Helping you come to grips with grief

Now What? A Practical Guide to Dealing with Aging, Illness and DyingNow What? A Practical Guide to Dealing with Aging, Illness and Dying by Sherri Auger and Barbara Wickens (Novalis, 160 pages, softcover, $19.95).

Barbara Wickens and Sheri Auger say they wish they had a reference tool when they were facing their parents’ illnesses and deaths.

Me too.

    Brendan, a saint of adventure

    BrendanBrendan: The Remarkable Life and Voyage of Brendan of Clonfert, One of the most Beloved Irish Saints by Morgan Llywelyn (New York, Tom Doherty Associates, 303 pages, $29.99.)

    Saints stand out as great role models for youth and if they haven’t already added St. Brendan to their list of heroes, it’s probable they will after reading Brendan: The Remarkable Life and Voyage of Brendan of Clonfert, One of the most Beloved Irish Saints by Morgan Llywelyn.

    Brendan is a telling tale of the legendary life of St. Brendan of Clonfert, or St. Brendan the Navigator, one of the greatest Irish saints. In reading the novel, the reader will develop a mental picture of who St. Brendan was — a man of great faith, knowledge and love for God.

      Plain and simple, killing is wrong

      {mosimage}Autobiography of an Execution, by David R. Dow (Twelve, 320 pages, hard cover, $29.99.)

      David Dow may not believe in God, but he does believe in justice, love and compassion — and he certainly has a conscience. A death penalty lawyer, he works in Texas for a non-profit organization that attempts to save inmates from capital punishment.

      Dow does not try to save the prisoners because he feels for them personally. In fact, he dislikes most of his clients. But, as he makes very clear, they do not deserve to die, and certainly not through a biased, racist and classist criminal justice system.

        A poor man's biblical view of economics

        {mosimage}Jesus and Money: A guide for Times of Financial Crisis by Ben Witherington III (Brazos Press, soft cover, 192 pages, $21.99)

        Ben Witherington knows Scripture and he might know money, but when he brings the two together he falls short of talking sense.

        Witherington brings biblical teaching on money to bear on the current economic crisis in Jesus and Money. Witherington is a well-published Evangelical biblical scholar whose works cover a wide range of scholarly debates, presenting them in accessible ways for lay Christian audiences. In this book, however, Witherington presents an incomplete view of biblical texts on wealth and oversteps the bounds of his expertise as he applies these texts to today’s economy.

        This incompleteness is ironic, as Witherington explicitly stakes out his position as a “canonical” approach to the Scriptures. That is, he insists Christians may not pick and choose parts of Scripture that appeal to them while ignoring others. This is precisely the problem with his primary target throughout the book: advocates of the “health and wealth” or “prosperity” Gospel who focus on texts which seem to suggest that material wealth is a sign of God’s blessing.

          Essayists miss the faces of the church

          Why I am still a CatholicWhen I first saw the title of this book of essays, my heart sank. Was it going to be full of whining about that faceless entity, "The Church," meaning that other faceless entity, "The Magisterium"? And indeed, one clever contributor, BBC radio presenter Edward Stourton, points out the dark connotations of the word still: "…I detect a whiff of prejudicing the argument in the use of the word 'still'; it suggests a 'despite' in the sub-text, a conviction that we apologists must make our case in the face of overwhelming evidence of the general ghastliness of the church under the long reign of John Paul II."

            Where faith meets science

             The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, by Francis S. Collins (Free Press  304 pages, hardcover, $32.95).

            The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins (Houghton Mifflin, 288 pages, hardcover, $35.95).

            Challenging Nature: The Clash of Science and Spirituality at the New Frontiers of Life, by Lee M. Silver (Ecco, 464 pages, hardcover, $34.95).

            The relationship between science and religion is the focus of a small swarm of new books. Almost all of these books are written by scientists, suggesting that the scientific community is feeling some pressure to articulate just how its work relates to religion.

              A donkey's-eye view on Christ's birth

              Ruben The Donkey booksBRANTFORD, Ont. - Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, meet Ruben the Donkey.

              This Christmas season some radio stations in Ontario will be adding a new Christmas jingle to their play list: "Ruben" sung by Belle River, Ont. country singer Gabe Gagnon.   

                Angels guide this poetic journey

                Accompanied by AngelsAccompanied by Angels: Poems of the Incarnation, by Luci Shaw (Eerdmans Publishing, 110 pages, softcover, $18.99).

                Accompanied by Angels, subtitled Poems of the Incarnation, grew out of poet Luci Shaw's childhood collection of Advent poems. At the age of 11, and anticipating the great festivities of the season, Shaw determined to make her own Christmas cards. To go with the pictures and illustrations on the cards, she composed short greetings to evoke the message of this holy season.

                  Germans pushed church ecumenical commitment

                   "Because He Was a German!": Cardinal Bea and the Origin of Roman Catholic Engagement in the Ecumenical Movement, by Jerome-Michael Verab, C.P. (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 332 pages, hardcover, $29.03 at amazon.ca).

                  This book tells part of the story of how Pope John XXIII came to create the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. Prior to the Second Vatican Council, the church regarded the Orthodox Churches as schismatic and the Protestant Churches as heretical, and thought it was those churches' duty to return to the one true church and be obedient to the Pope. Through the new unity secretariat, the Catholic Church now committed itself to work with other churches for the unity willed by Christ. The person who persuaded John XXIII to take this bold step was a German Jesuit — Cardinal Augustine Bea.

                    The rising up of nobodies

                     Robert Fuller, in his new book All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies and the Politics of Dignity, says that our lever against rankism is the will to dignity. The sentence structure may be awkward, but readers know right away he is saying that will is the fulcrum and dignity the force which can eliminate abuse, discrimination or exploitation based on rank.

                      Satisfying spiritual hunger

                      Cooking with the BibleThe Bible is often looked on as the “good book” or the “holy book.” It is indeed fundamental to one’s spiritual growth. What a surprise it was to be able to connect this essential ingredient in a spiritual life to being physically fed. We often use the Bible for prayer and meditation. Only lately was I able to view it in a different light — a new perspective.