Reading a book can be likened to a spiritual experience and for good reason, because the images that we choose to associate with a brilliant text can stay in our minds forever. The moment when the book’s plot and sub-plot come together it is an enlightening experience for us. It is very sad when we endure a film adaptation of a great novel, and the producer doesn’t manage to capture the real meaning of the book. But it would be impossible to get every individual’s personal perception of the novel onto the big screen. Religion has been connected to literature and reading for as long as both have existed. Apart from the chief religious texts that serve the world religions, there are many books written about the various faiths that have inspired many readers. This article looks at some of these books and discusses why they are so important.
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
This book has been published in over 56 different languages worldwide; it was published in 1988. The Alchemist follows the life of a young shepherd from Andalusia, and he makes a trip to Egypt after experience many dreams about the place. The story is really about finding your own destiny and explains that anything can happen if you really want it badly enough. The novel encompasses a strong spiritual ethos that lends a religious tone to the overall theme.
Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
This novel was written in 1922 and describes the journey of self-discover made by the man also known as the Lord Buddha. It is very easy to read and uses a lyrical style of prose throughout the book. Buddha’s journey is relayed through Hesse’s narrative and is an accurate description of the event. Hesse immersed himself in the culture and teachings of Buddha, but had issues with achieving the state of Nirvana alluded to in Lord Buddha’s teachings. A film version of the novel was released in 1972 but did not hit the same heights as this excellent book.
God Has A Dream – Archbishop Desmond Tutu
This book was written by the world renowned supporter of human rights, Desmond Tutu. He tells the reader about how we can turn human misery and suffering into joy and hope. He draws on his own graphic experiences as well as using established historical and religious events. An excellent offering of truth and sorrow mixed with his own special brand of humour.
Thomas Merton – The Seven Storey Mountain
Merton was a Trappist Monk and was also a very well respected author. This book was published in 1948 and was an autobiography of the author’s life. Thomas tells us about his quest for faith and the journey that ensues. He left behind a promising career as an educator and author to enter the world of Catholicism aged only 23. This novel became a best seller and is regarded as one of the most influential religious books ever written. Although it was said that Merton wrote this book in two short years, it has been suggested elsewhere that he started the novel much earlier.