Is Joe Biden too Catholic? Or not enough?

Has Donald Trump corrupted the leaders of conservative religious groups?

Religion is everywhere, even in four important books featured during the next few weeks on North Carolina Bookwatch.

In Charlotte doctor and author Kimmery Martin’s “The Antidote for Everything,” the lead character is not deeply religious. However, she practices urology at a hospital clinic owned by a conservative religious group. She goes to bat on behalf of her friend, another doctor, who is gay and has attracted gay and trans patients. But the hospital clinic wants to get rid of him and his patients. The heavy-handed tactics of the hospital leaders reflect badly on their deeply held religious viewpoints.

Dr. Martin, herself active in a mainstream Charlotte church, makes modern-day religious conflicts a central theme of her book. (UNC-TV Sunday, Sept. 27 at 3:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 5 p.m.)

On the other hand, North Carolina’s beloved novelist Lee Smith takes us back to an earlier time in her novella, “Blue Marlin.” Its central character, Jenny, age 13, deals with her strong but immature religious views as she seeks to have God help her patch up her parents’ crumbled marriage. On a trip to Key West, she bargains with God to do good deeds if he will bring her parents together again.

Smith says that for all the stories she has ever written, “this one is dearest to me, capturing the essence of my own childhood.”

The book is also a reminder that Jenny’s immature view of God is one that is widely shared and not to be scoffed at. (Oct. 4, 6)

What really happens to us when we die? Active churchgoers are caught between two ideas. First is the belief set out in the Apostles’ Creed in “the resurrection of the body” and judgment day accounting. Second is the conflicting idea that believers in Christ go directly to heaven when they die while others go straight to a place of punishment that lasts forever.

UNC-Chapel Hill religion professor Bart Ehrman’s “Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife” deals with this dilemma, and he sets out a detailed history of ideas about afterlife.

Ehrman describes how ideas about afterlife developed in many religious traditions. He asserts that Jesus and the Apostle Paul did not believe in hell. The punishment for sinners was, they believed, simply annihilation, not everlasting punishment. (Oct. 11, 13)

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D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch.”

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