The latest version of a venerable American tradition: extolling the sacramental pleasures of the simple life. Meyers, an NPR commentator and the senior minister of the Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City (he became a minor celebrity in the wake of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building there), offers 12 homely recommendations for those wanting to simplify their crowded, jangling lives and rediscover some sense of a religious presence in the everyday matters of life. Among his ideas: keeping pets (because taking care of them can develop in us a ``soulful restraint'' toward other lives); developing the art of conversation (because human speech, which is ``neither cheap nor small,'' is the thing most likely to help us bridge ``the chasms that divide us''); turning back to the pleasures books offer (because they represent ``the life of thought, feeling, and experience as a process''); and working to rediscover ``the ancient art of hoping,'' the ``unmistakable mark of the sacramental life.'' The book gains considerable power from Meyer's calm, modest, unforced voice. One of the better examples of a genre usually represented by cloyingly sweet or abrasively regimented guides.