Books Received


The Light Shines on in Darkness: Transforming Suffering through Faith by Robert Spitzer, S.J, Ph.D. (Ignatius) Questions and answers from the former president of Gonzaga University, including: Why would an all-loving God allow suffering? Aren’t suffering and love opposed to one another? Does suffering have any benefit for this life?

A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century by Paul Kengor (ISI Books) Even as historians credit ­Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II with hastening the end of the Cold War, they have failed to recognize the depth or significance of the bond that developed between the two leaders, which included a spiritual connection between the Catholic pope and the Protestant president— and drove the two men to confront what they knew to be a great evil: Soviet communism.

UPDATE: Littlest Suffering Souls: Children Whose Short Lives Point Us to Christ by Austin Ruse (below) is now reviewed here by Robert Royal.

Angels, Barbarians, and Nincompoops . . . and a lot of other words you thought you knew by Anthony Esolen (TAN Books). From the indefatigable TCT contributor comes a book in content recognizable to his Facebook friends, wherein he mines words, finding their precious depths.

The Cardinal Müller Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church, with Carlos Granados (Ignatius Press). The head of CDF responds to four key questions: What can we hope for from Christ? What can we hope for from the Church? What can we hope for from the family? And what can we hope for from society?

Catholics and Protestants: What Can We Learn from Each Other? by Peter Kreeft (Ignatius). Kreeft seeks to find the common ground between the two major Christian groups. The author characterizes his book as like a sheepdog, “herding and hectoring God’s separated sheep back to His face.”

The Dawn of Christianity: How God Used Simple Fishermen, Soldiers, and Prostitutes to Transform the World by Robert J. Hutchinson (Thomas Nelson). Using the most recent studies by top Christian and secular scholars, Mr. Hutchinson reconstructs all the known accounts of Christ’s resurrection appearances and follows the witnesses as they experience brutal persecution to become committed evangelists. “A riveting thriller of the most improbable history-changing movement imaginable.”

Don’t Divorce: Powerful Arguments for Saving and Revitalizing Your Marriage by Diane Medved, Ph.D. (Regnery Publishing). Not quite thirty years ago, Dr. Medved published The Case Against Divorce, which got a lot of well-deserved attention. Unfortunately, the number of broken marriages continues at an alarming rate, and Medved returns (with a brilliantly declarative title) to offer commonsense about making marriage last.

The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible by Sarah Ruden (Pantheon Books). A Quaker lady from the Ivy League (Ph.D. from Harvard; visiting professor at Brown) looks at God’s Word without religious awe or orthodoxy, as we might understand it, but with great appreciation for the exquisite language and profound wisdom of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures.

God’s Gamble: The Gravitational Power of Crucified Love by Gil Bailie (Angelico Press). Drawing primarily on the insights of René Girard and Hans Urs von Balthasar, Bailie shows that the Cross of Christ has left a crater at the center of history, an inflection of sacrificial love toward which everything before and after this event is ordered and properly understood.

The Heart of Holiness by Fr. Gary Lauenstein (Ignatius), which is subtitled “Friendship with God and Others,” which teaches an important lesson: that “our everyday experience of our friendships with others are our stepping stones to holiness.”

The Lion of Münster: The Bishop Who Roared Against the Nazis by Fr. Daniel Utrecht (TAN) is a biography of Cardinal Clemens August von Galen, the German Catholic leader who dared to speak out against Hitler. Fr. Paul Scalia says von Galen’s story should remind pastors today to “guard. . .against a different kind of tyranny – the dictatorship of relativism.”

Littlest Suffering Souls: Children Whose Short Lives Point Us to Christ by Austin Ruse, with a foreword by Raymond Cardinal Burke (TAN). These stories began life here at The Catholic Thing. Beautiful, heartbreaking, and faith affirming, these are stories of children taken too soon by the Lord; kids who have “led others to varying degrees of belief and practice.”

Liturgy & Personality by Dietrich von Hildebrand (Hildebrand Project in partnership with the Franciscan University of Steubenville). The book has an introduction by Bishop Robert Barron and an afterword by Alice von Hildebrand. Bishop Barron: “Hildebrand insists. . .that the primary purpose of the liturgy is not to form the personality but to give proper praise to God, the supreme good.”

Mary of Nazareth by Michael Hesemann (Ignatius): “The first archaeological and historical biography of the most fascinating and revered woman in history, the Mother of Christ.” Paul Thigpen says of Hesemann, “His personal devotion to the Virgin shines through his extensive scholarship to create a delightful and enchanting portrait of the Mother of God.”

Monaghan: A Life by Joseph Pearce (TAN). The prolific biographer (Hilaire Belloc, Roy Campbell, G.K. Chesterton, and C.S. Lewis) profiles the founder of Domino’s Pizza, and former owner of the Detroit Tigers, and the founder of Ave Maria University, at the core of whose life “is an unwavering Catholicism that has strengthened him amidst adversity and grounded him amidst prosperity.”

Night’s Bright Darkness: A Modern Conversion Story by Sally Read (Ignatius). Staunchly atheist, Read converted to Catholicism in the space of nine electric months. Feminist and deeply anti-Catholic, she spoke with a Catholic priest. The interview led her on a dramatic spiritual quest that ended up at the Vatican.

Peter: Keys to Following Jesus by Tim Gray (Ignatius/Augustine Institute). Dr. Gray, a Biblical scholar, offers a guide to the tumultuous, inspiring life of the Apostle and first pope – with lessons from Peter’s life: casting into the deep; avoiding discipleship at a distance; repenting to receive mercy; and becoming a bold witness for Christ.

The Porn Myth: Exposing the Reality Behind the Fantasy of Pornography by Matt Fradd (Ignatius). The downside of the Internet is the lack of restraint when it comes to flesh and the devil. Mr. Fradd, an entrepreneur in cyberspace, explodes illusions: that porn isn’t addictive; that porn relieves pressure among rapists; that women don’t struggle with porn.

The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise by Cardinal Robert Sarah with Nicolas Diat (Ignatius). Silence is the indispensable doorway to the divine. Within the walls of the La Grande Chartreuse, a Carthusian monastery in the French Alps, Cardinal Sarah answers the following questions: Can those who do not know silence ever attain truth, beauty, or love? Do not wisdom, artistic vision, and devotion spring from silence, where the voice of God is heard in the depths of the human heart?

Racketeer for Life: A Memoir by Joseph M. Scheidler (TAN): The longer subtitle is “fighting the culture of death from the sidewalk to the Supreme Court.” Proclaimed the “godfather of pro-life activism,” Scheidler has been the target of a racketeering lawsuit from pro-abortion NOW.

Real Music: A Guide Through the Timeless Hymns of the Church by Anthony Esolen (TAN). A commentary on Catholic music (with an accompanying CD of 18 hymns) as it should be: good music, real music that combines timeless poetry with doctrinally sound lyrics and beautiful melodies.

Saint Mary Magdalene: Prophetess of Eucharistic Love by Fr. Sean Davidson (Ignatius). A much needed book, since Magdalene has become a lightning rod for New Age and neo-gnostic nonsense. She loved the Lord as much as anyone – perhaps more than anyone while He was on the earth. Her example can help readers “to enter more deeply into adoration of Jesus Christ truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.”

Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female by Ashley McGuire (Regnery). The gender revolution isn’t just ridiculous, it’s dangerous: boys will be girls and vice versa. The irony – from a feminist point of view – is that the trend mostly hurts women more than men.

Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput (Henry Holt & Company). Robert Royal reviewed this gem here: “Life Comes from the Archbishop

That Nothing May Be Lost: Reflections on Catholic Doctrine and Devotion by Father Paul Scalia (Ignatius). The TCT contributor reveals a scholar’s mind and a pastor’s heart in inspiring reflections on a wide range of Catholic teachings and practices. Rooted in Scripture, the beauty and truth of these insights places the reader on a path to a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God.

The Unholy Trinity: Blocking the Left’s Assault on Life, Marriage, and Gender by Matt Walsh (Image Books). With the GOP in charge of Congress and the White House (and maybe the Supreme Court) it is time for conservatives to act, because abortion has redefined life, same-sex “marriage” has redefined the family, and new gender “theories” have redefined sexuality. Enough!

Who Am I to Judge? Responding to Relativism with Logic and Love by Edward Sri (Ignatius/Augustine Institute). This isn’t what you may be thinking: not a reaction against the famous statement by Pope Francis, who has said “relativism wounds people” and it is “the spiritual poverty of our time.” Dr. Sri provides answers to the questions people pose about why the Church isn’t in sync with the “modern” world.

Wholly Different: Why I Chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values by Nonie Darwish (Regnery Faith). Ms. Darwish, a convert to (Evangelical) Christianity from Islam writes that Western countries are ignorant of true Islamic values. She is frustrated with mainstream America’s talk of tolerance and assimilation. The narrative is both personal and political. And hers is a unique perspective.