Fr. Rohr’s writing is reassuringly conversational, though his thought patterns can be challenging and he writes full speed ahead. He adds humor where it is absolutely due (“I hope that this book will at least assure you that you are not crazy”). He actually says, in his introduction, “Maybe we should just call this book ‘Tips for the Road.'” If you are the type of person who is curious and self-aware, inspired to explore the meaning of your religious self and alert to how life unfolds according to your own behaviors, attitudes and perspectives, this is a book that will inspire and inform.

“Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life” is a sort of bullet-pointed diary, a cheerleading roster encouraging everyday people in the everyday realities of our lives. Team-written by Deacon Steven Lumbert and his daughter Karina Lumbert Fabian, “Why God Matters” comes to the reader in small doses.

Each chapter gives an open-minded reader a “dose of faith” as an active element of a normal Christian’s life – anecdotes that pose real-life challenges recognizable as something you might discuss with a friend or pastor at your church over coffee and doughnuts. Call it ‘comfortable theology.’ Then Deacon Lumbert and Fabian end each vignette with a “life lesson,” a passage from the Bible and a selection from the Catechism of the Catholic Church relevant to that chapter’s topic. There is also a lovely list of websites and books “for further reading.”

“Why God Matters” was recently named the 2011 Christian small-publisher book of the year in the Christian living category.

In “Fragments of Your Ancient Name: 365 Glimpses of the Divine for Daily Meditation,” Joyce Rupp tells us that when we “name” something, we connect more deeply with it. The daily meditations offer a wide variety of prayerful ways to name and so regard the Divine.

Though there is a lengthy introduction, there is no commentary on the meditations themselves, which draw from an impressive variety of sources and traditions of faith (the Carmelite Breviary, the Quran, the Old and New Testaments), folk rock (even that shockingly venal folk rock “guru” of the flower-child era, Leonard Cohen) and some relatively modern writers. It is up to the reader to assume authority over each meditation. This strikes me as being quite right, since prayer takes on different mantles of meaning, depending on who is praying and what inspires the prayer.

This is a great, unassuming book for reminding us of our individuality, and how we bring our own viewpoints, strengths and weaknesses to prayer and faith.

Rackover is a freelance writer. She lives with her family in southeast Michigan.