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THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REVIEW
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Books
Spiritual Exercisers
October 20, 2014
William Bole
In July of last year, aboard a plane returning to Rome from the World Youth Day celebration in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis made clear to the world that he was pontificating in a new key. He walked back to the press compartment and stood in the aisle for 81 minutes, answering every question in a spontaneous exchange with reporters and uttering his now-emblematic “Who am I to judge?” remark about gays. Scarcely noted was another comment by this product of the...
Surviving Anti-Modernism
October 20, 2014
Maureen O'Connell
A word of warning to book reviewers, especially for Catholic periodicals like this one: what you say about what Catholic authors are saying about our current cultural reality may someday become fodder for a critical construction of what is not being said, or more precisely, what is forbidden to be said, about the same in more theological and ecclesial circles. In other words, whether you know it or not, you’re more than simply commenting about...
Consensus Lost?
October 20, 2014
Martin E. Marty
Historian George Marsden, an influential expert on Protestant fundamentalism and also on secularization in the academy, chooses in this book to critique two ways of conceiving America that he claims prevailed about three-score years ago. That was the zenith time of public Protestantism and “consensus-based” reliance on aspects of the 18th century Enlightenment. In Marsden’s image for the change, “twilight” is now here. Over against the darkness which would...
Back-Pedalling
October 13, 2014
Perry Petrich
There’s no place better suited for supermen than long distance cycling. Take the Tour de France, the sport’s greatest race. This year’s event covers 3,656 km over 21 days (think Detroit to Los Angeles with the Alps standing in for the Rockies and the Pyrenees for the Sierras). As one 1924 rider put it, the (then shorter) tour “is like martyrdom.
Woman Of All Seasons
October 13, 2014
Sidney Callahan
Few works deliver on the promise of their title with such success as Mary Christine Athans’s book on Mary. The scholarship is solid, the prose accessible and her personal reflections engaging. The book can also be provocative, since discussions of Mary lead to questions about the contested role of women in the church.
African Journeys
October 13, 2014
Jon M. Sweeney
The African novel has come of age in the early 21st century North American diaspora. Straddling homelands, histories, myths, looking for values and identity somewhere in between—those are the grand topics of the African novel.
The Hurt Life
October 13, 2014
Franklin Freeman
I’ve heard it said: hurt people hurt. If anyone was ever hurt as a child, not physically but emotionally, it was Tennessee Williams. His mother Edwina’s denial did the hurting, denial she turned into an art form, which her son turned into art. And John Lahr, senior drama critic of The New Yorker for over 20 years, has written a beautiful biography of the artist.
Modern ‘Republic’
October 13, 2014
M. Ross Romero
When I was in doctoral studies in philosophy, a Jesuit professor in another discipline asked me what my dissertation topic was. “Plato!” he chafed, “What could you possibly have to say about Plato that hasn’t already been said?” His remark provided me with ample motivation to finish my dissertation. From the standpoint of academic scholarship, Rebecca Goldstein doesn’t offer much that is new about Plato. Instead, in Plato at the Googleplex, she does...
Made in the U.S.A.
October 6, 2014
Gregory Orfalea
This book is a dry, almost too careful, yet important inquiry into the nature of Muslim participation in American society, particularly in the political and juridical realm. It is written by an accomplished Sudanese-American law professor at Emory University in Atlanta, dedicated to young Muslims in the United States. Despite this hortatory stance (and to some extent because of it), Abdullahi An-Na’im makes a true contribution to the woefully underrepresented...
Planning Family
October 6, 2014
Todd A. Salzman
With the ongoing concerns of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops over the contraceptive mandate and the upcoming 2014 Synod of Bishops on challenges facing the family, which will include discussions on contraception, Aline Kalbian’s book is a timely and insightful contribution to this issue. It begins with a methodological explanation of the project (ch. 1), presents an historical overview of the justificatory strategies of Catholic teaching...
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