Bergers Book Reviews

Heaven is Real But So is Hell

Heaven is Real But So is Hell
Author: Vassula Rydén
Publisher: Alexian
Genre: Christian / Spirituality
ISBN: 978-0-9830093-0-6
Pages: 224
Price: $24.95

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Vassula Rydén was not living a particularly religious life when her guardian angel first appeared to her. And when God spoke to her, soon after, she was completely unprepared to face her many sins and atone for them. Once she was cleansed, she willingly took on her new role in communicating God’s Messages to the people, as He commanded.

Heaven is Real But So is Hell is Rydén’s story of her ministry. It shares some of the visions God has allowed her to see, as well as many of the Messages she received. Organized loosely by topic, this book touches on all the important ideas God has commanded her to tell us.

Originally, the Vatican disapproved of Rydén’s Messages, issuing a warning against them. However, over time, these Messages have gotten support from priests, bishops, and even Cardinal Ratzinger, before he became Pope. Rydén also claims that many who have seen her speak or have read the Messages have come back to the Church as a result.

I admit, I approached this book with healthy skepticism. But as I’ve also read the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, I realized there are interesting similarities. Both women issued dire warnings that come with potential blessings if we turn from our sinful ways, and both have been ridiculed and scorned by an unbelieving public. I have not read True Life in God, which is Rydén’s official publication of these Messages, but from what I’ve read in Heaven is Real But So is Hell, I see nothing that would be contradictory to my Catholic faith.

Prophets are often misunderstood in the era they’re living in, and their messages are only understood much later. If these Messages are truly from God, they will stand up to the test of time.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 14, 2014 Posted by | Catholic, Christian, spirituality | Leave a comment

The Master of Evolution

The Master of Evolution
Author: Gregory Hatton
Publisher: Universal Wisdom Publications
Genre: Spirituality
ISBN: 978-0-9880275-2-7
Pages: 256
Price: $34.95

Author’s website
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The last prophet lived over 2000 years ago, but what if God decided to send a messenger to his people on earth right now? With all the technological advances we’ve made since then, would He share information about the science behind creation? The Master of Evolution explores this question through a fictional account of a new prophet God is sending to humanity.

John Cavendish is on a special mission to the moon to investigate the Peak of Eternal Light. While there, he suddenly comes face to face with the angel, Gabriel. Through conversations with Gabriel and scientists such as Einstein and Darwin, the history of earth is revealed. God is light, as the Bible suggests, and author Gregory Hatton proceeds to prove this through a series of mathematical calculations. He also shows how this light is involved in all of creation, and man’s purpose and future are explored.

An abundance of interesting theory is presented in this unique fictional work. As with all religious speculation, I err on the side of caution, yet nothing feels dangerous or in conflict with scripture or mainstream teaching. This story is an enjoyable read that will give you a lot to think about.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

March 1, 2013 Posted by | spirituality | Leave a comment

Unifying Truths of the World’s Religions

Unifying Truths of the World's Religions
Author: C. David Lundberg
Publisher: Heavenlight Press
Genre: Religion
ISBN: 978-0-9796308-2-8
Pages: 448
Price: $18.95

Author’s website
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Religion has long been a divisive force between people and nations, often leading to violence and death. Looking closely at their practices leads to the thought that there is no harmony in the major religions of the world. But author C. David Lundberg shows us his vision of the underlying beliefs they all hold dear.

Broken into sections, Unifying Truths of the World’s Religions covers topics such as the meaning and purpose of life, who we really are, who and what God is, and the various love relationships we share with God, ourselves, and others. Within each subsection, a description of the topic is presented, along with several texts from Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism in support of this topic.

When provided with such overwhelming evidence of these overlapping beliefs, it’s impossible not to see how alike we are. At its best, religion brings us closer to God and each other, and reinforces morality as a standard of living. It is the author’s hope that he has shown us how much we have in common, so we can begin to break down the walls that separate us. He has done a marvelous job.

AWARDS RECEIVED:

  • Winner, National Indie Excellence Book Award
  • Winner, USA Book News National Best Book Award
  • Winner, Nautilus Silver Award
  • Winner, New England Book Festival
  • Finalist, ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year

Reviewer: Alice Berger

February 28, 2013 Posted by | spirituality | Leave a comment

The Fifth Disciple

The Fifth Disciple
Author: Cynthia Bové
Publisher: O Books
Genre: Spirituality
ISBN: 978-1-84694-420-8
Pages: 199
Price: $19.95

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A Course in Miracles offers spiritual direction for many in their quest to better themselves and their lives. But is it possible that someone else suggested these ideas at a much earlier date? In The Fifth Disciple, author Cynthia Bové proposes that the Gospel of Thomas presents some of these very same teachings from Jesus, himself.

In the first sections of this book, the two source documents are introduced. Insights from A Course in Miracles are presented and analyzed. Then we are provided with the text of Pursah’s Gospel of Thomas. The last half of the book compares this gospel to the writings in the course, looking for similarities in meaning.

Familiarity with A Course in Miracles is of great benefit in reading this book. Many of the ideas presented are abstract, and can easily elude the casual reader who has no knowledge of these teachings. Those who follow mainstream religions may not relate to this New Age message, despite the possibility that it could have come directly from Jesus. But whatever your belief system may be, The Fifth Disciple is an interesting read.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

February 20, 2013 Posted by | spirituality | Leave a comment

Free Your Voice

Free Your Voice
Author: Sylvia Nakkach with Valerie Carpenter
Publisher: Sounds True
Genre: Spirituality / Self-help / Music
ISBN: 978-1-60407-800-8
Pages: 280
Price: $18.95

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Yoga of the Voice is a unique path used to open ourselves to life through singing. Not through the usual tunes we recognize as songs, but rather through primary sounds and breath. Free Your Voice describes the practice Sylvia Nakkach has created for her clients.

A download accompaniment is available at the Sounds True website, which should be used with this book. As each exercise is explained, the reader is provided examples of the sounds and tones. Nakkach encourages us to develop our own practice, creating an uninterrupted, twenty-one minute program from these.

Voice exercises sound like something only professional singers would perform, but Nakkach reassures us that these are also for the rest of us – even those who claim they can’t sing. Like traditional yoga, Yoga of the Voice will create a discipline that opens us further to life’s experiences.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

January 18, 2013 Posted by | music, self improvement, spirituality | Leave a comment

The Path of Centering Prayer


Author: David Frenette
Publisher: Sounds True
Genre: Spirituality
ISBN: 978-1-60407-673-8
Pages: 255
Price $24.95

Author’s website
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While many people associate prayer with speaking to God in words, a different kind of prayer also exists. In comtemplative prayer, we commune with God in silence, using either a sacred word or symbol. And if we want to go even deeper, we can use only the silence to bring us closer to God.

The Path of Centering Prayer focuses on those who have been practicing contemplative prayer for a while. In it, David Frenette offers insights into his own practice, as well as using examples of others who have followed this path, as a guide for the serious practitioner. For those who have never tried this type of prayer, he explains the process and encourages them to begin.

Contemplative prayer is much like meditation, but with a focus on God instead of simply the quieting of thought. However, the practitioner may experience many of the same frustrations with this form of prayer. Frenette reminds us that this is normal, and the best thing to do is to continue the practice anyway, noticing the root issue behind the frustration. If you’ve been practicing contemplative prayer for a while and need some freshness in your routine, or if you are interested in beginning a new practice, this book will help you on your journey.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 31, 2012 Posted by | Christian, spirituality | Leave a comment

Fruit of My Spirit


Author: Deanna Nowadnick
Publisher: Rhododendron Books
Genre: Spirituality
ISBN: 978-0-9835897-2-3
Pages: 114
Price: $12.95

Author’s website
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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Modeling her actions after Paul’s words has not been an easy task for Deanna Nowadnick. As she reviewed
her life, intending to provide her sons with a short story, she realized she wanted to share her insights with a larger audience. Fruit of My Spirit was born.

Each chapter focuses on one of the fruits of the Spirit. In it, Nowadnick tells of an incident in her own life relating to that particular characteristic. Her strong faith in God and humility shine through, helping the reader see her struggles and giving hope that we too can overcome. With God’s help, we are all able to be better people.

Nowadnick is warm, open and vulnerable in sharing her life stories with us. The reader will come away with the sense that they already know her and share a common bond. A woman who tries to embody the fruits of the Spirit is a true role model for the rest of us. I highly recommend this inspirational book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 25, 2012 Posted by | Christian, inspiration, spirituality | Leave a comment

Untie the Strong Woman


Author: Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD
Publisher: Sounds True
Genre: Spirituality
ISBN: 978-1-60407-635-6
Pages: 400
Price: $27.95

Author’s website
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The Virgin Mary has long been seen as a serene paragon of the Christian faith. Usually portrayed with the Christ child on her lap, she smiles sweetly from behind her veil. But what if she had another side to her – a wild side?

In Untie the Strong Woman, Clarissa Pinkola Estés shows us that the Blessed Mother does, in fact, have a wild side. This strong and vibrant woman challenges the author to do things she wouldn’t ordinarily do. Estés spent time working with incarcerated girls at her leading, and hired an alcoholic for mason work outside her home when she felt Mary was guiding her. The wild woman also includes the Black Madonna, and Estés shares her story, as well as many others.

For those who only see the Virgin Mary as a peaceful mother of Jesus, these images may come as a surprise. Getting to know her and following her leading may cause us to wind up in places we might not have chosen to go. But we can be sure we’ll be in for a wild ride.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 24, 2012 Posted by | Christian, spirituality | Leave a comment

A Lamp in the Darkness


Author: Jack Kornfield
Publisher: Sounds True
Genre: Meditation / Spirituality / Buddhism
ISBN: 978-1-60407-642-4
Pages: 103
Price: $19.95

Author’s website
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Trouble is an inevitable part of being human. Although it’s tempting to simply bemoan our fate when something bad happens, it’s far more effective to accept these upsetting issues and integrate them into our whole life experience. In A Lamp in the Darkness, Jack Kornfield shares his thoughts on dealing with difficult times, in an effort to help us get through them.

Suffering can be caused by many things, and Kornfield reminds us that we already have an inner light – “The One Who Knows” – who will guide us. We may be in so much pain that we don’t feel we’re capable of compassion, forgiveness, healing, and wisdom, but these are some of the topics discussed, followed by meditations to explore these characteristics more deeply. An accompanying CD provides audio recordings of these meditations.

Difficulty doesn’t need to destroy us. We can rise above what happens, with our sense of self and peace of mind intact. A Lamp in the Darkness shows us how.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

March 23, 2012 Posted by | Buddhism, meditation, spirituality | Leave a comment

Tibetan Sound Healing


Author: Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
Publisher: Sounds True
Genre: Spirituality / Buddhism
ISBN: 978-1-60407-095-8
Pages: 120
Price: $14.95

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The Bön Buddhist tradition of Tibet has been practiced for a very long time, through the efforts of a few dedicated lamas. In Tibetan Sound Healing, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche teaches us the Five Warrior Syllables from the Bön practice, and shows us how to use them in our own lives.

First Rinpoche introduces us to the syllables. These are A, OM, HUNG, RAM, and DZA, each of which has its own energy as we sing these sounds. Then we’re instructed to read the chapter about each syllable, turning to the CD to listen to it being sung by Rinpoche. A final track on the CD is three chanted prayers.

This book and CD set complement each other nicely. Rinpoche explains the syllables with clear images, describing our feelings as if we were in the desert, and adding more elements as we move to the next syllable. As the sounds reverberate, we can easily place ourselves in the images he’s created, and work with these Five Warrior Syllables to activate our own healing potential.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 2, 2011 Posted by | Buddhism, spirituality | Leave a comment