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Book and Media Reviews

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

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...

The Mystery of Music, Part II by Thomas Van - Sep 22, 2014

Speak, you who are older, for it is fitting that you should, but with accurate knowledge, and do not interrupt the music. —Sirach 32:3 The task Labat sets about in The Song That I Am (see The Mystery of Music, Part I) is to consider “music as a language communicating an...

Each of us is destined to marry Jesus Christ by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 18, 2014

Long ago and far away (I mean the mid-1970s in North Carolina), I wrote a book. Trained as an historian but always more interested in evangelization, I decided to do a sort of popular survey of history from creation to the end of the world. The purpose was to trace the action of God in His plan of...

Gregory the Great, Christ, the Church and the Soul in the Song of Songs by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 16, 2014

The Song of Songs is a fascinating book of Sacred Scripture, and one that has an equally fascinating interpretive history. It has the form of an erotic poem of love between a man and a woman, but nearly all commentators have understood it as an allegory of the love between God and His people. For...

Calvary is a must-see Catholic film by Thomas Van - Sep 15, 2014

The first half of 2014 saw the release of a number of high-profile films with religious themes which have ranged in quality from abysmal to decent. I don’t even need to tell you to forget them all, because you probably have already. The only one you need to see came out last month –...

The Mystery of Music, Part I by Thomas Van - Sep 12, 2014

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. —Victor Hugo The unique power of music to move the human heart is universally acknowledged. Music is often given a special place among the arts, as in Walter Pater’s claim that “all art...

Another glimpse of Tolkien by Thomas Van - Aug 18, 2014

On a whim, I recently went to the library and picked up a book that may interest Tolkien devotees like myself. Every year from 1920 to 1943, Tolkien wrote letters to his children in the character of Father Christmas, who sent them not just presents but lovely drawings and stories of his home at...

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