Adding to an already long list of accolades, the Rev. Lillian Daniel's most recent book has been named one of the year's top 10 books on religion and spirituality by Booklist magazine. Recognized for its "marvelously-gritty wit," When Spiritual but Not Religious is Not Enough: Seeing God in Surprising Places, Even the Church, is a provocative case for why religious communities matter.
"There is so much negativity about church, and people talk in such sloppy ways about religion," said the senior pastor of First Congregational Church United Church of Christ in Glen Ellyn, Ill. "I really wanted to make the argument about why religious community matters and the importance of being part of something bigger than you."
Daniel, who is also a member of the UCC's Stillspeaking Writers' Group, was inspired to write the book by the feedback she received from a 2011 Daily Devotional she wrote titled, "Spiritual but Not Religious? Please Stop Boring Me." The reflection went viral on the Internet, sparking controversy and comment, and dividing readers between those who agreed with Daniel and those who found the devotional intolerant and condescending. When Spiritual but Not Religious is Not Enough expands on her view that "a mature religious faith is practiced in community over time. It is reasonable, rigorous, real, grounded in tradition, and centered in worship."
"I think I tapped into to conversation the country wanted to have," Daniel said. "It just really tapped into a vein and generated a lot of controversy and has gotten a lot of attention.
"I'm not criticizing those who identify as spiritual but not religious, but a lot of what people say about church does not apply to UCC congregations," she adds. "My great hope is that this book draws people to the church and that it will draw people to the UCC because that's the kind of church I'm describing in the book. I hope it draws people here and to the StillSpeaking God."
Daniel's book ranks No. 1 in humorous religious books and No. 5 in religion studies about spirituality on the Amazon best-sellers charts. It has been featured on the PBS Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and received glowing reviews from publications such as Salon.com, Publishers Weekly, Christian Century, Christian Science Monitor and Religion Dispatches.
"[It's] an impassioned and winning case for why church, community, and formal religious traditions are so integral to creating a fulfilling life," the Booklist review reads. "[Daniel's] ideas are thought provoking and infectious."
An editor-at-large for Christian Century magazine and a contributing editor at Leadership Journal, Daniel's work has also appeared in The Huffington Post, Christianity Today, Relevant Magazine, Books and Culture, The Journal for Preachers and in the UCC's Daily Devotionals that have more than 20,000 subscribers. Daniel has taught preaching at Chicago Theological Seminary, the University of Chicago Divinity School, and at her alma mater, Yale Divinity School, where she received the 2010 distinguished alumni award for Distinction in Congregational Ministry.
Booklist is a book review magazine that has been published by the American Library Association for more than 100 years, and is widely viewed as offering the most reliable reviews to help libraries decide what to buy and to help library patrons and students decide what to read, view or listen to.