the only problem I see with human literature is that humans glorify their own creativity and imagination and minimize the idea that something greater than us is also out there
Personally, I would not be so dismissive of how humans interpreted what it means to be religious in thought if not in practice through literature. Try reading Les Miserables, even just the first chapters, then let me know if you still think literature can't help one understand what Jesus really said.
Read not to contradict and confute, not to believe and take for granted, not to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider. - Francis Bacon
Although it would be easy to find ten (or hundreds of) books which set out to glorify something greater than us, often explicitly. It's not even necessary to look to religious writers for this, but if you want something that glorifies the appropriate thing, may I suggest perusing the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. I'm sure you'll find some great literature in there innocent of your accusation.
Their list seems peculiarly weighted towards pre-twentieth century. Also even when they get the right authors, they get the wrong books.
Some of my favorite novels, in no particular order:
The Masters, C.P. Snow Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton Moominpapa at Sea, Tove Jansen Sweet Dreams, Michael Frayn The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkein The Lathe of Heaven, Ursula LeGuin Archer's Goon, Diana Wynn Jones A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce Count Belisarius, Robert Graves
... OK, that's ten, so I'll stop, I'm sure I could easily think of ten more I like just as well. Let's see ... That Hideous Strength, Pale Fire, Northanger Abbey, The Great Gatsby, Lest Darkness Fall (yes, I know it's silly, I just like it) Catch-22, Pavane, A Landing on the Sun (yes, I really like Michael Frayn at his best, can I have The Tin Men as well?) I Never Promised You a Rosegarden (I always start crying at the definition of an equilateral triangle. Like clockwork.) The Once and Future King.
I could do that again, but I guess the point of the thread is to be selective, and already that's twenty just in the fiction section, so what am I doing?
The only ones in your twenty that I've read are The Lord of the Rings which I already mentioned and Catch-22 which I didn't like. I like the idea of "catch-22" but I think Heller should have stopped there.
"Once you have E=mc squared and you can build your bomb or power station or whatever what else needs to be said? The technicians will know enough about this stuff for anything useful and the rest can just be rediscovered anyway. It is the unique creative achievements of humanity that need to be preserved. Not the factual crap anyone can find out if they try hard enough"
Yep - "poor science". But I don't think this sort of view is uncommon amongst (self appointed) "creatives". Diamtrically opposed to the sort of attitude found amongst "science types" here at EvC. But....
Of course, God may say that its up to we humans to make lists...but the irony of it all is that religious people are boring in contrast to Renaissance inspired or Enlightenment inspired thinking and creating. Religious people tend to be less creative in general than others. (am I wrong?)
My prayers these days are for god to work in communion through me to guide me to greater wisdom and inspiration. Yes, I believe that He needs to be included in such a process, being the original Creator and all. I guess what it boils down to is that I just don't respect human creativity if it(we) don't acknowledge the source of our content.
Anyway, I suppose its my turn to compile a list of ten books.
1) The Bible--if for no other reason than it is so controversial and that referencing it leads to wider discussions on the human condition. 2) Watership Down-Rihard Adams glorious tale of rabbit life as seen by him. This book sparked my imagination! 3) Guns Germs and Steel. No, I have not fully read it yet, but I can feel a good book even before I read it...largely through the feedback of others. 4) The Last Of The Wine--Mary Renaults epic tale of Greece.... 5) hmmmm...seem to have run out of books....all I read is fiction these days....stay tuned while I regroup!
The Masters. I think this is the world's most under-rated novel ... no-one seems to care about C.P. Snow any more, but you can stand this book right next to the best of Jane Austen without it suffering from the comparison.
His other books (that I've read) are not so good, though there's something to be said for The Search and The Affair, but on this one he was batting right at the top of his form.
Moominpapa at Sea? Really? Yes, really. A fine psychological novel about Moomins. Jansen really did understand what made people tick, and if she chose to put that depth of insight into children's books about Moomins, then that's how she rolled.
The Age of Innocence. It is interesting that Wharton wrote this, essentially, as satire. You were meant to think how stupidly her characters were behaving. But she was far too good a novelist to achieve what she was trying to do. Her hero is a sympathetic character, and she can't stop you from feeling that this is the case.
Because, after all, all (straight) novels are about characters constrained and conditioned by their environment and culture. That's actually where the plot comes from. It is hard for me, being human myself, to say: "But how stupid to be constrained and conditioned by that culture", when after all I am in the same position with respect to my own society. It may work as a satire on the society she's writing about, but it can never succeed as a satire on any of the people who inhabit it.
Archer's Goon. Another book for children. I just like Diana Wynn Jones, and there is no actual rule saying that I have to grow up.
Pale Fire. There is something about Nabakov that makes one want to use words like "virtuoso". This is one of the cleverest things ever written. Don't read the poem if you don't want to, I never have.