Official review to come when the book is closer to publication. Suffice it to say for now that this is a worthy accompaniment to this duo's previous t...moreOfficial review to come when the book is closer to publication. Suffice it to say for now that this is a worthy accompaniment to this duo's previous two books, The Church and The Mass.(less)
Reading this for my Catholic women's book club. An astounding story and very inspirational thus far.
FINAL Interesting and inspirational. Definitely did...moreReading this for my Catholic women's book club. An astounding story and very inspirational thus far.
FINAL Interesting and inspirational. Definitely did a good job of making me look at my own life and not complain about the sacrifices I make or the undertakings I have going on for God. Could've been a bit more insightful into Mother Antonia's internal state. We are given a lot of actions but not so many circumstances where we see her own doubts, growth, or development once she is in full swing.
That said, I definitely can recommend it. And it's a quick read. (less)
This is a historical fiction account of St. Francis Xavier who, inspired by Ignatius of Loyola to "set all afire", took the faith to India and Japan....moreThis is a historical fiction account of St. Francis Xavier who, inspired by Ignatius of Loyola to "set all afire", took the faith to India and Japan. I really enjoyed this quick moving book with accurate depictions of past societies and attitudes. I especially enjoyed the looks into the way that Hindus would have seen the Catholic faith. These days it is considered incorrect to embrace one religion as being True (or "truer") than others. However, de Wohl illustrates just what Christianity brought to the common people which helped open them to the light and love of God.
It also made several points which I found illuminating in the context of a recent conversation with someone who adheres to a metaphysical idea of different levels of consciousness mixed with belief in reincarnation. (Which always makes me think of Bender's, the robot from Futurama, mot juste: "If I'd thought I had to go through a whole 'nother life, I'd kill myself right now.")
A Brahmin is talking to Francis Xavier:
"For the sake of my soul and for the sake of the soul of India, answer me: if God became incarnate on earth and suffered for all men, be they Brahmans or Sudras or any other caste, then is final salvation possible for a man even if he has not achieved perfection by himself?"
"No man can achieve perfection by himself," said Francis gently. "But by cooperating with Our Lord and on the strength of Our Lord's death on the Cross a man will be acceptable to God."
"If he can do that, there is no need for him to be reborn on earth,"" said Ramigal slowly.
I had thought of the example of Jesus telling the "thief" on the cross that he would be with him in paradise that day, but not of the larger answer to the reincarnation question. God fulfills the lack in man so that we don't have to do it all by ourselves. And what a relief that is.
Ramigal converts and later writes to Francis Xavier:
Do you remember the first talk we had, in Tiruchendar, when I mentioned reincarnation, and you taught me that by the Grace of God all could be achieved a single life? Now that I am Father Pedro, I can see so clearly that more than one incarnation can be compressed into a single life. In a sense, a new life started for me when I joined an ancient and wise man high up in the North. But in baptism I was truly reborn from water and in confirmation I was truly reborn from the Holy Spirit....
This struck me mightily when I read it as the "different levels of consciousness" issue was swirling through the back of my mind. Again, God does it all in one go, if we cooperate with him. Wow, Christianity really does have it all! And I kind of love that.
At any rate, it is a fascinating and adventurous tale and one I can recommend.(less)
“[...] We keep a record for every member, and for every customer who might yet become a member, in order to track their work." He paused, then added, "Some of them are working very hard indeed."
"What are they doing?"
"My boy," he said, eyebrows raised. As if nothing could be more obvious: "They are reading.”
Clay Jannon was lucky to find a job at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. Times are hard and jobs are scarce. However, the bookstore sells very few books and the few regular patrons seem to have a strange mission that no one will talk about. Then there's the fact that most of the books can't be found in any index of published books. Naturally Clay begins investigating and winds up on a fascinating quest that includes secret societies, museums, ancient artifacts ... and e-books, virtual reality, and Google.
This book feels like a nerd's dream come true. Not only is there the high tech point of view but also the typographer's inside details. Ok, key figure Griffo Gerritszoon is made up, but Francesco Griffo was actually Aldus Manutius' employee. Who was Aldus Minutius? Every time you read something in italics, you can thank him for inventing them.
There is an interesting tension between the old ways and the new: old knowledge in books versus Google, bookstores versus e-books, tradition and innovation. These are things that all of us cope with in our own ways but it's kind of fun to see it all linked together and hanging off of bits of real history, a la DaVinci Code, but with less of a mean spirit than in Dan Brown's book.
If you ever played Zork or Baldur's Gate, if you ever thrilled to a quest in a fantasy book, if you ever played a scavenger hunt or lost hours to solving mysteries, then this book is going to push your buttons. Mix that in with the idea of a "fellowship" and you've got a sense of where this book excels.
It doesn't have deep character development, but that's not the point of this book. It is skimming the surface of some themes but it still manages to present them and give you food for thought while having a good time. In that it is very much like The Haunted Bookshop or Agent to the Stars or The Rosie Project, just to mention a few light books that I love.
It's a light, fun read with a sense of being an adult Harry Potter-ish book. Perfect summer reading.(less)
I borrowed The Narnia Code on my Kindle, thanks to my Amazon Prime membership. I liked it so much that when I found it was the simplified version of M...moreI borrowed The Narnia Code on my Kindle, thanks to my Amazon Prime membership. I liked it so much that when I found it was the simplified version of Michael Ward's previous book, Planet Narnia, I picked it up. For one thing I wanted to read Lewis's planets poem which is continually referred to in The Narnia Code but never given in full. Planet Narnia gave the appropriate section of the poem which was very satisfying.
This book is the fleshed out version that I wanted with all the scholarly references and fuller discussion of the medieval planetary concept upon which Ward's theory is based. I loved it.(less)
"Rescuing animals is only the start of it," said Mother Noah. She scooped up a handful of seeds and placed them carefully in her pocket. "If God wants to send a flood, it's very good of him to ask Noah to put the animals in a boat. But then what do you do with them?"
But however hard it [work] was, every day brought something good. On day ten the tigers realized that she was a friend and stopped trying to eat her. On day eleven the parrots learned to say, "Move over!" which saved Mother Noah a lot of shouting. On day fifteen the chimpanzees had a very silly half hour with Ham's hat and Mr. Noah's whistle. ...
I have a real antipathy toward things that are yanked out of perspective and told from some "special" point of view, usually to empower some group. I encounter this a lot in feminist perspectives where predictable and myopic points of view bore me to tears.
So you can imagine the shiver that ran down my spine when I saw the title Women of the Bible. I read the first story, Mother Noah, to see how it fit into that feminist construct. And was pleased to see it did no such thing. Furthermore I was delighted to find it humorous, relatable, true to Genesis, and opened up my mental image of life aboard the ark. I continued, enchanted, through stories of Rachel's worry about Jacob's meeting with Esau, Miriam's following her baby brother Moses floating in the river, Mary's four special things kept in a box to sink in her mind the great turning points in her life, and many more.
Each story is told in a different way and from a different perspective. Each is accompanied by truly enchanting illustrations by Alida Massari which made me go looking for other books she's worked on.
Most importantly, each story would make a wonderful story time with your favorite little ones, whether girls or boys. They encourage questions and wonder and "entering into" familiar Bible stories from an imaginative point of view.
Artists have painted, drawn, and sculpted Angels in a variety of styles. Angels are many times portrayed as children. This is most likely to convey innocence.
Beginning in about the fourth century, Angels were usually illustrated with wings. That's how we usually see them in books, paintings, on the walls of churches, in icons, or in the art of stained-glass windows. The wings might even be the artist's interpretation of their swiftness. An Angel is able to quickly come to our aid. However, this also has roots in Holy Scripture, since some of the people in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible describe the angels who appeared to them as having wings.
For instance, we know that Isaiah saw a winged Angel. Ezekiel, too, saw visions of winged Angels. Most times when Angels appear, they look like normal people, always men. Sometimes Angels appear all aglow in awesome splendor. Warrior Angels—like the Archangels—are tremendously tall and powerful.
As you can see from the excerpt, this is a book for older children and might even be good as a quick primer for adults. Donna-Marie O'Boyle has a true talent for explaining the basics about angels, which are a more complex subject than most people might think.
She includes scriptural references, real life stories such as the children at Fatima, and has ways to relate personally to the fact that angels are all around us. The book cover angels in the Bible, their work, what they look like, archangels, fallen angels, a variety of prayers and much more. I also really liked the book design which was simple but beautiful.
I have a special interest in angels myself and consequently have read a number of books about them. This is a really great book that I'm not sure I'll be able to make myself give to the children I know. I might have to buy them their own copy.(less)
The Sacrament of Penance heals our souls when we hurt it by sinning. When we confess our sins to a priest, it is God who hears us and forgives our sins.18 God always forgives us if we are sorry, no matter how big or how many our sins are.
The Bible tells us the story of how Jesus treated a woman who had committed a big sin.19 She had been arrested, and the people were going to throw rocks at her.
Jesus came and told the people, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." One by one the people put down their rocks and left.
When only Jesus and the woman were left he told her, "Go, and do not sin again."
God always forgives us when we ask, but he also asks us to change our behavior. The Sacrament of Penance helps us with this.20
18. CCC. 1461 19. John 8:3-11 20. CCC 1468
This is a really terrific little book that I think might help parents as much as the children they read it with. For one thing, Kendra Tierney strips matters down to basics, as you can see from the excerpt above, to help everyone see the basis for all the ins and outs of the sacrament.
It begins with a brief glossary and then moves through a series of simple questions and answers. This is followed up with a brief look at a few saints who have links to confession, a simple examination of conscience, and a quick review of what actually happens during the sacrament. A really nice feature is that the cover has a quick reference on the front and back flaps containing the steps of the sacrament, the Act of Contrition, and an extremely brief examination of conscience. Personally, I found the examination of conscience really nice as a way to get back to basics in my own life. That may say more about me than it does about the book but, again, I think adults will find this touches them when they are reading through it.
I'm not crazy about the illustrations since they all look as if children drew them. Skilled children, to be sure, but children nonetheless. Maybe some children enjoy looking at pictures their peers could have drawn. I never found them appealing no matter what age I was. Of course, this is purely a matter of personal taste so don't let that stop you from picking up this gem of a book.(less)
I read about half of the books in Baker's "The Company" series before I stopped caring about it. This...moreI'd give this 3-1/2 stars but will settle for 3.
I read about half of the books in Baker's "The Company" series before I stopped caring about it. This book is only tangentially connected to that series and I honestly didn't recognize the two obvious Company characters who were included.
It is an enjoyable "Western" romp on Mars as seen via Mary Griffith who runs the local saloon and represents society on the fringes being oppressed by big business. As people come and go we see their individual stories and how they fit into the jigsaw puzzle that is this Martian colony. I really loved the romantic Ottorino Vespucci, scion of a wealthy but boring Earth family. He's a misfit due to his love of adventure and "translates" all the finagling for power in the Martian colony in terms of Western movies. And it fits.
I also really enjoyed Baker's ability to tell the truth without worrying about letting the chips fall where they may. Proper society is one that we might predict from watching current popular sociological trends. Although the "Goddess" worship popular among Mary and her cronies is linked to the Virgin of Guadalupe, it is also a nebulous sort of faith which encompasses something far beyond any Christian understanding of the Virgin Mary. And yet Baker isn't afraid to include Christians among those who would be thrown into the Hospital for Eccentrics, which is something a good many authors would have been blind to, depending upon their own prejudices.
Mary Wyman has an entry for each day of her solo walk to Santiago. Each includes the daily postcard she sent to 4-year-old granddaughter Elena, a journal entry from that day, and a longer reflection from after the pilgrimage was completed. I really enjoyed the format, especially the ways that Wyman connected with her granddaughter in the cards by asking questions or suggesting little activities like "count to 36 out loud with Mama to see how many days Grandma has left to walk the Camino (paraphrased)."
I found a lot of the book fascinating and almost feel as if I'd been along for the trip. Certainly I was just about as concerned as Mary that she get to lodgings in time for a lower bunk and that her feet would hold out. Mary's vivid descriptions of the people and nature all around her, as well as her inclusion of insights and spiritual experiences all combined to make this a very good book.
It isn't a perfect book though. As a 70-year old woman from San Francisco, Mary has all the stereotypical attitudes of that demographic. Push the right button and the standard liberal attitude comes popping right up. Luckily it was rare enough to avoid ruining the book for those of us who don't share those attitudes. In fact, it often provided humorous moments such as one day's reflections on the huge list of women who have influenced her life, when contrasted with a later day when she struggled to make a list of 15 influential men in her life because it never occurred to her to think of such a thing. She later added to that list but with so many qualifications that she may as well not have bothered. I actually laughed out loud.
More problematic were the two or three times she recorded long conversations about topics dear to her heart and went into so much detail that the book essentially ground to a halt. I realize that this book is to provide a legacy for Wyman's granddaughter, so it made sense from her point of view to write so many pages about such things as Centering Prayer and the Jobs Corps. However, the tone completely changed to a preachy-teachy style that is deadly unless one also is passionate about those topics. I ain't.
I mention the imperfections to explain my 3-star rating. As a whole, they are relatively slight as witnessed by the fact that I read this book in a couple of days, riveted to the pilgrimage.(less)
'Come Lazarus!' I have never heard the Wisest One shout so loudly.
'Come, Lazarus... come out to me!' again he shouted.
The Great Ones [men] all looked at each other uneasily, the smell of fear coming off them as sharp as any skunk. But my ears were pinched back, and I heard what they could not hear: a wondrous thing, a little sigh as gentle as the breeze, and then a scratching, scruffling noise and something being put to one side — the leftover spices, perhaps in a jar being moved? ...
I watched in wonder and could barely keep myself from shouting and dancing and chasing my tail — for in all my days I have never seen anything like this. Suddenly the woman — I realized at once she was the mother of Lazarus — came rushing up and ran straight into the resting-place. There was a shriek of joy and then such weeping it would tear your heart in two if you didn't know it was tears of you that were being wept. ...
Kal is Peter the Fisherman's dog, rescued when he was just a puppy from a group of tormenting boys. That means he tells us the Gospel story from a canine point of view, including all the senses the we don't notice! Did you know that lepers are delicious to lick and even have a convenient bell to let Kal know they are coming? When Jesus (the Wisest One) heals them it is is a great disappointment because they taste just like regular men again.
Any kid from about the age of 8 and up, who has a basic understanding of the gospel story, would enjoy this different view of it. In fact, I enjoyed it quite a bit myself. Kal's different viewpoint will not only open up the gospel but might prompt children to wonder how their pets understand them and the family events unfolding in daily life.
I really loved the way the book graphically conveyed Kal's sense of smell with "Smellavision" dots of different colors strategically scattered on pages to give an extra layer of information. I wasn't crazy about the illustrations which were done in a very child-like style but, again, that is a matter of personal taste and they don't detract from enjoyment of the story itself.
The story has humor, pathos, drama, and many interesting smells! I can definitely recommend this to imaginative readers, whether young or old.(less)
McDermott really does take the pain and fussiness out of producing authentic tasting ethnic foods, in this case Thai cuisine. Leafing through this I d...moreMcDermott really does take the pain and fussiness out of producing authentic tasting ethnic foods, in this case Thai cuisine. Leafing through this I discovered that I had already read it once because her grilled chicken with garlic recipe is a staple of my kitchen. (less)
Naturally I raced online to the library and requested it. Anyone who reads Neil Gaiman, especially his children's books, will instantly see that he and Thurber are kindred souls.
Naturally a prince comes to rescue the princess from the land where time lies frozen so "It's always Then. It's never Now." Replete with the wordplay and humor one would expect from James Thurber, this is a charming and slightly insane book with large dark elements. Like Alice in Wonderland it has a lot of bits that are just wonderful for their own sakes without having any deeper meaning. And yet, everything comes together to move the story along in a most satisfactory way.
Here's a bit that went into my quote journal.
"The task is hard," said Zorn, "and can't be done."
"I can do a score of things that can't be done," the Golux said. "I can find a thing I cannot see and see a thing I cannot find. The first is time, the second is a spot before my eyes. I can feel a thing I cannot touch and touch a thing I cannot feel. The first is sad and sorry, the second is your heart. What would you do without me? Say 'nothing.'"
We listened to this on a two-day car trip and found it thought provoking and enlightening. I'll go a bit further and add that I found it inspirational...moreWe listened to this on a two-day car trip and found it thought provoking and enlightening. I'll go a bit further and add that I found it inspirational.
More to come because I made a few notes on the way, but highly recommended.
It was my first Gladwell book though I've seen him on TED Talks. I will be interested to try others to see if they are as rich as this one.(less)
Picked this up in St. Augustine while on vacation as a souvenir and read it in a couple of days. Really a classic look at Southern cooking in 1942 as...morePicked this up in St. Augustine while on vacation as a souvenir and read it in a couple of days. Really a classic look at Southern cooking in 1942 as well as a great sample of this lyrical, humorous author's style.
I gulped it down and instantly started on my other souvenir, Cross Creek.(less)
Hey, it was free to borrow on my Kindle. AND I was really intrigued in the idea that Lewis was using medieval cosmology as themes for each of the Narn...moreHey, it was free to borrow on my Kindle. AND I was really intrigued in the idea that Lewis was using medieval cosmology as themes for each of the Narnia books.
Not that I've read them all. I haven't.
But after reading That Hideous Strength in which eldils from different planets are significant, Ward's idea made sense.
I am 50% done and am really enthralled by this idea. I actually will pick up the Narnia series with book 4 and finish it after I'm done.
The whole explanation of medieval cosmology as seen in the Narnia books is riveting and, if for no other reason, I am very glad to be introduced to the subject.
I've requested Ward's earlier, more scholarly, book on this subject and also C.S. Lewis's "The Discarded Image" for his explanation of medieval mindsets (it's supposed to be pretty amazing).
FINAL I liked this so much that I got Planet Narnia by the same author, which is his first book on the subject (and less succinct and possibly less dumbed down - not that this feels dumbed down, actually).(less)
Beginning this book is the reason I felt the push to finally push myself to read That Hideous Strength (the final one of C.S. Lewis's "space trilogy)....moreBeginning this book is the reason I felt the push to finally push myself to read That Hideous Strength (the final one of C.S. Lewis's "space trilogy). Purtill has an in-depth essay at the back of the book discussing that book and mentions it frequently in the beginning of the main text. I had been looking for something which discussed Lewis's work as well as Tolkien's and this is one that has been praised highly.
I was surprised to see that quite a bit of this winds up addressing Tolkien's critics. I had no idea how many people, both positively and negatively inclined, have tried to shove The Lord of the Rings into their own narrow worldview. It is really interesting to see how much broader Tolkien, with his devout Catholic worldview, has managed to be simply because he himself wanted to write a story that was pre-Christian. I was also quite surprised to see some of the criticisms of Lewis's writing and also of Lewis's own commitment to Christianity. For example, I had no idea that people took a string of seemingly attached events and spun them to conclude that Lewis lost his faith after his wife died. I never would have drawn that same conclusion and it was interesting to see Purtill look at that issue, eventually showing that it was not logical when considering all the facts in context.
I also really like the way that Purtill takes his comments about others' critiques of both authors and then turns to make his own remarks which extend beyond any criticism into appreciation and elucidation. It is this which is really valuable to me.(less)
As with the other two books in C.S. Lewis's "space trilogy" I found this one difficult to get into and, yet, once I got past the indefinable point whe...moreAs with the other two books in C.S. Lewis's "space trilogy" I found this one difficult to get into and, yet, once I got past the indefinable point where it was no longer a struggle, I couldn't read it fast enough. Consequently this was a 24-hour book for me. It is a testament to Lewis's imagination and writing skill as to how different all three of the books are in this trilogy, while simultaneously all carrying out the same basic theme. No wonder J.R.R. Tolkien loved them.
Speaking of Tolkien, I was stunned to see Numinor mentioned twice and Middle Earth once in this book. I never dreamed there was such a deliberate, direct connection between this book and the Lord of the Rings, which was not yet published in its entirety when this book came out as Lewis says in the introduction. One can see the way these books and LOTR go hand in hand with similar themes, although expressed differently through the authors' different styles.
This book itself was really terrific and left me striving to be a better person, to be truer to myself, as did the other two. Not many other books really leave one feeling that way.(less)
I've never been that interested in visiting Japan and it says a lot for Matthew Amster-Burton's engaging food/travel memoir that by the end I was wond...moreI've never been that interested in visiting Japan and it says a lot for Matthew Amster-Burton's engaging food/travel memoir that by the end I was wondering if I could have a successful week-long visit without learning to read kanji. I'm already a fan of Amster-Burton's light-hearted style because I listen to Spilled Milk, the podcast that he co-hosts. It transfers fairly successfully to a book style, though I did find myself wishing that he'd have cut out a few extraneous jokes here and there.
Pretty Good Number One is fairly food-centric but without pretension and in a way that makes you understand how plain rice balls can be delicious. The food talk is woven in with plenty of interesting cultural observations that make you feel as if you understand Tokyo just a bit better. Plus it is just a fun read.(less)
We need the truth, but we also need to know how to live in and through and by that truth.
What we need, in short, are stories.
Louis Markos begins with the idea that in the past stories weren't only told for children's entertainment and instruction, but for that of adults as well. We've lost not only that idea but a lot of the time-honored values that we used to teach and cherish in such stories. The author "mines" two of the most honored stories in modern times, the Lord of the Rings and, to a lesser extent, The Chronicles of Narnia, to show how they can help us return to classic virtues these days.
Ancient literature, modern culture, and scripture are all woven into Markos' book. The main emphasis is on Tolkien and Lewis, but the depth of material means that it hits you where you live. Before delving into the virtues, Markos begins with the idea of the hero's journey and the road. These are the heart of good story telling, after all, and so are themes that are returned to repeatedly throughout the book.
In the greater tales, the ones that matter—the ones that change both us and our world—the heroes do not so much choose the Road, as the Road chooses them. For our part, we must be ready, prepared in season and out, to answer the call, whenever and however it comes. And we must be prepared to press on, trusting to an end that we often do not, perhaps cannot, see. It is easy to claim that we would have done what Abraham did, but that is only because we stand outside the story. We see the good end, the fulfillment that Abraham could not see from within the story.
Markos is not detached with his subject at arm's length. He loves these stories and the themes they embrace and his enthusiasm comes through to make a warm, lively reading experience.
I've read several other books looking deeper into The Lord of the Rings, in particular, and this book still managed to provide new ideas for reflection. Markos really does a fantastic job of revealing the characteristics of various characters in Middle-Earth and Narnia and the virtues we can see in them. This is a thoughtful and thought provoking book which I can't recommend highly enough.
I'll be looking for more of Markos' books in the future.
NOTE I received this review copy from Aquinas and More, the largest on-line Catholic bookstore. They've got a lot more than books. Check them out for all your Catholic needs ... rosaries, communion gifts, and so forth.