In a Cloistered Monastery – A Reference Question

Picture of a turn.“The architecture of cloistered convents features a small door to the exterior designed specifically to allow groceries and other small supplies to be delivered while maintaining the privacy and separation of the nuns. What is the formal name for such a door (it likely has a name in Latin) and what is the English translation of that word?”

This question came in to the Level 7 reference desk at the Central Library on a busy day during the week before Easter. We hunted around a bit online and did not immediately find a fitting term, so we took the patron’s contact information to dig a bit deeper. Continue reading “In a Cloistered Monastery – A Reference Question”

Movie Mondays: Wrestling with Religion

2014 has been called the year of the Christian film. We’ve seen an adaptation of the beloved bestseller Heaven Is for Realthe surprise indie hit God’s Not DeadSon of God, a feature film edited from the popular miniseries The Bible; the Christian family-friendly Moms’ Night Out; and the controversial biblical epic NoahNot to mention the reboot of the Left Behind series starring Nicolas Cage and Ridley Scott‘s Exodus: Gods and Kings starring Christian Bale. Faith-based films are often derided by critics for literally “preaching to the choir” and failing to challenge widely-held beliefs, and films that do take liberty with these beliefs (like Noah) are just as often dismissed by believers. Continue reading “Movie Mondays: Wrestling with Religion”

Take a walk on the lighter side of religion

Here are some unconventional books (and a movie) about religion and the kind of religious practices you might not hear about every day.

The year of living biblically: one man’s humble quest to follow the Bible as literally as possible by A. J. Jacobs (2007).
A. J. Jacobs’ quest is to follow the Bible as exactly as he can. He goes beyond obeying the ten commandments by eschewing clothes made of mixed fibers and not trimming his beard edges. Throughout this funny and insightful journey, Jacobs gives us his trademark humor and skepticism.

Lamb: the gospel according to Biff, Christ’s childhood pal  by Christopher Moore (2002). You may not find the gospel according to Biff in your regular bible, but after reading this you’ll wonder how Jesus got along without the guy. The style is smooth and the humor good-natured in this novel of an alternate reality that ultimately has a message.

The unlikely disciple: a sinner’s semester at American’s holiest university by Kevin Roose (2009). Raised by liberal parents, and a sophomore at progressive Brown University, Kevin Roose decides to spend at year at Liberty University, founded by uber-conservative Jerry Falwell and now the largest Christian fundamentalist university in Continue reading “Take a walk on the lighter side of religion”