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Book and Media Reviews

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

The confusion, complexities and dangers of marriage annulments: A call to order by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 25, 2015

It’s a sad thing, a broken marriage. I am referring literally to a broken or severed marriage. Of course, all relationships can be broken or severed, and there is sadness in each case. But marriage is the most intimate and fruitful union of a man and a woman, the nexus of the family, a...

What I learned on my vacation, about God and man by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 18, 2015

I returned to my desk full-time yesterday after spending a couple of weeks denying, as much as possible, that my desk even existed—attempting to slip quietly from routine into refreshment. Everyone knows that this process has inescapably limited results. The reason is found in a variation on...

God the Designer: Yes or No? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 28, 2015

Two weeks ago we saw how Fr. Robert Spitzer explored the nature of human happiness as a means of opening others to both the presence of God and a relationship with Him. I reviewed his book in Fr. Robert Spitzer on happiness: An effective approach to God? Today I will examine a different way to God...

Fr. Robert Spitzer on happiness: An effective approach to God? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 14, 2015

Those of us who consider it important to know and love Jesus Christ find ourselves frustrated by the difficulty of convincing others. Over the centuries, a great many Catholic thinkers have turned their attention to questions of apologetics, spiritual development and conversion in the hope of...

Acedia and the Unbearable Lightness of Being by Thomas Van - Jun 29, 2015

In his recent book The Noonday Devil, Jean-Charles Nault suggests that one aspect of acedia, or spiritual torpor, in modern society is that man does not want to receive goods that have a source outside and above himself. This leads him to deny the infinite, which in turn leads him to a...

Marion Cotillard in Joan of Arc at the Stake by Thomas Van - Jun 13, 2015

This weekend, the New York Philharmonic has been performing Arthur Honegger’s oratorio Joan of Arc at the Stake, with the wonderful French actress Marion Cotillard as St. Joan. I was fortunate to attend Friday night’s performance. Honegger, a Swiss composer born in France and...

Watching The Diary of a Country Priest: Bresson's film adaptation by Thomas Van - Jun 10, 2015

Since I've just finished a series of articles on Bernanos's novel The Diary of a Country Priest, I’d like to say something about the famous film adaptation by Robert Bresson, which deserves its reputation as one of the greatest Catholic films ever made. The film hews very...

Reading The Diary of a Country Priest: Suffering and Humility by Thomas Van - Jun 8, 2015

[This is part of a series of articles collecting insightful passages on various themes from Georges Bernanos's classic novel The Diary of a Country Priest.] Suffering I can understand how a man, sure of himself and his courage, might wish to make of his death a perfect...

Reading The Diary of a Country Priest: Hell by Thomas Van - Jun 2, 2015

[This is part of a series of articles collecting insightful passages on various themes from Georges Bernanos's classic novel The Diary of a Country Priest.] In the following two passages, the protagonist tries to give a member of his flock some idea of the true horror of...

Reading The Diary of a Country Priest: Spiritual riches and poverty by Thomas Van - May 28, 2015

[This is part of a series of articles collecting insightful passages on various themes from Georges Bernanos's classic novel The Diary of a Country Priest.] The two quotes below are from the Curé de Torcy, a fellow priest who serves as a mentor to the protagonist, on...

Reading The Diary of a Country Priest: Scandal by Thomas Van - May 20, 2015

[This is part of a series of articles collecting insightful passages on various themes from Georges Bernanos's classic novel The Diary of a Country Priest.] The two quotes below are from non-Catholic characters who have been scandalized by the failure of Church leaders to...

The Coup at the (Catholic) U by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 19, 2015

It was a remarkable thing even for the 1960s—the takeover of the Catholic University of America by its heterodox Department of Theology. I am referring, of course, to the wholesale defiance of episcopal oversight as soon as the bishops on the Board of Trustees tried to put a stop to the...

Reading The Diary of a Country Priest: Stagnation by Thomas Van - May 18, 2015

[This is part of a series of articles collecting insightful passages on various themes from Georges Bernanos's classic novel The Diary of a Country Priest. Since the novel is in the form of a diary, any passages not in quotes are the protagonist's narration, while those in quotes are...

Reuniting Exegesis and Theology: Toward an Incarnational study of Scripture by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 14, 2015

If you have been reading my highlights from Henri de Lubac’s Vatican Council notebooks, you may already have seen this trenchant observation from 1962 by the great twentieth century theologian: It must be confessed that our exegetes...withdraw into a philological and critical role; they...

Reading The Diary of a Country Priest by Thomas Van - May 13, 2015

I've just finished reading the classic Catholic novel The Diary of a Country Priest, written by Georges Bernanos in 1936. Bernanos's moving tale of the spiritual battles of a sickly young priest tending to a small French parish is so densely packed with wisdom that rather than trying...

Beyond Our Ken: Henri de Lubac's Paradoxes of Faith by Thomas Van - May 4, 2015

From the truest truth to the falsest falsehood, there is often only one step. It has often been noted, quite rightly. But from the noting of that fact to the condemning of certain truths, as being dangerously near falsehood, there is also one step, and that step as well is often taken, this time...

Not Fully Human: Anthony Esolen’s compelling verdict on personal formation today by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 27, 2015

The modern notion of freedom is a kind of slavery. Over the years, I’ve tried to make this point by explaining that we are free only when we have the power to direct ourselves toward the good. Insofar as we fall into evil or sin, it is because we are enslaved by vice. To take but one...

Tips for getting comfortable with evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 17, 2015

Sophia Institute Press has hit the spot again with a new and very straightforward book on how we can make ourselves more comfortable with the task of spreading the Gospel. The author, Shaun McAfee, is a convert who currently serves as Director of Marketing and Content for Holy Apostles College and...

Piano improvisations, chamber music, Irish dances: Catholic musician Mark Christopher Brandt presses forward by Thomas Van - Apr 15, 2015

Catholic pianist and composer Mark Christopher Brandt has had a productive year—the busiest in his career so far. Back in March 2014, he released Round Trip, an album of duets with guitarist Dan Leonard. Several months later came December Moment, his jazz trio’s Christmas...

Recognizing the Noonday Devil by Thomas Van - Mar 27, 2015

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...

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