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February Book Review: Stolen Girls: Survivors of Boko Haram Tell Their Story by Wolfgang Bauer

Did you know there is a very violent group called Boko Haram (meaning “Western education is forbidden”) in Nigeria kidnapping women and girls for the purpose of converting them to radical Islam? The Boko Haram refers to themselves as the “Group of People for Sunnah for the Preaching of Islam and Jihad.” Their goal is to overthrow the Nigerian government and create an Islamic state. The fight has been going on since 2014, and they are a sector of ISIS. In the words of Boko Haram’s former leader Abubakar Shekau in 2014, “My brothers you should take slaves. I kidnapped girls from a school, and you are irritated. I say, we must stop the spread of Western education. I kidnapped the girls. I will sell them at the market with Allah’s help. There is a market where one can sell humans. Allah has told me to sell them [my emphasis]. He commands me to sell them. I sell women. I sell women.”

In award-winning reporter Wolfgang Bauer’s Stolen Girls: Survivors of Boko Haram Tell Their Story, you will find heart-breaking interviews with the female survivors of Boko Haram raids, killings, and kidnappings. These women and girls were taken from their homes in Chibok, and forced into the swamps of the Sambisa forest in northern Nigeria. Some of the girls were as young as nine years old.  If they did not convert to Islam and participate in prayers and rituals, they were killed. They tell their heart-wrenching stories of how they were captured, abused, forced to watch beheadings of men and women, and how they survived after escaping by living under thick-brushed trees in the jungle.

Adult men were immediately shot when Boko Haram raided a village, and young boys were kidnapped and taught to fight for the radical group. In mid 2014, Boko Haram decided to attach bombs to mostly young women under loose dresses so they were unseen. Some of the women did not understand that they were being used as suicide bombers.  In addition, Wolfgang Bauer also talks a bit about the history and politics of Nigeria and the Boko Haram, which I found very helpful and interesting. The Nigerian military and security forces fought Boko Haram, but some of those fighters became corrupted. Eventually, the terrorists entered northern Cameroon, Niger, and Chad, and then the United States became involved by sending troops. As of February, 2018, the fight to remove Boko Haram from Nigeria continues, although some control has been regained. In terms of the number of people it has killed, Boko Haram has been called the world’s deadliest terrorist group to date. They occupied a fifth of Nigeria in just a few months in 2014.

I recommend Wolfgang Bauer’s Stolen Girls: Survivors of Boko Haram Tell Their Story to anyone interested in current Nigerian politics, ISIS, radical Islam, or human rights. Although this book is very difficult to read, it is vital to understanding the extreme insanity of radical Islam, Jihad (a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty), and the violence perpetuated by Boko Haram and ISIS.

A bit about the author, Wolfgang Bauer:Reporter Wolfgang Bauer

Passionate about human rights, Wolfgang Bauer began his career as a freelance reporter in 1994, after studying history, geography, and Islamic studies at the University of Tubingen.  Today, he works for the leading weekly German newspaper Die Zeit, covering the Middle East and Africa. His reporting on Boko Haram has won him the prestigious Nannen Prize in 2016 in Germany as well as the Bayeau-Calvados Prize for War Correspondents in France. He is also author of Crossing the Sea: With Syrians on the Exodus to Europe, which has been translated into twelve languages. He lives in Reutlingen near Stuttgart, Germany.

To learn more about Wolfgang Bauer, visit Wolfgang-Bauer.info. To purchase Stolen Girls: Survivors of Boko Haram Tell Their Story, visit Amazon.

© 2018, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 

 


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June Book Review: The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails edited by John W. Loftus

“In their most inner thoughts, even the most devout Christians know that there is something illegitimate about belief. Underneath their profession of faith there is a sleeping giant of doubt….In my experience, the best way to conquer doubt is to yield to it.” – Dan Barker, pastor-turned-atheist

The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails edited by John W. Loftus, a former Christian preacher turned atheist, is a brilliant compilation of fifteen arguments written by various distinguished atheists, and in my opinion, is the best critique of the Christian faith I have ever read. I was astounded by this book! I have never encountered a more compelling and thorough reading that covered an incredible amount of information with solid refutations of claims made from top Christian apologists.

The essays in this book cover and refute the claims and belief that modern society has Christian foundations; they cover the lack of solid evidence to show the Resurrection as true; they show that scripture does not portray God as good; and they argue that it is foolish to believe the Bible is the word of God, and much more. Using anthropological, archaeological, cultural, psychological, philosophical, ethical, cognitive, scientific, historical, and cosmological criticisms, this book destroys Christianity. The rest of the essays cover why Jesus cannot be the son of God, why morality did not originate in the Bible, and the problems with biblical scholarship. The arguments presented are compelling and exemplary.

I recommend The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails to those who are seeking the truth about Christianity’s many illusive, nagging questions, or if you are a Christian having “never-ending doubts” because something does not make sense. This collection of arguments is thorough, well-presented, well-documented, and very-well argued. I would say it is the go-to book on why Christianity absolutely fails. Anyone trying to argue against what is found in this book, well…good luck with that!

John W. Loftus, editor

A bit about the contributing writers of The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails:

Hector Avalos, Ph.D., professor of religious studies at Iowa State University and author of Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence and The End of Biblical Studies.

Edward T. Babinski is the editor of Leaving the Fold: Testimonials of Former Fundamentalists and his writings are available the Secular Web, Talk Origins, and Debunking Christianity.

Richard Carrier, Ph.D., is philosopher and expert historian of antiquity, is the author of On the Historicity of Jesus Christ, Sense and Goodness with God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism, Not the Impossible Faith: Why Christianity Didn’t Need a Miracle to Succeed, and other books.

David Eller, Ph.D., is the assistant professor of anthropology at the Community College of Denver and is the author of Natural Atheism, Atheism Advanced: Further Thoughts of a Freethinker, and a college textbook, Introducing Anthropology of Religion.

John W. Loftus, M.A, M.Div., Th.M., is the author of Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity and founder of Debunking Christianity blog. He is editor of The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails.

Jason Long, Ph.D., is the author of Biblical Nonsense: A Preview of the Bible for Doubting Christians and The Religious Condition: Answering and Explaining Christian Reasoning.

Valerie Tarico, Ph.D., is the author of The Dark Side: How Evangelical Teachings Corrupt Love and Truth and of Leaving the Fold: Testimonials of Former Fundamentalists.

Paul Tobin is the author of The Rejection of Pascal’s Wager: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Bible and the Historical Jesus.

To purchase The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, visit Barnes and Noble.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 


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February Book Review: DEconverted: a journey from religion to reason by Seth Andrews

Deconverted In DEconverted: a journey from religion to reason, author Seth Andrews describes his journey from Christian to atheist. Born the son of Christian ministers and raised since a very young age to follow Christ, Andrews relates his life experiences chronologically and demonstrates how he eventually embraces full atheism and becomes the creator of one of the largest atheist online communities. He explains some of the fallacious thinking exhibited by Christians as well as some of the discrepancies or contradictions in the bible, and as a result, comes to the conclusion that both reason and faith in the Christian god cannot be reconciled. He also summarizes the unfair characterizations and assumptions exhibited by society in regards to atheists.

I found DEconverted: a journey from religion to reason by Seth Andrews an easy, comical (although at times, very serious), informative and pleasant read. Even though I did not agree with all of the author’s conclusions in some areas, I recommend this book to anyone who is curious about one man’s journey from Christianity to atheism or to those who are struggling to make logical sense of the Christian faith. This book is an encouragement to those who hear that never-ending, small voice of doubt that says, “This doesn’t make sense.”

A bit about the author, Seth Andrews:

Seth Andrews Seth Andrews is the creator of The Thinking Atheist, a community website dedicated to emerging and long-time atheists. The website includes resources, podcasts, videos and more to enlighten and educate the public on atheism. It is one of the most popular freethinker communities on the internet today. He is also the author of Sacred Cows: A Lighthearted Look at Belief and Tradition around the World.

To learn more about Seth Andrews, or to purchase his book, DEconverted: a journey from religion to reason, visit TheThinkingAtheist.com.

© 2016, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.comMusings and Inspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings from One Creative Being

 

 


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July Book Review: Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light by Valerie Tarico

“Rigid beliefs that are above question often inhibit or even prohibit the sublime objectivity needed for truth-seeking.” – Valerie Tarico

Trusting Doubt, Valorie TaricoValerie Tarico in Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light relays her personal thought-journey from a born-again, fundamentalist Christian to an unapologetic atheist. She examines the authenticity of the bible and the Christian’s assumption and unwavering belief that the bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God. She points out some of the bible’s many errors and contradictions and blatant violence while explaining the historical and cultural context in which the “good book” was compiled. Tarico demonstrates how without this examination and understanding, the bible can be seen by the individual as well as by groups of people as the “timeless, perfect word of God” and rigid adherence to its commands can provide a substitute for nuanced moral judgment.

What makes this book different than the many other books that thoroughly explain the irreconcilable problems with the character of the god of the bible and with the bible’s textual errors and contradictions is the author’s education, experience and unique perspective. As a counseling psychologist, Valerie Tarico examines the reasons we believe what we believe and how that pertains to Christian beliefs specifically. Each chapter of this book begins with an explanation of basic Christian doctrines and is then followed by a “to consider” section, a short recap of the elements in the chapter and very thought-provoking questions for further study and contemplation. I found the organization in this book easy to follow and the author’s voice enjoyable.  In addition, it is well researched.

Essentially, Tarico, in Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light, asks the question (as it pertains to religious belief) that all of mankind needs to answer in order to create more workable and congruent communities, and I quote, “Where is our greatest loyalty – to our ideology or to our shared ideas? And which wins when the two are in conflict?” How do we build upon the philosophical wisdom from those before us while remaining vigilant about the (sometimes very tragic) errors of our past? This book is a logical, very thought-provoking exploration of these questions.

Valerie Tarico

A bit about the author, Valerie Tarico:

Valerie Tarico, Ph.D., is a former fundamentalist Christian and graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois. She holds a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Iowa and has completed post-doctoral studies at the University of Washington. Dr. Tarico writes for ExChristian.net, for The Huffington Post, and also hosts a television series in Seattle, Washington, on “moral politics.” She promotes interfaith and shared values that link all humanity and speaks to churches and groups on topics such as moral development, the psychology of belief and wisdom convergence.

To learn more about Dr. Valerie Tarico, visit: ValerieTarico.com.

To purchase Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light, visit: Amazon.

© 2015, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com, Inspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings From One Creative Being


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July Book Review: Woe to the Women the Bible Tells Me So: The Bible, Female Sexuality & the Law by Annie Laurie Gaylor

“It is the contempt that the [biblical] canon and civil law alike express for women that has multiplied their hardships and intensified for man’s desire to hold them in subjection.”  – Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Woe to the Woman, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Vilma Reynoso

I never really considered myself a feminist: a person who advocates or supports the rights and equality of women, until the moment I heard my father tell my mother in a demeaning tone that I would never graduate from college. The belief that my father held bothered me for decades and influenced my (sometimes disastrous) decisions I made as a woman. Over the years, I have realized that he was wrong, not only about me, but about women in general. I have come to believe that I am capable and have the right, as a woman and a human being, to live my life as I choose. I chose to graduate from college; not only did I graduate, but I graduated summa cum laude. Now, as a writer and as a somewhat prolific reader, here is a short summary of my latest read:

Woe to the Women the Bible Tells Me So: The Bible, Female Sexuality & The Law by Annie Laurie Gaylor is a compilation of the many biblical references and stories portraying women, as the author states, “as either superfluous or as diabolical.” In the bible, women are deemed the “cause of all sin that entered the world” and are instruments and instigators of evil. Gaylor argues that the bible is a handbook for the subjugation of women. The first part of this book summarizes the different areas of oppression of women in the bible, and the second part is a thorough compilation of biblical scriptures to support her assertions that the bible denigrates and subjects women to men.

Woe to the Women the Bible Tells Me So: The Bible, Female Sexuality & the Law examines biblical teachings about women’s “nature,” prostitution, sexual assault and incest, so-called “uncleanliness,” motherhood, divorce, adultery, grooming, abortion and more. Annie Laurie Gaylor makes apparent the biblical stories of women who are bought and sold, used as commodities, made to become wives with no rights, who are raped, mutilated, stoned to death, and makes apparent the story of a woman who was later chopped into pieces after she had died from enduring a gang-rape all night long. (Yes, this is all in the bible.)

As a product of a religious Catholic and Christian upbringing, this book was rather shocking for me to read. I had never been thoroughly exposed to the undeniable violence towards women in the bible, and to the contemptuous belief that women are instruments of evil whose very existence is to be subject to men, until I was exposed to Annie Laurie Gaylor’s book. There is no possible way to misinterpret the atrocities that are explicit in the bible as shown by Gaylor that deny human dignity to women. My conclusion is that the only way to do so would be to deny what is explicit in scripture, and I cannot do that. My view of the bible, therefore, has forever changed.

A bit about the author, Annie Laurie Gaylor:

Annie Laurie Gaylor

Annie Laurie Gaylor, along with her mother, is founder of Freedom from Religion Foundation, the largest national association of free-thinkers working to protect the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state. She is editor of Freethought Today, the foundation’s newspaper, and has a degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Gaylor is also the recipient of the 2010 Humanist Heroine award by the American Humanist Association. To learn more about Annie Laurie Gaylor, please visit Freedom from Religion Foundation.

To purchase a copy of Woe to the Women the Bible Tells Me So: The Bible, Female Sexuality& the Law by Annie Laurie Gaylor, visit: Freedom from Religion Foundation.

Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.com, Inspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.

Copyright, 2014, Vilma Reynoso