Spiritual Living | February 1, 2013

This column will now appear twice a year, in the February 1st and July issues, surveying recent and forthcoming spiritual reading. This season features plain talk from Tomas Halik on contemporary Christianity, Jeffrey Burton Russell refuting falsehoods about the Gospels, and a collection of aphoristic sayings from Nelson Mandela. Notable too are new books by Phyllis Tickle on the Emergent Church, Jeff Foster on the acceptance of life, and Erica Brown on the acceptance of death. Rowan Williams’s treatment of the Narnia novels is sure to intrigue many, as will Philip Zaleski’s superb annual anthology.

Library Journal Reviews starred review Lamott, Anne. Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. Riverhead. 2012. 112p. ISBN 9781594631290. $17.95; ebk. ISBN9781101607732. REL

The very popular Lamott (Bird by Bird ) claims here that prayer boils down to the three exclamations of the title—it seems like a reductive claim, but Lamott, an unusually hip, demotic, urbane kind of Christian, is a naturally expansive and chatty writer. These blog-like reflections exhibit the author’s usual fluency and charm. ­ VERDICT A worthy successor to her prior works, this brief book will delight Lamott’s regular readers, and likely draw new readers to her writing and to the ideas behind prayer.

Library Journal Reviews starred review Brown, Erica. Happier Endings: A Meditation on Life and Death. S & S. Apr. 2013. 416p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781451649222. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781451649246. REL

Brown ( Inspired Jewish Leadership ) addresses this painful subject with eloquence, honesty, and clarity; we can reckon with death, she avers, to change the lives we have now, to live fully and sincerely in the present moment, whatever we feel might happen afterward. VERDICT By no means limited in its appeal to a Jewish readership, this well-presented volume should speak to readers of all spiritualities as well as to those who identify as not spiritual.

Library Journal Reviews starred review Foster, Jeff. The Deepest Acceptance: Radical Awakening in Ordinary Life. Sounds True. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9781604078558. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781604079142. REL

This book arrives with little fanfare, but has something important to say. Foster, an English-born student of astrophysics, shares his difficult journey toward acceptance of the mess, the variegated experiences, of life itself: “Our deepest fear…is the fear of life.” Foster writes clearly and sincerely, addressing issues like suffering, addictions, and love. VERDICT Nonsectarian, unassuming, and accessible, Foster’s book achieves substantial commonsense wisdom; highly recommended for the general reader.

The following titles are reviewed in the February 1 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

Engaging the Traditions

Library Journal Reviews starred review The Best Spiritual Writing 2013. Penguin. 2012. 244p. ed. by Philip Zaleski. ISBN 9780143121534. pap. $17. REL

Brownson, James V. Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships.Eerdmans. Feb. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780802868633. pap. $29. REL

Library Journal Reviews starred reviewHalik, Tomas. Night of the Confessor: Christian Faith in an Age of Uncertainty. Image. 2012. 223p. bibliog. ISBN 9780385524520. pap. $13; ebk. ISBN 9780307952820. REL

A God in the House: Poets Talk About Faith. Tupelo Pr. 2012. 225p. ed. by Ilya Kaminsky. ISBN 9781932195194. pap. $19.95. REL

Rollins, Peter. The Idolatry of God: Breaking Our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction. Howard: S. & S. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9781451609028. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781451609035. REL

Library Journal Reviews starred review Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Exposing Myths About Christianity: A Guide to Answering 145 Viral Lies and Legends. IVP Academic: InterVarsity. 2012. 330p. ISBN 9780830834662. pap. $18. REL

Tickle, Phyllis. Emergence Christianity: What It Is, Where It Is Going, and Why It Matters. Baker Bks. 2012. 240p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780801013553. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9781441239655. REL

Memoirs & Biographies

Black, Christa. God Loves Ugly: And Love Makes Beautiful. FaithWords. 2012. 224p. illus. ISBN 9781455516599. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9781455516575. REL

Feister, John. Thank You, Sisters: Stories of Women Religious and How They Enrich Our Lives. Franciscan. Jan. 2013. 144p. ISBN 9781616365325. pap. $14.99. REL

Higgins, Michael W. & Kevin Burns. Genius Born of Anguish: The Life and Legacy of Henri Nouwen. Paulist.2012. 162p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780809147854. $17.95. REL

Schnarr, Grant. Ghost Brother Angel. Swedenborg Foundation. 2012. 216p. ISBN 9780877853466. pap. $15.95. REL

Smith, Huston & Phil Cousineau. And Live Rejoicing: Chapters from a Charmed Life—Personal Encounters with Spiritual Mavericks, Remarkable Seekers, and the World’s Great Religious Leaders. New World Lib. 2012. 256p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781608680719. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781608680726. REL

Advice & Self-Help

Chopra, Deepak. God: A Story of Revelation. HarperOne. 2012. 278p. ISBN 9780062020680. $25.99; ISBN 9780062195890. REL

Ford, James Ishmael. If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break: Field Notes from a Zen Life. Wisdom Pub. 2012. 183p. ISBN 9781614290391. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781614290438. REL

Hotz, Kendra G. & Matthew T. Mathews. Dust & Breath: Faith, Health, and Why the Church Should Care About Both. Eerdmans. 2012. 112p. bibliog. index.

ISBN 9780802867797. pap. $14. REL

Jahan, Neyma. The Celestial Dragon I Ching: A Unique Version of the Chinese Oracle for Making Decisions and Discovering Your Destiny. Watkins. 2012. 287p. ISBN 9781780283753. $14.95. REL

Jesus Through Pagan Eyes: Bridging Neopagan Perspectives with a Progressive Vision of Christ. Llewellyn.2012. 364p. ed. by Mark Townsend. ISBN 9780738721910. pap. $19.95; ISBN ebk. 9780738731650. REL

Mandela, Nelson. Notes to the Future: Words of Wisdom. Atria: S. & S. 2012. 208p. ISBN 9781451675399. $20; ebk. ISBN 9781451675412. REL

Nhat Hanh, Thich. Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm. HarperOne. 2012. 176p. ISBN 9780062004727. $25.99; ISBN ebk. 9780062123817. REL

Smith, Noble. The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. 2012. 224p. ISBN 9781250025562. $22.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250026415. REL

Williams, Rowan. The Lion’s World: A Journey into the Heart of Narnia. Oxford Univ. Mar. 2013. 168p. bibliog. ISBN 9780199975730. $16.95. REL

Williamson, Marianne. The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money, and Miracles. HarperOne. 2012. 188p. ISBN 9780062205414. $23.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062205438. REL