Concise biography of the great saint of Auschwitz, who gave his life so that another man might live. Great devotion to the Immaculata (Mary). A particConcise biography of the great saint of Auschwitz, who gave his life so that another man might live. Great devotion to the Immaculata (Mary). A particular favorite of JP II. If you don't know Kolbe this will inspire you....more
Majestic subject, magisterial writer—a book best listened to as you would a great symphony by Beethoven or Brahms.
The terminology of geology is baroqMajestic subject, magisterial writer—a book best listened to as you would a great symphony by Beethoven or Brahms.
The terminology of geology is baroque and impossible to memorize on short notice, so why not just let it wash over you like chord progressions you really can't remember or understand? Set yourself to contemplating what's really at stake in the 4-billion-year geologic history of the earth: deep time.
If the span of the earth's history is represented by your arms stretched to either side of your body, all of human history is concentrated in the tip of a finger on your right hand. Everything else—all that time—is deep behind us.
Main take-aways from this first volume in McPhee's "Annals of the Former World" are the theory of plate tectonics (wow) and the way geology since the 18th century has played spoiler to literal interpretation of the Bible. As recently as the French Revolution, theologians traced the history of the earth back nearly 6,000 years to the Garden of Eden. (Using the Old Testament, you can estimate each generation's length all the way back to Adam.)
Geologists upended all that, but did they upend God? Is there anything in the awe-inspiring history of the earth that makes a hypothesis of God untenable? I don't think so. All I'm left with after "Basin and Range" is awe. ...more
This is essential reading for the post-Christian Christian. Converting the non-Christian is not its purpose. Those ears are already deaf to this messaThis is essential reading for the post-Christian Christian. Converting the non-Christian is not its purpose. Those ears are already deaf to this message. Rather, this is a book for religious folks like me and maybe you: appalled at the decline of Christian culture in the West and desiring to remain hopeful despite the devastation.
Benedict of Nursia was the founder of the Benedictine order, credited with creating the model for Western monasticism. He lived on the cusp between the end of the Roman Empire and the onset of the Dark Ages. He saw the light of the world fade but never lost faith in the light of Christ. Instead, he created a safe space for that light to burn on, and then slowly spread out into the darkness, toward the horizon, reconverting the world.
We are at such a time again, Dreher writes, and I agree. A time when so many wars are already lost—not to Goths and Visigoths but to liberal causes like abortion and gay marriage, pornography and in vitro fertilization. (What he says about IVF may shock you; it did me.)
What can we do? The answers are here. They are not solutions in the short term, but they are signs: of Christ, of hope, of the possibility that one day things may again take a turn for the better. ...more
First book in a long time to make me want to give six stars. First book to make my jaw drop with its awesome erudition. Not the smarty-pants idea-pushFirst book in a long time to make me want to give six stars. First book to make my jaw drop with its awesome erudition. Not the smarty-pants idea-pushing of the academic but the profound wisdom of the deeply religious, deeply read, great, wonderful man.
Daughter Susannah Heschel’s introduction about Sabbath observance in her childhood home lets us know just how wonderful her father was.
Heschel was (I’m guessing, no expert here) the great American Jewish theologian of the post–WWII era. It’s enough for me to read in his credit line that he was Professor of Ethics and Mysticism at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. I mean, seriously: ethics and mysticism?
But that’s mostly beside the point. The point here is the Sabbath and its meaning in Jewish Scripture and tradition, and its meaning today, since if you’re a God-fearing Judeo-Christian, by rights the Sabbath means what it always has.
Of course, our space-oriented, space-conquering culture makes of the Sabbath another workday, another shopping day when the malls are open, another day on which none of us can stop. Our idea of rest has become binge-watching a series on Netflix.
Heschel argues that while our civilization is all about manipulating things in space, the Sabbath is about time and its holy nature.
There is so much in these 100 pages that the best thing for me to do is stop writing and re-read it ASAP.
What a nice surprise, this little book. It combines two figures important to my Catholic journey, Henri Nouwen and the book’s author James Martin, SJ.What a nice surprise, this little book. It combines two figures important to my Catholic journey, Henri Nouwen and the book’s author James Martin, SJ., with the central character in the book, Thomas Merton.
Martin’s “My Life with the Saints” began the last leg of my conversion odyssey, when I picked it up on a 1/2-priced table at Borders in the fall of 2007 and began going to daily mass the following morning.
Nouwen’s “Return of the Prodigal Son” was the trigger for events that led me to the L’Arche Boston North community two years ago. Famous author and lecturer, celebrated as a fave professor at Yale Divinity School, Nouwen more or less disappeared into a L’Arche community for the last ten years of his life. This piqued my interest.
Anyway—great book even if you don’t have as many personal connections to it! It combines Vatican II’s notion of a universal call to holiness with Merton’s famous statement: “For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and discovering my true self.”
Martin never falls into the trap I anticipated for him: reducing the Christian journey to a mere search for self. The point here is that it is my real self to which God is calling me, where, when I get there, I will find God waiting for me.
Includes many other saintly figures whom I treasure, too, including Dorothy Day and Thérèse of Lisieux. Go get it. ...more
Henry Nouwen led me to L’Arche, this is one of his “L’Arche books,” I am on a L’Arche retreat, and so I have now read the book in the past day while oHenry Nouwen led me to L’Arche, this is one of his “L’Arche books,” I am on a L’Arche retreat, and so I have now read the book in the past day while on retreat.
This is an edited version of a speech Nouwen gave to a group of Catholic clerics after he entered the L’Arche Daybreak community in the mid-1980s. He offers lessons from L’Arche on how to be a better priest—or Christian leader of any kind.
Brilliantly, Nouwen states that today’s priests face the same three temptations Jesus faced in the desert 2,000 years ago. Jesus was tempted to conquer hunger by converting bread to stones; to do “something spectacular” (throwing himself from the parapet and letting angels catch him); and to seize power (over all the kingdoms of the world).
Today’s priests, Nouwen writes, are likewise tempted to “be relevant” (providing real bread instead of the Bread of Life); to be popular; and to be powerful leaders. As an antidote, Nouwen directs the reader’s attention to the story of Jesus calling Peter to be a shepherd (John 21:15–19).
Thus, Nouwen distills two short Gospel passages into a long homily on the temptations of today’s priesthood and ways of surmounting these—moving from relevance to prayer, from popularity to ministry, and from leading to being led.
A short, worthwhile read for any Christian, or any leader for that matter. ...more