The subtitle of Mr. Novak's latest work, ""An Invitation to Religious Studies,"" is a perfect description of the book. It comprises an apologia for religious studies, and an explanation of their nature and role in one's personal life, in civilization, in societies and institutions, and in organizations. By the latter Novak means ""organized anything"" -- theologies, liturgies, dogmas, etc. It is also, and perhaps essentially, an initiation for the layman into the esoterics of religious studies, with pages devoted to the identification of such figures as Niebuhr, Rahner, Lonergan, Eliade, and so forth. None of which is as deadly dull as it may sound. Novak has a flair for the piquant phrase and, occasionally, a steady hand with rhetoric. The book is not so controversial as some, and considerably better organized than all, of his earlier works. The subject, however, will restrict readership to a small circle of interested teachers and students.