Books

These are book resources I have found around the Internet and book recommendations from ex-Christians.

and don't forget the Internet Infidels bookstore.

Prometheus Books (UK) and Prometheus Books (US) specialise in books and journals critical of religion.


Book links

Critical books on Christianity sold at Internet Infidels bookstore.
Christianity and the Bible Extensive book list, reviews and links from Honest Intellectual Inquiry "The title link will take you to my review, a summary, the actual source, and/or some other information on the book." The site author is a former Mormon missionary.
"Open Books for open minds" from the Walk Away from Fundamentalism site.


Book lists

The recommendations below are mostly from emails to the ex-Christian mailing list.


Hi folks,

Here's the email book list that i came up with a while ago.  The books on
cults were my first and greatest help for a few years after i left
Christianity.  I found that some (but not all) of the things that
ex-members of "cults" go through also applied to me leaving Christianity.

There are some other books which are more specifically relevant to
Christianity towards the end.  The list was originally written to be
helpful to people i met online who were leaving cults or whose family
members were in a cult.

........forwarded message...........

Here are a bunch of books that might be helpful.  If you're in the United
States, you can request any of these at any public library through an
InterLibrary Loan if the library in your area doesn't have them.

Take care,
Kris


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 28 Jul 1996 17:43:25 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Book Lists


Here is my booklist in full.  I really liked and would recommend the
majority of them, but the ones i found to be most helpful i've marked
with an asterisk (or three). I've tried to provide comments for all of
them.  Note: Not all books will apply to everyone this list is forwarded
to.  I've simply listed them all in one place for my own convenience.
Feel free to look up the ones you're interested in and leave the rest.
 
These books discuss mind-control cults in general:
*** Winn, Denise; The Manipulated Mind; (the chapter on "Sudden Conversion"
raises very good points, the rest is good for understanding the
psychology behind cults)
*** Hoffer, Eric; The True Believer; (the classic study of "mass movements")
*** Hassan, Steve: Combatting Cult Mind Control; (excellent introduction
to cults & mind-control written by a former Unification Church member)
*** Gallanter, Marc; Cults: Faith, Healing, and Coercion; (lots of
interesting info, numerous examples, very scholarly)
*** Langone, Michael, ed.; Recovery From Cults; (useful for professionals;
has many people contributing)
** Shepherding - C.A.N. Packet (packet of info from the Cult Awareness
Network on the Bible-based cultic practice of "Shepherding.")
** Conway, Flo and Jim Siegelman; Snapping: America's Epidemic of Sudden
Personality Change; (the conversion process and "information disease")
* Conway & Siegelman; follow-up study on Snapping; in Science Digest; circa
1982 (hard to find)
Patrick, Ted, with Tom Dulack; Let Our Children Go!; Clarke, Irwin & Co.
Ltd.; 1976 (I disagree with this man's methods of forcible deprogramming;
interesting, one of the first books out on getting kids out of cults)
* Sargant, William; Battle for the Mind ; (the physiology of conversion)
** Stoner, Carroll and Jo Anne Parke; All Gods Children: The Cult Experience
- Salvation or Slavery?; Penguin Books (a fascinating inquiry into both
sides of the issue)
*** Lifton, Robert J.; Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism; (esp.
Ch. 22) (one of the books that started it all -- an investigation into
Communist "brainwashing" of American POWs.)
* Lifton, Robert J.; The Future of Immortality and Other Essays for a
Nuclear Age; Ch. 15 - "Cults: Religious Totalism and Civil Liberties"
* Bufe, Charles; Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure?; (has a list of
"characteristics of a cult"; is very supportive of alcoholics seeking
recovery without the 12-step emphasis on spirituality.)
** Porterfield, Kay Marie; Blind Faith: Recognizing and Recovering from
Dysfunctional Religious Groups; (another very good introduction)
*** Enroth, Ronald; Churches That Abuse; (excellent book on Christian
cults written by a Christian from a Christian perspective)
*Zimbardo, Philip and Ebbe B. Ebbesen; Influencing Attitudes and Changing
Behavior; Addison-Wesley Publishing Co. (documentation on a well-known
psychological study)
*** Deikman, Arthur, M.D.; The Wrong Way Home: Uncovering the patterns of
Cult Behavior in American Society; Beacon Press, Boston, MA (excellent
examples of similar behavior occurring in the everyday world, not
specific to totalist/cultic groups, though.  I highly recommend it.)
*** Tobias, Madeleine Landau, and Janja Lalich; Captive Hearts, Captive
Minds: Freedom and Recovery from Cults and Abusive Relationships; Hunter
House; 1994 (excellent; loaded with information on mind-control and on
healing; has testimonies)
*** Ross, Joan and Michael Langone; Cults: What Parents Should Know; Carol
Publishing Group (American Family Foundation); (fantastic for parents and
others concerned about cults)
* Rudin, Marcia R. (Ed.); Cults on Campus: Continuing Challenge; AFF & ICEP
Dellinger, Robert W.; Cults and Kids: A Study of Coercion; The Boys Town
Center; (small booklet)
* Kildoff & Javers; The Suicide Cult (about Jonestown/People's Temple; not
much info on cults in general)
Petersen, William J.; Those Curious New Cults; (highly biased book from a
Christian perspective; chapter on Wicca is full of misinformation, so i
suspect that other chapters are, too. Wouldn't recommend this one.)
*** Cialdini, Robert B., Ph.D.; Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion;
(excellent book on why people agree to things; cults use these techniques
extensively; Wellspring Retreat and Resource center uses a lot of his
work in explaining how cults get and keep members)

A couple books i haven't read yet but look interesting:
Jacobs, Janet Liebman; Divine Disenchantment: Deconverting from New
Religions; (About de-converting from "new religions" with "charismatic
leaders")
Bednarowski, Mary Farrell; New Religions & the Theological Imagination in
America; Mormonism - New Age - Theosophy - Christian Science - Scientology
- Unification Church; (An introduction to the theological systems of these
6 "new religions"; i don't know yet, but it doesn't look like it addresses
"cult" issues as much as it simply discusses the particular belief systems
of these groups)

Books on conversion in general, not specifically from a cult-related
perspective:
***Gallagher, Eugene V.; Expectation and Experience: Explaining Religious
Conversion; (Excellent introduction to different ways of looking at and
explaining conversion)
***Rambo, Lewis R.; Understanding Religious Conversion; (Provides one very
detailed model of the steps that happen in the process of conversion)
 
Books on healing from cult experiences and religious dependency:
*** Booth, Father Leo; When God Becomes a Drug; (on religious addiction)
*** Ford, Wendy: Some Thoughts on Recovery; (recovering from a religious
cult; written by a former cult member)
*** Winell, Marlene, Ph.D.; Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former
Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion; New Harbinger
Publications; 1993 (Just what the title says; excellent for ex-Christian
fundamentalists)
 
Books taking a second look at Christianity: (Some of these are written by
liberal Christians who hold rather "unorthodox" views of the Bible and
Jesus; some are by non-Christians.)  These are included because 1) some
ex-members of Bible-based cults find it helpful to look at other
viewpoints regarding these topics, and 2) this list is sometimes
forwarded to people who have left non-cultic conservative Christianity
who might also find these books helpful.  If these books don't seem like
they are appropriate for your particular situation, simply ignore them.

Fresh views of Christianity and the Bible from a liberal perspective:
*** Mitchell, Stephen; The Gospel According to Jesus; (A fresh look at the
"actual" words of Jesus, in light of the Jesus Seminars and "testing
against one's heart"; very interesting look at Jesus as a person)
*** Mitchell, Stephen (transl.); The Book of Job; (fascinating
interpretation in his introduction, which is about as long as the rest of
the book)
** Spong, John Shelby; Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop
Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture; (controversial; raises many very good
points and questions about interpretation; may be especially valuable for
g/l/b Christians)
*** Fiorenza, Elisabeth Schussler; Bread Not Stone: The
Challenge of Feminist Biblical Interpretation; Beacon Press
*** Fox, Matthew; Original Blessing; Bear & Company; 1983 (The classic on
Christian creation-based spirituality and "Panentheism")
*** Day, David; Things They Never Told You in Sunday School: A Primer for
the Christian Homosexual; Lavender Press; 1987; (unfortunately this book
is now out of print and hard to find; it is clearly written and worth the
effort it may take to find it.)
*** Comstock, Gary David; Gay Theology Without Apology; Pilgrim Press;
1993; (another book that may be particularly helpful for gay, lesbian,
and bisexual Christians)
*** De Mello, Anthony; The Song of the Bird; (fun and thought-provoking
parables and [very short] stories; written by a Christian mystic)

 
Criticisms of Christianity or the Bible, especially the fundamentalist
variety/interpretation (for those who are interested):
* Fromm, Eric (?); The Dogma of Christ; (a look at the history and
development of chrisitan dogma; i'm not sure of the author, i haven't
been able to locate the book in a while)
*** Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, and the Revising Committee; The Woman's Bible;
(The turn-of-the-century classic on women and the bible)
*** Porteous, Skipp; Jesus Doesn't Live Here Anymore: From Fundamentalist to
Freedom Writer; Prometheus Books (fascinating personal account; loaded
with info on the Religious Right, also.)
*** Conway, Flo, and Jim Siegelman; Holy Terror: The Fundamentalist War
on America's Freedoms in Religion, Politics, and Our Private Lives;
Doubleday & Co, Inc.; 1982 (even just reading the introduction is gives
you a lot of info; a whole lot on the Religious Right)
** Ellsberg, Robert (ed.); Gandhi on Christianity; (Gandhi's writings that
relate to Christianity)
** Diamond, Sara; Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right;
(fascinating; jam-packed with information. deals mostly with politics.)
** D'Antonio, Michael; Fall from Grace: The Failed Crusade of the Christian
Right; (fascinating, but assumes that the Religious Right's activism is
basicly over, which is unlikely)
** Barker, Dan; Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist; (personal
account and many arguments against Christian doctrine and the Bible)
* Gaylor, Annie Laurie; Woe to the Women: The Bible Tells Me So; (rather
nastily anti-Christian; has some surprising passages)
*** Maccoby, Hyam; The Myth-maker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity;
Harper San Francisco (excellent; fascinating look at Paul/Saul and his
claims)
** Fox, Robin Lane; The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the
Bible; Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.; 1991 (fascinating & detailed)
** Fox, Robin Lane; Pagans and Christians; Harper San Francisco; 1986
(haven't read this whole thing yet, it's absolutely gigantic; it's about
the rise of Christianity/fall of Roman Paganism in the first 4 centuries;
very detalied)
* Helms, Randel; Gospel Fictions; Prometheus Books (self explanatory)
** Evans, Rod and Irwin Berent; Fundamentalism: Hazards and Heartbreaks;
Open Court; La Salle, Illinois 61301; 1988; (helpful for former
fundamentalists; "explains exactly what has gone wrong with
fundamentalism and why... [with] no mockery, no disrespect, and no malice.")
** Marsden, George; Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism;
William Eerdmans Publishing; 1991 (a historical perspective of the movement)
** Hoffmann, R. Joseph (trans. and ed.); Porphyry's Against the Christians:
The Literary Remains; Prometheus Books, 1994 (a re-construction of the
Pagan Porphyry's criticisms of Christianity in the 4th century C.E.)
*** Wilken, Robert L.; The Christians as the Romans Saw Them; (Pagan
criticisms of Christianity during the first 4 centuries C.E.)
*** Winell, Marlene, Ph.D.; Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former
Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion; New Harbinger
Publications; 1993 (The same as listed above; excellent and highly
recommended for people dealing with these particular issues)
** Drazin, Michoel; Their Hollow Inheritance: A Comprehensive Refutation of
Christian Missionaries; Feldheim Publishers; 1990 (a Jewish refutation of
the New Testament; reasons why the Jewish scriptures (O.T.) don't point
to Jesus as the Jewish Messiah)
*** A group called "Outreach Judaism" also has a series of tapes with an
accompanying booklet that provides a Jewish refutation of Christian
claims about Jesus.  Very highly recommended for people interested in
those issues.
** Cooper, John Charles; Religious Pied Pipers: A Critique of Radical
Right-Wing Religion; Judson Press; Valley Forge; (addresses such issues
as the wish for certainity, a biblical critique of the "Moral Majority",
and strategies to promote healthy religion)
*** Donald E. Sloat, Ph.D; Growing Up Holy & Wholly: Understanding and
Hope for Adult Children of Evangelicals; Wolgemuth & Hyatt; Brentwood, TN;
(written by a Christian counselor; excellent discussions of the possible
dangers in the evangelical mindset, especially for sensitive kids;  compares
Adult Children of Evangelicals to Adult Children of Alcoholics;
written particularly for people who want to remain within Christianity
although ex-Christians can find a lot of useful info as well)
** Donald E. Sloat, Ph.D; The Dangers of Growing Up in a Christian Home;
Thomas Nelson Publishers; (similar to the one above, not quite as organized)
*** Ranke-Heinemann, Uta; Putting Away Childish Things; (Strong critique
of Catholic doctrine; a lot of carryover into Protestant Christianity; the
author believes that these doctrines distort the "true message" of Jesus.)
***Metzger, Bruce M.; Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of
Revelation; (This book is by a Princeton theologian who was the Chairman
of the NRSV Translation Committee; provides an excellent interpretation of
the book of Revelation within its historical context; he demonstrates that
the symbolic descriptions in the book refer to events happening almost
2000 years ago, and were not meant to be projected 2 millenia into the
future; if Hal Lindsey-like ideas of the events of Revelations coming to
pass in the near future haunt you, this book may help you to gain some
perspective and peace of mind.)

 
take care,
Kris


THE DEMON HAUNTED WORLD by Carl Sagan
Isaac Asimov's Guide to the Bible
Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion and Morality


James Randi:  "Flim Flam", "The Faith Healers", "The Truth about Uri
Geller"
"Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology".  Chronicles and
documentation of the witch trial in Europe and America.
"History of World Mythologies".  Showed me just to many similarities
between xtians and others.

www.infidels.org.  Enough said!

The Hundredth Sheep.
Walk Away.

News Groups:
alt.atheism.
talk.origins.
sci.skeptic.


As for books, the Russell "Why I am not.." is essential reading, but a lot
of fiction affected me too such as James Morrow's "Bible Stories for Adults"
and "Only Begotten Daughter."  Any of Harlan Ellison's essays are good too...

Mike


Leaving Christianity contents | Email me with any of your favourite books or links you found especially helpful.