CONTENT Madea, a pistol-toting, straight-talking, and sometimes crude grandmother created by Christian playwright Tyler Perry, shares her wit and wisdom on life, marriage, age, fat, and anything else that pops into her mind.
GIST Sales of 25,000 copies during its first week shot Madea to the top of the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list. Madea is supposed to speak for all those outspoken older black women who anchored their neighborhoods by their strength of character-but you'll have to search for the nuggets of proverbial wisdom hidden here.
CONTENT Using textual criticism, former fundamentalist Ehrman takes great pains to explain away his former confidence in the Bible.
GIST Mr. Ehrman, a Greek scholar, argues that the New Testament is merely a collection of human documents riddled with errors introduced by scribes (either innocently or in pursuit of an agenda). Mr. Ehrman exaggerates the number of errors and their importance. In his view, since God did not preserve the original manuscripts without error, He must not have inspired them in the first place.
CONTENT Newsweek managing editor Meacham presents a readable overview of church-state relations from colonial times to the present, all with the goal of showing that America has been populated by adherents to Christianity but has not been a Christian nation.
GIST Mr. Meacham misunderstands some 18th-century perspectives but offers a surprisingly moderate view overall: "It would be as unsound to ban the use of the word 'God' from all arenas of public life as it would be to require every American to attend church services every Sunday."
CONTENT Billy Graham has received some criticism in recent years, but his heart for the spiritually lost is evident in this book, a clear explanation of the gospel and a guide for living written with his trademark warmth.
GIST Years of preaching and Bible study go into this engaging book on the Christian life: Mr. Graham writes to the new believer in a direct style, sharing wisdom and practical advice gained through a close walk with God and many trials.
We recently highlighted the trend in fiction toward novels with Gnostic themes, inspired by the success of The Da Vinci Code. The same phenomenon has overtaken the nonfiction charts where The Gospel of Judas, The Jesus Papers, The Lost Gospel (also about the gospel of Judas), Misquoting Jesus, The Jesus Dynasty, and What Jesus Meant are all on the New York Times bestseller list.
It's hard to imagine a time in at least the past 40 years when the big New York publishers were promoting so many books about Jesus. While these volumes are meant to undermine faith in the Jesus of the Bible, their popularity suggests an opportunity to talk about Jesus in the public square. Note: "Skeptical-about-Jesus" books are on the nonfiction list, but "believe-in-Jesus" books like The Purpose Driven Life are relegated to the advice list with the diet, self-help, and dog psychology books.