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Book and Media Reviews

The most recent Commentary items which review books and other media.

Recognizing the Noonday Devil by Thomas Van - Friday

If you had to guess the characteristic vice of our age, what would you pick? Some might say lust, and that’s certainly a big one, but it doesn’t seem to get to the root of the problem. The safe choice, perhaps, would be pride. It’s certainly true, but the same could be said of...

Scientific Evidence for the Creator by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Thursday

Back in 2012 I wrote an extensive review of Fr. Robert J. Spitzer’s impressive book, New Proofs for the Existence of God (see Proving God). Spitzer examined both scientific and philosophical proofs, and he did a brilliant job, but his book was not targeted at the casual reader. That’s...

The Apostolic Age opens Easter night on NBC by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 16, 2015

Following the massive popularity of the 2013 miniseries The Bible, NBC will air a 12-part sequel, A. D. The Bible Continues. The original series, produced by husband and wife team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, aired in 2013 on the History Channel. A. D. The Bible Continues will premiere this...

Gertrud von Le Fort: Tracing our tangled approach to God by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 12, 2015

The Baroness Gertrud von le Fort (1876 - 1971) was a remarkable German Catholic novelist and poet. She studied under the brilliant and highly-influential Protestant philosopher of religion, Ernst Troeltsch, whose works she edited. But von le Fort herself converted to Catholicism in 1926. Her...

Two good publishers, six new books for Lent by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 26, 2015

I try to follow the new titles coming out from both Ignatius Press and Sophia Institute Press, because I trust the judgment of these Catholic publishers. Particularly in the realm of spirituality, they will typically make sure their authors are firmly rooted in the Catholic tradition, and they...

St. Katharine Drexel shows how spiritual poverty and submission to Providence go hand in hand by Thomas Van - Feb 1, 2015

After St. Katharine Drexel founded her religious order, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, everyone around her urged her to set aside some of her annual income to set up a fund which would endow the order’s works after her death. It would have been easy for her to do so, and certainly the...

The Didache Bible Is Here by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 21, 2015

I already mentioned the new Didache Bible, before it was actually available, in Two beautiful books to give as Christmas gifts. But I definitely want to call it to your attention again now that you can purchase it. It’s a brand new Bible developed and published jointly by the Midwest...

Why believe in God? And why are some answers so unbearably thin? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 8, 2015

I just spent a very enjoyable couple of hours reading a collection of essays from religious artists answering the question of why they believe in God. By religious “artists”, I mean religious persons who are involved in the arts—creative writing, the visual arts, and music. The...

The Hobbit Party: Tolkien and the Social Order by Thomas Van - Jan 5, 2015

It is well-known even among non-Catholic readers that J.R.R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic and that his Catholicism deeply informed his fiction. Indeed, there is something of a cottage industry in Catholic interpretations of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. But Tolkien also had a unique...

Surprise! Marriage is the foundation of Catholic social teaching. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 5, 2014

When I write about Catholic social teaching, I often highlight key principles such as the universal destination of goods, solidarity, the common good, and subsidiarity. All of these principles fit together to make a seamless whole, with each drawing life from the others. But articulating a series...

December Moment: A jazz trio's lovely, tasteful take on traditional Christmas music by Thomas Van - Dec 2, 2014

For working musicians, the season leading up to Christmas presents a twofold artistic challenge. The traditional holiday repertoire, whether sacred or popular, has been played and recorded so many times that creative musicians naturally want to find some new take on the old classics. At the same...

Anatomy of Conversion by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 21, 2014

Each person is drawn to God in slightly different ways. There are probably as many “motives of credibility” in the Catholic Church as there are personality types. But as I mentioned yesterday (see It is a failure of mercy to deny sin), most conversion stories turn on a moment when the...

Replacing problems with persons: Eve Tushnet’s new book, Gay and Catholic by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 14, 2014

Over the last three days I’ve read Eve Tushnet’s remarkable book, Gay and Catholic. Tushnet, who is now in her mid-30s, realized that she was “gay” in middle school, admitted it to herself at age thirteen, and told her parents shortly thereafter. But while in college she...

Adding Trust to your Christmas list by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 13, 2014

For those who love the Church's revived emphasis on Divine mercy, a beautiful and touching Christmas gift would be the new coffee table book on St. Faustina, simply entitled Trust. Anyone familiar with the enormously popular Divine Mercy Chaplet will understand the importance of St. Faustina...

Helping troubled marriages; making good marriages stronger by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 11, 2014

With Pope Francis and the recent Synod of Bishops attempting to place marriage and the family at the heart of evangelization, it is an excellent time to consider the ways in which we can strengthen and protect our marriages against the stresses, misunderstandings and conflicts that tend to break...

Bergoglio’s List: Pope Francis and political oppression in Argentina by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 6, 2014

Within hours of the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the papacy, the world press began to retail stories that Fr. Bergoglio may have been complicit in serious human rights violations under the military regime which ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1983. This innuendo was based primarily on...

Saving the 21st century? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 27, 2014

The title screams but the book is pretty good. I’m referring to The Race to Save our Century by Jason Scott Jones and John Zmirak. Recently published by Crossroad, this book explores (as the subtitle puts it) “five core principles to promote peace, freedom, and a culture of...

Ignatius Press into the Breach: Trumping the Kasper Proposal by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 22, 2014

Ignatius Press deserves the gratitude of English-speaking Catholics for its publication of three books in direct response to the Kasper Proposal, as part of the discussion encouraged by Pope Francis leading up to the synods on the family. These books succeed in refuting the arguments in favor of...

While his cause is stalled: Remembering Bishop Fulton Sheen by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 7, 2014

The cause for beatification of the Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen is on hold because of a dispute over Sheen’s body between the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois. Born in 1895, Sheen was ordained for the Diocese of Peoria in 1919, and it is Peoria that has taken...

The Mystery of Music, Part III by Thomas Van - Sep 26, 2014

In the next world I shan’t be doing music, with all the striving and disappointments. I shall be being it. —Ralph Vaughan Williams Our experience of beauty and mystery is often most intense when dissimilar things are united; the supreme example of this is the Incarnation, in which...

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