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Book News

Spirituality For Extroverts by Nancy Reeves (Abingdon Press, softcover, 155 pages, $10.99).

As an introvert, I’ve always carried the unexamined  bias that religion is largely the domain of introverts.

Of course this is a fallacy, and Nancy Reeves has written Spirituality For Extroverts to rehabilitate the reputation of non-introverts. Reeves is just the person for the task. She is not only a clinical psychologist and spiritual director, but also an extrovert herself.

Inside our consumerist society

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{mosimage}Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire, by William T. Cavanaugh (William B. Eerdmans, 96 pages, softcover, $13.50).

Our homes and garages are filled with all sorts of stuff, some of which we need, and a lot of which we do not. The words “shopaholic” and “retail therapy” are part of our everyday vocabulary. We tend to use them in a self-deprecating sense. At the same time, we admit to ourselves that we are not going shopping out of necessity, but simply for the sake of it. We feel a void in our lives and hope shopping will make us feel better but what we end up buying often has very little meaning for us afterwards. We never fill the spiritual void, so we go out to shop again.

Clear answers in the moral chaos

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{mosimage}Bioethics Matters: A Guide for Concerned Catholics, by Moira McQueen, (Novalis, 105 pages, softcover, $9.95).

Pope John Paul II accomplished many things as pontiff, but one of the most important for the long term is clarity — something Benedict XVI has also worked at to good effect.

New volume explores church's shameful past

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{mosimage}Catholics and Slavery: A Compromising History by John Perry (Novalis, soft cover, 204 pages, $24.95).

We live in a world in which the human rights of a large majority are trampled daily. This world did not emerge from nothing, and Christians are part of this history.

Through much of its history the Catholic Church condoned, promoted, supported and engaged in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Jesuit John Perry’s account of this in Catholics and Slavery is comprehensive and unflinching. He believes the church was part of the problem in its complicity in slavery, but has remade itself as part of the solution.

Into the future, darkly

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{mosimage}Emerging from the Dark Age Ahead: The Future of the North American Church, by Charles Fensham (Novalis, softcover, 226 pages, $24.94 list).

If Donald Rumsfeld was good for anything, it was savage mockery of pessimistic liberals. “Henny Penny the sky is falling,” he once jeered to their flagellations. “Sometimes even liberals themselves tire of liberal negativity.”

The planetary secrets of C.S. Lewis

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{mosimage}Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis by Michael Ward (Oxford University Press, 347 pages, hardcover, $31.95).

Planet Narnia is one of the most creative works of scholarship I have read since I fled the murky world of graduate studies in English literature. Michael Ward sets before us one of the great mysteries of C.S. Lewis studies, i.e. what is the underlying unity among the seven Narnia stories, and solves it. It’s the kind of thing that makes a rival PhD student throw her laptop across the room and take to drink. Ward has made a brilliant discovery.

Christ has implications in today's politics

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{mosimage}Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw (Zondervan, 355 pages, softcover, $19.99).

If Christianity isn’t radical, isn’t subversive, isn’t dangerous and can’t get you into trouble it isn’t really following Christ. The established powers of Roman-occupied Palestine tortured and killed Jesus for a reason. It wasn’t because he was a safe, earnest, harmless reformer.

The progression of Orthodoxy

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{mosimage}Encountering the Mystery: Perennial Values of the Orthodox Church by Patriarch Bartholomew I  (Doubleday, 254 pages, hardcover, $25).

Before reading Encountering the Mystery, I could not have told you the name of the patriarch of Constantinople, but still considered myself adequately informed about the history and practices of Orthodox Christianity. I understood the Orthodox Church to be truly ancient in both the commendable and the less welcome senses of the term — faithfully continuing the apostolic tradition in a way that has avoided innovation for many centuries.

A new look at international development

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{mosimage}Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail by Paul Polak (BK Currents, hardcover, 232 pages, $32).

Paul Polak is convinced he has found the solution to help some 800 million dollar-a-day farmers climb out of poverty. So, he wrote a book about it for all to learn: Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail.

Tolle's 'New 'Earth' pains the body

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{mosimage}A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle (Plume, 315 pages, $15.50).

A New Earth has attracted notoriety thanks to the patronage of TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey. It is a profoundly non-Christian book that exploits the Holy Name of Jesus to bamboozle Oprah’s mostly Christian audience.

You must read 'I Don't Believe in Atheists'

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{mosimage}I Don’t Believe in Atheists, by Chris Hedges (Anansi, 224 pages, $24.95 hardcover).

It’s the emphasis on sin and the direct link with Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens that makes you sit up with a start while reading Chris Hedges' new book, I Don’t Believe in Atheists. The honest and exquisitely argued linkage creates that magical compulsion to seek out others so you can read them an excerpt. It is a pleasure too seldom found in a book, let alone one that wants to argue that scientists can be more fundamentalist than arch creationists.