Archives For Catholicism


Becoming We.
A Review of 

One in Christ:
Chicago Catholics and the Quest
for Interracial Justice

Karen Johnson

Hardback: Oxford UP, 2018
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Reviewed by Claire Johnson
During this past Easter Break, I exited what was supposed to be a unified, city-wide prayer and worship service in my hometown of Nacogdoches, Texas. Instead, the event was marked with sharp racial divisions of black and white. Catholics and far-fetched liberals weren’t present, or if they were, the white, evangelical event planners had stripped their voices. The body of Christ was not unified. The service was held in a conservative, white Protestant church with white contemporary Protestant Christian music led by the white band from the Southern Baptist church down the street. White pastors from white Protestant churches led the inter-song devotionals. The façade of unity came only from the closeting of diversity. Unity with no diversity is not unity at all.

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A Glimpse into
the Pope’s Mind and Heart
A Review of

With the Smell of the Sheep:
The Pope Speaks to Priests, Bishops and Other Shepherds
Giuseppe Merola, ed., 

Paperback: Orbis Books, 2017
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Reviewed by James Dekker


Considering that the Roman Catholic Pope is commonly called “the Holy Father,” it might come as a surprise that Pope Francis has been the target of pretty unholy criticism from certain church leaders, lay and ordained. First Things, the journal founded by the late Richard John Neuhaus—once progressive Lutheran pastor turned conservative Catholic priest—regularly publishes articles sharply opposed to Francis’ speeches, writings, theology and activities.

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Hilaire Belloc

Hilaire Belloc is an often-overlooked Catholic writer of the early twentieth century.

Belloc was one of the most prolific writers in England during his lifetime. He was known as a writer, orator, poet, sailor, satirist, man of letters, soldier and political activist. His Catholic faith had a strong impact on his works. e was a noted disputant, with a number of long-running feuds, but also widely regarded as a humane and sympathetic man. His poetry encompassed comic verses for children and religious poetry. He also collaborated with G. K. Chesterton on a number of works. (Adapted from Wikipedia)
G.K. Chesterton wrote the following biographical sketch of his friend, as an introduction to the book, Hilaire Belloc: The Man and His Work by C. Creighton Mandell (FREE ebook edition available from Project Gutenberg). In honor of Belloc’s birthday on July 27, we reprint this brief essay.

 Hilaire Belloc:
A Biographical Sketch
by G.K. Chesterton

When I first met Belloc he remarked to the friend who introduced us that he was in low spirits. His low spirits were and are much more uproarious and enlivening than anybody else’s high spirits. He talked into the night; and left behind in it a glowing track of good things. When I have said that I mean things that are good, and certainly not merely bons mots, I have said all that can be said in the most serious aspect about the man who has made the greatest fight for good things of all the men of my time.

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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 Parable on Grief and Healing

A Review of 

The Abbey:
A Story of Discovery

James Martin, S.J.

Hardback: HarperOne, 2015
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Reviewed by Ryan Johnson.
Noted for his depth of insight and his light-hearted wit, James Martin, SJ constantly delivers best-selling spiritual works such as A Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything and his more personal Jesus: A Pilgrimage which recounts his own pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  The Abbey is at once both a continuation of these earlier works and a departure.  It marks Martin’s first excursion into fictional writing and while the genre may be new territory for him, the spiritual insights and his signature humor continue to pervade the entire book.  Perhaps not an instant classic as his previously mentioned works, The Abbey is nonetheless an enjoyable read for anyone who is eager for the practical spiritual wisdom that Martin is known for.

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Chris Haw - From Willow Creek to Sacred HeartMixing Contemplation and Action

Review of

From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart

Chris Haw

Paperback: Ave Maria Press, 2012.
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Reviewed by Christopher Brown.

Chris Haw’s newest book, From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart, recounts how his pursuit of a Christ-like life led him to convert to Catholicism through the Sacred Heart parish of Camden, NJ. Though subtitled “Rekindling my Love for Catholicism,” this book is not an idealistic or triumphal story of an evangelical’s quest for the true Church.  Instead, it’s a gritty memoir of Haw’s own journey of discipleship in very different but very specific contexts.  Part One tells the story of Haw’s own spiritual journey: a childhood in a Catholic parish in Ohio, the blooming of his faith in the youth program of a suburban megachurch, education and anti-war activism at Eastern University, all the way to his migration to the inner-city.  Part Two presents Haw’s theological musings not as abstract apologetic arguments, but as authentic reflections of the questions Haw asked with his feet firmly on the ground in Camden.

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To Joan of Arc
Saint Therese of Lisieux

When the Lord God of hosts gave you the victory,
You drove out the foreigner and had the king crowned.
Joan, your name became renowned in history.
Our greatest conquerors paled before you.

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God’s Jury – Cullen MurphyTorture and the Modern World

A review of

God’s Jury:
The Inquisition and
the Making of the Modern World

Cullen Murphy

Hardback: HMH Books, 2012.
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Reviewed by Alex Joyner.

Somewhere in the souvenir stack from our family trip to Disney World in the early Aughts is a picture taken on the Tower of Terror.  As with many other thrill rides, this one offers you the opportunity to capture and preserve forever the look on your face when you realize that the bottom has just dropped out.  Only in the picture my brother-in-law’s face is hidden by a large orange bag that he had strategically placed over his head for just this moment.  We lovingly refer to the picture as “Gitmo goes to Disney.”

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An excerpt from the new book:

Night of the Confessor:

Christian Faith in an Age of Uncertainty

By Tomás Halík

Paperback: Image Books, 2012.
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Watch for our review of this book later this week…


A Brief Review of

Shirt of Flame:

A Year with Saint Therese of Lisieux.

Heather King.

Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2011.
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Reviewed by Stephen Taylor.

The moment I began to read Shirt of Flame: A Year with Saint Therese of Lisieux, I knew that something very special was happening; an epiphany if you like.  Heather King does not pull any punches or hide her own sins.  In fact, she hangs them out for all to see and then places them in the context of her relationship to God.  There is a bravery in this act that most writers would never dream of attempting.

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