The Best Books of 1999

My lists reflects accurately the two themes that captured my imagination this year: history and spirituality. In no particular order, my ten favorite books of 1999:

Historians Clouse and Pierard teamed up with editor Hosack and gave us the most informative—and entertaining—pre-Y2K book on the end times (and this year, that says something). Combining church history, theology, cultural analysis, and a dash of humor, they debunk millennial hype in the hopes of introducing readers to "the meaning of the coming millennial change."

Zeleski wins the-most-insight-in-the-least-number-of-pages award. She discusses guilt, self-esteem, forgiving oneself, and other therapeutic concerns in the rich context of the Eastern Orthodox spiritual tradition. While acknowledging the rightful place of modern psychology, she insists, "Repentance is a uniquely Christian path of liberation from self."

Eusebius of Caesarea (c.260-c.340) was the first historian to pull together (and edit) the first three centuries of the church's history into some coherent narrative. Without The Church History, our knowledge of these centuries would be paltry. Maier, professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University, has translated, and to some degree edited, Eusebius into readable, engaging prose. I love primary source material, and some passages, especially the accounts of persecution and martyrdom, still make for gripping reading.

A profoundly Catholic, that is, incarnational, discussion of spirituality. Canadian Rolheiser (of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate) suggests that all our very human longings are ultimately spiritual, which, he argues, is not such an ethereal reality after all. Spiritual fulfillment (and continued frustration, this side of ...

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