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Book and Media Reviews

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

Ignatius Press into the Breach: Trumping the Kasper Proposal by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Wednesday

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...

How we should and should not think of the Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 14, 2014

Between about 1960 and 1985, some remarkably weird theories about the nature of the Church emerged in fashionable theological circles. As a general rule, these theories were mirrors of the prevailing Western cultural euphoria. Indeed, they were based almost exclusively on wishful thinking. All of...

Talk to your kids about porn! by Thomas Van - Aug 1, 2014

Parents typically find it easy to talk to their young children about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, peer pressure and “stranger danger.” So why is it that so many parents are so afraid of or uncomfortable with talking about sex? It could be because sex is the most personal of all of...

In other words, to be a Christian means this: by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 31, 2014

After reading my three part exploration of Hans Urs von Balthasar’s trenchant book, Who Is a Christian?, some have wanted a more precise explanation of how to be a truly devout Christian. Here is the best advice I can offer. The virtue of devotion is nothing other than a general...

Renewal with God before Us: Christ Determines All by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 30, 2014

As I outlined previously, Hans Urs von Balthasar found the main lines of Catholic renewal sullied by various human evasions—by our pervasive eagerness to soften our goals according to human standards. It is in the third section of the book we have been discussing that he finally sets forth...

Renewal with God Behind Us: Man Determines All by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 28, 2014

In the first section of Who Is a Christian?, Hans Urs von Balthasar discusses the difficult situation the Church finds herself in today (or, to be more precise, in 1983 when the book was published; for background, see the previous installment, Hans Urs von Balthasar on Renewal that Matters). He...

Hans Urs von Balthasar on Renewal that Matters by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 25, 2014

The brilliant Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905 – 1988) was for a long time a controversial figure. Perhaps in some circles he still is. During his formation and education as a Jesuit, von Balthasar encountered Henri de Lubac and Jean Daniélou, and so found himself drawn...

Self-Esteem: Beyond Pop Psychology by Thomas Van - Jul 23, 2014

There are words and concepts in certain disciplines – philosophy, theology and psychology come to mind – which, as they enter the popular lexicon and become operative in daily life, lose their power to illuminate and require immediate clarification in order to retain their...

John Allen’s Take on the Catholic Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 3, 2014

Our readers have sometimes wondered why we make occasional references to the reports and insights of veteran Rome correspondent John Allen—considering that he was employed for so many years by that scurrilous rag, the National Catholic Reporter. Our excuse has always been the same: Allen is...

Ideology vs. individual: a novel of ideas by Thomas Van - May 29, 2014

One of the tragedies of World War II is that, as much as it was “the good war,” many of its winners never completely understood what they were fighting for. This is true even in an external sense – the British and Americans were simply unaware of much of what was going on in...

Ebook for Ordinary Time after Easter Released by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 26, 2014

We have just released the fifth volume in the 2013-2014 Liturgical Year series of ebooks. Volume five covers the first half of the long stretch of Ordinary Time between the close of the Easter Season on Pentecost and the beginning of Advent. Like all CatholicCulture.org ebooks, this volume is...

What’s Wrong with Historical Criticism of the Bible? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 19, 2014

When Pope Benedict XVI wrote his trilogy of works on Jesus of Nazareth, one of his purposes was to blend the useful aspects of historical criticism with a neglected tradition of Patristic exegesis. He wanted to suggest the limits of modern historical criticism and call new attention to the...

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