The Monitor's Guide to Religion Bestsellers

The Monitor's quarterly review of bestselling religion books offers a one-stop opportunity to survey the resurgent interest in religion and spirituality.

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1. THE MARK, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House, $22.99

Another in the long line of the Apocalypse series by LaHaye and Jenkins. This time believers and unbelievers in Christ are made to choose "the mark" so they can continue to trade goods in the New World economy. Our friends from the underground rebellion, Tribulation Force, lose members but gain others. One of whom is a computer wizard who can continue to be their mole in enemy headquarters. This book like previous ones, continues to interpret biblical prophecy for a modern era and pitches the acceptance of Jesus as Saviour at every chance. (400 pp.) By Jan Moller

2. HE CHOSE THE NAILS, by Max Lucado, Word, $21.99

Lucado portrays the Crucifixion as an invitation to enter a personal relationship with Christ. He says the "coolest" thing about Jesus' sacrifice is that "He did it for you." Lucado personalizes the Crucifixion through simple stories drawn mostly from his own experiences. Each story opens into questions in the text and a study-guide postscript. Chapters are organized along familiar but little-noticed details of the Crucifixion story like the wine-soaked sponge, the temple curtain, and Jesus' burial clothing. Each chapter explains their significance in nontheological terms. (240 pp.) By Ben Arnoldy

3. THE ART OF HAPPINESS, by The Dalai Lama, Riverhead, $23.95

The purpose of life, says the Dalai Lama, is to seek happiness. This seemingly elementary statement requires strict adherence and mental discipline toward a benevolent, rather than self-centered, happiness. There is great value in reading the basic spiritual values of this unique world figure and Tibetan spiritual leader: human qualities of goodness, compassion, and caring. This book is based on a series of conversations with Howard Cutler, a Phoenix-based psychiatrist. (315 pp.)

By Leigh Montgomery

4. THE INDWELLING, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House, $22.99

With the 7th installment of their apocalyptic "Left Behind" series, LaHaye and Jenkins ascended into the "Harry Potter" realm: pre-sales of 1.3 million. In "The Indwelling," Antichrist ruler Nicolae Carpathia is dead, but a new world-wide religion looms, and Global Community police are determined to track down the killer. Members of the Tribulation Force (the good guys) are scattered around the world, hiding and waiting for further prophesy fulfillment. The book is full of melodramatic choices and white-knuckle excitement. Five more installments to go. (389 pp.)

5. THE INVITATION, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, HarperSanFrancisco, $18

Dreamer, a leader of meditation workshops and retreats, extends an invitation to all individuals in search of spiritual meaning. Although presenting itself as a beginner's guide to meditation, "The Invitation" is more for those who have already investigated meditation to some degree. Sections of soul-filled writing cut off by recipelike instructions make for a choppy read. Rather than adding something new to the many books out on meditation today, it offers more of the same. (136 pp.)

By Christy Ellington

6. THE PRAYER OF JABEZ, by Bruce W. Wilkinson, Multnomah, $7.99

Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, founder of the Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, is convinced that the prayer of a man named Jabez could change your life, if you're a Christian that is. Found in I Chronicles, the prayer of Jabez is brief. Wilkinson believes that when this prayer is used daily it will open the doors to God's blessings. Although it glimmers with moments of true inspiration and even aspiration for human life, by packaging those ideas as a strictly Christian ministry, Wilkinson will leave many seekers of faith on the sidewalks of the road he claims to have found. By Christy Ellington

7. I LIKE BEING CATHOLIC, by M. Leach & T. Borchard, Doubleday, $19.95

As the title suggests, this book offers a warm reaffirmation of faith for Roman Catholics, particularly those questioning their relationship with the church. Family is the overriding theme, driven home with "family album" style photographs of famous and ordinary Catholics and the quotation of James Joyce's description of Catholicism: "Here comes everybody!" Disagreements and diversity abound in the church, but this compilation of personal essays and quotes shows how common rituals, stories, and heroes envision Roman Catholicism as one family. (176 pp.) By Ben Arnoldy

8. NIGHTLIGHT, by Dr. James and Shirley Dobson, Multnomah, $19.99

Recognizing the time and relationship demands faced by married couples, this book is a devotional for husbands and wives to read together for 10 minutes at the end of each day. Dobson and his wife, Shirley, have constructed entries that combine a Biblical verse, testimonies from other marriages and their own, and a series of reflective questions to ask each other. While some may not relate to the commentary written from an evangelical Christian perspective, many of the questions are essential for couples to ask at any point in their marriage. (304 pp.) By Leigh Montgomery

9. PAPAL SIN, by Gary Wills, Doubleday, $25

In the past, popes were routinely outed for their sins by Last Judgment painters depicting them in hellfire. This, argues Wills, was healthy. In contrast, the modern church's insistence on its own infallibility has forced it to defend bad positions on issues ranging from contraception to the celibacy of the priesthood. Although Wills can come down a bit hard at times, his argument overall is intriguing, and the book's many tidbits of history make for a fascinating read. (304 pp.) By Liz Marlantes

10. RABBI JESUS, by Bruce Chilton, Doubleday, $25

The search for a clear and coherent picture of the historical Jesus is as old as Christianity, but no less intriguing. Bard college professor and Episcopal priest Bruce Chilton offers a fresh portrait, drawing on recent archaeological findings and new translations of relevent texts. He sifts the social customs and political forces of Jesus' times. He examines the religious beliefs and practices of the period. A scholarly debate will certainly accompany this book. While his argument at times seems jumbled, he makes several thought-provoking points. (330 pp.) By Jim Bencivenga


(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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