It's all about Anne

{mosimage}Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession, by Anne Rice (Knopf Canada, hardcover, 256 pages, $29.95).

Anne Rice is famous — or perhaps infamous, depending on your point of view — for a string of darkly gothic vampire novels. Her first and probably most famous, Interview with a Vampire, was made into a major motion picture in 1994. 

A self-declared atheist for most of her adult life, after a lengthy personal and spiritual journey, she returned to her roots in the Catholic Church in 1998. A few years later she announced she would never again write about vampires and redirected her literary energies towards what she has called “Christian literature.”  She has since produced two novels about the life of Jesus (Out of Egypt and The Road to Cana in her “Christ the Lord” series). Her latest book is Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession — an autobiographic account of her spiritual journey back to the church.

    We can't compromise on violence

    {mosimage}Put Down Your Sword: Answering the Gospel Call to Creative Non-Violence , by John Dear S.J., (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, softcover, 216 pages, $18.50).

    The title of Fr. John Dear’s latest book comes from Jesus’ instruction to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane as He was being arrested. Dear makes the point that Jesus’ call to “Put down your sword!” is particularly significant to us today. They were the last words Jesus spoke to His assembled disciples — to the church. The disciples all ran away at that point and the other, more famous last words of Christ were in truth spoken to others.

      A Christian's pain can be life-giving

      {mosimage}With the Dawn Rejoicing: A Christian Perspective on Pain and Suffering by Melannie Svoboda, SND (Novalis, 138 pages, softcover, $14.95).

      Each of us has experienced pain in some way. We may have lost a loved one or seen a loved one suffer. Perhaps we have been injured or fallen sick. Or maybe we have struggled with uncertainty, broken relationships or disappointments. When such hardships come upon us we often find ourselves asking, “Why is this happening?” At times we may ask, “Why has God let this happen?” or “Where is God in all of this?”

        A political fight for peace

        {mosimage}Creative Dissent: A Politician’s Struggle for Peace by Douglas Roche (Novalis, 381 pages, softcover $37.95).

        Douglas Roche was just entering his adult life when the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. That event — and the subsequent Cold War and nuclear arms race — would serve as the ever-present backdrop to a political life consistently focused on disarmament and development as the keys to international peace.

          Guelph author writes to a younger market

          {mosimage}Hello, My Name is Emily by Joy Lynn Goddard (160 pages, 2008, paperback $14.95), Daredevils by Joy Lynn Goddard (178 pages, 2004, paperback $12.95), and Charlie’s Song by Joy Lynn Goddard (215 pages, 2007, paperback $15.95). All published by Chestnut Publishing Group.

          Former journalist Joy Lynn Goddard turned her writing talent to producing fiction for a younger crowd. Goddard, a teacher at Holy Trinity Catholic School in Guelph, Ont., has published several books for children and young adults, the first three titled Hello, My Name is Emily, Daredevils and Charlie's Song. As in many coming-of-age books, Goddard has combined adventure with self-realization.

            Back to the church

            {mosimage}The Longest Trip Home: A Memoir , by John Grogan (Harper Collins, 352 pages, hardcover, $27.95).

            John Grogan, author of the bestselling Marley and Me, about his dysfunctional but loveable family pet, has just published a second book, The Longest Trip Home. This time he writes about his life, about growing up Catholic near Detroit and about discovering who he is as an adult and parent. 

              Spiritual heritage victim of unleashed human reason

              Descarte Bones
              Descartes’ Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason , by Russell Shorto, (Doubleday, hardcover, 299 pages, $30).

              In telling the tale of the remains of philosopher Rene Descartes, who died in 1650 and was buried the first time in Stockholm, Russell Shorto reflects on the personal and the cultural, the religious and the scientific, portraying interesting individuals as they chased after dreams of scientific success. In this history, the ideals of progress are slowly replaced by those of religion.

                The battle between good and evil

                {mosimage}Space Vulture , by Gary K. Wolf and Archbishop John J. Myers (Tor Publishing, 333 pages, $27.95).

                When most people think about leaders of the Catholic Church, science fiction doesn’t usually come to mind. However, in March 2008, a book came out that could change this.

                  A world of contrasts

                  {mosimage}Reading by Lighting by Joan Thomas (Goose Lane Editions, softcover, 388 pages, $22.95).

                  The unadorned barn sits listlessly along the sprawling landscape of Lloydminster, Man., in the 1930s. It is here that the hardened inhabitants of this small Prairie town gather for weekly prayer in expression of a zealous but grave apocalyptic faith. The world around offers little comfort. The land is stubborn, the weather unco-operative and the labour severe.  But as the townspeople know, this whirlwind of hardship is transitory — a gateway to the promised afterlife that will reward their fidelity.

                    Getting to know the human Jesus

                    {mosimage}Who on Earth was Jesus? The Modern Quest for the Jesus of History by David Boulton (O Books, softcover,  417 pages, $29.95).

                    There is perhaps no area of modern theology as controversial and polarized as the study of the historical Jesus — what can be known about Jesus using standard historical research. There are those for whom the Gospels are essentially biographies of Jesus and historically beyond questioning. There are others who emphasize the editorial history of the Gospels and the apparent inconsistencies and errors of fact within them. These latter scholars often conclude the Gospels hold little, if any, real historical value. Of course there is an entire spectrum of opinions in between.

                      Bringing saints to dinner table

                      {mosimage}Saints at the Dinner Table, by Amy Heyd (St. Anthony Messenger Press, hard cover, 158 pages, $24.83).

                      If you could choose a saint, any saint, to invite to your family dinner, who would it be?

                      St. Joseph might be a strong contender, or how about St. Martha, or St. Clare of Assisi? Would you have lamb chops and garlic mashed potatoes, a simple but fun pizza or scrumptious chicken saltimbocca with salad on the side?