and various other belief systems, is obvious in his presentation.

I believe that all people who are open to enhancing their self-awareness, and to considering varied ideas about faith, should read "Why Faith Matters." Even for those who are rightly skeptical about some of the author's assertions, and who might not be comfortable with certain of his approaches, Wolpe is still a very serious and important thinker who deserves our consideration. (Reviewed by Jerry Marcus, author of four novels, including The Salvation Peddler and Broken Trust - The Murder Of Basketball Star Jack Molinas.)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I first picked this book after watching a debate video of David Wolpe debating Christopher Hitchens (I think). Wolpe seemed like one of the most levelheaded proponents of religion I had heard talk and I wanted to know more about his ideas.

In that sense, the book matched my expectations: Wolpe's Jewish faith is a definitely a philosophy that leads to good in this world. But as the book claims to be a response to the critics of religion, one can expect more than beautiful stories and anecdotes. Unfortunately, this is where this book falls short: Wolpe doesn't prove anything, and while his religion is productive, his defense doesn't apply to faith as a whole. Also, while it's true that faith can make people more moral, I didn't find in this book any reason why it would do that better than a humanist philosophy.

On its own, this book further increased my appreciation for Judaism, but as a response to the critics of religion it really isn't all that useful.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rabbi David J. Wolpe's book, Why Faith Matters, came to my attention as I prepared to teach a class on Hebrews 11. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1). Wolpe is more philosophical and focuses on the quest for meaning. "Faith believes in the legitimacy of asking 'why'--that the very question is an animating force in life" (193). While I am interested in the question and believe that faith is a journey, the truth of faith begins with its content. Wolpe provided me with snapshots of brilliance when what I searched for was direction in faith's journey. Though we travel different paths at this point, I loved his book.

Wolpe's strengths as a writer include his ability to dialog with the reader, his keen insight into the human condition, and his brilliant analytical mind. In his prelude, for example, he tells the story of a man using his sickness to teach his children and grandchildren how to die. He writes about his friend Isaac: "Here was a chance to teach his greatest lesson. They would remember much about him to be sure, but they would never forget how he died" (xiv).

Wolpe is a master of the anecdote. Pick a page; find a story. One I liked was the man standing before God in heaven. Wolpe writes:

"Dear God...Look at all the suffering, the anguish and distress in Your world. Why don't you send help?" ... God responded: "I did send help. I sent you" (38-39).

Those of us that go from point A to point B to point C can only stand and applaud.

After a brief prelude, Wolpe organizes his book into 8 chapters:

1. From faith to doubt;
2. Where does religion come from?
3. Does religion cause violence?
4. Does science disprove religion?
Read more ›
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