Log In

Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Get a digital subscription to Publishers Weekly for only $19.95/month.

Your subscription gives you instant access exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

Women Who Risk: Secret Agents for Jesus in the Muslim World

Tom Doyle and JoAnn Doyle. Thomas Nelson, $18.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-7852-3346-6

Married American pastors Tom (Killing Christians) and JoAnn Doyle offer a middling collection of stories about Muslims who have converted to Christianity. During nearly two decades of missionary work abroad, the authors met those profiled. Jordanian Nori Kahn, plagued by nightmares brought by “jinns,” was turned away by both Catholic and Orthodox priests before being welcomed by a Baptist church, having her demons cast out, and coming to understand that her relationship with her father was sexually abusive. Farah Abbas, also in Jordan, was forced into a marriage with a vile man to secure funds for her mother’s cancer treatments, but an encounter with happy Syrian refugees who had converted to Christianity showed her a new way forward. The other stories follow similar trajectories of women caught in abusive marriages or war zones who find peace by leaving Islam for Christianity. Unfortunately, the Doyles locate the main source of these women’s tragedies in Islamic practice and scripture, making the stories rather simplistic despite the real human emotion undergirding them. These one-note accounts of religious conversion will have very limited appeal. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 11/20/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Exploring Chan: An Introduction to the Religious and Mystical Tradition of Chinese Buddhism

Chuan Zhi. Songlark, $16.99 trade paper (474p) ISBN 978-1-7333143-0-5

In this illuminating introduction to Chan Buddhism—a Chinese sect of Mahayana Buddhism and precursor to Zen—Zhi, a monk in the Linji lineage, offers a sprawling overview of its history and practice. The institutional history of Buddhism takes up the first half of the book, focusing primarily on historical developments in China, India, and Japan. In the second half, Zhi explains various aspects of practice, including instructions for Chan meditation, a typology of meditation practices, models for making sense of the meditation experience, and individual and institutional dangers that one may encounter (such as cults of personality). Zhi’s overarching concern is to look behind the teachings of Chan (as an authoritative tradition or as a state-sponsored religion) and to position it as “a mystical discipline” concentrated on self-knowledge rather than “a vehicle for transcending suffering.” Zhi presumes readers will have knowledge of Buddhist traditions, and his idiosyncratic use of Jungian psychology may lose newcomers. Zhi’s robust presentation of the basics of Chan Buddhism isn’t for everyone, but those with an avid interest in the faith would do well to pick this up. (Self-published)

Reviewed on 11/20/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
God’s Cold Warrior: The Life and Faith of John Foster Dulles

John D. Wilsey. Eerdmans, $21.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8028-7572-3

Wilsey (American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion), associate professor of church history at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, delivers a thoughtful biography of John Foster Dulles (1888–1959), Eisenhower’s secretary of state from 1953 to 1959. The author makes a cogent argument for considering Dulles’s Presbyterian faith as an important factor in his career, as Dulles believed America had a “God-given” responsibility to lead the world as well as conviction that “moral law” (in the form of Protestant theological doctrine) was an “invincible” force in the world. Dulles had formative experiences as a functionary at the Versailles Conference in 1919 and as a member of the Federal Council of Churches, where he pushed the modernist side of the modernist/fundamentalist debate over preaching and church dogma. By the time he entered the State Department, Dulles relied on his vision of America’s role in the world to dictate reconstructionist policy: “America was chosen by God, not passively, but to actively champion human freedom and protect peoples who were vulnerable to tyranny.” Readers with an interest in postwar politics will appreciate Wilsey’s perspective on what made his subject tick. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 11/20/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future

Pope Francis. Simon & Schuster, $26 (160p) ISBN 978-1-9821-7186-5

Francis (The Name of God is Mercy) offers pastoral encouragement in this clarion call to create a more just and sustainable world. “We cannot return to the false securities of the political and economic systems we had before the [Covid-19] crisis,” Francis writes. Using a three-part framework (to see, to choose, to act), the pope first names behaviors making humanity and the planet sick: “the destruction of the environment with our self-forgetting, our rejection of who we are as creatures of a loving Creator.” He then expounds on values the faithful should use to guide their choices, including consideration of the impact on the poor of any action. Francis takes aim at demagogic populism as well as unfettered economic markets, and defends his 2015 Synod on the Family about pastoral guidelines on traditional roles of and within families, and answers criticisms from conservative Catholics who believe he is too liberal and from progressives who think he is too traditional: “The danger of becoming trapped in conflict is that we lose perspective. Our horizons shrink and we close off paths the Spirit is showing us.” Any Catholic will want to check out this powerful, easily digestible work. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 11/20/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Praying with Our Feet: Pursuing Justice and Healing on the Streets

Lindsey Krinks. Brazos, $17.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-58743-458-7

Krinks, an interfaith chaplain and cofounder of Open Table Nashville, a homeless outreach nonprofit, recounts in her sharp debut how she became an activist. After organizing protests over Nashville’s housing policies as a college student, Krinks volunteered at a homeless encampment and eventually felt a calling to work with the city’s homeless people. The memoir weaves deeply-held principles of Christian social activism—Krinks cites as inspiration Dorothy Day, Parker Palmer, Thomas Merton, and the Old Testament prophet Amos—with personal stories—often tragic and sometimes redemptive—of those she worked with. Krinks also discusses her family history of mental illness and admits to nervousness about seeking ordination, as she felt more committed to “people on the streets and in the abandoned, undomesticated spaces in our society” than to any church. Krinks can ramble and too often veers into connections to external events or personal details that distract from her primary work on homelessness. However, readers looking for ways to get involved in their communities will find plenty to motivate them in Krinks’s personal testament. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 11/20/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Reinventing Religion: Beyond Belief and Scepticism

Peter Moore. Reaktion, $35 (256p) ISBN 978-1-7891-4325-6

Religious studies scholar Moore (The Wrong Way Home) posits in this persuasive work that polarized views of religion fail to represent “the real nature, and full potential, of religion.” In the West, Moore argues, religion is often understood—by religious, nonreligious, and antireligious people alike—as a set of doctrines and practices, primarily having to do with “an external, supernatural source of moral authority,” often in conflict with secular and humanist worldviews. In a series of 12 essays, he makes the case for a more nuanced understanding of the role religious practice plays in human life and invites readers to consider the experiences, practices, theories, and institutions of world religions and what they do for, or might contribute to, collective well-being. “Religious systems and institutions,” he writes, “are what results from human beings acknowledging, thinking about, and acting on their sense of the sacred or their awareness of transcendence.” He suggests that religion offers both individual and social pathways, developed over millennia, to “participate fully, and selflessly, in the human condition.” Moore argues forcefully for the positive role of religions in society, irrespective of the specific tradition. “The pluralism of religions, which may once have presented a challenge or even a threat to individual religions, should today be recognized as a collective human legacy.” Scholarly readers interested in the evolution of religious practice will enjoy Moore’s diverse survey. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 11/13/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Earth Energy Meditations: Awaken Your Root Chakra—The Foundation of Well-Being

Susan Shumsky. Weiser, $15.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-57863-703-4

Meditation teacher Shumsky (Exploring Meditation) presents meditations meant to cultivate “an open, clear, and healthy root chakra” in this welcoming guide. Meditations, visualizations, prayers, and affirmations for protection, spiritual guidance, and boosting energy make up the bulk of the book. While many of the discussions center on Hindu and Buddhist traditions—specifically the root chakra—Shumsky incorporates a wide array of spiritual concepts, including references to the Bible, the astral plane, possession and exorcism, Judaism, and Native American culture. For example, a mantra to the Hindu god Ganesh is recommended for breaking through obstacles, while a prayer to the Great Spirit of the Lakota is utilized for humility and appreciation of the “divine order.” This creates a diverse well of information and rituals, though Shumsky’s cursory explanations of the cultures and religions that inspire her rituals will strike some readers as undercooked. Shumsky’s accessible exercises to “speed up your spiritual evolution and expand your awareness” will be of aid to beginners and seasoned meditation practitioners alike. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 11/13/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Hallelujah Banquet: How the End of What We Were Reveals Who We Can Be

Eugene H. Peterson. WaterBrook, $17.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-60142-985-8

Peterson (The Message Bible), a Presbyterian minister who died in 2018, interprets the book of Revelation in this stimulating posthumous work compiled from a series of his sermons and archived commentaries. Discussing John’s letters to the seven churches, Peterson emphasizes John’s exploration of meaning and perception. Peterson shares personal memories and provides examples from scripture to catalog joy, weeping, and anger as reactions to living in the fullness of Christ. On the opposite side of the spectrum, he identifies lukewarmness as “a special fault of the successful” and urges readers to be strongly committed to Christ. He also examines how wrestling with social and political issues amounts to a “test of holiness,” using John’s letter to the citizens of the city of Thyatira as an example. Peterson argues that how Christians apply gratitude, praise, grace, and love determines how one matures. He also includes explanations of the spiritual significance of common scriptural terms, such as the words “hallelujah” and “amen,” and concludes with thought-provoking questions for reflection. By asking readers to “examine your motives” and “test your heart,” this insightful, contemplative study of Revelation will appeal to Christians who enjoy the work of N.T. Wright. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 11/13/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Steady, Calm, and Brave: 25 Practices of Resilience and Wisdom in a Crisis

Kimberly Brown. Publishing with Heart, $4.99 e-book (97p) ASIN B08C45XXN7

Mindfulness instructor Brown issues a sympathetic call to heal an increasingly troubled world in this comforting, useful guide. A student of Buddhism, Brown argues that all of humanity is linked: “Only everyone can save us—and we’re everyone.” Addressing the Covid-19 pandemic in the introduction, Brown considers how lifestyles have drastically changed, as many people have been forced to navigate stressful situations like missing family and friends, sleepless nights, boredom from daily monotony, and endless videoconferencing. In upbeat prose, Brown’s short compendium of thoughtful blessings, practices, and readings (“Wisdom is understanding that none of us live independently... taking care of yourself means knowing when to ask for help and learning to receive”) strikes a sensitive balance between self-help—through compassion and acceptance when confronting feelings of uncertainty—and helping others in need through education, donations, and community activism. She also entreats readers to reject the divisiveness of “us” versus “them” and to make a connection with someone who is from the “other” group. Timely and pertinent, Brown’s sensitive meditations will appeal to anyone who has lost a loved one, a job, or a sense of self during times of tragedy. (Self-published)

Reviewed on 11/13/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Happiness Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life For Good

Tina Turner. Atria, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-1-9821-5215-4

Legendary singer Turner (My Love Story) shares her spiritual life in this simple yet affecting memoir. “I sincerely believe that you can change anything for good by weaving an awareness of your inherent Buddha nature into the fabric of your daily life,” she writes. A practicing Buddhist, Turner details how her involvement with Sokka Gakkai International, an international network of Nichiren Buddhists, changed her life—and name-drops a few famous friends involved along the way, such as jazz legends Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, whom Turner leaned on and even performed Buddhist chants with during times of stress. Turner also expounds on personal tragedies she has endured, including recent serious health problems (a stroke, intestinal cancer, and liver failure) and the loss of her eldest son to suicide in 2018, and how she pulled herself out of darkness through her devotion to the teachings of Nichiren, a 13th-century Japanese philosopher. Along the way, Turner’s tales coalesce into an uncomplicated manual (with a peppering of inspiration quotes and a useful glossary) for practicing her particular method of finding peace. Music fans and spiritualists alike will find much to appreciate in this revealing work. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 11/13/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.