must apologize up front for the length of this article. Although it is long, it contains a list of book I've encouraged my sons to read and so far they have done as I asked. I don't know where any of them stand spiritually, but I know that none of them attend church or believe in the Bible. I didn't make them attend church, but I didn't say anything against it until they were about years of age.

My goal is to get a small number of African Americans reading and thinking by suggesting a reading list that breaks tradition. Before I give my reading list, I believe it is important for everyone to start on neutral ground. I am asking for potential readers to withhold judgment until all the facts are in and they’ve had a chance to THINK about what they’ve read.

The first book, I’m going to suggest is King James Version Bible. However, in reading it, I ask that you read it as a person who is not a Christian, Muslim or having any religious affiliation at all. Read it as a child who knows nothing of God and make no judgments. I want you to be surprised if you can. I know withholding judgment will be the hardest part because we are all products of society, our environment and our parents.

If any of you were born in the Middle East, more than likely you would be a Jew or a Muslim. If you were born in India to Indian parents, more than likely you would be a Sikh or Hindu. Born in the former Soviet Union, you would probably be an atheist. Being black and born in the Southern United States, you will probably be Baptist. These are all based on current religious affiliations, but it could be different. However if you look around you will see that religion is largely a matter of parentage and location.

That’s why I ask you to read neutrally. Many of the books I list are religious in nature and many of them are not. Most will go against things you thought you knew and many will introduce to new ideas about the things you do know, but most of it will pass you by if you are closed to ideas.

Why is it my goal to get African Americans reading something other than drug store gossip magazines, trashy romance and action adventure books? First, the number of books bought yearly by African Americans is woefully deficient compared with money spent on clothing. Books purchased by African Americans reachers almost $350 million, not a bad figure until compared with the $7 billion spent on clothes. The one book likely to be found in every African American home is the Bible. However, having a Bible and reading it are two different things. Also, the knowledge about the Bible is a basic reading and word of mouth sourcing. So, I put a list a books together to spur thought and, perhaps, provide a better understanding of the many things we take for granted. First on my list is the Bible.

The Bible—What do you really know about the Bible? Do you know who wrote it? How many books are in the Bible? How many were left out? Why were they left out? Were than any Gospels written by females? What are the original sayings of Jesus? Do you know where they came from? What was the original language of the Bible? How many times was it translated before it reached the King James Version? Why did the King James Version come about? What is the oldest religion stemming from the Bible? When did that change? Who changed it? The questions could go on and on, but for a book that sells so many copies, it is surprising how many Christians don’t know a thing about how their touchstone book came about. Since almost 70% of African American claim Christianity, I thought The Bible would be an excellent place to start.

The Quran—After you finish the Bible I would suggest reading the Qur'an with the same intensity and neutrality and reserve your judgment. I also suggest the Jewish Bible and Pentateuch, but they are included in the Old Testament and basically tell the same stories. Besides, this is not about deciding which is better written, more believable or a decider of faith; it is about reading, understanding and thinking.

The remainders of the books I suggest are random in nature, but they all tie back to thinking and reading. Some will be from Harvard scholars and some from backyard philosophers. Still, thoughts of this nature are more than off the cuff rambling. Whatever the case, these books reveal the effort and women went through trying to be fair, balanced, unbiased and in presenting the conclusions they reached. Some reach no conclusions, but raise interesting questions worthy of further thought and that’s what black America needs—further thought. It seems we are over the top on emotional reactions and under the radar on thinking.

So, here is a list for your perusal. I would describe the reading in these books as high school level and above. Some are extremely difficult and others can be handled by a 4th grader. Nevertheless, I think they go a long way in promoting thinking and by going through them conscientiously; reading and understanding are improved.

Reading List

Don’t Know Much About the Bible: Everything You Need to Know About the Good Book but Never Learned—Kenneth C. Davis—Basically, leads the reader through the Bible and explains passages and why they are there. Also, exposes the reader to some of the political history behind the Bible including the Nicea Council when the Bible was voted into existence.

The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart—Peter J. Gomes—An interesting tome in that Gomes was the head of the Harvard Divinity School and a known homosexual. His book obviously deals with homosexual questions and uses the Bible to counter current thought. Amazing in that it comes from a black man, who ran Harvard’s Divinity School.

The Bible as History—Werner Keller—Want to know how much of what occurred in the Bible can actually be tracked in history? Here it is. An interesting read for knowledge seekers.

Wonders of the Past: Ancient Inventions—Peter James & Nick Thorpe—The first flushing toilets, the first indoor plumbing, refrigerators were all around long before electricity. An excellent resource.

Countering the Conspiracy to Kill Black Boys—Jawanza Kunjufu—An old read that rest deaths of young black boys as a result of greater society trying to eliminate black men—still, an interesting read and not that far removed from reality.

God’s Funeral—A.N. Wilson— Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche first said that God was dead. Many have said it since then, but the funeral has yet to be held. This books takes an interesting looking at the presence or lack of presence God in the universe. Excellent Read!

Jesus: One Hundred Years Before Christ—Alvar Ellegard—Here’s a look from a researcher who says that the Jesus of the Bible actually existed 100 years before and was used as a model for the present day Jesus.

Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism—Bishop John Shelby Spong—An extremely interesting read from a Episcopalian Bishop who thinks fundamentalism is killing the chances of Christianity of maintaining its hold as a main line religion. Makes sense!

Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter—Thomas Cahill—Cahill looks back at Greek society and all the things they gave to the world including democracy.

The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford Dictionary—Simon Winchester—Want to know where all those words came from and how they are put together? This is your book. The dictionary at its best.

Nonbelief and Evil: Two Arguments for the Nonexistence of God—Theodore M. Drange—This will certainly piss off the traditionalists, but the arguments are based soundly and give something to think about whether is any truth in them is up to the reader.

Big Lies: The Right Wing Propaganda Machine—Joe Conason—I laughed all the way through this. It is not particularly funny, except that the author assumes that the public is taken in by the machinations of Washington politicians, lobbyists and businesspeople.

Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition—Stuart A. Vyse—Very interesting examination why people believe the things they do.

And Man Created God—Chandler Smith—A good read on the existence of gods, how they came about and their current status.

Book of Lists: Subversive Facts and Hidden Information—Russ Kick—What the news doesn't tell you. Here it is in all of its tawdry eminence. You won’t believe this because most of it you've never heard of, but a little checking and you will find that we are kept in the dark like mushrooms and fed dreadful things.

Unusually Stupid Americans—Kathryn Petras and Ross Petras—Yes, there had to be a book. I thought when I found it, I wouldn't be able to lift it but they keep it down to just a few of the most stupid things Americans have done.

The Meaning of it All: Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist—Richard P. Feynman—Here is the view of the world and universe from a preeminent scientist. He doesn’t bite his tongue in his opinions from how life started to the existence of God. A good read.

The Thinkers Way: 8 Steps to a Richer Life—John Chaffee—If you think about it, a good life isn't that difficult to find. John Chaffee lays it all out for you in 8 easy steps of thinking that any of us can accomplish.

Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics and Creative Lives—Frank J. Sulloway—This one is interesting from the standpoint of the writer because according to the researcher our position at birth determines how we will react to the world. Watch those middle children—they turn into rebels and troublemakers.

American Slavery: 1619-1877—Peter Kolchin—A rehash of much of what we already know about slavery, but adds written items from actual slaves and family members. Interesting.

Can We Be Good Without God?—Robert Buckman—I love this one because it is a well thought out argument saying that man needs no divine rule to set him on the path to righteousness. Buckman postulates that proper behavior is more of a survival mechanism than divine decree.

Darktown Strutters—Wesley Brown—A novel by Wesley Brown that exposes life during the Jim Crow era. Read the section on laughing barrels carefully and you’ll see that whites spared no mercy when it came to humiliating black folks during that era.

A History of Reading—Alberto Manguel—Once upon a time, only the clergy and moneyed persons could read. It was thought dangerous to allow commoners to read. It turned out they were right. Reading hasn’t always been thought necessary. This book traces the fight for reading throughout history. Very interesting.

America’s Stupidest Business Decisions—Bill Adler and Julie Houghton—There are some great stories here. I was even around for one of them when I worked at Xerox Corporation. Their stupidity was documented in a book called Fumbling the Future. A must read if you think nothing but the finest minds populate corporate citizenry.

Trading With the Enemy: The Nazi-American Money Plot 1933-1949—Charles Higham—Read about your favorite American companies who actually sold vehicles to Germany that they later deployed on the battlefield against the Allies. Sure you can trust business—right. Another must read. Greed just brings out the best in American businesses until it came time to tell these stories.

Saint Peter—Michael Grant—A biography of Saint Peter—an interesting man. Unfortunately, it gives little insight to his life as an apostle.

Living Without Religion: Eupraxsophy—Paul Kurtz—Humanism is the story here. Humanism is basically a stance that says God isn’t necessary for anyone to do the right thing and Paul Kurtz leads the crowd when it comes to humanism as the head of the American Humanism Society. Interesting if not persuasive.

Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa—Keith B. Richburg—Want to go to the Motherland? Ever wonder why there seems to be only one-way traffic from Africa to the United States? Read this book and you will see why. This is the continent where black on black crime originated. This is not a Jesse Jackson or Oprah tour, where everything is cleaned up and protected, this is the nitty-gritty. Can you say Goree Island?

Why Christianity Must Change or Die—John Shelby Spong—Another book from Bishop Spong saying that unless Christianity “gets real” it will have no one but fundamentalists left and that will be the death knell for the kinder gentler Christianity associated with the Bible.

Brain Workout—Arthur Winter and Ruth Winter—Keep your mind sharp with brain exercises for both the left and right sides. This is guaranteed to shake your memory and light up your brain cells with activity.

What Black People Should Do Now—Ralph Wiley—A collection of essays from the man who brought us “Why Black People Tend to Talk too Loud.” Wiley has a keen eye for black politics and missteps that he writes with humor and bluntness. You’ll enjoy this.

A Dream Deferred—Shelby Steele—One black men other blacks love to hate including his own brother Claude, but Shelby is a smart cookie and makes as much sense as anyone. He is a first class thinker although he definitely will not be having dinner with Cornell West. Nevertheless, he says the things black people need to hear whether they want to or not. Read it!

An Underground Education—Richard Zacks—I included this just because we have too many people afraid to rock the damn boat. Read it!

Dark Age Ahead—Jane Jacobs—Where are we headed? According to Jacobs we’re heading into another Dark Ages as conservatism and neo-religionist try to circumvent progress after the genie escaped the bottle. Good read.

African American Perspectives—Quarterly—This quarterly magazine lets you know what African American intellectuals are thinking and where we are may be headed in the next decades. It is available on the web.

Freakonomics—Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner—This certainly presses your thinking ability by making us look at things differently. One of the controversial subjects in this book is that abortions actually helped cut the crime rate. You have to read it. No short explanation can do it justice. Still, a good read.

The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold—Acharya S—This book makes no ifs, and or buts about it, the Bible and the Christ story are nothing more than wishful thinking and largely a hoax. Logic may be skewed and reason a bit shallow, but a good read from the standpoint of knowing what others think.

Interracial Intimacies—Randall Kennedy—Here you go! Interracial marriage and relationships. Just the thing we wanted read about. Don’t BS us, it is not a secret. The tide is turning, especially with black men crossing racial lines, but it turns out they are not the only ones and this book makes it glaringly clear.

Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography—Roger Shattuck—A personal favorite of mine. Everything no one wanted to talk about all in one place. I liked it simply because most of it came under the “already knew that” category. Still, to see what others think or thought controversial often bordered on the ridiculous.

Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality—Thomas Sowell—Serious book. Thomas Sowell is well known black conservative writer for one of those right wing think tanks in Washington D.C. Don’t let that conservative label fool you. This is an intelligent man with well-documented intellectual capabilities. Read it!

2000 Years of Disbelief—James A. Haught—You thought it all started a few years ago didn’t you? Disbelief has been around since the first time someone said there is a God and someone at the back of the crowd mumbled, “that’s a crock if I heard one.” Haught takes you on a 2,000 look at disbelief including a brief view of people who call themselves Christian atheists. Yeh, confused me too.

Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music—John McWhorter—A favorite writer of mine. McWhorter is actually a linguist, but he often delves in pop culture as it relates to African Americans, but this time he’s looking at how language, writing and communication has changed and what is right with it and what is wrong with it. A good read.

The Necessity of Atheism—Percy Bysshe Shelley—All you literature buffs must recognize the name. Perhaps, if I add his royal addressment, Lord Percy, maybe that will help you recognize him. His major works included Alastor, Adonais, The Revolt of Islam and Prometheus Unbound. He was married to Mary Shelly, author of "Frankenstein."

Why People Believe Weird Things—Michael Shermer—Another favorite author of mine because he deals with unmasking false claims. Like the Amazing Randi he is a debunker of myth and urban tales.

The Moral Center—David Callahan—Here’s someone who actually tries to make some sense of what is going on in America today without taking sides. He tries to present arguments based on logic and reason that will actually be helpful to everyone not just a select few. Obviously, he’s doomed to fail.

The Negro in the Making of America—Benjamin Quarles—One of the first books acknowledging the role of African Americans in building the United States.

W.E.B. DuBois: Biography of a Race—David Levering Lewis—The complete biography of DuBois and his role in the changes that occurred for blacks during lifetime. Changes that are still being played out today. The definitive work on DuBois.

Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit—Garry Willis—There no sin at the Vatican, is there? Read this and you’ll find out a two or thing. Very interesting.

Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials—Wendy Kaminer—Another researcher who looks at the ridiculous things people believe in and debunks the myths. Kaminer is a serious writer and is often a featured writer especially when speaking of faith healers and miracles.

The Dark Side of Christian History—Helen Ellerbe—Care to know how many died during the Crusades? What about during the Spanish Inquisition? Did you know the Inquisition didn’t end until the 1800’s? Read all the things you need to be scared of.

Crossing the Threshold of Hope—Pope John Paul II—Before he died, Pope Paul issue this moving book about peace, spirituality, morality and the church—interesting reading.

In His Image But . . . : Racism in Southern Religion 1780-1910—H. Shelton Smith—Were we supposed to be slaves forever? According to Southern Theocrats that was the intent and according to some alive today that is still their intent—this one will make you itch.

Lies Across America—James W. Loewen—Find out about the monuments that lie. First flight in Maine? Or, was it in Kitty Hawk? Numerous items that you were taught in school that are not only wrong, but flat out lies. You will love this one.

Great Thinkers of the Eastern World—Ian P. McGreal—Before Americans existed, there was serious thought going on in the East with great thinkers like Confucius who mentioned the Golden Rule about 1,000 years before Christianity. Good reading and learning.

Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong—William Kilpatrick—I love this one about cheating in America. From the United States Congress, the presidency, business and the pillars of our community come behaviors that influence Johnny to the do the wrong thing and think it is okay.

Deceptions and Myths of the Bible—Lloyd M. Graham—If you’re a stickler for facts and accuracy, this book will certainly interest you. Did you know there are two creation stories in the Bible? Were there really any wise men? A lot of interesting talk about contradictions in the Bible and where to find them.

The Natural History of Stupidity—Paul Tabori—The stupidity books are hard to resist. People do stupid things and they really do stupid things when they think they are getting away with something. Good read.

How Electronic Things Work—Robert Goodman—A good book for learning how electricity works, why batteries go dead and the difference between AC and DC. Nothing but the facts.

The Faith Healers—James Randi—An all-time favorite of mine, James Randi. Once billed as they Amazing Randi, former magician turned debunker unmasked preacher Peter Popoff as a fraud on the Johnny Carson Show. It turns out God’s frequency is 39.17 MHz on the pocket transmitter which h Popoff used with a hidden earpiece to get answers from his wife backstage. In this book, Randi unmasks the notorious faith healers from the Filipino spiritual surgeons to Benny Hinn with his puff of breath healing.

How to Think Lie Leonardo daVinci—Michael J. Gelb—Once the greatest thinkers of all time who thought of manned flight centuries before it happened. This book shows you a way to make the most of your thoughts in the mode of daVinci.

Makes Me Wanna Holler—Nathan McCall—African American writer for the Washington Post, McCall writes essays that touch the heart of being black in the United States.

The Book Your Church Doesn’t Want You to Read—Tim C. Leedom—This book has so much in it, I don’t know where to start in describing it other than to say, everything you thought you knew about religion is called into question and on solid ground.

Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America—John McWhorter—A favorite writer of mine, McWhorter is nothing if not thorough. Here he examines issues facing African American and talks of the ways we exacerbate them ourselves and leave ourselves open to problems.

What Do You Know—Jaime O’Neill—Good brainteaser book for stimulating thought. There are three volumes I the series. You’ll be surprised at how little you know especially if you’re a teenager. We old folk already know.

Black Man Emerging—Joseph L White, James Cones—A close look at the black man today and where he might be headed.

When Religion Becomes Evil—Charles Kimball—In the light of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Kimball looks at the excesses of religion and how it still affects the world today even though we supposedly live in a secular  state.

Everything You Know is Wrong—Russ Kick—This is part of a series of books that discusses news stories that never received major headlines or discussion. Very interesting and informative. What you see on TV is not always the real story. In fact, most of the time it isn’t the real story.

Abuse Your Illusions—Russ Kick—If it bleeds, it leads. That’s the motto for today’s journalists, but Kick does it again in showing that while national news media concentrate on sensationalism, they more than often miss the real story.

Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jessie Jackson—Kenneth R. Timmerman—I fell out with Jesse long ago. I think a Republican congressman called him a poverty pimp and I can’t find much reason to say he was wrong. After reading this book, I would have fallen out with him much early, especially considering the love child.

Religion and the Spiritual in Carl Jung—Ann Belford Ulanov—Noted psychiatrist and innovator in the field, Carl Jung had plenty to say about religion and spirituality. This is definitely different reading.

The Cornell West Reader—Cornell West—West has some good ideas and is a pseudo-intellectual/preacher. Always good for hitting the mark and sparking a bit of controversy, West usually delivers, but he does a good job of staying away from traditional subjects, which most thinkers contemplate. Still, a notable read.

The Demon Haunted World—Carl Sagan—I always liked Carl Sagan. Great personality and plenty of knowledge. The Demon Haunted World takes on those who subscribe to creationist theories. It is also a good primer on the universe from a secular point of view.

Bloodline of the Holy Grail: The Hidden Lineage of Jesus Revealed—Laurence Gardner—Reading this may make you think of the DaVinci Code and with good reason. Ideas for the story came from pages such as these. This is not the first book that suspects that Jesus led a natural life complete with family and wife.

Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls—Norman Golb—The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered almost 30 years before anyone knew of them while scholars poured over them trying to verify their authenticity. This is that story and what was determined about them.

A History of God—Karen Armstrong—Quite interesting piece showing how the idea of God has come down through the ages. Of course, there is the Christian God, the notion of God existed long before Yaweh. Armstrong takes us through early Babylonia, India, the Norse countries, Africa and more.

In Defense of Secular Humanism—Paul Kurtz—An explanation and treatise on humanism from one of the key leaders of the movement. A clearly reasoned approach to living a prosperous and thoughtful life without relying on magic.

Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity—John Stossel—You know him from ABC news and his reports. This book brings much of that back into being, but it goes a step further and shows how easy it is for American to be suckered.

Lies My Teacher Told Me—James W. Loewen—Christopher Columbus discovered America. Right? Wrong? Old Chris ended up down in the Dominican Republic and Haiti where he and his crew brought disease and devastation to the new land. Native Americans? He never saw one. Great read. Relearn history with all the correct players.

The Working Poor: The Invisible in America—David Shipler—They are invisible and poor. They catch the short end of the stick every time and no one includes them in plans to make this a kinder, gentler nation.

The Choice: The Issue of Black Survival in America—Samuel F. Yette—Again, an older view of how to survive this country as an African American. Interestingly, the views, although dated, are not that out of touch with reality. It seems not that much has changed when it comes to race in the United States.

Varieties of African American Religious Experience—Anthony B. Pinn—Not every black person in the United States is Baptist. Nor or they Episcopalian, Catholic or Holiness. Blacks practice Santeria, Voudon, Condoble and some Kemetic (Egyptian) religious services. Outstanding reading.

The Lost Gospel: Q the Original Saying of Jesus—Marcus Borg—Want to know what Jesus really said? Here is the Q document you may have heard of or you should have heard of if you really know your Christian practices.

The Economics and Politics of Race—Thomas Sowell—When it comes to speaking with authority about economics and racial issues, right-winger Thomas Sowell does it well—of course he is not liked by liberals, but that doesn't stop the man from being recognized for his brain power. The truth is still the truth.

Critiques of God—Peter Angeles—This book is an anthology of essays regarding God. I give it a mixed review because not all the essays are as well thought out as they could be. Still, they at least give pause to think.

Farewell to God—Charles Templeton—A book from a former deacon who left the church and became a humanist.

The Black Humanist Experience: An Alternative to Religion—Norm R. Allen Jr—A black humanist and one of the leaders of the movement in the black community, Norm Allen and his brother, Dave, believe a good and productive life can be led without resorting to religion or God. A book filled with stories from other humanist from all over the country and world. Good read.

Their Kingdom Come: Inside the Secret World of Opus Dei—Robert Hutchison—You also heard about this organization in the movie the DaVinci Code. It is real and exists. It is quite secretive organization. A stiff read but well worth the effort.

Is God a White Racist—William R. Jones—This one took me by surprise. The title alone threw me for a loop, but after I read it, I found that the question bears answering, especially tied in with today’s idea of liberation theology. Good read.

Why Lord?: Suffering and Evil in Black Theology—Theodicy has to do with suffering under a loving and benevolent God. It is a difficult subject because it challenges why bad things sometimes happen to good people. This book will not make it any better, but you will see that someone is at least trying to explain it in a religious context.

The Vatican and Homosexuality—Jeannine Gramick & Pat Furey—An interesting read, because it catches the Vatican with its robes down. This is straight from the shoulder reading. You want to know what the Vatican thinks—Read this!

The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason—Sam Harris—Sam Harris is a noted thinker and former theologian who examines the affects of religion on people.

Sex Lives of the Popes—Nigel Cawthorne—This book comes from the same people who brought us “Sex Lives of the Presidents.” I thought it hilarious and interesting. Did you know there was a female pope? Once the Catholic Church had three popes at once. Forbidding priests to marry had nothing to do with Paul. Find out why by reading this short book.

The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity—Hyam Maccoby—The Paul who wrote the most influential parts of the Bible wasn't even a contemporary of Jesus. He wasn’t Paul the apostle. There are even rumors that the Paul who wrote those gospels was a homosexual. Check out this book. It is interesting and controversial.

Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist—Dan Barker—An interesting story from start to finish. I expected some big event that changed this man’s life but it wasn’t. It all came about because of knowledge. It’s a fairly simple story, but for the people it affected it created a mass of turmoil of Dan’s decision to leave the ministry.

The First Messiah: Investigating the Savior Before Christ—Michael O. Wise—This research finds Jesus in another era before the Jesus of Christianity and speculates that it is this Jesus the Christian Jesus was modeled after.

The Great Thoughts—George Seldes—Great thoughts throughout the ages. It is amazing to see the breadth and depth of human thinking and the result of that thinking. It’s all here for you in a thick book.

The Civilization of Ancient Egypt—Paul Johnson—Who really built the pyramids? How did they do it? The great book tells you all about Egyptian life, royalty and how many of technological fetes were pulled off through advanced engineering techniques and science.

Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge—Edward O. Wilson—Wilson is one of my favorites because he can bring complex ideas into simplicity. An accessible scientific mind and wit opinions on everything, especially the universe. A must read.

Race Matters—Cornell West—I enjoyed this the first time I read and enjoy it every time I read it. When it comes to racial matters in the United States West usually is right on target. Read it!

Pulpit Confessions—N. Moore—Want to know when to shift gears while preaching? Need to know how to make them dig deeper. Do you know how to whoop? A pulpit exposé on the practice of black preachers to move the congregation. Consider the source.

20 Years of Censored News—Carl Jensen—So you think you’re getting all the news fit to be news. Wrong! Jensen takes you through the stories you thought you knew and tells you the important stuff that was left out. Good read.

African American Humanism: An Anthology—Norm R. Allen Jr—Humanism for everyone. An easy to understand anthology of how various African Americans switched to Humanism.

Mugging Black America—Earl Ofari Hutchison—Black on Black crime. Earl is a regular contributor on various web pages and has written several books. This is not one of his best, but he brings his thoughts on point. This is Sikivu Hutchison's father.

Runaway Slaves—John Hope Franklin & Loren Schweninger—Noted scholar John Hope Franklin gives the stories of runaway slaves, their lives, their trail and tribulations and the fate that awaited them if they failed.

Bias: A CBS Insider Eposes How the Media Distort the News—Bernard Goldberg—This was a revenge book written after CBS fired Goldberg, but much of what he says is common knowledge within the industry and now is starting to leak to the outside world.

Successful Intelligence—Robert J. Sternberg—How to use your intelligence and exercise your thinking to become a success. A good read and practical help for a better life.

The Color Complex: The Politics of Skin Color—Kathy Russell—Blacks deny it and deny it, but there is a color complex among African Americans. Don’t believe the hype that we are all one because behind closed doors, there is still self-hatred and as the recent replay of the white doll versus black doll test shows it is still an issue. Read it!

New People: Miscegenation and Mulattoes—Joel Williamson—Another skin politics book with great credentials. A good read and talks about a real subject that black people just will not admit to even though their everyday actions betray in the form of beauty products, hair products, skin products and much more. Read it!

The Cheating Culture—David Callahan—Americans cheat on everything from SATs and spouses to income tax and tithing. Here is a book that tells you how corrupt even the most pious among us are; especially when we think no one is watching including God.

What’s Going On—Nathan McCall—Essays by black Washington Post writer, Nathan McCall. On target and with real solutions and ideas.

Who Told You that You Were Naked—John Jacob Raub—A look at living a real Christian life by simply doing what is asked of you in the Bible. Interesting read.

Critical Thinking—Francis Watanabe Dauer—A must read book, although not an easy read. It literally outlines the critical thinking process and how to use it to make sure the correct answer is reached. It also shows common flaws in thinking that lead to the wrong answers and mistakes. Read it!

All of these books sit on my shelves and along with many more. I try my best to read everything and anything that will expand my mind, including the other guy’s opinion. In fact, I find the other guy’s opinion especially helpful in formulating strategy. I never liked Rush Limburger, but I listened to him to know what the “ditto” heads were thinking. I don’t agree with much of political rhetoric today, but I stay up to date. I may even change my opinion if presented with evidence.

A person who will not ask questions pretty much deserves what they get. Of course, there are proper times to ask questions, but barring those occasions; questions are the pathway to knowledge. Asking the right questions comes about by continuous thinking. There are no stupid questions only stupid actions.

I purposely started out with religion because that is the one thing most Blacks think they know something about, but survey after survey shows that few blacks know even the most fundamental things about the Bible including the Ten Commandments, that there are two creation stories in Genesis, three sets of commandments or what the camel passing through the eye of a needle actually means.

Much of what is known about the Bible is oral repetition of oral tradition and much of it is wrong. My point is simple. As dedicated Christians it would seem that one might be interested in knowing more about the religion they claim to follow and cite as their guide through life because although there is much that is good there, there is also much that is out of touch with reality and much that was never meant to be taken literally. To know the difference requires more than brush-over reading and impassioned preaching. It requires understanding, knowledge and THINKING.

Now that I've stirred the waters, I have a ton of other books I've read and made sure my children read. My only hope for all of this is to create an atmosphere of thought that right now appears blatantly absent in the community. Passion is not thinking, in fact when passion rules, thought is the first thing out the window. If you don’t agree, please feel free to rebut me, but don’t come armed with a flyswatter. I love to argue, debate and fight. My feelings aren't hurt easily, especially if it is something worth learning from in either capacity.

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Comment by Donald R Barbera on May 8, 2014 at 8:42pm

First, your life will not be too short to learn a new language. I am learning Vietnamese and I'm getting pretty good. Now, writing it is another matter. I'm going to get "1491", "1493", "The Slave Ship" and "Leopold's Ghost." You and I read some of the books growing up. I had to read "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" as a sales project. Of course, sales people know everything or do a good job of faking it.

Of course I read "How to Make Friends and Influence People." It is was a great book then and I think  it is an even better book now, especially for the younger generation. 

My mother and grandmothers influenced  me greatly. I have been an avid reader for years. I started out reading mysteries and international thrillers. Robert Ludlum and John McDonald were favorites. I also loved Lawrence Sander (The First Deadly Sin, The Second Deadly Sin, etc) Of course Iam Flemming. All thirteen originals. For some reason, when I turned 40 I started reading non-fiction and haven't stopped. My said to me just last week, "Does every book need to turn into a research project?" That's just me. I find that crap interesting. I even read books on higher math and biology just so I can learn. My boys all read plenty as do my grandsons. It is a good habit. They think I'm smart. So, they try to emulate me. It is truly flattering because when I was their age wine and testosterone drove nearly everything I did. Isn't that a shame.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on May 7, 2014 at 5:10pm

Although part of a conservative think tank, he is well read and always has his stuff together. Many try to downplay him, but he is a thinker par excellence. I've several of his books and they still set on my shelves.

Comment by Luara on May 7, 2014 at 4:04pm

Thomas Sowell seems well worth reading in general.  I have been watching some videos of him on Youtube about welfare, affirmative action etc. and he really has his facts in order. 

It's just one side of the issue, but he states it very well.

Comment by Luara on May 1, 2014 at 6:35pm

An interesting essay by Shelby Steele, "The age of white guilt: and the disappearance of the black individual".

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