Spirituality and Belief

– Contemporary Buddhism –

On Buddhist practice in the United States, Jack Kornfield’s After the Ecstasy, the Laundry (2001) is a great place to start.

For the inimitable punk-Zen of Brad Warner, Sit Down and Shut Up (2007).

An account of Buddhism’s journey to America: Rick Fields’ How the Swans Came to the Lake (1992).

And for a user-friendly distillation of Buddhist practice, Thich Nhat Hanh’s Peace is Every Step (1991).

– The Christian Tradition –

Two passionate, no-nonsense books about Christianity in recent years: Terry Eagleton’s Reason, Faith, and Revolution (2010), and Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic (2012).

For a beautiful book on contemplation – part of a re-emerging tradition in western Christianity – see Martin Laird, Into the Silent Land (2005).

– Autobiography –

In My Own Way (1972) – highly entertaining account by the self-confessed ‘rascally’ English philosopher, Alan Watts, whose writings and recordings influenced the Beat and Hippie generations.

The Golden String (1954) – the early life and religious conversion(s) of Bede Griffiths, up until the point that he left England for India, where he later made his name helping to inspire inter-religious dialogue and the New Age.

– Blogs and Podcasts –

Hardcore Zenregular thoughts from the Zen and punk rock enthusiast Brad Warner, author of Sit Down and Shut Up.

Union in Dialogue: Paul Knitter - blogsite of Paul Knitter, a professor of theology and a great writer on all things Christian-Buddhist.

Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley – not entirely serious, and very good fun, with a Thomas Hardy storyline generator to boot…

Jack Kornfield – the personal blog of one of American Buddhism’s leading lights.

Andrew Brown’s blog at The Guardian – news and views on religion in the UK and further afield.

Dharma Talks – by the Abbott of Throssel Hole (Soto Zen) Buddhist Abbey, Rev. Master Daishin.

Alan Watts Podcast – entertaining introductory talks on big philosophical questions, drawing on Indian, Chinese, and Japanese traditions; many of these were delivered to American college students, in a richly patrician English accent and slightly condescending, teasing style…

About.com’s Buddhism section is a great all-round resource.

– Films –

Des Hommes et Des Dieux [Of Gods and Men] (2011), directed by Xavier Beauvois, is set in Algeria and based on the true story of a small group of French monks and Muslim villagers facing the mounting suspicion and hostility of a local militia during the Civil War in the 1990s:

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