Arts

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 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. 

Vampires made real

{mosimage}The Twilight series of books may not have sold as many copies as the Harry Potter series over the past decade, but it certainly seems to be taking its place as the new literary candy.

Twilight did however, sell more copies in Canada this past year than Harry Potter books sold during 2007 — the year of the final Harry Potter book release — although the growing fame is where the comparison should stop. Twilight is a different kind of story altogether.

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?”

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.

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.

Mining the minds of ancient monks

{mosimage}TORONTO - Before the Seven Deadly Sins there were the Eight Bad Thoughts. This was the name given by the Desert Fathers of the early church to that swirl of temptations by which the devil sought to drive a wedge between them and God.

Acedia, anger and pride — these were the worst of the eight, thought those proto-monks. They were powerful urges that could drive a spiritual seeker to abandon the quest, give up on holiness and give in to despair.

Christianity's bright lights

{mosimage}Northern Lights: An Anthology of Contemporary Christian Writing in Canada, ed. by Byron Rempel-Burkholder and Dora Dueck (Wiley, 260 pages, $24.95 paperback).

I have sometimes thought that faith works in our lives like the lens of a camera, capturing and framing events and emotions as they are in motion, bringing stillness to the moment and finding God in the detail of the encounter.

At other times I am certain that faith does its best work in hindsight and retrospection, discerning meaning and mission.

Rediscovering the Bible

{mosimage}Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM. (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 238 pages, soft cover, $19.95).

If ever there was a “Bible Year for Catholics,” surely it must be this year. Bishops from around the world have just finished meeting with Pope Benedict in Rome to discuss the place of Scripture in Catholic life and prayer. Throughout the Catholic world we are dedicating this year to St. Paul, the “Apostle to the Nations.” And into the marketplace for Scripture-centred books comes a familiar (and yet unexpected) figure: Franciscan Father Richard Rohr.

Innocence among the horror

{mosimage}As an eight-year-old boy begins to ask questions about the “farmers” he can see through his bedroom window, the atrocities of the Holocaust start to unravel in a touching and dramatic tale.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a great movie that brings a fresh look at the degradation of Nazi concentration camp prisoners through the eyes of a German child. This powerful film is definitely worth seeing.

Debunking the Pius XII myths

{mosimage}As this year marks the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII’s death, the release of A Hand of Peace: Pope Pius XII & The Holocaust is timely for yet another reason. With accusations, past and present, that the late pope did nothing to help Jews during the Holocaust, Salt + Light Television’s documentary dispels the rumours and provides historical accounts of the real story behind Pius’ actions.

“Working on this project the past two years has been an eye-opening experience,” said David Naglieri, the film’s writer and producer. “I came to understand that the black legend surrounding Pope Pius XII is, in fact, founded upon distortion and lies and that Pius XII was directly responsible for saving tens of thousands of Jews.”