Archives For VOLUME 8



Today is the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle…

In honor of the occasion, we offer this poem by one of our favorite living poets:

St. Thomas the Apostle
Malcolm Guite

Found in the collection:  Sounding the Seasons: 70 Sonnets for the Christian Year
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Here is our list of 2015′s Englewood Honor Books, the Best Books of the year for the life and flourishing of the Church.

Our criterion both for selecting books to review and for honoring the year’s best books is to choose books that are “for the life and flourishing of the Church” – i.e., books that energize us to be the local community of God’s people that God has called us to be and that nurture our mission of following in the way of God’s reconciliation of all things (in all its broadness!).

[ Book of the Year ]  [ Theology ] [ Praxis ]
[ Fiction ]  [ Non-Fiction ]  [ Poetry ]

Our Book of the Year:

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The Daily Book Morsel


Starting January 4, 2016, we will be changing the format of our email lists…

Many of our readers keep up with our site through either our daily or weekly email digests, so we to be sure you know about a fairly big shift that will be happening in January.

We are going to be ramping up the content on our site (MORE reviews, MORE book news, MORE poetry!), but along with that shift, our WEEKLY email digest will no longer feature every post on our site. Instead, we will curate a selection of the best content that has been posted over the previous week.

This change also means that our DAILY email digest will be the ONLY way to be notified via email about EVERY post to our site.

If you are a regular reader of our site, we highly recommend switching from our weekly digest to our daily digest, using this form. (If you are not subscribed, now would be a good time to sign up for one of our lists, and links for signing up are included beneath the switching form…)

Choose one of the following three options:

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Umberto Eco Having a Laugh

A Feature Review of 

Numero Zero: A Novel
Umberto Eco

Hardback: HMH Books, 2015
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Jerrad Peters
In Numero Zero Umberto Eco describes the debauched practice of news-making, and in so doing the renowned semiotician, prominent thinker and celebrated author of The Name of the Rose, The Prague Cemetery and Foucault’s Pendulum delivers a novel as shallow as the exercise he satirizes.

This is almost certainly intentional, as a writer as vigorous and a philosopher as significant as Eco did not become lazy and deficient overnight.

So what, then, is the 83-year-old’s objective for his seventh major work of fiction? What, assuming Numero Zero speaks to readers through opera aperta, or the open work approach to interpretation (a semiotic device), is Eco trying to say?

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Here are 5 essential ebooks on sale now that are worth checking out:
(C.S. Lewis, Ann Weems, Michael Frost, MORE)

Via our sister website Thrifty Christian Reader
To keep up with all the latest ebook deals,
be sure to connect with TCR via email or on Facebook



The Space Trilogy: Three Science Fiction Classics in One Volume 

C.S. Lewis

*** $3.99 ***



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The Death of Elite Culture?

A Review of 

Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society
Mario Vargas Llosa.

Hardback: FSG Books, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Jon M. Sweeney

*** This review originally appeared in our quarterly, print magazine ***
Are you a subscriber?

T. S. Eliot wrote nearly seven decades ago: “Only a Christian culture could have produced a Voltaire or a Nietzsche. I do not believe that the culture of Europe could survive the complete disappearance of the Christian faith.” Eliot’s point was made again by European thinkers and church leaders in 2002-03 when the EU constitution was drafted without any mention of faith. Whenever such discussions arise, I always find it strange that the heritage of bloody violence, anti-Semitism and antipathy toward women and minorities that are also central to the cultural heritage of Christianity in the West go unacknowledged.

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Entering the Night

A Review of

Gifts of the Dark Wood: Seven Blessings for Soulful Skeptics (and other wanderers)
Eric Elnes

Paperback: Abingdon, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Michelle Wilbert.
Not long after I completed my education and training in spiritual direction, I found myself inexplicably launched on an uninvited foray into what St. John of the Cross called, “The Dark Night of the Soul” experience. After more than three years of intense exploration, immersion and formation in response to a convincing sense of call to the vocation of spiritual direction, I suddenly found myself mired in doubt, anxiety and a sense of utter bewilderment surrounding the idea—now seeming like utter folly–that I had anything to offer a spiritual pilgrim seeking guidance.  Mind, not only did I receive a top notch education in the discipline but ongoing discernment of “call” was central to the process and I was under the direction of experienced Jesuit Priests and educated and experienced lay leaders—in short, I had been thoroughly vetted and was graduated from my program with the assumption of a clear charism in spiritual direction.  Yet, only months later, in Dante’s familiar words: “In the middle of the road of my life I awoke in a Dark Wood where the true way was wholly lost.”  And it was a very dark wood indeed. While sparing the gory details, suffice it to say that I entered an immersion experience of darkness and doubt that nearly destroyed me spiritually and emotionally.  I was well and truly lost, and it took an exceptionally long and torturous time to locate and live into the light and blessings this challenge presented to me–the “Gifts of the Dark Wood” that I now understand to have been an absolutely necessary “Vision Quest” without which I couldn’t possibly have done the work that had been given me to do.

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Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)

People to Be Loved: Why Homosexuality Is Not Just an Issue 

By Preston Sprinkle

Watch a trailer video for this book


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Converted to the World

A Feature Review of 

Grounded: Finding God in the World, A Spiritual Revolution
Diana Butler Bass.

Hardback: HaperOne, 2015
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
Review by Ellen Painter Dollar

This review originally appeared in our print magazine.
Are you a subscriber?

I admit it: I’m one of those Christians who rolls my eyes (in my mind, if not on my actual face) at the phrase “spiritual but not religious.” The phrase brings to mind those who claim to find God in a Sunday morning bike ride or a beautiful sunset, but conveniently forget about the fact that faith calls us to commitments that require far more effort— and potentially give far more reward—than the appreciation of beauty or an exercise-induced rush of endorphins. I think of people who appreciate crosses, prayer flags and Tibetan singing bowls as conversation-starting home décor, but have little understanding of the objects’ meaning for believers.

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Here are 5 essential ebooks on sale now that are worth checking out:
(Tolkien, Maya Angelou, Leonardo Boff, MORE)

Via our sister website Thrifty Christian Reader
To keep up with all the latest ebook deals,
be sure to connect with TCR via email or on Facebook


J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography

Humphrey Carpenter

*** $3.99***

The only authorized bio of Tolkien… 



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