Archives For *Brief Reviews*

 

Harnessing Your Creative Energy

A Review of

Let Me Out: Unlock Your Creative Mind and Bring Your Ideas to Life
Peter Himmelman

Hardback: Tarcher Perigee, 2016
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Reviewed by Bailey Shannon

 
 

Let Me Out: Unlock Your Creative Mind and Bring Your Ideas to Lifeis an insightful and practical tool to help us discover the fears that hold us back from pursuing our dreams and make steps toward living a creative life. Written by Peter Himmelman, musician and founder of Big Muse, a company that teaches leadership skills, creative thinking, and deeper levels of communication, the book offers a wide array of unique metaphors, like giving a name to our fear and negative self-talk, referring to our dreams as our “finished song”, and including various exercises called Brain Bottle Openers at the end of each chapter. Himmelman’s life experience influenced his method and style of writing and he presents  valuable information in a way that leaves the reader with a tangible “next step” to turn their dream into a reality.

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Unraveling the Tension
Between Faith and Science

 
A Review of 

Aquinas and Modern Science: A New Synthesis of Faith and Reason
Gerard Verschuuren

Paperback: Angelico Press, 2017
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Reviewed by Amy Gentile
 
 
Faith and Reason, or religion and science, are often set up as polar opposites in modern discourse. Debates on such topics as evolution or the origins of the universe can make it seem as though faith and reason are diametrically opposed, further entrenching people in both “camps”. Yet there are many wonderful scientists who remain fully committed to reason and trust in the evidence of science while also valuing the place of faith and religious thought. It is in this vein that Gerard Verschuuren writes, and his specific focus on Thomas Aquinas and Thomistic philosophy provides a unique contribution to those interested in the intersection of faith and science.

Verschuuren’s book is impressive in its scope; he begins the book by describing the historical context of Aquinas as well as outlining the broad contours of his thought. He especially focuses on: Esse, Essence, Existence, and Substance; Matter and Form; Fivefold Causality; and Primary/Secondary Causes. Here, Verschuuren does a good job of explaining Aquinas’s thought in understandable ways: the ideas are certainly complex, but the author uses helpful analogies and explains terms thoroughly to aid the reader’s comprehension. These aspects of Thomistic philosophy are then applied to very diverse fields of scientific study, encompassing everything from Physics to Biology to Neuroscience, and even the Social Sciences.

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Hospitable to the Human
and to the Divine

 
A Review of 
 

The Yearning Life:
Poems

Regina Walton 

Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2016.
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Reviewed by Lynn Domina
 
 
The poems in Regina Walton’s first collection, The Yearning Life, are written by someone who is not only observant but also thoughtful, even contemplative. They consider questions without, as Keats so famously said, “any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” They often, therefore, straddle that boundary between poetry and prayer.

The opening poem, “Exemplum,” might have been written by one of the desert fathers or mothers. It relies on a direct style with short lines and stanzas, predominantly straightforward sentences, and accessible vocabulary (with one notable exception). Like many of the best poems in this style, its simplicity is deceptive. Here is the first stanza:

A fly lands
On my open book,
And rubs its fingerless palms together
Over the word askesis.

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A Confident Trust in the
Sovereign Purposes of God

 
A Brief Review of 

Change for the First Time, Again:
A Story of Change and How Change is our Story
Scott Lencke

Paperback: Resource Publications, 2016.
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Reviewed by Jessica Hudson
 
 
This most recent publication of work by author Scott Lencke is without doubt the most enjoyable paperback I have sat down to digest in a number of years. It is just the book I want to have with a cup of my favorite coffee in my most comfortable chair. Indeed, the further in it I read, the more I felt the impression that I might as well be sitting across a table in a pub with the author, comfortably sharing our stories together.

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Our Different, Blurry Places
 
A Brief Review of 
 

I [Heart] Francis:
Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer

Donna Schaper

Paperback: Fortress Press, 2017
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Reviewed by Kelsey Maddox
 
 
I can remember a picture of the pope (John Paul, to be exact) positioned above my grandma’s recliner on the peach and maroon colored wallpaper of the farmhouse. I never understood why she had a picture of someone on the wall who wasn’t in our family. I never understood any of that, and neither did Donna Schaper, a progressive queer women from New York City.  It seems esoteric, that is, until Pope Francis.

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A Disciplined Eye
for the Hyper-Local

 
An Abridged Review of

As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Words of God
Eugene Peterson

Hardback: Waterbook, 2017
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Reviewed by David Swanson
 

This is a brief clip of a review that appears in
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While reading through these sermons it is easy to imagine something about the women and men who comprised Peterson’s suburban congregation. The sentences and illustrations seem to hold in mind particular people with their very particular lives. In a sermon titled “Holy, Holy, Holy” from Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4, the pastor addresses his people gently:

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Persistent, Attentive Cultivation
 
A Review of 

Garden In The East:
The Spiritual Life of the Body
.

Angela Doll Carlson

Paperback: Ancient Faith, 2016.
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Reviewed by Michelle Van Loon

 

I’ve spent more than four decades bouncing around Evangelicalism. The movement, disparate as it can be, has been remarkably effective at proclaiming to me that faith resides primarily in my mind  (what I think) and in my heart (what I feel).

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Bringing to Light the Inner Person
 
A Review of

What She Was Saying:
Stories

Marjorie Maddox

Paperback: Fomite, 2017.
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Review by Janna Lynas

 
 

Each day we cross paths with someone that is saying something. It may be an actual conversation with audible words, but sometimes, there are no words –just signals, signs or even silence. The experiences of a life, the beautiful and the tragic, can become tangled in a mind, showing itself in the actions, attitudes and behaviors of a person. And because there is this event, sometimes with words, sometimes a memory, sometimes with subtle speechless revelation, the only way we can know is to notice, to remember and to give honor to what is uttered out loud or in silence.

What She Was Saying, a compilation of award winning short stories and poetry from Marjorie Maddox, peers into these thoughts of women and girls and puts words to those happenings of a person we may never know. Maddox recounts memories and wonderings from newspaper headlines and real-life encounters, as well as putting words to imaginative narrative and stories behind faces of those who often stand before us.

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Pilgrim in Pumps

 
A Review of 

Still Pilgrim: Poems
Angela Alaimo O’Donnell 

Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2017
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Reviewed by James Matichuk

Featured on our list of
Ten New Poetry Books
to Read in 2017!

 

This review originally appeared on the reviewer’s blog.
Reprinted with permission. 
*** Visit his blog for many other insightful reviews!

Angela Alaimo O’Donnell teaches English at Fordham University and is the associate director of Fordham’s Curran Center for American Catholic Studies. She has previously published seven poetry collections (in addition to publishing other books, articles, and essays). Her new collection of poems, Still Pilgrim showcases a steady faith and the journey of a woman through the seasons of life and liturgy.
The project was birthed after O’Donnell made a pilgrimage to Herman Melville’s grave, a few miles from her home in the New York. Melville had written of the passion of men going off to sea, but his grave plot in Woodlawn cemetery in the Bronx was in only one of ‘New York’s five boroughs not surrounded by water” (69).  O’Donnell composed a poem, St. Melville, with these words, “Is this what you were called to still pilgrim,/to sleep beneath six small feet of earth?” (70). An old sailor interred in the earth, still but his work still lives on.

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What the Bible REALLY Says
about Science

 
A Review of 

Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes!
Denis Lamoureux

Paperback: Zondervan, 2016
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Reviewed by Emily McGowin
 
 
Denis Lamoureux is Associate Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta. He holds a Ph.D. in theology, a Ph.D. in biology, and a D.D.S., Doctor of Dental Surgery. Lamoureux is the author of Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution; I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution; and Darwinism Defeated? The Johnson-Lamoureux Debate on Biological Origins. At one time, Lamoureux was a passionate promoter of young earth creationism (YEC), eager to expose evolution as an elaborate deception. But, in the process of obtaining his Ph.D. in theology, Lamoureux found his assumptions about the Bible—especially what it does and doesn’t teach—challenged and ultimately up-ended. He embarked on a journey to figure out what the Bible really says about science. Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes! is a distillation of Lamoureux’s conclusions and his attempt to help others along the same journey.

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