A generational look at God

{mosimage}Conversations with Poppi about God by Robert W. Jenson and Solveig Lucia Gold (Brazos Press, 160 pages).

American theologian Robert W. Jenson and his eight-year-old granddaughter, Solveig Lucia Gold, exchange questions about the Christian faith in their book Conversations with Poppi about God.

Unmasking Amnesty’s hope-filled realist

{mosimage}Dispatches From the Global Village by Derek Evans (CopperHouse, softcover, 192 pages, $23.95).

If you asked me today to name a sole companion on a desert island, my first choice — after my husband, of course — would be Derek Evans, former deputy secretary general of Amnesty International. Until now, he was only a name on mailings I would receive in return for my annual donation. But after reading Dispatches From the Global Village — a collection of 38 monthly columns he’s written for his village paper near Penticton, B.C. — I realized here truly was a man described in the foreword by a friend as a “gentle soul with a will of iron… an artist and a scientist” and one who, “in the midst of this global terror, introduces us to a diplomacy of light.”

Adapting the Eucharist has met world’s changing needs and context

{mosimage}A Short History of the Mass, by Alfred McBride, O.Praem (St. Anthony Messenger Press, softcover, 120 pages, $14.70).

Anyone looking for a clear, concise history of the Mass from the upper room to the present need look no further than Alfred McBride’s A Short History of the Mass.

Not another John Paul II book

{mosimage}John Paul II: Man of History, by Edward Stourton (Hodder and Stoughton, 344 pages, hardcover, $42.99).

A recent search of chapters.ca uncovered 81 titles listed as biographies of Pope John Paul II. It makes you wonder what a new book would have to say to merit its price. After reading Edward Stourton’s John Paul II: Man of History, you would still be wondering.

Tapping into the past to see how ideas and structures took form

{mosimage}Nuns: A History of Convent Life 1450-1700 by Silvia Evangelisti (Oxford University Press, 304 pages, hardcover, $39.95).

Even if a period of our history may seem foreign, it may offer insight into creativity, daring and commitment — qualities still so needed to become the sisters God hopes to always see in each of our convents. God saw it through the stories of women like Ana de Jesús (faithful companion of St. Teresa of Avila). Surely God can still see it today.

Questioning some common beliefs

{mosimage}Tall Tales About The Mind & Brain, Separating Fact From Fiction edited by Sergio Della Sala (Oxford University Press, 548 pages, hardcover, $64.95).

Having a set of beliefs does not mean we stop thinking or questioning our deepest held assumptions. One of the primary reasons I love Catholicism is that it encourages critical thinking. Catholics are required not to simply believe but to understand reasons behind their beliefs. There is a healthy role that doubt and questioning play in being able to appreciate the mystery in all things.

Making Mohammed real for 21st century

{mosimage}In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Mohammed by Tariq Ramadan (Oxford University Press, hardcover, 256 pages, $28.95).

Many years ago, well before I ever became a priest, I found myself living a crisis of faith. In my searching I decided to make a detailed examination of other religions along with my own. In the end I concluded that only the Catholic faith could have a claim to being the truth, but I also came away with a healthy respect for the other world religions.

Across the editor’s desk

Every week at least half a dozen books drift across the editor’s desk at The Catholic Register. Most weeks we have barely enough space to thoughtfully review one. So, in the interest of fuller disclosure, here’s a few notes about some of the books we haven’t sent out for review.

American psychologists give tools to achieve goals

{mosimage}It’s Not My Fault, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend (Integrity Publishers, 241 pages, softcover $19.13).

TORONTO - It’s Not My Fault is a book for those who are seeking goals they cannot seem to reach, but goals they still would like to achieve. Authors Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend say the problem doesn’t stem from circumstances around a person, but from within themselves.

Sharing the contradictions of a poet-priest

The Forgotten World of R.J. MacSween: A Life by Stewart Donovan (Cape Breton University Press, softcover, 280 pages, $23.95 list).

Stewart Donovan’s biography of his former St. Francis Xavier University professor, priest-poet Roderick MacSween, is a sincere, elegant and thorough account of an unusual life. The Forgotten World of R.J. MacSween is written in a lucid, unassuming style that reflects something of its subject — MacSween’s poetry is characterized by a plainness that modestly conceals the erudition of the professor. Donovan’s book, transporting us to rural Nova Scotia in the last century, provides a soothing retreat from the hurly-burly of most contemporary lives.

Books to make an ex-pat homesick


{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.