The Monitor's Guide to Religious Bestsellers ; the Monitor's Quarterly Review of Bestselling Religion Books Offers a One- Stop Opportunity to Survey the Resurgent Interest in Religion and Spirituality

Article excerpt

THE PRAYER OF JABEZ, by Bruce Wilkinson, Multnomah, $10.99

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 opens the doors to God's blessings. Although it glimmers with moments of 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. (144 pp.) By Christy Ellington

Audio available

SECRETS OF THE VINE, by Bruce Wilkinson, Multnomah, $9.99

Wilkinson, author of "The Prayer of Jabez," is back, sharing more of his confident Christian faith. By focusing on John 15, in which Jesus speaks of the grapes of the vine, he attempts to show how we can lead more fruitful and abundant lives. He explains that Jesus is the vine, the Father is the vinedresser, and we are the branches. Wilkinson concludes: If your life isn't bearing fruit, you're sinning, and if you're sinning, you'll be punished. When you commit your life to Christ, the punishing stops, and your life becomes abundant. (126 pp.) By Christy Ellington

Audio available

I HOPE YOU DANCE, by Mark Sanders & Tia Sillers, Rutledge Hill, $13.99

If you've turned your radio on in the last 10 minutes, chances are you've heard "I Hope You Dance," the hit song by Lee Ann Womack. Now, the writers of the song have put the CD single in a gift book, which breaks the song apart, lyric by lyric, adding photos and text. Although the treatment risks overexposure, it is an inspiring song, sung from the point of view of someone who loves you and wants you to overcome every obstacle in your way. A little sappy, but it could still make a good grab-bag gift. (62 pp.) By Christy Ellington

A COMMON LIFE: THE WEDDING STORY, by Jan Karon, Viking, $24.95

Aren't we tired yet of tales of true love? Nope. And neither are the small-town inhabitants of Mitford. Father Tim's congregation joyfully busies itself in preparation for an unexpected wedding feast, when the beloved priest finally gives in to his overwhelming love for a neighbor. The story unfolds in a muddled, happy confusion. The sixth installment in a popular series, the unconventional love story is its saving grace. Sweet, breezy, and unchallenging. (186 pp.)

By Kendra Nordin

Audio available

WALKING THE BIBLE, by Bruce Feiler, Morrow, $26

Considering the bigness of the subject - traveling the entire Fertile Crescent in relation to the first five books of the Bible - you have to hand it to Feiler for getting his arms (and feet) around it at all. His book blends elements of a personal journal, an undergraduate lecture series, a conversation, and a long letter home. It's a multi-layered epic played out in the lives of biblical ancestors, but also in the minds and hearts of a wide assortment of residents, pilgrims, academics, and desert dwellers of the modern Middle East. (304 pp.) (full review May 24) By Linda Giedl

Audio available

THE ART OF HAPPINESS, by The Dalai Lama, Riverhead, $23. …