Book News

{mosimage}The Lost Massey Lectures: Recovered Classics from Five Great Thinkers, introduction by Bernie Lucht (Anansi, 399 pages, $24.95 softcover).

In 1965 a single computer filled the space of a commodious living room. In 1966 we had not yet landed on the moon, let alone invented the Internet. In 1967 rock icons Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison were still alive, though not for much longer. In 1979 reality TV was the evening news. In 1983 there was such a thing as a Cold War and we were still fighting it.

Generosity is the art of living right

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{mosimage}Being Generous: The Art of Right Living by Lucinda Vardey and John Dalla Costa (Knopf Canada, hardcover, 320 pages, $25).

The title of this book caught my eye. I had to stop and ponder what I understood by the expression “being generous.” I discovered, as the authors so clearly point out, that I had a very limited notion of this very rich and transforming phrase.

Real, raw, rugged life stories - book cover

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{mosimage}I Choose God, by Chris Cuddy, Peter Ericksen (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 130 pg., $10.99).

The novel I Choose God is an enjoyable read of 21 testimonies by young people about how they struggled to overcome difficult situations and find God.

Afghanistan's moral reality

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{mosimage}The Taliban and the Crisis of Afghanistan by Robert D. Crews and Amin Tarzi eds. (Harvard University Press, hard cover, 430 pages, $30).

If Canada is going to have a debate about what its soldiers are doing in Afghanistan, or what Canada as a country should be doing in Afghanistan, that debate need not be conducted on the basis of vague mythology.

A Jewish take on sanctity of life

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{mosimage}The Sanctity of Human Life by David Novak (Georgetown University Press, 186 pages, hardcover, $35).

Rabbi David Novak is a professor of religion and philosophy at the University of Toronto. His doctoral degree (and his publisher) are from Georgetown University, a Jesuit university in Washington, D.C. Readers who appreciate erudite arguments and rigourous scholarship will be interested in this book, which explores from a Jewish point of view some of the same topics as Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).

A simple book fails through its simplicity

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 …Here comes a sea followed by an ocean…: Very simple reflections on the Second Vatican Council, after 40 years, by Fr. Gianni Carparelli (Caritas Project Publishing, softcover, 179 pages, $15.00 by phone at 416-294-2327)

A book praising Vatican II should prosper. Unfortunately, this one might be hurt because its reflections on Vatican II are not just “very simple,” as the title says, but too simple and fragmented. These reflections have also been marred by careless editing. 

God and the battle between mind and brain

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{mosimage}The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul, by Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary (HarperCollins, 368 pages, hardcover, $31.50).

Materialists are legion in the universities, and it is a favourite sport of materialists to make fun of us credulous people who believe in God. Materialists, especially the 19-year-olds, are amazed that religious people even bother to go to university. What materialists don’t realize, of course, is that materialism is itself a belief system whose claims have not been scientifically verified.

Fouling the message with the method

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{mosimage}Journeys to the Heart of  Catholicism, by Ted Schmidt (Seraphim Editions, softcover, 200 pages, $19.95).

I am the mother of teenagers and, according to my kids, doing a pretty lousy job. So bad, in fact, that I turned to the experts and bought some parenting books. One in particular gave me some very practical advice that I am trying (unsuccessfully) to follow: If shouting doesn’t work, shouting louder really won’t either. There were certain times while reading Journeys to the Heart of Catholicsm I felt like saying to Teddy Schmidt — “Stop shouting.”

Roche looks at the bright side of life

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Global Conscience by Douglas Roche (Novalis, softcover, 208 pages, $22.95).

{mosimage}When we think about the state of the world today, it’s difficult to ward off encroaching despair. The deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan haunt us. We worry about developments in Pakistan and Burma. Almost daily, there are warnings about the shrinking polar ice cap. Meanwhile, homeless people sleep rough on Canadian streets.

Commonality, differences with Protestants

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{mosimage}Hope in Troubled Times: A New Vision for Confronting World Crises by Bob Goudzwaard, Mark Vander Vennen and Van Heemst David (Baker Book House, softcover, 256 pages, $24.99).

Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life: Rethinking Ministry to the Poor
by Robert D. Lupton, (Gospel Light and Regal Books, softcover, 139 pages, $12.50).

Theology for Non-Theologians: An Engaging
, Accessible and Relevant Guide, by James Cantelon (Wiley, softcover, 336 pages, $26.99).

As Roman Catholics we are aware of the unity and, at the same time, the separation that exists among Christians. We all follow Jesus, the one Lord, yet the different Christian communities have different outlooks and interpretations about how to go about this. It is interesting, therefore, to have a look every once in a while at what authors from other Christian denominations are writing about.

Books to make an ex-pat homesick

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{mosimage}Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill (HarperCollins, 330 pages, $17.50).

Soucouyant by David Chariandy (Arsenal, 200 pages, $19.95).

Helpless by Barbara Gowdy (HarperCollins, 306 pages, $32.95).

Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje (McClelland and Stewart, 273 pages, $34.99).

The Assassin’s Song by M.G. Vassanji (Doubleday Canada, 314 pages, $34.95).
While studying theology in Boston I felt so homesick I thought I’d go crazy. I would delay the journey back to Canada as long as I could, but then I’d snap, call an airline agent or rush to South Station. If I flew to Toronto, I’d watch out the car window leaving the airport for the first Canadian flag. If I crossed the Quebec border, I’d long to hug the surly customs officers. I couldn’t do that, of course, so I spoke French to them instead.