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message 1: by Kerstin (last edited Dec 06, 2018 05:09PM) (new)

Kerstin | 1317 comments Mod
What would you call Catholic Fiction? To me this would be a work of fiction written from an authentically Christian and/or Catholic perspective. You might say this is obvious. :) But...

How do you find it? What resources do you use?
These are some of the questions I have asked myself. We all either want to read these ourselves when in the mood for a relaxing read, or are looking for edifying reads for our children and grandchildren, and other such criteria. Naturally many of the classics come to mind before secularization took its toll in the 20th century and onward.

Just this week Marcus Grodi said on his show, Journey Home, that literature over the past century has become rather secularized. God, faith, religious practice and references are simply no longer present in the major literary works being written. But this is also true for picture books, children's books, the new genre of YA, and entertainment fiction - safe for Christian fiction, which is a Protestant niche market, mostly romance, and can be theologically questionable or overly saccharine, but free of sexual content.

I wanted to create a space for us to discuss this topic and where where we can make recommendations.


message 2: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3636 comments Mod
Kerstin, you've hit on a subject so dear to my heart. Yes, this is a great subject.

Now I have the answer for you. Here in New York, the Brooklyn diocese (we have two dioceses) has a TV channel and one of the TV shows is entitled "The Catholic Novel." I've caught a few episodes and love it. They are free on the internet on youtube. First here is the channel website (NET TV) with the page on The Catholic Novel episodes.
https://netny.tv/?s=catholic+novel

The host is Fr. Robert Lauder who is a college professor. Play the first episode. He speaks about Brighton Rock being the first Catholic novel he ever read and it was for me too! I was an atheist/agnostic at the time (college days) but I think it worked into my soul and gave me grace to help me toward faith later in life.

Fr. Lauder defines a Catholic novel at around the 12 minute mark in episode 1. I wrote it down because I think it's important.

A Catholic novel is a novel whose theme is related to some Catholic dogmatic teaching, or some Catholic moral teaching or some Catholic sacramental or liturgical principle AND the mystery of Catholicism is treated favorably.


This is a great subject.


message 3: by Susan (new)

Susan | 191 comments I don’t know if this applies, but I read ‘Cleansing Fire’ by Peter B Kelly (I think I had to order it from his site, it is signed by him I think, and I thought it was fantastic!


message 4: by Frances (new)

Frances Richardson | 535 comments Kerstin, one Catholic author who is writing today is Ron Hansen, Gerard Manley Hopkins professor of Humanities at Santa Clara University. He has three Catholic-themed novels: Mariette in Ecstasy, Atticus, and Exiles. His lecture, “On Being a Catholic Writer: Seeing into the Middle of Things,” delivered on October 24, 2014, is available online.

Another is the late British author Brian Moore. At least four of his novels are explicitly Catholic: The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, Black Robe, Cold Heaven, and Catholics, which was faithfully adapted for tv in 1973. This is what the NYTimes said about it:
“Catholics, a 90-minute production is Brian Moore’s television adaptation of his own highly acclaimed novella. Quite simply, it represents a most significant and most encouraging landmark for drama on commercial television . . . The subject, in a rare gesture for prime-time television, is religion, as a set of beliefs, as a social force, as an institution . . . The issue is Catholic, more specifically Irish Catholic, but the ramifications are universal. At the core is the eternal relationship between man and God . . . The production is just about flawless, and much of the credit belongs to Sidney Glazier, the executive producer . . . With Catholics, commercial television’s aspirations to intelligence and seriousness come of age.”

This review was written in 1973. I would like to think the New York Times would publish just such a review in 2018, yet, there’s no doubt we have become a much more secular culture.


message 5: by Frances (new)

Frances Richardson | 535 comments Correction: I should have described Brian Moore as a contemporary writer, not as one writing today. He died in 1999.


message 6: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1317 comments Mod
Wow Manny! This I didn't expect. I will definitely watch these episodes :), especially the one on Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. I will moderate it after New Year's in Victorians!.


message 7: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3636 comments Mod
Kerstin wrote: "Wow Manny! This I didn't expect. I will definitely watch these episodes :), especially the one on Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. I will moderate it after New Year's in Victor..."

How many book clubs do you moderate?...lol. I can't even keep up with this one.


message 8: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1317 comments Mod
Manny wrote: "How many book clubs do you moderate?...lol. I can't even keep up with this one."

Just these two. Victorians is much larger and has six moderators. I haven't lead a discussion with them in about a year, which is fine by me.


message 9: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1317 comments Mod
I checked out some of the episodes of The Catholic Novel on NET TV and bookmarked the website :) I love Fr. Robert Lauder's presentations, and it encourages the reader to consider books previously passed by. In his introductory episode he talks about how ignorant even Catholics are to Catholic novels because they are not even taught in Catholic schools and universities. What a sad state of affairs!

I also found a column he wrote on Faith and Literature, it is the first in a series, and he talks about the moral imagination versus the diabolical imagination, the latter of which is ubiquitous in our culture today.

http://licatholic.org/faith-and-liter...

Years ago I noticed how book covers have gotten more and more dark, many of which in monochromatic greys and black, the illustrations and the fonts reinforce the dark theme. Same goes for movies and TV shows. It is as if the culture shuns the light, shuns color, and seeks shadows.


message 10: by Frances (new)

Frances Richardson | 535 comments Quite an insight, Kerstin. Thank you.


message 11: by Manny (last edited Dec 07, 2018 06:33PM) (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3636 comments Mod
I should mention that we have a Catholic author here among us, our
Frances. I hope I don't make you blush Frances but her Catholic novel Not All Of Me Is Dust not only meets Fr. Lauder's definition of a Catholic novel but is a wonderful and moving read. I definitely recommend it.


message 12: by Frances (new)

Frances Richardson | 535 comments It’s so like Manny to be generous, to promote others. Thank you, Manny.

I’d like to put forth two novels by Graham Greene: Brighton Rock and The Power and the Glory; and two by Brian Moore: Catholics and Cold Heaven. These are explicitly Catholic novels. But they were all written before 1980. Why is there a scarcity of Catholic fiction today?


message 13: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3636 comments Mod
Frances wrote: "It’s so like Manny to be generous, to promote others. Thank you, Manny.

I’d like to put forth two novels by Graham Greene: Brighton Rock and The Power and the Glory; and two by Brian Moore: Cathol..."


The Greene novels are excellent and are must reads by Catholics interested in fiction. I don't know Brian Moore. I caught the episode of Fr. Lauder's show on Moore's Catholics and while he liked a good deal of it, he felt it did not meet the definition of a Catholic novel. He said it failed to meet the part of the definition where "the mystery of Catholicism is treated favorably." I have not read the novel or know anything about the novelist, so I can't say one way or the other.


message 14: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1317 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I don’t know if this applies, but I read ‘Cleansing Fire’ by Peter B Kelly (I think I had to order it from his site, it is signed by him I think, and I thought it was fantastic!"

Just reading the description, I think it would qualify. It sounds rather interesting!

Here is the link Cleansing Fire: Welcome to the New Springtime


message 15: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1317 comments Mod
Frances wrote: "Kerstin, one Catholic author who is writing today is Ron Hansen, Gerard Manley Hopkins professor of Humanities at Santa Clara University. He has three Catholic-themed novels: Mariette in Ecstasy, A..."

Isn't it depressing how much our world has changed in the last 40 years?

I've looked up some of the links for the books you mentioned. My to-read list is growing again by leaps and bounds :)

Now Mariette In Ecstacy by Ron Hansen has been nominated twice (if I remember correctly), so perhaps we'll read it soon!
Atticus
Exiles
I found some links on Youtube regarding the talk; you could spend your entire Saturday just watching these :)
https://www.youtube.com/results?searc...

Brian Moore:
Black Robe
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne
Cold Heaven
Catholics


message 16: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3636 comments Mod
Kerstin, if you’re looking for a list of Catholic novels, I’ll put one together for you tonight.


message 17: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1317 comments Mod
There's no hurry, Manny. I've already added for myself other titles beyond to what we've discussed here so far. Though a list for all would not be a bad thing.


message 18: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1317 comments Mod
Here is an article I found when I googled "On Being a Catholic Writer," thinking it would take me to Ron Hansen.

https://www.crisismagazine.com/2012/o...


message 19: by Frances (new)

Frances Richardson | 535 comments I'm sorry, Kerstin. My directions must have been incomplete. I just checked and found two different Ron Hansen interviews. One is with America, the Jesuit magazine, the other, the one I originally wrote of, can be found by typing in:
Ron Hansen On Being a Catholic Writer October 24, 2014 lecture

Please let me know if you don't find it. I am not very tech-savvy, but I'll keep trying. It's an excellent lecture.


message 20: by Frances (new)

Frances Richardson | 535 comments Manny, Brian Moore's most Catholic novel is very probably Black Robe, about the Jesuit missionaries who came to America in the seventeenth century to work among the Huron and Iroquois peoples. It was made into a film in the 1980s. It is a powerful novel, and as anyone who has read about the Iroquois treatment of captives can attest, filled with graphic scenes of unbearable torture. I saw the film but it was not equal to the book.


message 21: by Fonch (new)

Fonch | 7 comments Frances wrote: "Manny, Brian Moore's most Catholic novel is very probably Black Robe, about the Jesuit missionaries who came to America in the seventeenth century to work among the Huron and Iroquois peoples. It w..."

It is the first part that i participated in this discussion. I totally agree with Frances. The case of Brian Moore is really especial. He is a northern irish, whose father was catholic member of parliament he had a a nun sister, but he lost his faith. However this thing made his prose very interesting. I watched the movie Black Robe and i loved it, indeed i was wihsing to read the novel. This year i had the oportunity to read this novel and i am enchanted i recognized that Black Robe is one of my favorite novels of this year. It is surprising that a men, that he lost his faith had written this novel it is very close to the Shusaku Endo`s novel. It is not strange that one of his fans was Graham Greene. The catholic spanish writer Juan Manuel de Prada https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... it is a big fan of Brian Moore in his TV programme Tears in the rain (Lagrimas en la lluvia) broadcasted the movie Catholics inspired in a Brian Moore`s novel. He said that Moore warned to the catholics of some dangerus who threated the catholic in this case "Catholics" the risk of the catholic aith was destroyed by the modernism for this reason Moore supported the traditional catholic rite. I must warn that in these novels the main character lost faith of they have lost. However i recomend enthusiastially his novels and the adaptations of his novels.


message 22: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3636 comments Mod
Thank you both, Frances and Fonch. I'll put Black Robe on to read list.


message 23: by Fonch (new)

Fonch | 7 comments Manny wrote: "Thank you both, Frances and Fonch. I'll put Black Robe on to read list."

I must warn you Manny a part of the apostasy of the priest the novel is very violent and there is a lot of sex. But the novel is excellent. If you like Shusaku Endo you will love this novel Manny. A part of this like very much "Eifelheim" by Michael Flynn it was recomended by my friend Julie Davis "Operation Quatuor" by my friend Alfonseca, although i do not know that he translated to this novel to English and the novel of my friend Jorge Saez Criado "Apocalypse the Day of Lord" if you like Michael DÒbrine`s novels you will love. The problem is that the novel of my friend Jorge Saez Criado has not been translated to English :-(.


message 24: by Frances (new)

Frances Richardson | 535 comments Black Robe is fiction that corresponds to the historical story of the North American martyrs: Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf and their Jesuit companions who died at the hands of the Iroquois in the seventeenth century. The Iroquois were cannibals. The book is strong stuff, but based on events in the real world.


message 25: by Manny (last edited Dec 08, 2018 07:16PM) (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3636 comments Mod
OK, here's a couple of lists of Catholic novels I've put together, and they are by no means complete..

First a list of the ones I've read:

Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote
Shusaku Endo, Silence
Flannery O’Conner, The Complete Stories
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings; The Hobbit
Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
Adalbert Stifter, Rock Crystal
G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday
Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory; Brighton Rock
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
Anthony Burgess, The Wanting Seed
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Here's a list of generally accepted fine Catholic novels that I have not read.

Robert Hugh Benson – Lord of the World
George Bernanos– The Diary of a Country Priest
Henryk Sienkiewicz– Quo Vadis
Sigrid Undset – Kristin Lavransdatter
Alessandro Manzoni, The Betrothed
Francois Mauriac, Therese
Ignazio Silone, Bread and Wine
Gertrud von Le Fort, The Song at the Scaffold
Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins
J.F. Powers, Morte D'Urban
Ron Hansen, Mariette in Ecstasy
Rumer Godden, In This House of Brede
Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Michael O’Brien, Father Elijah
Louis de Wohl, The Spear
Lloyd C. Douglas, The Robe
Myles Connolly, Mr. Blue
Morley Callaghan, More Joy in Heaven
Edwin O'Connor, The Edge of Sadness
Eugenio Corti, The Red Horse
Jose Maria Gironella, The Cypresses Believe in God
Walter M. Miller Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz
William Kennedy, Ironweed
Brian Moore, Black Robe

And here's a list of novelists who I'll list as honorable mention either because they are not Catholic or their work is not considered of the highest order yet.

Alice McDermott
Gene Woolf
Willa Cather
CS Lewis
Dean Koontz
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Leo Tolstoy
Jane Austen
Bud McFarlane Jr.

I am sure are more works that I have missed. I haven't even put any South American authors in here, though I don't know if any were religious.


message 26: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1317 comments Mod
That's quite a list, Manny, thank you! Now we have an additional decade of reading material :)
Hopefully we'll read some of them with the group.


message 27: by Frances (new)

Frances Richardson | 535 comments Thank you so much, Manny. Fonch, I hope you stay with us.


message 28: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3636 comments Mod
Mark Twain is not a Catholic author, but I would consider his Personal Recollections of Joan Of Arc that we read last year as a Catholic novel. It was true to the history and to the theology and it treated the mystery of Catholicism favorably.


message 29: by Fonch (new)

Fonch | 7 comments Manny wrote: "OK, here's a couple of lists of Catholic novels I've put together, and they are by no means complete..

First a list of the ones I've read:

Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote
Shusaku Endo, Silence..."

Very good novels Manny, although it does not appear my favourite bodies and souls by Maxence van der Meersch.


message 30: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1317 comments Mod
Joseph Pearce is going to do a series on the "Catholic Literary Revival" on his podcast through the Augustine Institute, Faith & Culture.

https://www.faithandculture.com/home/...

In this first episode he does a sweeping summary and ends with the 19th century. He is focusing primarily on England.

I've been listening to his podcasts for a while now and truly enjoy them. They are about 20 minutes long, and most of the time I wish they'd go longer.


message 31: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3636 comments Mod
Fantastic. Thank you Kerstin. That is a must listen for me.


message 32: by Fonch (new)

Fonch | 7 comments Kerstin wrote: "Joseph Pearce is going to do a series on the "Catholic Literary Revival" on his podcast through the Augustine Institute, Faith & Culture.

https://www.faithandculture.com/home/...-..."


I agree with Kerstin "Literary converts" should be a mandary reading for catholic readers.


message 33: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3636 comments Mod
Joseph Pearce makes the case here that Alessandro Manzoni, The Betrothed might be the greatest Catholic novel. He starts the article with:

"If the great masterpiece of Italian literature, Dante’s Divine Comedy, could realistically be acclaimed as the greatest poem ever written, the other great masterpiece of Italian literature, The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi) by Alessandro Manzoni, could be acclaimed as the greatest ever novel."

You can read it here:
https://theimaginativeconservative.or...


message 34: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1317 comments Mod
It is a great article. Joseph Pearce is so good in guiding Catholics through the literary world.


message 35: by Fonch (new)

Fonch | 7 comments All text written by Joseph Pearce is ever interesting and compelling.


message 36: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3636 comments Mod
Given the interest in Catholic fiction and given that it never seems to win out because devotional and theological works seem to grab people's attention, how would the book club feel about setting aside a recurring read where nominations have to be a work of Catholic fiction?

For instance, our recurring cycles are an inexpensive read, a regularly priced read, and a recurring read that is too long for one cycle. How would the book club feel about adding a fourth category, a work of Catholic fiction?


message 37: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3636 comments Mod
Given the interest in Catholic fiction and given that it never seems to win out because devotional and theological works seem to grab people's attention, how would the book club feel about setting aside a recurring read where nominations have to be a work of Catholic fiction?

For instance, our recurring cycles are an inexpensive read, a regularly priced read, and a recurring read that is too long for one cycle. How would the book club feel about adding a fourth category, a work of Catholic fiction?


message 38: by Frances (new)

Frances Richardson | 535 comments I think that's an inspired idea. I'd like to nominate Mariette in Ecstasy, by Ron Hansen.


message 39: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3636 comments Mod
Frances wrote: "I think that's an inspired idea. I'd like to nominate Mariette in Ecstasy, by Ron Hansen."

I thought you would like that. Let's see if the book club wants to do this.


message 40: by Frances (new)

Frances Richardson | 535 comments Ron Hansen, Gerard Manley Hopkins Professor of Humanities at Santa Clara University, is a rare and gifted talent. In addition to the beauty of the prose, this book contains something of a mystery, and I think members would like to discuss it.


message 41: by Kerstin (last edited May 15, 2019 08:38PM) (new)

Kerstin | 1317 comments Mod
I deleted my initial comment. I didn't see all the new posts, hence what I wrote didn't make any sense...


message 42: by Kerstin (last edited May 15, 2019 08:53PM) (new)

Kerstin | 1317 comments Mod
Allright. How should we set it up?

a) Amend the overall sequence, i.e., a fixed slot for Catholic Fiction
b) Designate once or twice a year to nominate a work of fiction?
c) Any other suggestions?

We read on average 6 books a year without the short reads.

Let's hear everyone's input!


message 43: by Madeleine (new)

Madeleine Myers | 572 comments Some very recent Catholic fiction: I have reviewed all three authors on Amazon and Goodreads. Sword and Serpent (first in a trilogy by Taylor Marshall, centers on St. George, but features numerous other saints of that time period, Marshall blends history and legend. For YA and up, I loved the trilogy. The Mango Murders by Mara Campos, a mystery about two detectives, one local, one FBI, tracking a serial killer in Puerto Rico.The trail leads to a boys home run by a ring of pedophile priests and prostitution with New York connections. (the author is a good friend) and another series--this one apocalyptic fiction by Jacqueline Brown, which involves Catholic characters, some more devout than others, trying to survive after the EMP blast wipes out all electricity and technology. First book titled The Light: Who Do You Become When the World Falls Away.


message 44: by Madeleine (new)

Madeleine Myers | 572 comments The Catholic Book Club did the first Sword and Serpent book last year.


message 45: by Fonch (new)

Fonch | 7 comments Madeleine wrote: "The Catholic Book Club did the first Sword and Serpent book last year."
Yes it was a big success the autor participated in the discussion :-).


message 46: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3636 comments Mod
Fonch wrote: "Madeleine wrote: "The Catholic Book Club did the first Sword and Serpent book last year."
Yes it was a big success the autor participated in the discussion :-)."


Really. Taylor Marshall. That would have been cool. Well we do have a Catholic author as part of our book club. Our dear Frances Richardson. Check out her book. Not All Of Me Is Dust It's really good.


message 47: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3636 comments Mod
Kerstin wrote: "Allright. How should we set it up?

a) Amend the overall sequence, i.e., a fixed slot for Catholic Fiction
b) Designate once or twice a year to nominate a work of fiction?
c) Any other suggestions?..."


I imagined it as adding it to the recurring sequence of reads but maybe a fixed time of year - say a summer read - might be appropriate. What would you prefer Kerstin? I can go either way. Or should I create a poll for a vote? That might be more fun.


message 48: by Fonch (new)

Fonch | 7 comments Manny wrote: "Fonch wrote: "Madeleine wrote: "The Catholic Book Club did the first Sword and Serpent book last year."
Yes it was a big success the autor participated in the discussion :-)."

Really. Taylor Marsh..."

I am waiting that his sequel of The Sword and Serpent was translated to spanish son. I consider the Sword and Serpent the best book of the year with a novel of Juan Manuel de Prada. I know that it is a trilogy i hope to read the two books of Saint George.


message 49: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1317 comments Mod
Manny wrote: "I imagined it as adding it to the recurring sequence of reads but maybe a fixed time of year - say a summer read - might be appropriate. What would you prefer Kerstin? I can go either way. Or should I create a poll for a vote? That might be more fun."

I have no preference on the actual sequence, my spread sheet is flexible :) Adding another slot for Catholic Fiction would certainly broaden our repertoire. Though I do like the idea of a summer read! which could be inserted regardless.

Yes, let's do a poll and announce it, so everyone gets a chance to chime in.


message 50: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3636 comments Mod
OK, I'll put up a poll tonight and broadcast it.


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