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Why Faith Matters Hardcover – September 16, 2008
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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.)
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From the Back Cover
Judging by today's bestseller lists, one would think that religion is either irrational or extreme. What's missing is a genuine debate between the atheists and fanatics; someone to point out that religion has value in the modern world. 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 the atheists and the hatred of the 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—all individuals of faith who brought religion and culture together in their own works. Drawing on the personal and powerful story of his battle with cancer, Wolpe offers a moving statement in support of religion today. In a poignant response to the new atheists, 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. He concludes with a powerful argument for the place of God, faith, and religion in today's world.
Top customer reviews
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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?
5. What does religion really teach?
6. Reading the Bible;
7. Is religion good for you? And
8. Why faith matters.
His introduction is written by Pastor Rick Warren.
Wolpe's brilliance comes in getting to the heart of complex matters quickly. Why do atheists try to make science into a religion? They confuse puzzles (which can be figured out) with mysteries (which are unsolvable) (11). Why does Nietzsche dislike democracy and Christianity? He is a classicist who prefers the morality of masters (classical view) over that of slaves (Christian view) (48-49).
Wolpe's writing is a joy because of these many insights and anecdotes.
Dr. Stephen W. Hiemstra
Most recent customer reviews
Written clearly, and stimulates serious thought without being "preachy."
The book we were very disappointed with. I purchased it new as a gift and it turned out to be used and had coffee stains on the pages.