Spiritual Living

starred review starBolsta, Hyla Shifra. The Illuminated Kaddish: Interpretations of the Mourner’s Prayer. KTAV. 2012. c.108p. illus. ISBN 9781602801912. $27.50. REL

A book that bears the word illuminated in its title rests on its illustrations, and Bolsta’s artwork is heart-stopping and beautiful. She connects the words throughout by a motif of leaves and branches from the tree of life. The Kaddish‚ a prayer recited as part of the funeral rites of a Jewish believer‚ is a kind of perennial puzzle to the outsider as well as, perhaps, to some within the Jewish tradition. Why praise God, in the words of Ezekiel, rather than mourn the death? Bolsta’s scholarship, insights, and art suggest some answers, although the solution to the puzzle must remain personal for each believer. VERDICT Excellent for the artist and seeker in each of us as well as for Jewish worshippers and congregations, this is a remarkably beautiful volume in which the words and images continually reflect on each other.

starred review starCircling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality. Univ. of Alabama. 2012. ed. by Wendy Reed & Jennifer Horne. c.248p. ISBN 9780817317676. $29.95. REL

This new anthology, edited by writer-producer Reed and poet Horne, exemplifies some of the best of the multiplicity of voices with something to say. Its core idea is distinctive: writings on religion and spirituality by women of the American South. There are some big names here‚ an interview with Alice Walker and a touching essay by Mary Karr. Susan Cushman also discusses Presbyterianism and Eastern Orthodoxy, and Brenda Osbey writes of everything she can’t tell you about New Orleans and its voodoo. VERDICT An excellent counterpart to the Best Spiritual Writing series, this varied volume will appeal to literary, feminist, and spiritual readers in public and academic libraries.

starred review starRauf, Feisal Abdul. Moving the Mountain: Beyond Ground Zero to a New Vision of Islam in America. Free Pr: S. & S. May 2012. c.240p. ISBN 9781451656008. $24. REL

Few issues press the attention of communities of faith more than the condition, status, and treatment of Islamic communities after 9/11. Most of us understand that a response out of fear and prejudice is wrong and unfair to American Muslims, but 9/11 has left many Muslims fighting a rearguard action. Imam Rauf, who was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2011, shows that in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death it is possible again to see how a right understanding of Muslim scripture and tradition opens up the long Islamic tradition of rights for women and religious tolerance as well as pride in American citizenship. VERDICT A welcome antidote to thoughtless and fearful prejudice, Rauf’s book is a clearly written and devoutly Muslim guide to an interfaith future. Recommended for church groups as well as individuals of all faiths. [See Prepub Alert, 11/28/11.]

The following titles are reviewed in the May 1 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.


Beeley, Christopher A. Leading God’s People: Wisdom from the Early Church for Today. Eerdmans. 2012. c.156p. ISBN 9780802867001. pap. $20. REL

Clark, Mary Ann. Then We’ll Sing a New Song: African Influences on America’s Religious Landscape. Rowman & Littlefield. May 2012. c.216p. bibliog. ISBN 9781442208797. $35. REL

Plekon, Michael. Saints as They Really Are: Voices of Holiness in Our Time. Univ. of Notre Dame, dist. by Univ. of Chicago. May 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9780268038380. pap. $30. REL

Vaughan-Lee, Llewellyn. Prayer of the Heart in Christian & Sufi Mysticism. Golden Sufi. May 2012. c.128p. ISBN 9781890350352. pap. $12.95. REL

advice & self-help

Cusick, Michael John. Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle. Thomas Nelson. Jun. 2012. c.205p. ISBN 9780849947230. pap. $15.99. REL

Davis, Will, Jr. Enough: Finding More by Living with Less. Revell. Jul. 2012. c.232p. ISBN 9780800720025. pap. $13.99. REL

Eden, Dawn. My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints. Ave Maria. May 2012. c.221p. ISBN 9781594712906. pap. $16.95. REL

Gralle, Albrecht (text) & Sally Blakemore (illus.). Getting into Heaven‚ and Out Again. Swedenborg. Jun. 2012. c.120p. tr. from German by Friederike Gralle. ISBN 9780877853442. pap. $11.95. REL

Merritt, Jonathan. A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars. FaithWords. May 2012. c.208p. ISBN 9780446557238. $19.99. REL

memoir & biography

Barth, Kelly. My Almost Certainly Real Imaginary Jesus: A Memoir. Arktoi: Red Hen. Sept. 2012. c.240p. ISBN 9780980040753. pap. $17.95. REL

Cannon, Teasi. My Big Bottom Blessing: How Hating My Body Led to Loving My Life. Worthy. May 2012. c.224p. ISBN 9781617950766. pap. $14.99. REL