John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father
Peggy Noonan
Viking, 256 pages, $24.95

A Life Well Lived

This warm tribute to Pope John Paul II by The Wall Street Journal contributing editor Peggy Noonan (When Character Was King) has the feel of someone reminiscing over the loss of a good friend—"Let me tell you my John Paul stories."

Noonan reflects on her personal encounters with the pope and recounts incidents from his life and election to the papacy. She explores his views on faith, prayer, sexuality, and human rights. Most moving are her accounts of his influence on her, which prompted Noonan to become serious about her Catholic faith.

Though she tends toward hagiography, she also notes John Paul's shortcomings in handling the American sex-abuse scandals. Those unfamiliar with John Paul might first want to read a chronological biography, since Noonan's observations sometimes lack context. She is at her best when urging us forward with the words and attitude of John Paul, "Be not afraid."

Only Human: Christian Reflections on the Journey Toward Wholeness
David P. Gushee
Jossey-Bass, 256 pages, $22.95

What It Means to Be Human

In this book, David Gushee, a ct columnist and professor of moral philosophy at Union University, tackles eight questions about human nature, including: Why do relationships matter? How do we become morally good? What should be our ultimate goal for life's journey?

The Bible assumes that all people share the same human nature and the same potential journey, from creation to sin to redemption, writes Gushee.

"In Christian thought," he writes, "we are left with the unshakable conviction that a Jeffrey Dahmer and a Mother Teresa are in fact both human beings created according ...

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