IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Opinions expressed on the Insight Scoop weblog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Ignatius Press. Links on this weblog to articles do not necessarily imply agreement by the author or by Ignatius Press with the contents of the articles. Links are provided to foster discussion of important issues. Readers should make their own evaluations of the contents of such articles.
So writes author and blogger Sarah Reinhard in her recent review for National Catholic Register of Robert Ovies’ new novel, The Rising, published this spring by Ignatius Press:
This isn’t a thriller. It’s not a horror novel. It’s a serious consideration of what that would mean for a normal kid and his family.
On the surface, this seems like it could be either heretical or awesome or even some combination of both. Ovies, however, forces us to go deeper. What does it mean to be alive? What does it mean to be dead? And what are the implications of a boy having this ability?
C.J.’s dad has an entrepreneurial streak, his mom is very protective, and it seems no one’s really concerned about him. For a nine-year-old boy, raising people from the dead could be a neat trick. For the rest of the world, it’s an opportunity to spit in death’s face.
And let’s not forget exploitation, because you know that would happen. The media and even the Church get in on the “what can you do for me?” side of things and, in the end, the hero of the story is the most unexpected person.
This isn’t just entertaining reading, though it’s definitely that. It’s also an examination of life and death. This book is really a consideration of human nature and maybe even divine nature. It’s a look at relationship and trust.
I couldn’t stop thinking about this book the whole time I was reading it. It’s fast-paced and yet it has a way of getting into your brain and making you think.
This might be one of the best novels I’ve read in a couple of years. It gets my highest recommendation. You won’t be sorry you read it!
When nine-year-old C.J. Walker touches the arm of his mother's dead friend at her wake service and whispers the wish that she wouldn't be dead, he's just trying to do the right thing. But when the undertaker sees the woman's rosary sliding off her outstretched fingers and tumbling down her raised left arm, the firestorm can't be held in check. Frightened people near and far demand to know how many of their own loved ones might have been buried alive by the same undertaker, or by any undertaker.
But proof that C.J. Walker can indeed raise the dead is secretly videoed, then publicly aired. In a single morning, C.J.'s mother, Lynn, watches their home becoming a fortress and her son becoming a target. Grieving individuals desperate to see death let go of their loved ones; representatives from news, medical, and scientific organizations; influential religious representatives; and powerful government agencies all move in to gain maximum positions of influence over the greatest power on earth.
Through the ordeal, Lynn and her separated husband, Joe, struggle to find a way to escape with C.J., to keep him hidden from every pursuer, and somehow to make it possible for him to live a normal life again. But to do it all they must act quickly, before he's stolen away by authorities in high places.
Robert Ovies is a former Director of Chevrolet's U.S. advertising, an ordained Deacon, an MSW Counselor, and with his wife he was a mission worker on Arizona's Navajo Reservation. For ten years he was a live-in Director of a communal Halfway House in Detroit offering support to broken families, the homeless, runaways and abused women. He and his wife created a widely used marriage support program called "Together with Jesus Couple Prayer Series." The Rising is Robert's first novel.
Praise for The Rising:
"Ovies is a highly skilled writer of prose. But what we have here is more than a bravura performance: we are taken to that point at which eternal mysteries touch our ordinary world. Is it realism? Read this tale and decide." - Thomas Howard, Author, Dove Descending: A Journey into T.S Eliot's Four Quartets
"Not only is this book difficult to put down, it is impossible to forget. When fine writing and compelling ideas combine, the result is essential reading. Works like this do not come along very often." - Michael Coren, Author, Gilbert: The Man Who Was G. K. Chesterton
"A mesmerizing and provocative story packed with vivid characters and told with an easy elegance. The Rising makes you think, wonder, and then ponder what death, life, and love really mean." - T.M. Doran, Author, Towards the Gleam
“Too Late Have I Loved Thee”: On the Genius of Franz Joseph Haydn | R. J. Stove | Catholic World Report
He seems to need rediscovering with each new generation. And by the way, let’s lose the fatuous “Papa Haydn” tag.
Strange how certain extremely famous creators are not really famous after all. For proof of this sub-Chestertonian paradox, consult Franz Joseph Haydn, who seems in many respects the musical counterpart to Mark Twain’s definition of a literary classic: “something that everyone wants to have read and nobody wants to read.” The normally perspicacious Schumann—possibly misled by the “Papa” which common usage all too swiftly attached to Haydn’s name —dismissed Haydn as “a familiar friend of the house whom all greet with pleasure and with esteem but who has ceased to arouse any particular interest.” Tchaikovsky remained only slightly more enthusiastic: “I also like some things of Haydn.” Kingsley Amis, in 1982, exhibited downright contempt: “Except perhaps for J.S. Bach, Haydn was the laziest of the great composers.” (Proof, if we required proof, that a verdict once passed upon Belloc fits Amis still more: “As he grew older the rather juvenile desire to ‘shock’ grew stronger and not weaker.”)
Overall it is surprising how accurate the remark credited both to pianist Paul Badura-Skoda and musicologist Sir Donald Tovey—“Haydn The Unknown”—continues to be now. For Cincinnati-based editor Donald Vroon, writing in 1992, “Haydn is almost like a secret.” Two years beforehand, former New York Times critic Joseph Horowitz had provided mostly illuminating specifics about this quasi-clandestine role:
[Haydn] … holds limited popular appeal. He is not a sufferer, a lover, a confessor, a combatant—all the personae we expect our heroic musical executants to embody. His knowing wit and repartee privately gratify the attuned interpreter. Interpreters otherwise attuned—to a mass public, for instance—smooth away his subversive detail, transforming him into a cut-rate Mozart.
In one respect Horowitz's conclusion is inept because parochial. Outside the New York Times mindset, no automatic contradiction exists between “a mass public” and Haydn's output.
Citadel of God: A Novel About Saint Benedict (Chapter One) | Louis de Wohl
"Rome is finished", said Senator Albinus. He sipped his wine, then held up the goblet carved from amethyst. "Very pretty", he approved. "I wonder where they find stones large enough to be cut like this. Very pretty."
Senator Boethius frowned. 'They come from India, I believe", he said, with a warning glance towards his wife.
But Rusticiana was beyond taking notice. Her face was drained of blood, and her hands twitched. "Rome is indeed finished", she said breathlessly, "if there are no Romans left. And I see there aren't."
The boy Peter gazed at her with rapt admiration. She was as beautiful as a goddess when she was angry. She was a white flame burning.
"Romans", Senator Albinus drawled. "I wouldn't say there aren't any, Domina Rusticiana, but they are few, you know. The city prefect tells me he had great difficulty in getting the men together for the escort of honor."
"The escort of honor for a barbarian tyrant", Rusticiana said icily. "Indeed, I hope it was difficult. It is bad enough that anyone at all would comply."
"Oh, it wasn't for that reason, I'm afraid", Albinus said dryly. "They didn't want to wear armor all day. So heavy, don! 't you see, and standing on the walls and in the streets in it for hours on end. The city prefect had to grant them three sesterces for special duty. They asked for five, at first." He smiled at Rustician's disgust. "The trouble with you, Domina, is that you were born five centuries too late. On second thought, make it a thousand years. You ought to have been a contemporary of Cloelia, Virginia, and Lucretia."
"I wish I could return the compliment", Rusticiana. snapped.
"Don't you see that he talks like that only because he, too, is suffering?" Boethius asked with gentle reproach.
"Talking seems to be all that is done', she said. "If there were one true Roman left, he would act."
"What would you have him do, Domina?" Albinus asked, mockery in his tone, but not in his eyes. "Have a nice, hot bath and open his veins? Old Scaurus did that, last week, when he heard that the King was coming to Rome."
"He was eighty", Rusticiana said, her eyes blazing. "And at that age the only veins a man can open are his own. But at least he did do that."
Albinus looked at Boethius. "Do you know, I begin to believe your wife wants me to go and kill the King." He laughed. "As her husband, I trust she has given you first chance."
"A thousand years ago," Rusticiana said, "at the time of Lucretia, we threw out our own King, and not even the maddest of the Caesars dared to assume that title again. Now we are to give it to an Ostrogoth."
(Left) Dietrich von Hildebrand (photo courtesy of the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project); (right) Alice von Hildebrand (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Alice von Hildebrand: Reflecting on a Life of Teaching, Scholarship, and Prayer | Jim Graves | Catholic World Report
With her memoirs due out later this summer, the prolific writer and scholar looks back over decades of service to the Gospel and to truth.
Pope Francis recently recognized Alice von Hildebrand as a Dame Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of St. Gregory in recognition of her lifetime of work on behalf of the Church. She is originally from Brussels, Belgium, and came to the United States in 1940, as World War II began ravaging Europe.
Unable to find employment at a Catholic college, she began a 37-year career teaching philosophy at Hunter College, a public university in New York, beginning in 1947. She married Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977) in 1959, two years after the death of his first wife. Since her husband’s death in 1977, she has devoted her time and energy to promoting his work. She is a prolific writer and gifted public speaker, eloquently sharing the message of the Gospel with Catholic audiences throughout the world.
Later this summer, Mrs. von Hildebrand will release her memoirs, Alice von Hildebrand: Memoirs of a Happy Failure (Saint Benedict Press). She recently spoke to CWR.
CWR: In your memoirs, you go into detail about your 37 years of teaching at Hunter College, and the trouble you experienced in its anti-Christian environment.
Alice von Hildebrand: Yes. I was a perfectly harmless little foreign girl, teaching in a secular university, and I experienced much persecution. I began writing my experiences after I left Hunter, because I wanted my memory to be exact.
I had first applied for jobs teaching at Catholic colleges. They would not hire me because I was a woman. The same thing, incidentally, happened to Edith Stein in Germany. She couldn’t find a university job because she was a woman.
There was an opening at Hunter College. They needed someone to fill in for a professor who was going to be out for two weeks. Having never taught college before, I began on December 8, 1947. At the end of the two weeks, I thought I was going to get a pink slip, but was allowed to stay on.
I became an adjunct, but after many years of teaching I received no promotion, and no medical coverage. After 11 years I became an instructor, but at the lowest possible salary on the scale.
One day I received a terse note telling me to report to the dean’s office. I went, and found 17 other professors who spent the next two hours questioning me about my teaching. They said I was injecting my religious ideas into the classroom. When I left, I was totally exhausted. I had not experienced such exhaustion in all my years teaching.
Remarkably, I was given tenure, with nine professors voting for and eight voting against. I bumped into a friend at that time who asked me, “Do you believe in miracles?” I said, “Yes, I do.” He replied, “Well, your receiving tenure was nothing short of a miracle.”
"Nigerian villagers killed in Boko Haram church attack"
"Sudanese Christian woman fears for her life"
"Iraqi Christians Flee Homes In Brutal Conflict"
As headlines like the ones above become more and more common, we must again face the question of whether or not the Islamic vision of the world, as proclaimed in the Quran, allows for a peaceful coexistence between Islam and Christianity.
Writing for Catholic World Report, Michael Coren, examines this question in his article below, "The Quran and Christianity."
For a deeper exploration of this question and related issues, scroll down further to browse our related titles and save 20% on these select titles with the code JULY01 for a limited time* only.
The Quran and Christianity Islam's holy book is filled with intolerant, aggressive language that calls directly for violence against Christians Michael Coren
A boy copies Quranic verses in a Muslim school in June in Timbuktu, the northern Mali city that was seized by Islamist fighters in 2012 and then liberated by French and Malian soldiers in early 2013. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)
Islam’s persecution of Christianity has reached a grotesque crescendo in the past few months. Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Egypt—the list goes on and horribly on. There is much that can be said—and I will not refrain from saying it—but if there is to be honest debate and discussion about the issue we have to admit what the Quran, the holy text of Islam, states about Muslim attitudes toward Christians...continue reading
Related Titles Save 20%* with the code JULY01 for a limited time only!
111 Questions on Islam Samir Khalil Samir $16.95
The Regensburg Lecture Pope Benedict XVI and Fr. James Schall $20.00
Christianity, Islam and Atheism William Kilpatrick $24.95 eBook also available.
The Price to Pay Joseph Fadelle $19.95 eBook also available.
Left: King Henry VIII; right: Pope Adrian VI (Photos: www.wikipedia.org)
Cahill's Self-Serving History of Heretics and Heroes | Dr. Michael B. Kelly | CWR
Outrage-free history has never been easy to write, and Thomas Cahill is not up to the task in his new book on the Renaissance and Reformation
Since publishing the amusing How the Irish Saved Civilization in 1995, best-selling author Thomas Cahill has added five further volumes to his history of the West, the Hinges of History series. The latest volume, Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Changed Our World, contains Cahill’s take on the great European intellectual, cultural, and religious movements of the period now commonly referred to by historians as “early modern”. According to the author, this series aims to “retell the story of the Western world as the story of the great gift-givers, those who entrusted to our keeping one or another of the singular treasures that make up the patrimony of the West.” Such “gift-givers” left behind “a world more varied and complex, more awesome and delightful, more beautiful and strong” than the one they had entered.
“We normally,” Cahill states, “think of history as one catastrophe after another, war followed by war, outrage by outrage—almost as if history were nothing more than all the narratives of human pain, assembled in sequence.” The Hinges series, however, is dedicated to “narratives of grace, the recountings of those blessed and inexplicable moments when someone did something for someone else, saved a life, bestowed a gift, gave something beyond what was required by circumstance.”
It seems we are in for a newer, gentler, kinder history of the West.
And yet Cahill’s approach, as advertised, is not all that novel. Hear how an earlier writer distanced himself from conventional historians with their predilection for bloodshed and brutality: “Other historians record the victories of war and trophies won from enemies, the skill of generals, and the manly bravery of soldiers, defiled with blood and with innumerable slaughters for the sake of [their] children and country and other possessions. But our narrative of the government of God will record . . . the most peaceful wars waged in behalf of the peace of the soul, and will tell of men doing brave deeds for truth rather than country, and for piety rather than dearest friends.”1 As the Father of Church History, Eusebius of Caesarea, penned those words in the first half of the fourth century it can be seen that Cahill is, at least in aspiration, in good, and rather well-worn, company.
Outrage-free history, however, has never been easy to write.
Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley star in a scene from the movie "The Fault in Our Stars." (CNS photo/Fox)
"The Fault in Our Stars" and the Sacred Heart of Jesus | Fr. Robert Barron | Catholic World Report blog
The question that haunts the entire movie is how can there be meaning in the universe when two wonderful young kids are dying of cancer?
John Green’s novel The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton Books, 2012) has proven to be wildly popular among young adults in the English-speaking world, and the recently released film adaptation of the book has garnered both impressive reviews and a massive audience.
A one-time divinity school student and Christian minister, Green is not reluctant to explore the “big” questions, though he doesn’t claim to provide anything like definitive answers. In this, he both reflects and helps to shape the inchoate, eclectic spirituality that holds sway in the teen and 20-something set today. After watching the film however, I began to wonder whether his Christian sensibility doesn’t assert itself perhaps even more clearly and strongly than he realizes.
The story is narrated by Hazel Grace Lancaster, a teenager suffering from a debilitating and most likely terminal form of cancer. At her mother’s prompting, Hazel attends a support group for young cancer patients that takes place at the local Episcopal Church. The group is presided over by a well-meaning but nerdy youth minister who commences each meeting by rolling out a tapestry of Jesus displaying his Sacred Heart. “We are gathering, literally, in the heart of Jesus,” he eagerly tells the skeptical and desultory gaggle of teens.
At one of these sessions, Hazel rises to share her utterly bleak, even nihilistic philosophy of life:
The 18th volume in the popular Bible study series leads readers through a penetrating study of the Book of Job using the biblical text itself and the Church's own guidelines for understanding the Bible.
Ample notes accompany each page, providing fresh insights by renowned Bible teachers Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch, as well as time-tested interpretations from the Fathers of the Church. They provide rich historical, cultural, geographical or theological information pertinent to the Old Testament book - information that bridges the distance between the biblical world and our own.
It also includes Topical Essays, Word Studies and Charts. The Topical Essays explore the major themes of Job , often relating them to the teachings of the Church. The Word Studies explain the background to important Bible terms, while the Charts summarize crucial biblical information "at a glance".
Scott Hahn, Ph.D., well-known as the author of several best-selling books including Rome Sweet Home and The Lamb's Supper, is a professor of scripture at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and a very popular scripture scholar and speaker.
Curtis Mitch, a former student of Scott Hahn, is the General Editor of the complete Ignatius Study Bible series.
PRAISE FOR the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible:
"With copious historical and theological notes, incisive commentary and tools for study, the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible is outstanding for private devotion, personal study and Bible study groups. It is excellent for evangelization and apologetics as well!" -- Stephen Ray, Host ,The Footprints of God series
"The Ignatius Study Bible is a triumph of both piety and scholarship, in the best Catholic tradition: simply the most useful succinct commentary that any Christian or other interested person could hope for." -- Erasmo Leiva, Author, Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word
All four evangelists begin Jesus' entry into public life with John the Baptist's emergence from his desert. Matthew leaps straight to John's mission after the return of the Holy Family from Egypt, Luke after the finding of the boy in the Temple. The other two actually begin their Gospel with it, nothing of our Lord's earthly life being told before, apart from John's "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."
It is clear, then, that John the Baptist's mission was essential: Jesus' own mission needed it. In his Gospel, St. John interrupts his breathtaking Prologue about the Incarnation of the Word (which we Catholics read as the Last Gospel at Mass) to say: "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him." So that the Light of the World, the Light which of all lights could surely not be hid, needed someone to give testimony to him, needed John to give testimony to him!
Little is said in the New Testament to show why John's work was thus essential. Our Lord praises him indeed: "Amongst those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist" (Luke vii.28): and he was not lavish of praise; pause a moment and try to think of anyone else he praised. But although Jesus says (you will find it in the verse before) that John was to prepare his way, it is hard to find any hint from him as to why any preparation at all was necessary for a mission as powerful in word and as studded with miracles as his. We are not shown in the Gospels mighty things flowing from John's work into Christ's. And in the rest of the New Testament nothing much is made of St. John's mission either. St. Paul never refers to it at all, though he must have known about it, since the only description we have of John's origin is given by Paul's companion and disciple, Luke.
Thanks to Luke, all the same, the Church has been intensely aware of John ever since. He is one of that small and immeasurably select band to whom we say the Confiteor at every Mass and daily in our own prayers. Great saints have been named after him—St. John Baptist de la Salle, for instance, who founded the Brothers of the Christian Schools in the seventeenth century; St. John Baptist de Rossi, the eighteenth-century saint whose own instincts were rather like those of his namesake; in the nineteenth century the Cure of Ars, Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianaey, who would have loved a desert but was never allowed by God to go to one. The number of not spectacularly saintiy persons. who bear his name is, of course, beyond counting—the great French writer of comedy, Moliere, for instance, was Jean-Baptiste Poquelin.
But all that this means is that the parents of the saints, to say nothing of the parents of the dramatist and of the unnumbered others, had a great devotion to the son of Zachary and Elizabeth, not that they had any clear understanding of why it was essential that Our Lord should have him for a Forerunner, or why be should have anybody for a Forerunner. What herald could he possibly need? Their devotion was almost certainly not to the prophet without whom Christ's mission would have lacked an essential element: it was to the child whose birth had been foretold by Gabriel, the child who had leapt in his mother's womb at the sound of Mary's voice as she entered the house of his parents with the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity in her womb: it was to the man who had paid with his head for telling the truth about Salome's mother.
In this beautiful book of meditations, illustrated with full-color reproductions of Giotto's famous Scrovegni chapel Frescos (c.1305), discover the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and contemplate with her how the mysteries of Christ's life answer the deepest questions of our lives.
A deep contemplation of Christ's passion through the eyes of his Blessed Mother, and a profound and lively reflection on the Seven Sorrows of Mary, this book is an invaluable companion to pray and meditate with during Lent and a beautiful resource you will return to throughout the year. It is also an ideal gift for Catholics and for those who wish to understand the mystery of our own salvation and is well-suited for adult catechetical instruction and RCIA.
A Review of Watcher from the Shore by Ayako Sono | John Herreid | IPNovels.com
Novels often fall into the trap of offering easy redemption. The wayward soul sees the error of his ways, has a quasi-mystical experience, and sets off on the road to the straight and narrow. It’s what we want to happen—even if it sacrifices some of the reality of human behavior in doing so.
Watcher from the Shore doesn’t offer any of this sort of catharsis. Written by the Japanese Catholic novelist Ayako Sono, it is about as unsentimental a novel as you could imagine. Her novel offers a glimpse into a culture that can appear to be rigid and emotionally repressed to Western eyes. At the same time, the book allows the reader to view Christian morality from the outside, stepping into the shoes of an agnostic gynecologist who sees his participation in abortion as balanced somewhere between moral neutrality and a positive good for society.
Sadaharu Nobeji operates his clinic near the shores of the Pacific Ocean. In the not-so-distant past, it was common for people in this part of rural Japan to discard newborn infants if they had birth defects or were otherwise unwanted. Sadaharu tells himself that it’s a good thing that he is now there to offer the more humane alternative of abortion, yet despite his insistence upon a clear conscience he keeps bringing the topic up in conversation with his best friend, a widowed Catholic woman named Yoko Kakei. During a dinner visit, Yoko introduces him to a Catholic priest, Father Munechika.
In his first conversation with Father Munechika, Sadaharu gives one of many of his defenses of performing abortions:
“Let’s suppose I become a Christian. I borrow a cross from the church, without paying, Father, and set it up on the roof of my clinic in place of the lightning rod. My patients arrive, and when they see the cross I will say: ‘Look there! I’m so afraid of God I certainly will not perform abortions.’ Now, Father, I ask you; What will that solve? …I’ll tell you what would happen. They would skip the sermon and go to another clinic for their abortions. That’s all. And though I say it myself, if you will pardon me, I’m clever with my hands and my operations are good. Frankly, it’s better for the patients that I do their operations instead of some other doctor.”
The clinical distance Sadaharu cultivates between himself and objective morality is mirrored in his distance from his wife.
Among the “LGBT” activists and their allies who have lately been so successful in transforming our culture’s understanding of love, marriage, and sexual integrity, Reilly’s book will be hated and denounced. It is likely that many of those who denounce the book most strongly will not actually read it. They will certainly not squarely confront or refute its arguments.
By contrast, among those who feel beleaguered by the culture war over same-sex marriage, who have shrugged and decided to live with the fraud of “marriage equality” in hopes of obtaining some civil peace, Reilly’s book will probably just be ignored. That is unfortunate, because Making Gay Okay is a very powerful account of how LGBT activists have so successfully conquered—or at least subdued—the hearts and minds of such people. It is also unfortunate because LGBT activists will not allow for a civil peace on any terms that friends of a free society can accept.
Here are a few more excerpts from Franck's review:
This is not a book that relies on revelation or scripture in any way. As Reilly notes, it was the ancient Greek philosophers who first came to the insights about nature on which he relies. By contrast, the idea that our nature is malleable, that we can remake ourselves to suit our desires, was ushered in by Rousseau. Only with the dominance of this distinctly modern notion did it become possible for age-old moral strictures on sexual behavior to be burned to the ground and replaced by new strictures of our own making. Only a Rousseauian view that nothing about human nature is fixed could give rise to a culture in which it is possible to redefine marriage to include relationships once considered to be intrinsically immoral. ...
Reilly rightly notes that “it would be wrong to assign the major share of blame” for the legal somersaults of recent years “to the homosexual apologists.” The blame largely belongs to the partisans who gave us the “privacy” jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, which began in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) by breaking “the first link in the chain connecting sex and diapers” and declaring a right of married couples to use contraception. The progression continued in Eisenstadt v. Baird (1971) and Carey v. Population Services (1977), which declared single adults and minors had the same right. Most horrifyingly, Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) declared and reaffirmed a right to kill the unborn child in the womb. “Abortion,” Reilly remarks, “brings to completion the denial of procreative sex by nullifying its effects, which are seen as accidental.” ...
As Robert Reilly underscores in this searingly effective book, what we face today is a movement to accomplish, on a collective and society-wide basis, what those who embrace morally condemned behavior have always sought to accomplish for themselves as individuals: rationalization that what's wrong is right. If we are to remain true to the cumulative wisdom of our civilization about human nature and the conditions of human flourishing, we must respond as fearlessly as the author of Making Gay Okay and say—it’s not.
The best thing about the book is that Reilly explains what’s happening within the gay agenda with an objective, critical stance. He simply reports what’s going on. Just the facts ma’am. The most brilliant thing is that he does so without reference to the Catholic faith, the Bible or any other religious connection. This makes his argument all the stronger for he allows the facts to speak for themselves and never has to pose or get preachy.
You can read the Introduction to Making Gay Okay here on Insight Scoop. Or the Introduction and opening chapter on Ignatius.com as a PDF file. And, finally, here is the video trailer for the book:
On Learning From Not Having Learned | Fr. James V. Schall, SJ | Catholic World Report
What I call “another sort of learning” is the finding and reading those seminal books that take us to the truth and order of things
Editor's note: The following was originally given as an address at the Bosque School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on May 8, 2014.
“It (disappointment) occurs when the boy who has been enchanted by Stories from the Odyssey buckles down to really learning Greek. It comes when lovers have got married and begin the real task of learning to live together. In every department of life it marks the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing.” — C. S. Lewis, from the second Screwtape Letter, The Screwtape Letters (New York: Macmilllan, 1962), 11.
“No man had a more ardent love of literature, or a higher respect for it than Johnson. His apartment in Pembroke College…was over the Gateway. The enthusiasts for learning will ever contemplate it with veneration. One day, while he was sitting in it quite alone, Dr. Panting, then head of the College…overheard him uttering this soliloquy, in his strong emphatick voice: ‘Well, I have a mind to see what is done in other places of learning. I’ll go and visit universities abroad. I’ll go to France and Italy. I’ll go to Padua—and I’ll mind my business. For an Athenian blockhead is the worst of all blockheads.’” — From James Boswell’s Life of Johnson, 1730 (London: Oxford, 1931), I, 49-50.
“Bosque” is evidently the Spanish word for a forest. Here in the southwest it refers especially to woods along river bottoms. In this school, the river is the famous Rio Grande. One can speak of being educated in a forest or even, I suppose, of being educated by a forest. Tolkien, who had a special love of trees, used to speak of what the forest taught. Our Scriptural heritage speaks of a “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” with a Garden as the original place of the First Parents. The relation of gardens to parks and forests is an interesting one. I believe that the City of St. Lewis has a large “Forest Park,” as does Everett, Washington.
In one sense today, we must almost say that all of our national forests spread throughout the country are cared for as large scale gardens and parks. In the middle of Munich Germany, is a lovely park called “the English Garden.” We probably have no “forests primeval” left. Even the jungles in Brazil come under governmental control. We go out of our way to prevent development of certain woods and lands. In a way, nature becomes more nature when it comes under the scope of human understanding. Nature was not meant simply to be nature. It was also meant to be understood as nature. The things of nature have their own intelligibility.
A school in a forest setting is designed, in the first place, to be a school, not a forest. This particular school was founded in 1994, so it is a mere twenty years old. Its first graduates are still not nearly into what Cicero called “old age.” The state in which this school is located is not in “Old” but in “New” Mexico. New Mexico entered the Union on January 6, 1912. My father was born in Iowa in 1904. In the beginning, I cited a passage from James Boswell writing in 1730. This was forty-six years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence and one hundred and twenty-seven years after the founding of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. I taught in a university in Rome founded in 1551. The usual date given for the founding of the City of Rome is 753 B. C. Thus, in terms of Roman dating, this year, 2014 A.D., is listed as Ab Urbe Condita 2767. That is, from the founding of the City of Rome, two thousand seven hundred and sixty-seven years.
I used to insist that students knew, among others, the dates of the deaths of Socrates, Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine, and Aquinas. From the time of Abraham to the time of Socrates was approximately eight hundred years. From the time of Socrates (d. 399 B.C.) to the death of Augustine (d. 430 A.D). was another eight hundred years; from Augustine to Aquinas was eight hundred years (1274 A.D.). From Aquinas to our days is likewise about eight hundred years. These are time sequences and dates that anyone can remember from early youth if he but learns them. They serve to give some time proportion and structure to our history. We also know of ancient Chinese, Hindu, and Inca calendars. The age of the universe itself is said to be around 13.7 billion years. We like to know what went on, where, and involving whom.
Some education in time and space statistics, in history and geography, is appropriate to the young whose memories are still alert. It is good to know the where’s and when’s of things. If we do not take the trouble to know what happened in time and space, we will not be able to place things in relation to each other. Everything will come together as if time and space were collapsed into one blurry time and one fuzzy place. Knowledge of times and places is not the most profound kind of learning. But it provides the context and arena for what are the highest things. Again, I mention this point here as such things are best learned when we are young. We do not waste our time when we know more than our own time and place.
But can we not just look up times and places on our cell phone? No one needs to remember anything. The machine will do it for us. Yet, machines do not know relationships, how the Battle of Hastings in 1066 is related to the Plantagenet House of English monarchs. No machine knows that it knows. Yet, there is too much to remember, no doubt of it. Why not let the machine do it? The machine is a helpful tool to memory, no doubt of it. But if nothing is actually in our heads, we will not see how this relates to that. That is what we have a mind for, to see the connections, the order of things.
I’ve been asked by many how this story came to be. Where did the idea originate? How was the “superstructure” of the story assembled? How long did it take to compose Toward the Gleam?
These questions are asked of many authors about many novels. Some story writing happens so organically that only in retrospect can the experience be described, because it is far more than just work products and dates.
Some aren’t interested in how the sausage is made, or would rather not know, but for those intrigued by such things, here is the backstory—to the best of my recollection. The short answer I’ve given in interviews and in response to readers’ questions: Toward the Gleam took 20-30 years to compose. In fact, research began long before the idea for the story was conceived, in the sense that the story feeds on paleohistory, the ideologies and emerging science of the 20th century, and 20th century historical characters. Going back to the 1970s, I had a keen interest in these subjects and sought books and articles on philosophical, historical (including paleohistorical), and scientific topics, as well as biographies of remarkable men and women. Some of these works, such as Peter Kreeft’sThe Philosophy of Tolkien combined biography and an intense exploration of ideas. Others, such as Martin Gilbert’s biography of Churchill, provided deep insight into their subject. The documentary and literary works of these historical characters themselves, such as Churchill’s A History of the English Speaking Peoples, Chestertons’s The Everlasting Man and Fr. Brown stories, allowed me to hear their ideas and beliefs, along with stylistic nuances, in their own literary voices. Even though only snippets were incorporated into Toward the Gleam, the insight and detail these resources provided made me comfortable—If such a word can be used—transplanting some of the “DNA” of these historical characters into my own characters.
In the case of the philosophical questions, I frequently referred to my 4-volume Encyclopedia of Philosophy (not to be tackled after a glass of wine), and to the encyclicals and letters of St. John Paul II. A keen interest in the compatibility and intersection of science and philosophy drew me to Kurt Gödel, Einstein, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Intellectual struggles abounded; for example, trying to wrap my mind around phenomenology, Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, and Owen Barfield’s concepts of consciousness.
First names and aliases were adopted for the veiled historical characters, not for legal reasons as some have surmised, but to keep some “space” between the historical characters and my own literary characters, to allow me to take these characters places—geographically, behaviorally, psychologically—that differ from the actual historical characters. A prominent example of this “space” is the Stockholm chapter featuring John Hill and Greta Erickson.
I have been reading—and enjoying—mystery stories for decades, and it made sense to re-examine A. C. Doyle, Agatha Christie, and J. D. Carr in regard to the mystery and suspense elements of the story. I love a good mystery and have tried my hand at dozens of short stories (for those interested, you can find “The Deadly Dart Mystery” in an appendix to Terrapin, and “A Legendary Mystery” and “The Yellow Tavern Mystery” on the Ignatius Press site). T” contains two such puzzle plots: the mystery of Sir Richard Hope’s disappearance that Gilbert solves in the September 14, 1931 chapter (a la Fr. Brown), and the puzzle of the vanishing treasures.
I don’t remember the exact day or year of the “Aha” moment, when the foundational idea for the story came to me, but it was around the year 2000, while I was taking a walk. Although I was invigorated by the idea, I was also intimidated by the effort and research that would be necessary to pull off such an audacious concept.
Robert R. Reillywas Senior Advisor for Information Strategy (2002–2006) for the US Secretary of Defense, after which he taught at National Defense University. He was the director of the Voice of America (2001–2002) and served in the White House as a Special Assistant to the President (1983–1985). He writes widely on "war of ideas" issues, foreign policy, and classical music. His previous book is The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis.
It doesn't matter how rich we are, or how popular we are, or how powerful we are: we are all going to "kick the bucket" one day. Isn't that a nice thought?
What we have to do is take some time to sit and meditate about taking our last breath. What do you want your wife to say about you? What do you want your kids to say about you? Once you've decided, "Okay, when I am taking my last breath this is what I want", you can start living your life with your end goal in mind. You will start living in such a way that when the day of your death happens, the people who know you will say what you want them to say.
Death is the ultimate thing that takes control out of our hands. Even if we commit suicide, we cannot control what happens after we die. Not one of us had control over our own birth and not one of us has control of what happens after we die.
I have been to a lot of deathbeds throughout my priesthood, so I know what it is going to be like when you are dying. While you are lying there, the thing that is going to be most important to you is your relationships—the people that you loved and the people that in return loved you.
Then why don't we live every day with that in mind? Make the decision to never let your wife or your kids go to bed or walk out the door without telling them first that you love them—life is just too short! It will change your family. It will change the world.
You should underline John 15:12 in your Bible, where Jesus commands us, "Love one another as I have loved you." This is not an option. He also said, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you" (Jn 15:9). Jesus told the people He loved that He loved them.
Catholicism and Authentic Fatherhood | Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers | CWR
Clayton C. Barbeau’s The Father of the Family communicates a spirituality that truly embraces what it means to be a man of God
The Catholic contribution to male spirituality was relatively sparse until the 1990s when, sparked largely by the success of the Protestant Promise Keepers movement, interest in strengthening the faith of men and helping them to deepen their relationship with God—while increasing their knowledge of the Catholic faith through apologetics and catechesis—began to rise. Today, the resurgent Catholic men’s movement has yielded a steadily growing number of conferences, books, study programs, prayer groups and several male-oriented Catholic television series. Much of the Catholic literature has focused on fatherhood but recent works have broadened the spectrum, embracing a more holistic approach to male spirituality.
Clayton C. Barbeau’s excellent book, The Father of the Family: A Christian Perspective (Sophia Institute Press, 2013), an updated and expanded edition of his earlier work, The Head of the Family (Sophia Institute Press, 2002/The Liturgical Press, 1970), explores various aspects of Christian fatherhood with a wonderful blend of timeless spiritual wisdom and practical insight. Although written for fathers, Barbeau’s book provides rich fare for any man who hungers to go deeper in his faith. A family therapist by trade, Barbeau is careful not to psychoanalyze fathers, avoiding the mistake of Richard Rohr and others who have lost authentic male spirituality amidst the exploration of Jungian archetypes. The Father of the Family, by presenting a spirituality that truly embraces what it means to be a man of God, makes for an effective weapon of choice against the ever-encroaching culture of death.
Four aspects of Barbeau’s presentation on fatherhood stand out in this book: the power of God’s love in a father’s life; his use of Scripture; the direct, to-the-point style of writing; and the wonderful balance between the spiritual and practical dimensions of Christian fatherhood.
Like the hook of a popular song that you constantly hum, the love of God is a constant theme that flows seamlessly throughout the entire book.
Ignatius Press Novels interviewed Mrs. Beckett via email.
The Leaves Are Falling is your third work of historical fiction published by Ignatius Press. Why are you interested in the historical fiction genre?
Beckett: I am a historian by training, but I got married very young (age 19), had a lot of children and now grandchildren, live in the depths of the country, and have been a schoolteacher for 40 years (I still teach Latin in the local high school), so I never had a chance to do proper historical research, though I have written academic books on literature and music. So historical fiction is perfect for me: I can read plenty of books at home, and I love to imagine what it must have been like to live through periods and events quite different from my own quiet and orderly life. Because I am a teacher, I also like the idea of helping people to understand better things that they may know little about: the Reformation in England (The Time Before You Die), the descent of Germany into the horrors of Nazism (A Postcard from the Volcano) and now, in The Leaves Are Falling, what really happened on the Eastern front in World War II, where no British or American forces ever were.
This novel provides a lot of details about the historical events of World War II and the events after the war. How much research did you do before writing this novel? Do you have any favorite history books or resources that helped your research?
Beckett: I did a lot of work and read a great many history books. The two authors who were the most help with this new book were Professor Timothy Snyder, now at Yale, particularly his books The Reconstruction of Nations, and Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin, and Yitzhak Arad: The Holocaust in the Soviet Union. I read dozens of other books, including all (not very much) that has been written about the Jewish partisans in Byelorussia, and about the Katyn massacre. (Everything that happens in the Soviet prison in the last third of my book is true, and Major Zarubin, the NKVD interrogator, and Rabbi Steinberg, are real historical figures.)
The novel tells the story of Joseph Halpern, an octogenarian book seller who finds a description of his father in a story, and wonders if his own story would be worth telling. Why did you decide to tell Joseph’s story in this novel?