Arts

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.

Zombie sequel reaps what it sows

When Hieronymus Bosch painted hell in the 15th century it was shocking, thrilling and repulsive. The same was true of the 2002 British horror movie 28 Days Later.

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.

Taking creative steps to healing

{mosimage}TORONTO - Before he walked into 6 St. Joseph House a year-and-a-half ago, Dave Evans was no artist. “I was getting drunk on the side of the street,” is how he describes his typical day as an addicted and usually homeless man.

Franciscan convent outdraws Mayan ruins

{mosimage}IZAMAL, Mexico - The Yucatan. To sun-starved Canadians the very name conjures up images of Caribbean beaches, a turquoise sea and ancient Mayan ruins. Lots of them. The Yucatan Peninsula is reputed to have one of the richest stores of archeological treasures in the world. It is populated by the Maya, the largest indigenous group in North America and the focus of Mel Gibson’s recent movie Apocalypto. Multitudes of Canadians visit every year.

Making a choice: to forgive or not

TORONTO - To discover the meaning of forgiveness, film maker Johanna Lunn had to consider the nature of evil.


“In the course of making the film, I really had to ask myself, ‘What is evil?’ I’m forever, eternally an optimist and would maybe secretly like to believe that evil doesn’t exist,” Lunn told The Catholic Register before Forgiveness: Stories for Our Time was to premiere in Toronto’s annual Hot Docs Festival in late April. The film will be shown on CTV May 26.

Lowering the boom on Bibby

{mosimage}The Boomer Factor by Reginald W. Bibby (Bastian Books, 246 pages, soft cover, $19.95).

If, as Reginald Bibby suggests, there has been a cultural shift from “we” to “me” which has accompanied the baby boomers, then is it not obvious that there would be negative social repercussions to such a shift? Bibby’s newest book, The Boomer Factor, proposes that the change has been mostly positive and does not offer sufficient explanation of the negative consequences.

The spirituality of Margaret Laurence

{mosimage}Margaret Laurence. A Gift of Grace: A Spiritual Biography, by Noelle Boughton (Women Who Rock Series, Women’s Press, 208 pages, softcover. $19.95.)

Margaret Laurence wrote with a sense of vocation. She experienced writing as a “gift of grace.” Her Christian faith taught her respect for the “unique and irreplaceable” nature of each character in her fiction. Those familiar with Laurence’s autobiographical writings may already know these facts and much of the rest of what Noelle Boughton tells us. However, those who know Laurence through having read a novel or two, or simply by reputation as an activist, feminist author whose works some have wanted withdrawn from high school classrooms will be intrigued to learn how deep the spiritual dimension runs in her work.