Things Unseen:

Living In Light of Forever
Mark Buchanan
260 pages, $12.99

Prepare to Die
"I'm dying, and you're dying, and that's that," writes Buchanan. "Is there a way to remember this and not be consumed by it?" Well, yes and no. In this follow-up to his debut, Your God Is Too Safe, Buchanan considers our yearning for heaven—"heavenly-mindedness," he calls it, or learning to become "heaven-bent." He grounds readers in how this "homesickness" shapes a Christian's days on Earth, and urges readers to live so that death comes as a completion, not merely an ending. At the same time, he acknowledges how even those with deep convictions about heaven may sometimes find it "a terrible and mocking knowledge, more a taunt than a consolation" in the face of suffering and death. Buchanan has a pastoral penchant for integrating illustrations into his text, drawing from such diverse sources as Monty Python and the Holy Grail to old letters from his father. His language is delightfully fresh: humor mixed with genuine poignancy, certainty without arrogance. Readers will be compelled not to lose heart and to make the most of the waiting.

The Wisdom of Tenderness:

What Happens When God's Fierce Mercy Transforms Our Lives
Brennan Manning
Harper San Francisco,
179 pages, $21.95

Oh Mercy"Fierce mercy" took this former Catholic priest and alcoholic from near death to life, and now, as a popular author and retreat speaker, Manning doesn't mince words. He believes that in spiritual circles, "the superfluity of much useless information and knowledge has been given pride of place over wisdom and personal authenticity." Manning offers his book as "a compass rather than a manual, a beacon rather than a handbook, a vision rather than fifty-six ...

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