The Monitor's quarterly review of the best-selling books on religion offers readers a one-stop opportunity to sample popular works that reflect the resurgent interest in things religious and spiritual. Such books, numbering in the thousands, continue to be a recent publishing phenomenon. Unlike our best-selling fiction and nonfiction pages, this list does not include ratings of the books.Skip to next paragraph
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1. HOW GOOD DO WE HAVE TO BE?, by H.S. Kushner, Little, Brown, $21.95
Kushner's basic premise is that God doesn't expect people to be perfect and loves them in spite of their imperfection. Instead of feeling guilty and blaming others for whatever is wrong in our lives, we should be more godlike by forgiving our friends, our parents, and our children for their imperfections. Kushner focuses on child/parent relationships using many examples of the forgiveness theory of social interaction. He says things several times in several different ways, and though not repretitive, he is basically saying the same thing. Therefore the answer to the question posed in the title of this book is: Very forgiving. By Janet C. Moller.
2. HIS HOLINESS, by Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi, Word, $27.50
This biography of Pope John Paul II outlines the role of the Polish pontiff working with the United States to bring about the fall of communism in Poland. Fifteen meetings with the late CIA director William J. Casey were held at the Vatican in the mid-eighties in efforts to demonstrate the United States' resolve in effecting this great political change. These meetings, Bernstein and Politi contend, forged a "holy alliance" that would provide the pope with information from the CIA relevant to Poland and matters pertaining to the Vatican. Bernstein and Politi effectively articulate the role of religion and the influence of John Paul II on significant changes on the world stage. By Leigh Montgomery.
3. GENESIS: A LIVING CONVERSATION, by Bill D. Moyers, Doubleday, $29.95
The book jacket lists Bill Moyers as the author. Actually, the book consists of transcriptions of the conversations that were used in the television series hosted on PBS by Moyers. Moyers skillfully draws out insights from his distinguished panel. The conversations are intriguing and engaging. Readers may find themselves arguing with the participants, or nodding in agreement. Though the discussions are certainly a glorious intellectual feast, it is possible to lose the essentially religious message of Genesis in a fascinating (or is it bewildering?) analysis of the Scripture's levels of meaning (some levels of which its authors surely never intended). By Judy Huenneke.
4. I WAS WRONG, by Jim Bakker, Nelson, $24
Short title. Looong book. This confessional by former televangelist Jim Bakker ostensibly discusses how his fall from grace led him to a real relationship with God that is wholly different from the false one he promulgated for years on television. Unfortunately, a promising effort is mired in detail that obscures the issues. Less hyperbolic personal narrative and more consideration of matters like the pressure of a public ministry, the balance between big business and big religion, and the effects of intense media exposure would have made for a more important work. By Terri Theiss.
5. IN THE GRIP OF GRACE, by Max Lucado, Word, $19.99
The Rev. Lucado, minister at Oak Hills Church of Christ in San Antonio, Texas, is the author of 17 books and a daily lecturer on a radio program, in addition to being a devoted husband and parent. His latest book is a series of his sermons on the solace and direction that emerges from an unconditional faith in an omnipresent God. Lucado presents comprehensive contemporary examples of the application of traditional morality and Biblical principles, focusing primarily on Paul's Letter to the Romans. The book is designed to be read in small doses, a chapter at a time, with time set aside for contemplative thought. By Leigh Montgomery.