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.
Ignatius Press delivers one stop for resources into hotly debated topics at Vatican meeting
SAN FRANCISCO, August 26, 2014 – Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, the indissolubility of marriage, cohabitation and contraception are just a few of the many controversial topics to be discussed when Catholic bishops from across the globe meet with Pope Francis at the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops Oct. 5-19 at the Vatican. Ignatius Press, one of the largest religious publishers in the world, is publishing four books in the fall that will address issues of the upcoming synod. The Catholic publisher will also have a number of authors available to comment on the topics before and during the Synod.
THE HOPE OF THE FAMILY: A Dialogue With Cardinal Gerhard Muller, written by Gerhardt Ludwig Muller, addresses some of the main problems with the family in the Church today — the large number of Catholics who live together before marriage, who marry civilly, or who do not even bother with marriage, as if these choices were sound options for Catholic living.
In this engaging conversation, Cardinal Müller, one of Pope Francis' top advisers in the Vatican, discusses the challenges facing marriage and family life today. The loss of faith in many traditionally Christian societies has led to a crisis. In turn, cohabitation, civil marriage, and divorce and civil remarriage, further undermine faith because they harm the family as the “domestic Church” and the place of initial evangelization. The solution, according to Cardinal Muller, is that the Church must undertake a robust new evangelization of the family — sharing the fullness of truth about marriage and family in Christ, encouraging families to worship and pray together, and helping them witness by their lives to the joy of the gospel.
Cardinal Müller stresses mercy and compassion in pastoral ministry with struggling Catholics, without contradicting the teaching of Jesus about divorce and remarriage and minimizing the power of grace to transform lives. He proclaims hope for the family rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The authors appreciate certain elements of Kasper’s proposal while criticizing some of its doctrinale, pastoral, and pastorals elements. The book is a positive contribution providing an alternative merciful pastoral approach inspired by the Magisterium and by the testimony of Saint John Paul II, whom Pope Francis has held up to the whole Church as “the Pope of the Family.”
REMAINING IN THE TRUTH OF CHRIST: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church, written by Robert Dorado, O.S.A, is an in-depth response by five well-known Cardinals — Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Leo Burke, Carlo Caffarra, Velasio De Paolis, C.S., and Gerhard Ludwig Müller — and four other scholars — Dodaro, Paul Mankowski, S.J., John M. Rist and Archbishop Cyril Vasil, S.J. — to Cardinal Kasper’s proposal regarding marriage, civil re-marriage and reception of the Eucharist.
The book draws on both biblical texts and early Christian writings on marriage, and shows how the Church’s longstanding fidelity to the truth of marriage is the irrevocable foundation of its mercy in its pastoral practice with civilly remarried, divorced people.
ON HUMAN LIFE: Humane Vitae, written by Pope Paul VI and rereleased featuring a new foreword from Mary Eberstadt and a new afterword from James Hitchcock, is Pope Paul VI’s explanation of why the Catholic Church rejects contraception.
Paul VI referred to two aspects, or “meanings,” of human sexuality — the unitive and procreative aspects. Paul VI also warned of the consequences if contraception became widely practiced — greater infidelity in marriage, confusion regarding the nature of human sexuality and its role in society, the objectification of women for sexual pleasure, compulsive “family planning” and contraceptive policies by government, and the reduction of the human body as an instrument of human manipulation, all of which have come to pass. Other dangers such as genetic engineering and human cloning are on the horizon.
St. John Paul II’s popular “theology of the body” drew deeply on the insights of Paul VI. Pope Benedict and now Pope Francis have upheld the long-standing teaching. Indeed, a new generation of Catholics is embracing ON HUMAN LIFE: Humane Vitae. For more information, to request a review copy or to schedule an interview with any of the key experts, please contact Kevin Wandra (404-788-1276 or KWandra@CarmelCommunications.com) of Carmel Communications.
Detail from "The Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas" (1468-1484) by Benozzo Gozzoli (WikiArt.org)
Metaphysics and the Case Against Scientism | Christopher S. Morrissey | CWR
Edward Feser’s new book, Scholastic Metaphysics, makes a strong case for the contemporary relevance of St. Thomas Aquinas’s philosophical reflections on Aristotle
The fundamental structures of reality go beyond what even physics is capable of studying. Modern science has forgotten that humanity actually does possess a tradition of rigorous intellectual inquiry that has been able to probe, painstakingly and fruitfully, beyond physics. The name of this venerable intellectual tradition is “metaphysics,” and the Catholic Church in her universities and seminaries has long recognized its key role in the life of the mind.
In his new book, Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction (Editions Scholasticae, 2014), Edward Feser (website) shows how the Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics developed by thinkers who take key ideas from Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas is still relevant today. When Aquinas himself engaged in the most heated academic controversies of his own time, he formulated highly influential interpretations of Aristotle. They have become a precious inheritance because of their permanent achievement with regard to clarifying how to fundamentally understand nature.
The great strength of Feser’s book is how well it exposes the shortcomings of the speculations of contemporary analytic philosophy about the fundamental structures of reality. The most recent efforts of such modern philosophical research, shows Feser, are remarkably inadequate for explaining many metaphysical puzzles raised by modern science. In order to properly understand the meaning of humanity’s latest and greatest discoveries, such as quantum field theory in modern physics, an adequate metaphysics is urgently required, now more than ever.
Feser devotes a great deal of space to showing how contemporary analytic philosophy tries to account for the most basic features of reality. However, when he proceeds to contrast its own various theories with those of Scholastic metaphysical research, especially those of the Aristotelian-Thomistic variety, it becomes clear how many advantages the ancient and medieval tradition possesses when it comes to making sense of the universe. Surprisingly, that metaphysical tradition still offers wisdom that bears directly upon many of the most heated philosophical controversies in philosophy today.
Readers interested in stepping beyond physics and exploring what the human mind is capable of doing with the disciplined application of logic and organized thought will enjoy Feser’s book very much. It has four main chapters devoted to four key topics mapping the fundamental structures of reality: potency and act (Chapter 1); causation (Chapter 2); substance and matter (Chapter 3); and essence and existence (Chapter 4).
Feser has a notable flair for being both witty and engaging and for using entertaining and vivid examples. The book demands much from the reader’s intellectual abilities, but like reading St. Thomas Aquinas himself it is always rewarding and exhilarating. Page after page, insight after insight piles up—so many that if you have any philosophical curiosity at all, you simply cannot stop reading. ...
An Interview with Roger B. Thomas, author of The Accidental Marriage | IPNovels.com
Roger Thomas is a lifelong Michigan resident, has been married to his wife Ellen since 1981. They have six grown children and eight grandchildren. He is a self-employed computer consultant. He loves reading, and his favorite authors include C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Rudyard Kipling, and P.G. Wodehouse. He has had two collections of short stories published by Ignatius Press, including The Last Ugly Person which was recently featured in a list of 5 More Short Stories That Every Catholic Should Read. Ignatius Press Novels interviewed Roger via email regarding his new novel The Accidental Marriage.
Where did the idea for this book come from?
Thomas: Oddly, it was a chance line in an online article. It was written by a woman who considers herself a lesbian, and discussed the costs and challenges of getting pregnant. She made an offhand comment that one last resort option is always to just call up a guy friend for an informal “contribution” to facilitate the pregnancy. I pondered that comment, and that it reflected a very shallow understanding of the intricacy and intimacy of what happens when two people join to bring a child into being. I began imagining what kind of complexities might follow such an interaction, and before long the characters of Scott and Megan were coming to life.
Recently, Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco made this appeal to people critical of the Church’s position on same-sex marriage: “Please do not make judgments based on stereotypes, media images and comments taken out of context. Rather, get to know us first as fellow human beings… It is the personal encounter that changes the vision of the other and softens the heart.” During the course of the book, Scott and Megan find that their stereotypes and expectations about others are challenged, both in positive and negative ways. Do you hope your book can help draw out that “encounter” between people with divergent opinions?
Thomas: I certainly hope so. Archbishop Cordileone’s statements cut two ways, as he and other church leaders have made clear. We, especially as Catholics, must not judge on stereotypes and media images, but get to know one another personally.
A drawback of our current cultural dialog, fraught as it is with friction and antagonism, is that was start defining ourselves by our differences. I’m male, she’s female; I’m white, he’s black; I’m a veteran, she’s never served, and so on. This has an isolating effect which you can see expressed in statements like, “You couldn’t possibly understand, because you’re not X”, whatever X might be. Pressed to the extreme, this increasingly isolates us from one another, because nobody is ever going to completely share another’s personal conditions and life experience.
As St. John Paul the Great frequently reminded us, one of the roles of the arts is to reach across those walls and reconnect us with each other in our common humanity. When we read a story or hear a song or see a film and find ourselves saying, “Yes! That’s exactly how it is!”, then we’re connecting with one another. And even as Scott and Megan find their categories getting broadened by their life experiences, I hope the readers of The Accidental Marriage come to see the main protagonists for what they are: simply humans, fellow humans searching for love. Easy as it would be to pigeonhole them as a couple of Bay Area gays living out their mistaken world views, I hope the story brings out their essential humanity in a way that resonates with every reader.
It often seems that the business world of tech startups—the way that there is constant agitation for change and growth without much regard for how that change and growth affects the real people involved—is reflective of a view of relationships that values novelty and change over permanence and depth. Was the setting of the book intentional in this regard?
Thomas: Actually, that was unintentional, but it’s interesting to look back on the story and see that correspondence. There is a disturbing similarity between the interchangeable-persons outlook of the modern corporate world and the similar view of “relationships” – of any type – that is common in our culture. Both reflect a short-term, immediate-return outlook. If this employee (or investment, or partner) isn’t “performing”, then it’s time to change it out.
Love is normally portrayed in romantic fiction as a form of self-fulfillment. Do you think our culture’s emphasis on “romance” helps or hinders love?
Tolkien and Beowulf | Jerry Salyer | Catholic World Report
Tolkien’s newly published translation of the Old English epic beautifully demonstrates that there is more reality in folklore than in the perverse fantasies by which many live today.
At morn King Hrothgar on his throne for his lieges slain there mourned alone but Grendel gnawed the flesh and bone of the thirty thanes of Denmark. A ship there sailed like a wingéd swan, and the foam was white on the waters wan, and one there stood with bright helm on that fate had brought to Denmark.
— “Beowulf and the Monsters,” J.R.R. Tolkien
Heathen or no, Beowulf does the Lord’s work, and knows full well that there is a higher power to Whom all must answer. So believed the anonymous eighth-century Christian poet who saw fit to set down Beowulf’s adventures; so too believed the late scholar and novelist J.R.R. Tolkien, whose long-awaited translation of the greatest of Old English epics has finally been released.
If Professor Tolkien and the ancient Anglo-Saxon storyteller are right, then Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014) should interest not only philologists and Tolkien fans but the inquisitive Catholic layman, too. Perhaps northern European folklore is more relevant to the Faith than we might think? Perhaps modern Christians can derive wisdom and inspiration from what Tolkien called “point[s] of contact between Scripture and Germanic legend”?
In Tolkien’s view, the first noteworthy “point of contact” is manifested through the Beowulf monsters—particularly the ogre Grendel. By terrorizing the realm of the good King Hrothgar and devouring Hrothgar’s subjects at night, Grendel stands as a representative of Cain, that first killer from whom, in the Beowulf mythos, “all evil broods were born, ogres and goblins and haunting shapes of hell, and the giants too, that long time warred with God.”
What attracts Grendel’s hostility is the music coming from Heorot, as the sound of Hrothgar’s minstrel singing joyfully of Creation rings hatefully in the creature’s ears. This loathing for Christian civilization is extremely important for understanding the poem, for as Tolkien observes in his commentary on the Old English text Grendel is the ultimate féond(enemy), in a permanent state of enmity—fæhÞ—with mankind:
Secularism, Spirituality, and Witness in a Haunted Age | Carl E. Olson | Catholic World Report
The author of How (Not) to Be Secular, explains why secularism is misunderstood and exclusive humanism is not winning
Dr. James K. A. Smith (website) is professor of philosophy at Calvin College, where he also holds the Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview. He has written several books, including works on postmodernism (Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?), worship and liturgy (Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works), and hermeneutics (The Fall of Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic). He has also written articles for magazines such as the Christian Century, Christianity Today, First Things, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, and others.
His most recent book is How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor (Eerdmans, 2014). Dr. Smith recently corresponded with Carl E. Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, about the thought of Charles Taylor, what “secularism” is and isn't, the challenge of witnessing in a secular culture, how we live in a haunted age, and why exclusive humanism is not winning.
CWR: How is it that a professor of philosophy at Calvin College ends up writing a short (and fascinating) “field guide”—a commentary, really—about a long (and rather daunting) book by a Catholic philosopher—A Secular Age(The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007) by Charles Taylor?
Dr. James K. A. Smith: Well, of course, while Taylor’s work is informed by Catholic intuitions, it’s not parochial. He has garnered wide interest from people of faith and those with none. Furthermore, I would encourage folks to remember that there are Protestants who see themselves as Catholic—not “Roman,” of course, but very much tied to, and indebted to, the Catholic tradition. I’ve described the Protestant Reformation as an “Augustinian renewal movement within the church catholic,” and so see lots of overlapping concern.
I’ve been interested in Taylor precisely because he is a philosopher who has made the transition from narrow disciplinary conversations to a wider, interdisciplinary project. He has also long intrigued me as a Christian scholar who has functioned wisely and winsomely as a public intellectual. So he’s really been an exemplar for me in a lot of ways.
But the more immediate catalyst for turning this into a book was a wonderful teaching experience. A couple of years ago I taught a seminar on A Secular Age, which was an opportunity to walk through this massive tome with 12 serious, curious undergraduates in philosophy. I saw that Taylor’s analysis was really helping them make sense of their own experience—it was existentially illuminating for them. I sensed that a lot of people could benefit from this, but might not be able to wade through a difficult, 900-page book on their own, so I thought I’d write something of a little “companion” volume.
CWR: You state that you are an “unabashed and unapologetic advocate for the importance and originality of Taylor’s project.” In what ways is his book and larger project important and original? What do you hope your book accomplishes, first, as a “stand alone” book and, secondly, as a commentary on Taylor’s monumental volume?
Smith: In both Sources of the Self (1989) and A Secular Age, Taylor undertakes a unique sort of “philosophically inflected history” that helps us understand our present. In doing so, he calls attention to—and is critical of—the often unstated assumptions of “secularist” (i.e., naturalistic) accounts of secularization. So, perhaps paradoxically, Taylor offers an account of secularization that is informed by his religious commitments. But he doesn’t think that makes his analysis parochial or sectarian, because he thinks all accounts are informed by some sort of faith commitments, some “social imaginary.” So he first shows that there are no neutral accounts, and then tries to show why a religious account actually does a better job making sense of the “data” of our contemporary experience.
For example, standard secularization theory has trouble accounting for the continued role of faith in late modern life. It should be gone by now, they expect. But Taylor suggests: maybe religious faith endures because reality includes a transcendence that continues to call and haunt us. If that’s the case, then a “secular” account of secularization has already decided to shut itself off from part of the reality it’s supposed to explain.
I do think How (Not) To Be Secular can be read as a stand-alone book, especially since many won’t have the time or inclination to read a 900-page volume. But I also hope my book can function as a portal of sorts to the more detailed account.
CWR: The first questions you pose, in the Preface, include, “So what do it look like to bear witness in a secular age? What does it look like to be faithful?” Do Christians, by and large, simply assume that they know what “a secular age” and “secularism” are? And if so, are they are usually right or wrong in their definitions and explanations?
Over the centuries, Saint Anthony of Padua has been acclaimed as a great example of holiness through countless works of art, sculpture and books. Many Catholics, and even non-Catholics, think of Saint Anthony as the first one to turn to when something is lost. Yet amid this widespread veneration and devotion, we may miss the story of a man who began his life like all of us.
This film reveals the journey of Fernando Martins de Bulhões, a 13th century Christian whom we know today as Saint Anthony. Here, we discover a young man who was often "lost" and searching for direction in his life. He wanted to make a difference in the world of his time. As we encounter his humanity, we find someone we can relate to, someone who struggled in life, someone we could have easily called a friend.
Shot on historic locations in Portugal and Italy, Finding St. Anthony: A Story of Loss & Light is a documentary film that focuses on the experiences of Fernando (Anthony) in his search for the life God is calling him to lead. And as we look closely at the journey of St. Anthony, what we find may surprise us: a reflection of ourselves. His story gives us insight and inspiration for our own spiritual journey.
"With his outstanding gifts of intelligence, balance, apostolic zeal and, primarily, mystic fervor, Anthony contributed significantly to the development of Franciscan spirituality." - Pope Benedict XVI
Brendan Gleeson stars in "Calvary," written and directed by John Michael McDonagh
A Good Priest Is Hard to Film | Michael Jameson | CWR
John Michael McDonagh's new film, "Calvary", has a gripping premise, but a shaky grasp on Catholic teaching and practice
The poster for Calvary is arresting and evocative: a cross of bullet holes marks the lead character, Fr. James--seemingly shot through the paper. John Michael McDonagh's Calvary attempts to tell the story of a "good priest" who, while waiting in the confessional for a penitent, receives a death threat from a male victim of sexual abuse, whose identity is obscured by the confessional. The penitent tells the priest to meet him on the beach in seven days. The killer explains his logic as follows: no one pays any mind when a bad priest is killed, but if a good priest is murdered, he'll have everyone's attention.
Thus begins this sometimes promising but ultimately unsatisfying film, with Fr. James unpacking the veracity of the threat and the potential identity of the confessional-obscured killer. However, the faithful Catholic viewer will quickly notice that the descriptive "good priest" mean very different things to different people.
Tornielli, the foremost “Vatican insider” journalist, offers here inspiring stories, incidents, encounters, and excerpts from the writings and talks of Pope Francis through his first year as Pope.
These add up to a powerful witness by Pope Francis of “heartwarming stories of the Gospel in action”, and reflect on various spiritual and social themes important to the Pope, including mercy, forgiveness, charity, prayer, justice, Eucharist, Our Lady and much more.
His little gestures and big ones, the minor or major choices that he has made each day, his ability to meet everyone and to speak to everyone, his simple way of being himself, have made Francis not only credible but above all close. The Pope is perceived by many, many people throughout the world as ‘‘one of us’’. It is enough to watch him embrace the sick, the suffering, the children, to see why that is so.
The title echoes the Little Flowers of Saint Francis, the famous collection of stories about the beloved Francis of Assisi, whose name the Pope adopted for himself.
This work offers a wonderful collection of insightful fragments from various aspects of the life of the Pope in his first year that will help the reader become better acquainted with the immensely popular Bishop of Rome who came ‘‘from the end of the earth’’.
Andrea Tornielli is a Vatican correspondent for the highly regarded Italian newspaper La Stampa who has collaborated with numerous Italian and international publications. His numerous books include Francis - Pope of a New World; Pius XII, the Pope of the Jews; Pope Luciani: the Smile of a Saint; The Pope Who Saved the Jews; Benedict XVI, Guardian of the Faith; The Secret of Padre Pio.
In this volume five Cardinals of the Church, and four other scholars, respond to the call issued by Cardinal Walter Kasper for the Church to harmonize "fidelity and mercy in its pastoral practice with civilly remarried, divorced people".
Beginning with a concise introduction, the first part of the book is dedicated to the primary biblical texts pertaining to divorce and remarriage, and the second part is an examination of the teaching and practice prevalent in the early Church. In neither of these cases, biblical or patristic, do these scholars find support for the kind of "toleration" of civil marriages following divorce advocated by Cardinal Kasper.
This book also examines the Eastern Orthodox practice of oikonomia (understood as "mercy" implying "toleration") in cases of remarriage after divorce and in the context of the vexed question of Eucharistic communion. It traces the centuries long history of Catholic resistance to this convention, revealing serious theological and canonical difficulties inherent in past and current Orthodox Church practice.
Thus, in the second part of the book, the authors argue in favor of retaining the theological and canonical rationale for the intrinsic connection between traditional Catholic doctrine and sacramental discipline concerning marriage and communion.
The various studies in this book lead to the conclusion that the Church's longstanding fidelity to the truth of marriage constitutes the irrevocable foundation of its merciful and loving response to the individual who is civilly divorced and remarried. The book therefore challenges the premise that traditional Catholic doctrine and contemporary pastoral practice are in contradiction.
"Because it is the task of the apostolic ministry to ensure that the Church remains in the truth of Christ and to lead her ever more deeply into that truth, pastors must promote the sense of faith in all the faithful, examine and authoritatively judge the genuineness of its expressions and educate the faithful in an ever more mature evangelical discernment." - St. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio
Stills from the film, "Desire of the Everlasting Hills" (everlastinghills.org)
Same-Sex Attraction and the Universal Desires of the Human Heart | Carrie Gress | CWR
Fr. Paul Check, executive director of Courage, says the film, Desire of the Everlasting Hills, portrays a “special blend of humility, courage, and charity"
On the face of it, the newly-released film, Desire of the Everlasting Hills, has a typical plot. A man is looking for a soul mate to fulfill him, and then the soul mate is found—but something is missing: God. St. Augustine could relate.
What makes “Desire of the Everlasting Hills” different is that the one-hour-long film features three individuals with same-sex attraction—the people our culture tells us are fulfilled in their lifestyle, cannot change, don’t want to change, and so forth. But the movie reveals that they, like St. Augustine, have hearts that are restless until they rest in God.
The movie was produced by the Courage Apostolate, which ministers to people with same-sex attraction who want to live by the Catholic Church’s sexual teachings.
Asked why he made this film, Fr. Paul Check, the executive director of Courage and a former Marine Corps Officer, told Catholic World Report: “When I first started working within the Courage Apostolate, I recall Fr. John Harvey, our founding executive director, saying, ‘Our best ambassadors are our members.’ In the culture that we live right now, the best way to engage people, especially on a topic of such sensitivity, complexity and of a painful nature, is through story.”
With the stories of Paul, Dan and Rilene, Fr. Check explained, the filmmakers found “people who would like to share their perspective, while not claiming that their story is every man’s story, but just saying ‘look, here is my story.’” From there, the priest added, they can find a way to engage in conversation “in some places we wouldn’t be otherwise welcome.”
“We first showed the film publicly at a Christian LGBT film festival in Pasadena, California, in March called Level Ground,” he explained. “It was well received because of the production value—it is just a well-made movie—but also because of the authenticity of the stories.”
“The content of the stories made some people uncomfortable. We aren’t surprised by that. The preaching of Jesus made a lot of people uncomfortable too, so that just shows that fallen human nature is still alive and well in the world, unfortunately.”
The sometimes quirky, often funny, and at times shocking film, follows the lives of three people:
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
The talk, at the offices of First Things in New York, started with Aristotle’s Politics and the idea of natural functioning. If you follow human nature, the idea seemed to be, politics begins with the family, the family with the bond between man and woman. Such a view evidently disfavors homosexual behavior, and denying that verdict in the interests of sexual freedom means denying human nature as the basis of politics. That’s a problem, since (among other things) it does away with limits. Politics becomes a technology like any other, to be used by whoever controls it for whatever purposes he happens to have.
So Reilly is among those who point out the totalitarian implications of today’s progressivism. As he puts it, making gay okay changes everything—and not in a way any sane person would want.
But what will this kind of argument get us in the world as it is today?
"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
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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
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.
Bring Mary of Nazareth to a parish or school near you!
Fresh from an extremely successful sponsored theatrical release and seen by tens of thousands in theaters across North America, the highly acclaimed MARY of NAZARETH, an epic motion picture on the life of the Blessed Mother from her childhood through the Resurrection of Jesus, is now available to be shown in your own church or school!
IGNATIUS PRESS is pleased to announce the MARY of NAZARETH Parish Screening Program.
Now you can bring the life of the Mother of Christ to the “Big Screen” in your own facility to entertain, evangelize, educate, change hearts and even raise funds for your own worthy cause!
Father Donald Calloway MIC, considered one of the foremost experts on the life of Mary, had this to say about the film, “Mary of Nazareth offers the best presentation of Our Lady I have ever seen. Mary of Nazareth is an absolute theological and Mariological masterpiece! It will make you want to love her more than ever. Mary's beauty is pure and ageless; her feminine mystery filled with wonder and virtue, and her divine motherhood is both tender and captivating. Without a doubt, this is the most stunning portrayal of the Virgin Mary on film!”
Packages will include the following:
Site License – allows licensee to show the movie unlimited times at one venue for 12 full months from date of purchase. License cannot be shared with another church, school, individual or organization.
Mary of Nazareth DVDs to sell (MSRP $29.95) or gift. Each DVD case contains two discs – one is the Mary of Nazareth movie in English with Spanish and English subtitles. The exciting contents of the second bonus disc includes an interview with Alissa Jung, who starred as Mary; an interview with Fr. Donald Calloway MIC, author and Marian expert; “behind the scenes” footage; a film photos slide show; segments from Mary: Mother of God, part of the acclaimed “Footprints of God” DVD series; “Pieta” song by M.J. Poirier; and testimonies from the San Francisco premiere of Mary of Nazareth. Plus, there is a 24-page collector’s booklet with study questions included in each case.
Mary product brochures to give out with each DVD.
One additional Mary of Nazareth DVD for screening purposes
13x19 full-color promotional posters with write-in space for event place, date and time
full-color souvenir tickets
1 full-color 24 x 36 souvenir poster
Downloadable event planning guide and other downloads will be available at www.MaryFilm.com
Packages are available in 10-, 25-, 50-, and 100-DVD sets and, for a time until mid-October, license holders will have exclusive sales of the DVDs.
To see a trailer of this film, package contents and prices, endorsements from prominent Catholics and much more, check out the www.MaryFilm.com website.
Bring this incredible movie to your community for the first time or bring it back! Many are asking where they can see it again!
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:
Liaugminas: Catholic social teaching covers a broad spectrum of principles we must not capitulate on or abrogate in caring for human life and needs. It’s not negotiable that we must feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, relieve suffering, protect the vulnerable, seek justice wherever it is denied, work for peace.
But some rights are so fundamental to all others that they take pre-eminence as first principles for a free, just and virtuous society to exist and flourish. They are life from the biological beginning to life at the most dependent final end, marriage between one man and one woman for the sake of their children and the role of family in society, and the protection of conscience and religious freedom to carry out the social gospel in public life.
CNW: You write that the right to life underlies all of the non-negotiables. Some critics say the Catholic Church focuses too much on abortion over other issues. How do we respond to that?
Liaugminas: If you can’t guarantee the right to life, no coherent argument can be made for any other right for human beings. Our popes, each in succession, have taught this immutable truth repeatedly and forcefully. We should never be defensive of such a fundamental truth. It’s not an “either/or” proposition of abortion or other important human rights. It’s a “both/and,” beginning with protecting human life from the youngest, most vulnerable stage through to human life in the final, often vulnerable stage. Every abortion ends a human life. Full stop. ...
CNW: What’s the value of the Christian witness in today’s world?
Liaugminas: When lived out, ours is a countercultural witness to transcendent truths about human dignity inherent to every person, deriving not from a State or government but from the Creator. Christians throughout the ages have witnessed to those eternal truths in the face of grave dangers, and we are the modern inheritors of that tradition and the teaching of the church. G. K. Chesterton said there are many ways to fall, but only one way to stand. It is with the truth found in the Christian faith. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “The end of life is not to achieve pleasure or avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may.” These are timeless truths and we have to be courageous, unafraid, calm and charitable in debating, defending or sharing them with people in the modern world.
Our recent popes have given us the moral grammar to talk about these issues with clarity and charity in a society that has given rise to “the culture of death” as Pope John Paul II stated it, an increasingly secular society that is “increasingly growing hostile to Christianity,” as Pope Benedict XVI stated it, a “throwaway culture” that has grown into a “culture of indifference” as Pope Francis stated it.
He calls us continually to “go out to the existential peripheries” and “create a culture of encounter.” That can be across the world in developing countries, or across the street, the office space or even your kitchen table at home in this country. Complacency is not an option. We have been given the knowledge, the words and the tools, and certainly the continual encouragement, to go out and reach the world with the love and mercy of Christ.
I end the book on what I pray is a hopeful note. Early in his papacy, in one of his compelling daily homilies, Pope Francis said “Christians are called to do the great work of evangelizing to the ends of the world … she goes forth with Jesus…This is the magnanimity that Christians should have … this magnanimity is part of the Christian vocation: always more and more, more and more, more and more, always onwards.”
Q: Please briefly introduce yourself and your family to our readers.
Ever since early childhood, I knew I wanted to be a journalist, making my own newspapers while following daily news reporting in the newspaper and network television. I’m a cradle Catholic raised in an environment imbued with the sense of transcendent truth, and the Social Gospel of caring for ‘the least of these’, which informed everything I did as a professional journalist. While reporting for Time Magazine, I married and had two sons, rededicated myself to the faith for their sake, and committed to family and work, in that order. Raising my sons was a wonderful blessing and loads of fun, with lots of family travel that brought us in touch with other cultures and global realities. My firstborn son discerned a call to the priesthood and was ordained in 2010. He’s studying in Rome for his doctorate, and is scheduled to teach on faculty at Mundelein Seminary in a few years. He’s an amazing priest and scholar. My younger son is a gifted writer with a postgraduate degree, struggling as most writers do to find his place while doing unrelated work that feeds his imagination for future fiction pieces. My husband is a physician who loves his family, travel and the always-trying Chicago sports teams. ...
Q: What prompted you to write this book and what do you hope that readers will take from their experience with Non-Negotiable?
The book started as a response to a long perceived need of such a reference, since the bishops issued ‘Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,’ and yet so many Catholics don’t access it. We need an accessible book in hand that distills Church teaching, provides specific points and links, and helps us to ‘be prepared to give an explanation for what you believe’ (a liturgical reading just before Pentecost). Writing it was finally precipitated by a parish Respect Life group’s need for a resource that states clearly what the Church teaches on the top issues of the day, and why. But early on, I prayerfully discerned that the book needed to cast a wider net and drew from the nation’s founding documents, universal human rights declarations and civil rights struggles as well as Church teaching. My intent was to show that these aren’t truths because the Catholic Church teaches them. The Catholic Church teaches them because they’re true.
Q: You cover some critical issues that are complex yet timely in today’s society. Which portions of the book were most challenging to write?
Given the social, cultural and political climate today, fostered by frequent media distortions, the chapter on marriage was probably a tougher one to navigate. I always seek what I call ‘clarity with charity,’ and there’s not much charity in that debate today. With the focus on human dignity of all persons, and the reason for laws and their social ramifications, I wanted to keenly clarify Church teaching and long standing social policy, while upholding dignity for everyone concerned in the debate, which is all of us at this moment in our history. But then, the chapters on when life begins, the euthanasia movement, and religious liberty dealing with the government mandate that violates conscience rights, all presented their challenges.
What gave Abraham Lincoln the authority to declare the freedom and choice to own slaves as immoral? After all, the law of the land allowed it. What gave Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King the authority to lead a whole movement calling civil laws immoral and demanding new civil rights laws that recognized the equal dignity and worth of "all God's children" without exception? After all, segregation was legal. What gave the United Nations the moral authority to claim and designate absolute human rights in an international declaration, though some member nations were already violating them?
Principles. First principles. In their founding documents, the United States and the United Nations recognized the principles that all men have inherent dignity and that they deserve equal rights. They both have declared those principles the conditions fundamental to freedom, justice, and peace. Yet both the United States and the United Nations have within them powerful political forces passing laws or resolutions that violate first principles and put at risk the most vulnerable populations.
This book goes beyond the politics of pragmatism and cultural relativism to reacquaint the reader with first principles. It demonstrates what the Church has to say about the most important issues of our time and why. It anticipates the questions readers will ask and provides the answers they will need in the struggle to restore respect for human dignity.
Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy Award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. She reported for Time magazine in its Midwest Bureau for over 20 years, and co-hosted the Chicago television program YOU. She has appeared on Fox Chicago News and the BBC. Liaugminas is an established contributor to MercatorNet.com, and has been published in the Chicago Tribune, Crain's Chicago Business, Crisis, National Catholic Register, and National Review Online. She currently hosts the daily radio program A Closer Look on Relevant Radio.
Praise for Non-Negotiable:
"Sheila Liaugminas is an articulate voice of the New Evangelization and as she demonstrates in this powerful book, being seriously Catholic today means being part of a culture-reforming counterculture." - George Weigel, Author, Evangelical Catholicism
"Combining the passion of personal conscience and the convictions of reason and faith, Sheila Liaugminas analyzes conflicted points in our culture in the light of first principles. It's a good tool in skilled hands." - Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I. Archbishop of Chicago
"Sheila Liaugminas stresses in her fine book that 'Complacency is not an option,' and she hammers home that point with brilliant insight into the past, present and future of all the so-called 'social issues' that continue to divide America. This book is a must-read for every person of faith who understands that action is needed – now – if we ever hope to build a free, just and humane society." - Dr. Alveda King, Director of African-American Outreach, Priests for Life
"I truly admire Sheila Liaugminas. She is an outstanding journalist. We have dialogued extensively on her radio program about the rights of conscience and the protection of what we call our 'first principles.' Sheila has laid out in great breadth and depth the need for a revived understanding of the essentials of human dignity and societal organization." - Jeff Fortenberry, Member of Congress
"Both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have spoken of the 'dictatorship of relativism' in our world today and its negative impacts not just on our faith, but to the common good of society. Shelia Liaugminas draws upon the universal principle of natural human rights and dignity to address several contemporary moral issues which have suffered as a result of a relativistic mindset. Her book is a valuable resource in the struggle to restore a true, just and virtuous society." - Most Reverend Thomas Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield, Illinois
"Sheila Liaugminas brings her keen insights on applying timeless truths to important issues of the day. She demonstrates how 'first principles' have made free, just, and humane society possible and explains why these principles must be non-negotiable. As America grapples with issues of freedom and justice today, Sheila's book is a must-read for those who want to understand why it is critical that we do not back down from "human truths" – affirmed by the Catholic Church and others – if we want a society that protects every individual's life and dignity." - Dan Lipinski, Member of Congress