In the realm of theology and cultural commentary, Fr. Lewis and Narnia, and with memories of accounts of the persecution of Christians in the USSR, this tells the story of a country where bells could not be rung, and where lies were told about history. One way it does so is by contrasting rival notions of progress. Soloviev was at once a prophet, philosopher, and seeker after God, a translator of Plato and Nietzsche, a defender of the middle path between unbridled nationalism and untethered cosmopolitanism, the visionary (and sometimes problematic) writer about Sophia or Lady Wisdom, and, at the end of his short life, the critic of those who identified Christian truth with humanitarianism, pacifism, and non-resistance to evil. Drawing heavily upon Catholic, Protestant, and classical sources, Whitfield offers an appreciation of the vital importance of the homily to Catholic life and gives a number of helpful insights about the preparation, composition, delivery, and even the reception of homilies. I don’t plan to ever give it back — it is perhaps more relevant in 2020 than it was when written in 1984. They are realist, accurate and inspiring in their own way and have provided pristine quarantine relief. Celebrating a Holy Catholic Easter: A Guide to the Customs and Devotions of Lent and the Season of Christ's Resurrection William P. Saunders Tan Books / 2020 / Trade Paperback The Priority of the Person is another brilliant addition to David Walsh’s philosophical project bridging Christian personalism and the modern (and postmodern) philosophical turn. Hitz’s artful reflection—her book in no way can be described as a polemical defense—meditates on the enduring worth (and inherent charms) of learning for learning’s sake. The book can be a bit breezy and can lose the complexity of the phenomena it attempts to describe due to its compression and its middlebrow audience, but it is an indispensable book to grapple with in order to understand the currents shaping politics today. Big is the perfect word for Ron Chernow’s Grant. Recently, I found myself in desperate need of a Jane Austen novel, but a new Austen novel, not one I had read before–which is, unfortunately, all of them. It seems a truism that we are living in an age of scientism, and we should strive to see the proper limits of that endeavour we now know as ‘science’, and those truths we hold by faith, along with the metaphysical principles we derive from philosophy. In a way, academic life is secluded and monk-like. Túrin, Húrin’s son, is a stubborn but otherwise virtuous man who is subject to a curse bestowed by Melkor. Romano Guardini, The End of the Modern World. The Persistence of Order, Vol. His books are a bit racy to recommend to younger audiences, but are also filled with unexpected theological insight—a fairly profound explanation of the psychology of sin in one book, n explanation of Christ’s expiatory sacrifice in another. The theological topics covered are wide-ranging – the divine essence, Trinity, Christology, Soteriology, Mysticism, and the Eucharist. Here’s a taste: “Or are all the poems nonsense / which close, after so many starts, in silence?” I’ve been moving quickly through Kay Ryan’s The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (notable for a straddle-legged stance between free verse and form), rereading in Pound’s Poems and Translations and Lyn Coffin’s translations from Anna Akhmatova: Poems, and also making my way into the late Derek Mahon’s Selected Poems. Novelist, poet, and storyteller Marly Youmans is the author of fifteen books. Besides all this, Maritain’s book is worth it for the invaluable tidbits found in the footnotes alone. The severe polemical divisions brought on by this year’s pandemic and political unrest has awakened in me a thirst for books that can help cross-ideological chasms and bring us back in touch with our humanity. His expansive approach to life issues (ranging from abortion and euthanasia to animal rights and just war) is likely to win over those who don’t typically identify with the “pro-life” camp. By Mark Shea (New City Press, 2020) Smart people keep an outfit honest, often to the chagrin of the outfit and the detriment of the smart person. Wodehouse. About five months into the pandemic I treated myself to an Evelyn Waugh binge. I think Dickens paid too much attention to the historical setting and lost track of what he’s really great at. In this book, he presents an unremittingly bleak view of the present age as a time in which believers have been deprived of all comfort from tradition, culture, and a settled position in society. This massive and engrossing story of the Napoleonic era by a top-rate historian is a wonderful introduction to the period, and a persuasive argument on why the Napoleonic wars are best understood as global conflicts. A local book club re-read. Consecration to St. Joseph, Donald H. Calloway, MIC. Remaining in Russia, I also read Fr. To sum up the complex plot, unintended consequences ensue when a hotblooded young Roman officer named Marcus Vinicius woos a provincial princess. Who would believe that a former political correspondent for Rolling Stone magazine would deliver one of the best, most honest books on media studies of the new century? This is not a naïve, happily ever after narrative, though. It is terrific wisdom for the next traffic jam, and thousands of other quotidian problems. While Tolkien did not like allegory and symbolism, he did like “applicability”, and allowed the reader the freedom to apply that applicability to one’s own life and circumstances. Take it as the work of a committed abolitionist who understands the moral complexity of her subject, or as a morally complex cautionary tale warning against arrogating final judgment to ourselves while we participate in the world’s fallenness: it’s still a good story. This is a book that elicits both sadness and hope. After having read a similar title years earlier, I was unsure Kengor’s work would offer something new. I seem to have read several mediocre or outright bad books, the worst of which, readers of CWR will not be displeased to learn, was Hans Küng’s multi-volume memoirs. As the title suggests, Anton fears the nation is on the precipice of becoming a totalitarian state dominated by woke Leftists, and that is aggressively anti-Christian. More than this, he demonstrates that doing good work, and building the skills that are its necessary condition, entails the actualization of virtue. Be assured that no publisher will be looking to have Trump’s memoirs, nor will any university be seeking his presence as a Visiting Professor of Politics. Mike Aquilina and his wife recommended it. While the world turns, we do well to keep our eyes fixed on the Cross. If you’re looking for a new book to read, check out one of these best Catholic books of all time: Theology and Basics of Catholicism. She is bilingual – we live in Italy – but is more comfortable reading in Italian. Lewis’ first prose narrative book after his conversion to Christianity. Books of the Bible: New and Old Testament readings. This was my introduction to Howard, and I was delighted to discover how much he writes like St. Francis de Sales or Thomas Kempis. Motherhood Redeemed: How Radical Feminism Betrayed Maternal Love by Kimberly Cook (TAN Books, 2020). Allegory inhibits that effect since it assigns a singular and contrived meaning, the one–and only the one– given by the author. Two books that can help cross ecclesial divides are Massimo Borghesi’s The Mind of Pope Francis and Fr. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry. “Bennett’s tone and style recalls James Baldwin and Jacqueline Woodson, but it’s especially reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s 1970 debut novel, The Bluest Eye.” —Kiley Reid, Wall Street Journal “This is sure to be one of 2020… In crisp prose Bergsma offers a measured, scholarly and nuanced examination of the spirituality and theology of the Essenes community revealed in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the role these may have had (and most likely, did have) in the lives of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the early Christian community. Rev. Its second half occurs within London’s anti-Catholic Gordon riots of 1780, and it has some penetrating presentations of the minds of the rioters and their instigators. Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain. I’ve three recommendations for the best books I’ve read this last year; two relatively new non-fiction books and one older work of fiction which proved something of a surprise. Maciej Zieba’s Papal Economics offered outstanding insight into Catholic Social Teaching on democratic capitalism and Robert P. George’s Conscience and its Enemies reminded me of why the family and the free market hang together. I picture Carl’s “Best Book List” like this: he asks some of us for a copy of our guestbook so that you, the readers, can make a potential guest list for your own future invitations. Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, by Giles Milton is the true story of the brilliant eccentrics also known as the “Baker Street Irregulars.” Fact that reads like fiction. I interviewed him, Clemente, and Briel on my blog. Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue. So it’s not exactly escape literature. That world, called Gramarye, becomes the focal point for political control of the galactic future because of its native witches and warlocks. Under the name Jane Howes, she makes the case for Catholicism with a series of topical essays reflecting her change of mind. Both book(s) were very good. John Paul Meenan, M.Sc., M.A., teaches theology and science at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom in Ontario, Canada. Two books whose authors move us to Christ, and one which highlights the unintentional, self-wrought tragedies which we obtain when we move away from him. Dissects the insanities of tribal politics with a secular scalpel. Others may say he’s probably right but how can we ever do what he says the times demand? More explicitly political work included Russell Kirk’s marvelous summary of the American experiment in The American Cause and Robert R. Reilly’s defense of the founding and diagnosis of current ills in America on Trial. Having scavenged all the archives, Czaczkowska, one of Poland’s leading Catholic authors, presents a detailed, compelling portrait of one of the spiritual godfathers of solidarity, a pioneer of the new evangelization, and one of the twentieth century’s great churchmen who never compromised with communism and always defended the faith. The stories are alternatively riveting and theologically satisfying. Recent Issues. Mauro Gagliardi, Truth is a Synthesis. While I had read them previously, I had the occasion this past year of revisiting two of Robert L. Wilken’s books, Remembering the Christian Past (1995) and The Spirit of Early Christian Thought (2003). Natural Law and Human Rights: Toward a Recovery of Practical Reason by Pierre Manent (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020). I’ve more devoured than consumed books this year. Pierre Manent, Natural Law and Human Rights: Toward a Recovery of Practical Reason. Tolkien’s posthumously published Children of Húrin. This has been an odd year for books as with so much else. Louis de Granada in the two volumes A Sinner’s Guide, Alphonsus Rodriguez in The Practice of Christian and Religious Perfection, and Juan de Castiniza in The Spiritual Conflict and Conquest. Father Milward makes a forceful argument that one cannot understand the plays without grasping how religion, the biggest political issue of that time, seeps into sundry dialogues and plot points in a way that paints Shakespeare in a rather Romish light. Joel Kotkin, The Coming of Neo-Feudalism. Alexander Mikaberidze, The Napoleonic Wars. —Matthew Harmon, New Testament professor, Grace College and Seminary in Winona Lake, ... "The 2020 Book Awards" This article is from the Jan/Feb 2020 issue. Pope Francis' New Book Addresses ... political polarization, and the condition of the Catholic church. Wodehouse. James Kalb is a lawyer, independent scholar, and Catholic convert who lives in Brooklyn, New York. Writers, I suspect, often read in peculiar ways and for unusual reasons. These essays, on the whole, are superb. Let’s pray that our bishops and priests don’t act upon any regulations that put our physical safety first, to the detriment of what really matters. Then you just discovered the work that will make you satisfied. The first is Consecrating the World: On Mundane Liturgical Theology, which is a good entry point into Fagerberg’s liturgical theology, which is both broad and deep, edifying and challenging. These are ultimately spiritual, as Kirk and Reilly demonstrate, and cannot be dislodged from the hearts of all Americans, no matter how hard certain ideologues try to erase them. St. Augustine, Against the Academics. 10 Best Catholic Bibles 2020 Dating back over 2,000 years, the Roman Catholic religion 10 Best Christian Books 2020 Prayer is the cornerstone of a strong, stable, and 10 Best Vegan Books 2020 For those who already practice a vegan diet and 10 Best Jack Reacher Books 2020 Author Lee Child has now written 26 books … Tolkien’s The Hobbit introduced us to the format and provided great opportunities for both girls to share literary insights. Ryszard Legutko, The Cunning of Freedom. But despite the utter hopelessness, health is still held up by the protagonist as his central goal. Needless to say, America’s ugly racial wounds have resurfaced in a painfully dramatic way this year. “All newspapers,” Balzac tells his readers in Lost Illusions (1837) “will in due course be cowardly, hypocritical, shameless, [and] mendacious.” Certainly, those who followed me this year in cancelling their subscriptions to the contemptible Wall Street Journal will see the prophetic force of the novelist’s observation there. Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals: Why We Need Our Past to Have a Future was an encouraging look at some Church fathers that also seemed like an unsolicited gift from a member of the evangelical mafia. He has all four of the things the world tells us ought to make us happy. Hans Urs von Balthasar. In the first forty or so years of his life, all long-time atheist Sullivan knew about Catholicism came from “liaisons with women who were fallen from the faith [and] each demonstrated – and in remarkably similar ways – that it was a lot easier to stop attending church than it was to quit being a Catholic.” In the early 1990s, however, Sullivan covered the story of a young Mexican American woman in Oregon who claimed that the Virgin Mary had appeared to her and hundreds of other witnesses in her mobile home. ed. It seemed the devil did not want it published. The first is Kirk’s now-classic exposition of the beliefs and institutions which built the American republic. The Life of Animals in Japanese Art. Children of the Atom, Wilmar H. Shiras. Edge-of-your-seat action, fascinating insights into late Victorian thinking about colonialism and scientific developments, terrifyingly prophetic passages showing refugees fleeing a burning London … and the whole story takes place a few miles from where I live. His proposed solution to the dead end in which we’ve landed involved reconnecting to a corrected form of classical metaphysics. Vinicius’ irreverent uncle Petronius is one of the most interesting and attractive figures of the book, set in contrast to a Nero who in all his delusions of godhood and aesthetic pretensions seems a caricature of Nietzsche’s ubermensch. Another wonderful piece of history which I plundered for the Newman edition is Dom David Knowles’s 3-volume Religious Orders in England (1948-59), which remains one of the glories of ecclesiastical history. The Miracle Detective is a gripping, frank, and beautiful account of exactly this conflict between our post-Enlightenment, rational Western minds and the undeniable presence of the mystical. This highly personal account of a young Muslim’s spiritual journey was a real eye-opener. Warlock, which runs to over a dozen books plus spinoff series, features a mix of mid-century, Captain Kirk-style liberalism, the media theory of Marshall McLuhan, and Stasheff’s own mid-century Catholicism. Living Memento Mori: My Journey through the Stations of the Cross by Emily DeArdo (Ave Maria Press, 2019). You can adjust your cookie choices in those tools at any time. Here are my favorite reads from 2020. Stephen Schmalhofer’s Delightful People is simply wonderful. Even better with age. I came to appreciate his moral rectitude and religious convictions, even though he is most often depicted as a cigar smoking (20 a day as a general and 10 a day as president) drunkard, the latter often exaggerated by his military and political despisers. I tend to veer back and forth between genres (published a poetry collection last year), and this month I’ve been reading poetry, as well as some related nonfiction that I began earlier in the year and never quite finished. St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, pray for us! But in a big way. At every turn, Hutter presents Newman as an able critic of modernity’s desire to make man a sovereign subject, to allow man to reverse positions and place, as C.S. Roman Catholic Books also prints new titles, and is distinguished from other Catholic publishing houses in its willingness to publish titles which are considered to attract too narrow an audience to be profitable. Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph over the Darkness of the Age by Bishop Athanasius Schneider in conversation with Diane Montagna. I normally loathe sci-fi, but my son was reading War of the Worlds and my curiosity was piqued. I met a few new authors in 2020 – new to me, at any rate – including Corinna Turner, who brought out Three Last Things: Or, the Hounding of Carl Jarrold, Soulless Assassin this year. For further spiritual reflection, I’ve turned to the diaries of Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez, Gabrielle Bossis, and Dorothy Day, who witness to the need to confront adversity and persecution with a sincere commitment to prayer and silence. Some comic relief was in order so I turned to The Master: P.G. In doing so, he brings Paul’s earliest extant letters alive for a Church and a world badly in need of Pauline insights into our times — and every time. The Advent prayers collected in special Advent prayer books … I plan to gift both books this Christmas. Amity Shlaes captures it in Great Society: A New History. I write this year’s entry from a book-filled home in a wooded area of Western Oregon, while my two cats, Hastings and Mycroft, stare menacingly at the squirrels and blue jays safely outside the window. Catholic Answers is a media company dedicated to sharing what the Church really teaches, and we are the world’s largest source for reliable information about the Catholic … The books produced by Roman Catholic Books … I found Ewa Czaczkowska’s excellent biography of Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński, Poland’s “Millennial Primate,” whose June beatification was postponed due to the pandemic, to be especially illuminating history. This is a book to savor. We all know Professor Duffy from his work on the Catholic Church in England, and here he pays tribute to one of the great English minds, a cardinal and now a saint. Traces the relationship between Benedict Arnold and George Washington, and looks at the deep divisions and political machinations that threatened to derail the American Revolution. Of Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn’s books I read, most enchanting were his memoirs, The Oak and the Calf (up to his exile to the West) and Between Two Millstones, Books 1 and (just-released) 2, covering his exile. Hence, the two institutions instituted by God have very tangible, intentionally designed homes, because everything in a church has a distinct and divine purpose as well. His journal is a lively and consistently interesting picture of a man struggling (successfully) to practice Christian charity in the face of outrageous injustice and hostility toward himself and his Church. This one … that will be lost through me.” Not for nothing, the curse that he next calls down upon his own father is fully realized; and the man who had so unfeelingly raised Hugh as a virtual slave is only reconciled with his own son after having lost his inn and his wits. That makes it harder to pick out my favorites from 2020: I’ll start with my most recent read and perhaps my favorite—which is saying a lot given some of the others I’ll list. Evidently influenced by C.S. The Case for Trump by Victor Davis Hanson. See you at Mass. When I can combine the two, it is a good day. Spiritual literature takes a few reads to digest. This led to my reading Antonia Arslan’s moving novella Silent Angel. Mitchell offers three pillars of a renewed America: saving the middle-class; healing the wound of racism not by identity politics but by a theology of the Cross; and a modest foreign policy. What better way to end 2020 than reminding ourselves of our origin and destination in the eternal God? The Worlds of J.R.R. If you have a Protestant Bible, you are missing a few great books!) Each chapter juxtaposes Christianity’s traditional understanding of a reality—conscience, faith, the development of doctrine, and the university—with its corresponding modern counterfeit. In this he was prophetic: Benedict XVI offered precisely this in Anglicanorum Coetibus, his establishment of the Ordinariate. (See my recent CWR interview with Trueman and read Deborah Savage’s CWR review of the book.). Established in 1912, Our Sunday Visitor publishes Catholic … For all those for whom the Gospel of St. John is their favorite, this will be balm for the soul. Wodehouse. (My favorite book on this list.). Each month we choose books from a list of nominations for a book … I had suspected people were losing their minds, but to read the evidence for it all in one place, well, made me feel quite sane. Deeply reported and beautifully written, it was especially helpful for someone who was in his single digits when the tragedy occurred. One of Hanson’s most insightful points comes toward the end of the book, wherein he portrays Trump as a tragic figure in the Greek sense of the term. So, to all who contributed, thank you for a wonderful Christmas gift. Dr. Patrick Toner is associate professor of philosophy at Wake Forest University. From Islam to Christ: One Woman’s Path Through the Riddles of God by Dr. Derya Little (Ignatius Press, 2017). Unrestricted Warfare, Col. Qiao Liang and Col. Wang Xiangsui: My husband looked a little startled (concerned?) It’s the tenth of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, but can be read alone, although I recommend starting with Strong Poison and reading all the books through Busman’s Honeymoon to get the full story arc of which Gaudy Night is the climax. Wilken possesses the marvelous talent of bringing together diverse topics from the Church’s ancient past and making them relevant for today. At the very least, during a tough year, it has helped me fall in love with literature in new ways by introducing me to new authors and books I’d always thought someone should write something about, but didn’t know someone did. James had a somewhat ambivalent interest in Catholics and Catholicism, and it shows here. It is an important corrective to the false historical narrative that Islamic Spain was a light of tolerance and culture in the midst of the darkness of the Middle Ages. Beleg said lembas was, ‘The greatest gift that one who loves you still has to give,’ and in those words I could easily hear Christ, especially considering that in the Eucharist he is giving himself. Anthony E. Clark is professor of Chinese history at Whitworth University. I wrapped up the year by dipping back into one of my favorites, and one of my favorite books to give. ... Add To Cart Add To Wishlist. Rereading it some forty-odd years later with older and more mature eyes, I was far more capable of recognizing the startling tragedy that the Monster, for Shelley, would turn out to be the Romanticism which she, herself, and the novel is supposed to champion. This book was published in late 2011 and was voted the most popular book in Russia in 2012. This prolific blogger and author is more pessimistic than Anton about America’s future, dominated as it is by a soft totalitarianism that will in time become hard. The novel, thick with an almost psychedelic ambience, conjures bizarre concepts, strange characters, and fantastical happenings. I reread The 27th Kingdom, her Booker-prize nominated story of a thaumaturge in bohemian 1950s London. Topping (TAN Books, 2019). But as it happens, I think it is not a great novel. A Primer On The Right: The Challenge of the Modern Right and How It Relates to the Contemporary Left by Robert E. Salyer, This book aims at defining and clarifying what the Left and Right essentially are. Skills trump social media activity and disconnected dreams of “building an online presence.” Newport’s conclusion is simple and much-needed in our time: the standard or paradigm of good, humane work is not your passions or feelings. C.S. It is a work of relentless and insufferable preening. The Craft: How the Freemasons Made the Modern World, John Dickie. Pawel Galuszka’s Karol Wojtyla e “Humanae Vitae”. For us, today’s secular monks, a life of research in highly specialized fields keeps us quarantined—even in normal times. So there are the elements that make an opera—devoted lovers, evil oppressors, saintly friars, separation and jeopardy, miraculous conversions—but also much more: a variety of social types, fascinating psychological and character studies, and striking portrayals of famine, plague, and early modern war. I am not convinced, but it is certainly a work of profound beauty, depth, and insight into human nature. Except this year, with the arrival The Virus, I frantically bounced around in anticipation of … The End. If Goodman and O’Connor have mastered the novel, Sam Weller, the official biographer of Ray Bradbury, has truly mastered the short story as manifested in his collection, Dark Black (Hat and Beard, 2020), at times terrifying and at times deeply personal, but always profound. ... Catholic Book … Christ in His Mysteries, Blessed Columba Marmion. Lewis, I was reminded yet again, was truly a genius, but his books are hit and miss depending on (at least this reader’s) one’s mood. 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