Category Archives: books

A Good Read

ISBN-10: 150106570X 
ISBN-13: 978-1501065705
When Father Ignatius is suspected of murder his whole life is turned upside down. His faith takes a real shaking as he tries in vain to plead his innocence.
The Church is shaken to its very foundations and his parishioners jump to as many conclusions as they can find and start judging without any facts or evidence.
This is the time for the priest to find out who his real friends are. Or are they keeping close to him for ulterior motives?
“THE PRIEST AND PROSTITUTE” is a fast-paced story with believable characters and situations. A realistic self-test as to one’s faith and beliefs, as well as the ability to stay focussed on God when it seems He has abandoned you.
The author skilfully combines humour with suspense to deliver a Christian message relevant to today’s society.

Victor S E Moubarak has published several books available from his website or in Kindle format from Amazon. His books: “VISIONS” ISBN 978 1 60477 032 2 and “GOD’S SHEPHERD” ISBN 978-1500683955 are also available in paperback from Amazon and all good booksellers.


Annunciation

annunciation

I found this exquisite manuscript online.


A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings

On Wednesdays, Judy, creator of an inspiring blog, A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings encourages participants to list their blessings, to give thanks for the five things in the past week and then link to Judy’s blog.

Be sure to also check out her other blog and her website when you visit.

  1. The South Cathedral in Beijing. I visited this 17th century church, the first in China, on Sunday and luckily got there for an English mass. People were there from Africa, Europe, North American and Asia. Maybe there were some South Americans, I’m not sure. I loved how international and harmonious the mass was.
  2. Moby Dick, my book club’s selection for May and June. It’s a much livelier read than I expected. I am glad that we aren’t pushing ourselves to finish in one month, but rather will take 2. My ebook is 847 pages.
  3. The National Art Museum of China. I spent the afternoon there on Saturday and it wasn’t crowded. There were plenty of masterful paintings on display.
  4. My friend, a new friend, Maya whom I had dinner with and wonderful lively conversation.
  5. Midday Connection’s program on “Almost Amish,” a fascinating book on how to simplify one’s life.

 

 


A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings

On Wednesdays, Judy, creator of an inspiring blog, A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings encourages participants to list their blessings, to give thanks for the five things in the past week and then link to Judy’s blog.

Be sure to also check out her other blog and her website when you visit.

  1. For three friends who shared Easter with me. In the past here in China, I haven’t had fellow teachers who practiced their faith. It was so good to go to church and share the experience of Christianity in China with the Chinese and with my American friends. The church was packed and I was blessed to see so many Chinese there early and willing to sit and knee on the hard floor for mass.
  2. A good Easter brunch at Jenny’s Cafe.
  3. The cherry blossoms, magnolias and all.
  4. For my understanding of the universality of Catholicism and Christianity. For my classes I made an Easter PowerPoint to teach culture. I included photos of Easter around the world. The Reuters photos of Easter in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia were powerful.
  5. That our book club is reading Pride and Prejudice this month! I love that book.

From “The Writer’s Almanac”

On a favorite writer of mine:

Today is the birthday of English writer Graham Greene(books by this author), who was born in Hertfordshire in 1904 to Protestant Canon Charles Greene and his wife, Marion, first cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson. Graham, like his three brothers, was educated at the Berkhamsted School, where their father was headmaster, and found essentially his whole childhood, and especially his schooldays, unhappy. In his 1939 travel account, The Lawless Roads, Greene would write, “One met for the first time characters, adult and adolescent, who bore about them the genuine character of evil,” and was so tormented by their bullying that Graham’s parents sent him for psychoanalysis, which only served to set him in a feeling of terrible, pessimistic boredom — of which he notoriously tried to relieve himself by playing Russian roulette.

At Balliol College, Oxford, Greene studied history, began contributing to literary journals, and produced a volume of poetry, Babbling April, which in his adulthood he would anxiously try to suppress. After graduating, Greene became a journalist, got married, and as a result of his marriage was received into the Roman Catholic Church. He later described his conversion as “a purely intellectual one,” but it was certainly a change that had a profound effect upon his work. Greene thought of his work as being divided into two categories: serious, literary novels, which included his epic Catholic books like The Power and the Glory and The End of the Affair; and “entertainments” —Brighton Rock, Our Man in HavanaThe Third Man — thrillers, spy novels, and books of suspense and intrigue. His writing was considered among the most cinematic of 20th-century writers, and most of his novels and many of his plays and short stories would eventually be adapted to film or television.

John Updike considered Greene’s 1939 The Power and the Glory his finest novel, one in which Greene’s particular vision of corruption, his “Greeneland,” is fully realized in its paradoxical ethics and almost heretical fascination with sin and evil. Fourteen years after its publication, on November 17, 1953, Italian Cardinal Giuseppe Pizzardo wrote to the Archbishop of Westminster denouncing the book. The eminences of the Holy Office made clear that Greene had failed “to bring out the victory of the power and the glory of the Lord in spite of man’s wretchedness,” that human wretchedness had carried the day in The Power and the Glory to an extent that it injured “priestly characters and even the priesthood itself.” As a result, the Holy Office begged the Archbishop of Westminster, who was a friend of Greene’s, to use his “accustomed tact” — presumably a diplomatic way of asking the Archbishop to lean on the novelist a little — to exhort the writer to “be more constructive from a Catholic point of view in all his writings, as all good people expect him to be,” and to make major changes to the book in all future editions or translations.

The Archbishop duly corresponded with Greene and a week later the novelist wrote back to say that his friend, the novelist Evelyn Waugh, was indignantly angry on his behalf — saying that Greene had not requested an imprimatur, and so if the Catholic Church wanted detailed alterations then it was their responsibility to make themselves ridiculous by doing so. Waugh concluded in disgust that, since the Church had taken 14 years to react to the book, Greene should take 14 more to respond to their request.

The matter was deeply upsetting for Greene, and while he shared the Holy Office’s correspondence with other members of the priesthood — including Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, who would become Pope Paul VI — asking for other comments and opinions, Greene answered the letter from Cardinal Pizzardo with an explanation that all he could do, so long after publication, was give them the list of publishers who held the rights and assure them of the profound respect that he felt for “any communication that emanates from the Sacred Congregation.”

Many years later, in a letter to a fan who’d written to tell Greene of the attack of scruples she’d felt while reading The Power and the Gloryback in the 1950s, Greene replied affectionately, “Thank you for what you have to say about my books, and I am sorry that twenty years ago you had scruples! … Perhaps I ought to tell you what Pope Paul said to me in a private interview when I pointed out to him that among the books of mine he had read was The Power and the Glory, which had been condemned by the Holy Office. His reply, was: ‘Parts of all your books will always offend some Catholics and you shouldn’t pay any attention to that.'”


The Promise of Paradox

I’m a Parker Palmer fan and couldn’t resist picking up The Promise of Paradox: A Celebration of Contradictions in the Christian Life when I saw it in the little library here at the Ghost Ranch. This book was first written in 1980 and has been updated and rereleased.

In the first third of the book, Palmer reflects on Trappist monk,Thomas Merton‘s writing on paradox, concentrating on Merton’s image of living his life in the belly of a paradox, on how the cross urges us to hold contradictions, e.g. you must lose your life to keep it, together in tension.

Ironically or providentially, tension and contradiction came up in a discussion I had earlier the day I read this. We have this desire to resolve tension, to get rid of it. We don’t like holding oppositions in our minds and hearts.

Well, Palmer and Merton urge us to be patient, to see that the cross symbolizes and teaches us to bear these tensions. The book is full of potent quotations and is quite engrossing in the beginning.

As the book continues, I lost interest as Palmer moved onto other themes. The part on his Way of the Cross was relevant. However, as the book veered into discussions on education, my interest waned. I felt I’d read this before in other places and that it was just filler. Though I agree with Palmer’s opinions, I felt the end of the book didn’t fit with the beginning. Perhaps if I read his introduction, I’d get what his reasoning was for the last section, but I feel a reader shouldn’t have to read the introduction, that the intro is just an extra. The main text should be sufficient onto itself. Perhaps the cover should bill this as a collection of essays.


My Friend Sharon

Sharon Ewell Foster speaks to scholarship students about life and her new book.


Book Review: Divine Conspiracy

If you want to challenge yourself spiritually, to grow beyond rule following and take a turn in your faith journey to help you become a real disciple, Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy is a great resource.

I’ve mentioned Willard before. This book is amazing and powerful (as are his others).  The book is so well written and really brought the Beatitudes and God’s plan for us into a new light. His insights on anger, spiritual growth, and the afterlife are sound and took me to a deeper understanding of my faith and God’s plan for me.

Although he’s a philosophy professor at USC, Willard’s writing style is clear and accessible. He provides great examples for his ideas.

Yes, like C.S. Lewis (and who doesn’t like him?) Willard is a Protestant writer, but Catholics can (and should) learn from him.  I doubt think we should be emphasizing denominational differences as much as we do anyhow. I think doing so just waters down our power in our society.

This would be an ideal book for a small group to read and dEditiscuss over the course of a few months. For the ideas contained, which can deepen and enrich one’s


I Have a Confession to Make

That’s tongue in cheek.

I’ve started reading the third book in the summer Catholic Book Study. It’s In This House of Brede, about a 40 something business woman who joins the Benedictines in England. It’s mildly interesting to learn about life in an abbey, but the author spends too much time on what I consider minutia. I’d hoped to speed through this as it’s the longest book, but I just can’t. Not my cup o’ tea I’m afraid.

Seems like I’m going out like a whimper. Gambare! as the Japanese say. At least for another 50 pages. Maybe the session on Tuesday will change my mind.


Illumination

In New Orleans I saw this illuminated Bible. Such artistry.