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 A purpose-driven author speaks his piece

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The Rev. Rick Warren said Tuesday that he prays and reads the Bible daily over the phone with Ashley Smith, the Atlanta woman who says his inspirational handbook The Purpose-Driven Life helped her persuade the murder suspect who held her hostage to let her go.

"As soon as I heard about this, we were in touch by e-mail, and now we are in regular pastoral conversation," Warren said. "We talk every day about verses of the Bible and pray together, and I encourage her." (Related excerpt: The Purpose-Driven Life)

Tuesday was the first time the headliner pastor, possibly the best-known evangelical in the nation after the Rev. Billy Graham, has spoken with media since the incident 10 days ago. The Purpose-Driven Life was the top-selling book in the nation in 2003 and 2004, according to Publishers Weekly, and Thursday it will be listed as No. 1 on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list.

But Warren steered any credit back to God and the Bible. "There's not a single new thought in Purpose-Driven Life that hasn't been said in historic Christianity or Judaism. I'm just a communicator for the 21st century."

Warren also said that the courts should order a feeding tube restored to Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman whose parents and husband are battling over whether she should be allowed to die. "She's alive and breathing, so God wants her to live for a purpose, even if that purpose is lived out through other people."


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