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1. A SIMPLE PATH, by Mother Theresa, Ballantine, $20
This short work on Mother Theresa's worldwide missionary practice delineates the premise and promise of the demanding life philosophy she calls "a simple path." The book begins slowly, but becomes engrossing when it speaks in the voices of those serving in the mission's homes, especially the lay volunteers whose lives are changed by their experiences. Especially valuable is the idea that every act of kindness done with love is in its own way profound. While explicitly Roman Catholic, it encourages those of all faiths to open a prayerful dialogue with God and offers practical ways "to love one another as God loves each of us." By Terri Theiss.
2. LIVING BUDDHA, LIVING CHRIST, by Thich Nhat Hanh, Riverhead, $20
The author, a Buddhist monk from Vietnam, explores parallels he finds between Buddhism and Christianity. The main point of comparison is the Buddhist practice of "mindfulness" and the Christian experience of the "Holy Spirit." Although some of his conclusions might displease followers of either tradition, the book is an enlightening view of one seeker's efforts to understand and appreciate Christianity. The concluding statement captures the spirit of his message: "True understanding comes from true practice. Understanding and love are values that transcend all dogma." The book also provides insight into a Buddhist monk's approach to life. Glossary included. By Clare Turner.
3. GUIDE MY FEET, by Marian Wright Edelman, Beacon Press, $17.95
Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund, turns from writing an intended policy manual to prayer. Asserting that the intractable problems facing children today can be addressed spiritually, she shares her inspiration on child-raising, teen years, family life, and social issues. Prayers reach where human policy cannot and "leave no child behind." She intersperses secular meditations on policy interests among the prayers; but a knowable Supreme Being remains her focus and suggests where all concerned for children should look first for solutions. The book is a wake-up call, asserting that one person's caring makes a difference to a child. By Nina Maynard.
4. THE OATH, by Frank Peretti, Word Publishing, 550 pp., $23.99
At first glance, this book appears to be a modern murder mystery. Read just a few of its 550 pages, however, and it's apparent the book is actually a simple but unconvincing allegory of good and evil. In Hyde Park, a mining town where a series of grotesque murders takes place, the townspeople fiercely protect their darkest secret: that deep in the woods lurks a man-eating dragon. Only Levi Cobb, the town mechanic who is "full of superstition," is willing to help an outsider investigate the cause of his brother's brutal death. Levi teaches the man that the dragon is sin, and without personal redemption, he says, it will devour everyone in its sight. By Suzanne L. MacLachlan.
5. PRAYER, by Robert H. Schuller, Nelson, $19.99
In his 30th book, the Rev. Schuller journeys through "seven levels of effective prayer" with first person stories drawn from a lifetime of praying. It's "Possibility Thinking" all the way - from the remote Iowa farm of his childhood to the Crystal Cathedral and international telecasts, from orthodox Calvinism to a positive Christianity more superabundant than Norman Vincent Peale ever preached. However remote from ordinary experience most of Dr. Schuller's dazzling success story may feel, the reader knows he means it when he writes, "I really want to help people who are hurting...." His heart is big, and his case for living by prayer is convincing. By Linda Giedl.