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O.C. RELIGION | QUESTIONS OF FAITH

What's the best book you could give as a gift, excluding the Bible and other sacred writings?

November 25, 2000

THE REV. PETER D. HAYNES

Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Parish Church, Corona del Mar

To many, many beloveds I have given "Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC" by Frederick Buechner since it was given to me by a beloved colleague at my ordination in July 1973. And, undoubtedly, I will give it again and again as long as it remains in print. "Wishful Thinking" is a new lexicon, a dictionary for the restless believer, for the doubter, for anyone who wants to redefine or define more concretely those words that have become an integral part of our daily language--words that we use about God, the universe and, last but never least, humankind. This is Buechner's debonair definition of "doubt": "Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God, if you don't have any doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving." With such wit and wisdom, imagination and innovation, we are led to a fuller awareness and greater understanding of the true relevance of familiar terms to each of our own lives.

SENIOR PASTOR STEVE PETTY

St. Andrew's By-the-Sea United

Methodist Church, San Clemente

"Man's Search for Meaning," by Viktor E. Frankl. This sentence alone is worth the price: "[E]verything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

SENIOR PASTOR

DAVID J. MITCHELL

Calvary Church of Santa Ana

If I could give one book I would give "The Sacred Romance" by John Eldridge. It addresses the deepest needs of every heart and helps us see the big picture of life.

RABBI MARTIN COHEN

Congregation Eilat, Mission Viejo

My choice would be Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz's "Does the Soul Survive? A Jewish Journey to Belief in Afterlife, Past Lives, and Living With Purpose." Elie is the rabbi in Tustin and his book is precisely what theological writing should always be (and almost never is): scholarly, provocative, engaging, challenging and uplifting.

CURT WEBSTER

Director of outreach, St. Mark

Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach

I would give Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "The Cost of Discipleship." Few authors have ever laid out so boldly and beautifully the rigors of Christian discipleship. Coming from one of the great Christian martyrs of the 20th century, the book carries a moral and spiritual authority beyond its own powerful eloquence.

RABBI ALLEN KRAUSE

Temple Beth El, Aliso Viejo

I would give "The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount" by Gershom Gorenberg. With all the hatred and hyperbole that is tearing apart the Middle East, Gorenberg's book is a breath of fresh air. What he does is dispassionately present how the fundamentalists on every side--Jewish, Christian and Muslim--feel about the Temple Mount. By doing so he provides us with the building blocks to better understand one another and to work toward more peaceful times.

PASTOR SCOTT RACHELS

Mariners Church, Irvine

The book I regularly give to people is "What's So Amazing About Grace?" by Philip Yancey. Grace is God's great love gift for all people, made possible through his son, Jesus. There's nothing we do to earn God's favor. What better gift than the gift of grace, the life-giving message of the Bible?

If you have an issue you'd like Questions of Faith to explore, please fax us at (714) 966-7711 or e-mail us at ocreligion@latimes.com.

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