CONTENT Small type on the cover promises "Nonreligious thoughts on Christian spirituality," and the author begins delivering with his opening sentence: "I once listened to an Indian on television say that God was in the wind and the water, and I wondered at how beautiful that was because it meant you could swim in Him or have Him brush your face in a breeze."
GIST An irritant for those who like theological precision, a godsend for those turned off by conventional preaching but desiring an up-close-and-personal second chance. Anne Lamott fans will relish Miller time.
CONTENT Eve "is the crescendo, the final, astonishing work of God . . . the Master's finishing touch . . . the crown of creation." She incarnates beauty and "Beauty is essential to God. . . . Beauty is the essence of God." But because of the Fall women are looking to answer these questions: "Am I lovely? Do you see me? . . . Are you captivated by what you find in me?"
GIST The Eldredges offer unique interpretations of Scripture that reveal their heavy reliance on epics, fairy tales, and Joseph Campbell. There may be nuggets of sound insights, but the book requires careful and critical thinking to sort wheat from chaff.
CONTENT Every marriage has a beginning, a middle, and an end, but marriages also go through seasons, with winter a time of "coldness, harshness, and bitterness."
GIST Fans of marriage counselor Chapman's Love Languages will appreciate this reworking of similar material, which is heavy on anecdotes and how-tos. If after reading the descriptive chapters a reader doesn't know what season her marriage is in, she can take a short diagnostic test before following the seven strategies to revive a fall or winter marriage.
CONTENT Businessman Nick Cominsky, after receiving an invitation to a fancy restaurant from someone calling himself Jesus of Nazareth, goes without knowing what to expect.
GIST This slender volume is an apologetic in the form of a novello. As dinner proceeds Jesus suggests, "Why don't you suspend your disbelief for a while and proceed as if I am Jesus? Surely if Jesus were actually here, you might have some questions for him." Too didactic to work as a novel, the book could be useful for someone who would not read a straight text.
Two women-Betsy Hart and Carrie McDonnall-write engagingly about their own lives. In It Takes a Parent (Putnam, 2005) Betsy Hart takes on parenting experts whose advice undercuts parental authority, and offers sound, biblical advice in a non-churchy way-which makes the book ideal for giving to non-Christian friends. The now-single Mrs. Hart acknowledges her debt to Ted Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart and shares successes and setbacks from her own life with encouragement to persevere.
In Facing Terror (Integrity, 2005) Carrie McDonnall recalls how she and her husband David were young missionaries in Iraq when insurgents ambushed their vehicle, killing David and three other missionaries. She suffered extensive gunshot wounds in the ambush but touches only lightly on her troubles so as to emphasize her husband's exuberant love for God, love of adventure, and pursuit of her. Even though the ambush was terrible, the book doesn't dwell on the tragedy but on the God who brings light out of darkness.