A famous 19th-century Russian spirituality text finds new expression in The Way of a Pilgrim: Annotated & Explained, translated by Gleb Pokrovsky. In the story, a wandering mendicant learns the Jesus Prayer ("Jesus Christ, have mercy on me") and becomes utterly transformed by praying it continuously. Pokrovsky's commentary appears on facing pages to the abridged text, explaining issues such as Orthodox liturgical customs and the revitalization of Russian monasticism. This volume is the launch title of SkyLight Paths' SkyLight Illuminations series, which will reissue classic spirituality texts from many different world religions. ($14.95 paper 144p ISBN 1-893361-31-4)
Bestselling Christian author and Bible teacher Kay Arthur advances a comforting message of God's love in Precious One, Do You Know... God Loves You? The gift book presentation features a floral theme, with Arthur's pithy thoughts printed over colorful gardens of blossoms and buds. Arthur's tendency to address the reader as "O Beloved" and the titular "Precious One" grows tiresome, but the Bible interpretations have some worthy moments. (J. Countryman, $13.99 128p ISBN 0-8499-5738-9)
You Are Cordially Invited...
In An Invitation to Healing: Let God Touch Your Mind, Body and Spirit, Christian social worker and counselor Lynda D. Elliott poses some of the most salient questions about spiritual healing. Why isn't everyone healed? Can God use a devastating illness for good? Does God "cause" illness? (Answers: don't know, yes, and no way.) Using anecdotes from her counseling practice and her own life, Elliott explores obstacles and avenues to healing. This book joins Larry Keefauver's When God Doesn't Heal Now as one of the more mature and honest discussions of Christian healing. (Chosen/Baker, $9.99 paper 128p ISBN 0-8007-9286-6; June) Ancestors, judges, kings, prophets, priests, wise ones and mysterious figures are the categories of Old Testament characters that Dianne Bergant groups together in People of the Covenant: An Invitation to the Old Testament. (A final category, "People Who Moved the Tradition Forward," includes a rather motley assortment of other folks who don't fit neatly into the above classifications.) Bergant's fine introduction to the Old Testament is essentially a character study more than a narrative history and makes a valuable companion to the Roman Catholic Bible on which it is based. (The Roman Catholic canon includes six more Old Testament books than the Protestant canon.) (Sheed & Ward, $12.95 paper 216p ISBN 1-58051-090-6; May)
Tools of the Craft
Four wonderfully crafted, pocket-size spell books promise to offer practical assistance to practitioners of the Craft Good Spells for Healing, Good Spells for Love, Good Spells for Peace of Mind and Good Spells for Prosperity are short and beautifully packaged, with vellum paper, satin ribbon closures and collage-like illustrations. The covers are appealingly distressed, with faux tea stains and an aged appearance. The books' contents are a bit simple; the real enchantment lies not in the spells by "Witch Bree" (aka Brenda Knight), but in the series' lovely presentation. (Chronicle, $12.95 each 90p ISBN 0-8118-2846-8; -2847-6; -2848-4; -2849-2; May) As evidenced in Religion Forecasts (this issue), Kabbalah books continue to be all the rage, though their quality often does not match their popularity. In Magic of Qabalah: Visions of the Tree of Life, Kala Trobe argues that Judaism's central mystical text is "no longer the province of a single philosophy or religion" and adapts its teachings for magickal. She says that Qabalah is the "cuckoo child... now an independent fledgling" of Jewish Kabbalah. Unfortunately, it is the case here that the adolescent child has failed to understand its venerable parent; Trobe falls too often into the trap of misinterpreting or even negating the text's Jewish symbolism in the interest of universalizing it. Bringing Kabbalah to the hoi polloi is a nice idea, but it is far too complex a mystical system to be tackled in so glib a fashion. (Llewellyn, $14.95 paper 336p ISBN 0-7387-0002-9; June)
The Unsung Heroes of American Religious History
Most American historians can tell you that the founder of the 19th-century Disciples of Christ movement was Alexander Campbell, a strident primitivist who sought to restore the New Testament church. However, only a handful know that his wife, Selina Huntington Bakewell Campbell, was as ardent as Campbell himself and was a tireless religious activist in what is now West Virginia. Loretta Long's The Life of Selina Campbell: A Fellow Soldier in the Cause of Restoration reads a bit too much like a dissertation (her introduction is essentially a historiographical essay on Christian women in 19th-century America), but the topic is so unmined that this is excusable. (Univ. of Alabama, $34.95 230p ISBN 0-8173-1059-2; May) Established in 1805, Abyssinian Baptist Church is one of the five oldest African-American Baptist churches in the United States, although it did not move to its famous Harlem location until Rev. Dr. Adam Clayton Powell became the church's leader in the early 20th century. In We've Come This Far: A Photographic Journal, Robert Gore uses memorable black-and-white photos to tell the congregation's history. Textual highlights include Gore's essay on "Spiritual Rebuilding Time" and Rev. Jesse Jackson's inspiring tribute to Rev. Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor, who served as minister of the church from 1972 to 1989. (Stewart Tabori & Chang, $27.50 146p ISBN 1-58479-027-X; June)