Alphonse: A Monster For Our Time

Thursday, June 11, AD 2009

Catholic writer Matthew Lickona has the first issue of a graphic novel out, and the topic is an interesting one.

Alphonsemon’ster n.
1. An animal, a plant, or other organism having structural defects or deformities.

2. A fetus or an infant that is grotesquely abnormal and usually not viable.

– The American Heritage? Medical Dictionary
Alphonse is the story of eight lives that intersect because of an attempted abortion. Why “attempted?” Because while there are no angels or demons on either side, there is definitely a monster in the middle: Alphonse.

Rendered “grotesquely abnormal” by his unwitting mother’s use of controlled substances, he is both sentient and freakishly coordinated. He is also deeply wounded, twisted by fear and rage after the attempt on his life – and bent on revenge.

But violence begets violence. Alphonse is pursued even as he is pursuing, and haunted by the insistence of his only friend that there is another way…

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2 Responses to Alphonse: A Monster For Our Time

Book Review: The Death of a Pope

Friday, May 15, AD 2009

Out today from Ignatius Press is The Death of a Pope, a new novel by Piers Paul Read, a mainstream novelist (his survival novel Alive about a rugby team whose plane crashes in the Andes topped the New York Times bestseller list when it came out 25 years ago, and was later made into a film) who has also written both fiction and nonfiction on Catholic themes. He wrote a popular history of the templars a few years back, and On the Third Day, a thriller about the discovery in modern Israel of a crucified skeleton that some allege to be proof that Christ did not rise from the dead.

I had not read any of Read’s previous books, but when Ignatius emailed me and offered me a review copy, the premise of the novel sounded interesting and I could not resist the lure of a free book. However, I did not initially expect much of it, my idea of modern “Catholic thrillers” having been formed by the likes of Pierced By A Sword, whose prose style treads that delicate line between incompetent and downright laughable.

However, I need not have feared. Read’s prose is deft and indeed literary, though the modern device of using present tense narrative to convey immediacy is not necessarily my cup of tea. Those inclined to literary snobbery will not find themselves holding their noses as they read this novel by any stretch. The less pretentious reader will enjoy the fast-paced plot, which whisks him from a terrorist trial in London, to the refugee camps of Uganda, the chemistry labs of Cairo and at last to the 2005 papal conclave.

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Fantasy Fundamentalism

Tuesday, April 14, AD 2009

Over Holy Week some strange force caused the Harry Potter controversy to suddenly break out (like the story of the villagers of Eyam, subjected to a delayed-action outbreak of the Plague when a bolt of cloth carrying the fleas was brought out of storage) on our local Catholic homeschooler email list.

These discussions always seem to have two parts, first an explanation of how reading stories in which characters perform magic tempts children to occult practices, than an apologia for Tolkien and Lewis in which it is explained how these authors were Good Christians and their books are deeply Christian because: Aslan is God, good characters never do magic (unless they’re not human characters, at which point it doesn’t count), Galadrial is really Mary, the elves’ lembas is the Eucharist, etc.

Two things annoy me about this whole set of arguments.

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53 Responses to Fantasy Fundamentalism

  • Just want to subscribe to follow comments. ^.^

  • DarwinCatholic,

    There’s a big difference between Christian Allegory, where one can see such the correlation between elements of the Christian Faith (in fact, that is why allegory was quite useful in teaching children the faith in certain cultures) as opposed to something that may actually foster a curiosity for and even a devotion to the occult.

    And, on another note, to those who would actually deny the Catholic Allegorical Theme of The Lord of the Rings (contra even Tolkien himself):

    “…But, at the end of the day, we may, with Tolkien’s approval, speak of the saga as a Catholic masterpiece. A postscript to this might be the observation that no Protestant could conceivably have written this saga, since it is profoundly “sacramental”. That is, redemption is achieved wholly via physical means — cf The Incarnation, Golgotha, the Resurrection, and the Ascension — and the tale is sprinkled with “sacramentals” such as lembas, athelas, Galadriel’s phial of light, mithril, etc.”

    Does it make sense to speak of The Lord of the Rings as a “Catholic Masterpiece”?

  • Thing is, Harry Potter’s world does have a lot of Christian symbols in it– enough that there’s a Catholic priest making a podcast on the subject:

    Sad to say, Middle Earth has been used to foster occult devotion; often by folks who would deny the symbols if you did point them out.
    All they see is elves, magic and dragons.

    It’s sad, because what I think they’re hungry for is what the Church offers, at her best– but they never see it, never taste the rich stories, never feel the symbols twine around their minds and emotions or smell the incense while a candle warms their hand at midnight Mass.

  • Foxfier,

    Now that’s weird — although I can’t say I’m surprised.

    Such erratic devotion concerning things as that such as even Dungeons & Dragons was actually the subject of an earlier film of Tom Hanks that attempted to wrestle with an issue as serious (not to mention, psychologically disturbing) as that.

    It’s sadly tragic.

  • The movie was “Rona Jaffe’s Mazes and Monsters”. The title was chosen to avoid lawsuits by TSR, the owner of Dungeon and Dragons. It was a poor movie and demonstrated a lack of understanding of the hobby. It has become a cult classic at gaming conventions. I have been involved in boardgames and roleplaying games for over 30 years, although my wife is the true roleplaying expert. Roleplaying games are basically harmless although like most hobbies there are nut fringe elements. A good lighthearted look at the hobby is contained in every issue of Knights of the Dinner Table:

  • …You’re not talking about Mazes and Monsters?!

    Looking to Mazes and Monsters for a look at the “issue” of D&D or even RPGs is like looking at a Dan Brown novel for insight to the Catholic Church’s history.

    That movie was written like someone had done research by sending letters to the Jack Chick subscriber’s list… besides the fact that D&D isn’t LARP (live action role-play).

    That piece of garbage caused several folks I know to turn away from the folks’ faith, because the flat-out lies it offered caused well meaning relatives to go utterly psychotic about kids playing a role playing game.
    I am not kidding about “psychotic”– a chaplain on the Essex also tried to get one of the guys assigned to do her paperwork kicked out of the Navy, entirely, because he played D&D.
    The Captain said no.
    (odd how she didn’t mind committing adultery with the XO, openly… guess a world with strict moral alignments where actions at odds with your morality can have quick, huge effects just didn’t sit well with her)

    The poor kid the movie is based on– James Dallas Egbert III– was royally screwed up. Here’s his story, minus Hollywood:
    He was 15, on college, decided he was gay and tried to commit suicide. When that didn’t work, he when and hid with boyfriends.
    News saw paintings done by the SCA and decided it was D&D based. is a classic, funny but kinda accurate D&D game….minus that the guy did it with funky character models.

  • There’s a big difference between Christian Allegory, where one can see such the correlation between elements of the Christian Faith (in fact, that is why allegory was quite useful in teaching children the faith in certain cultures) as opposed to something that may actually foster a curiosity for and even a devotion to the occult.

    I’d certainly agree that there’s a big difference between those two things. It’s just that I wouldn’t necessarily agree either that Tolkien wrote Christian allegory (Lewis clearly was, but Tolkien insisted that he hated allegory and didn’t mean LotR to be an allegory) or that HP particularly fosters devotion to the occult (any more so than any other children’s novel set in an imaginary world.)

    There is, I think, a certain danger present in any clearly imaginary world that people may decide they like the idea of trying to live in that world better than trying to live a good life in the real one. Escapism is one of the ways that the devil tempts us to channel our energies into something other than cultivating real virtue.

    Now, there are fantasy authors that I’d keep my kids away from until their mid teens, both because I don’t think they’re very good and because I think they have problematic worldviews (Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffery spring to mind), but overall I would not see fantasy as a genre as being overly a temptation to the occult.

    I confess to curiosity as to what some of those who worry about Harry Potter would make of novels such as The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams (a good friend of Lewis and Tolkien) or Last Call by Tim Powers, a devoutly Catholic fantasy author, but perhaps it’s better not to go there.

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy): I GM role-playing games for 2 of our 3 kids; however, we are very selective about which published modules we play — fall of Constaninople YES, secret Satanic cult at a monastery in Glastonbury NO, f. ex.. In modules with less historical settings, we tend to downplay the polytheism — but keep almost everything else. The kids prefer fighting monsters in dungeons and the wilderness, while I prefer mystery-themed urban adventures requiring talking to NPCs most of the time (but I’m usually the GM, so I get to pick!). With those provisos (and no evil-aligned PCs, by mutual consent), we manage to have lots of enthralling fun without getting obsessed (we aren’t generally able to make enough time to game to have time to get obsessed about it!).

  • Oh my gosh, what a blast from the past — Tom Hanks in “Mazes and Monsters”! I remember when this movie came out. I was just out of high school and dating a guy who was a big D & D player (and a practicing Catholic; we met through Teens Encounter Christ). I watched it and found it actually pretty laughable. His mom belonged to a charismatic prayer group at the time, and took some flak from some of her friends for letting her son play such an “evil” game. Didn’t seem to hurt him any though. The last I heard he was married, had a couple of kids and a nice job in the computer industry. I guess “Mazes and Monsters” has become the “Reefer Madness” of role playing games 🙂

    I also read “The Dungeonmaster” book some years ago. I thought it was a very good book that did NOT in any way sensationalize role playing games. It provided a very intriguing look into the life of a private detective, as well as the troubled life of Dallas Egbert — who did, tragically, commit suicide within a year after his disappearance. Dallas had an extremely high, genius level IQ (he was attending Michigan State full-time at age 16) and had trouble relating to others his age; he may very well have had Asperger Syndrome (a high-functioning form of autism, often associated with high IQs and “geeky” personalities) on top of his other problems.

    Gaming addiction has been around for years, probably generations, and takes various forms. In the 70s and 80s the big thing was D & D; today it’s Second Life and World of Warcraft. I participate in Second Life occasionally and could write quite a bit about that topic, but I’ll save it for another day.

  • I’m a Final Fantasy man myself.

    I like Warhammer too.

    And the Elder Scrolls universe is also interesting in that it actually has an organized Church that isn’t supposed to be evil, but good. Only they have nine “divines” instead of one.

    Fantasy is a good way to present perennial human issues as archetypes and symbols. It is a little silly to think that fictional “magic” is anything like the ritual magic practiced by actual pagans.

    I suppose it could be in some stories, some get quite deeply into the magic, but most of the time we’re dealing with fire balls and lighting bolts, or turning a man into a duck. Most stories have good magic and bad magic, magic associated with virtues that are practically Christian and magic associated with Satanic values.

    Fantasy is a world of imagination, and having magical powers is often a way to have a wider range of imagination. That’s all. It pushes things along, makes certain implausible things more plausible, gives you more options. None of it is meant to pay homage to Satan. Most real Satanists don’t value ritual magic as much as they do the sort of anti-morals promulgated by people such as Anton LeVey. Or Ayn Rand.

  • It goes back to Flannery O’Connor who pointed out how untrained most Catholics are in reading books, and how they will judge a book filled with Christian themes (like Potter) as unChristian.

  • Unless a story offers small, simple and easily digestible prepackaged slices of catechesis, I want nothing to do with it. Now excuse me while I go fight Sephiroth.

  • It goes back to Flannery O’Connor who pointed out how untrained most Catholics are in reading books, and how they will judge a book filled with Christian themes (like Potter) as unChristian.

    And this, as we know, is the spirit of Vox Nova. 😉 More seriously, I meant to apologize to you Henry for not being more circumspect in approaching that post of yours. I still think your wording was very ambiguous, but I should have asked for clarification before criticizing it.

  • John Henry

    I admit I was annoyed by your response, because I find your responses in general tend to be top-notch (even when we disagree). I originally wrote the post to basically highlight quotes I found from Flannery which I liked, but then put them around in a quick exposition to make it so it is more than just random quotes. I think the point I was making still was put up in the first paragraph, but it’s easy to forget the over-arching context in many an argument (just read Balthasar if you want to see that happen in a bad way from time to time). Nonetheless, I was surprised — but it’s in the past, no? As my Easter post quotes from Resurrection Matins– forgive everything, it’s Pascha.

  • It goes back to Flannery O’Connor who pointed out how untrained most Catholics are in reading books, and how they will judge a book filled with Christian themes (like Potter) as unChristian.

    Though I’m not sure that this is Catholics in particular more than people in general. If Catholics have some tendency towards this, Protestants currently have much more so. And frankly, most people aren’t readers.

    I think O’Connor found the criticism of other Catholics particularly frustrating because she was Catholic, but to a great extent she was criticizing average Catholics simply for being rather average.

  • What I find particular troubling is that I’m learning that so many of my Catholic blogging friends are geeks.


  • What *I* find troubling is that this post didn’t stir up any anti-HP lurkers… it’s no fun when there’s broad agreement! 🙂

  • I’ve earned my right to be a geek, and I’m proud of it!!!

  • This post is hilarious!

    While I enjoyed reading much of the comments in the thread, it just struck me as spectacularly funny that instead of any substantive discussion dealing with the actual topic of the post concerning Potter or even going so far as provoking the inflamed ire of the HP or even anti-HP camp, we thoroughly went the other direction and indulged ourselves in an enlightening discussion concerning role-playing games, of all things and, for some of us, went to reminisce about former days!

    For those of you still caught up in those role-playing games, didn’t y’all learn something from St. Paul in the scriptural passage that went:

    “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child.”
    (1 Cor 13:11)


  • I think that the whole “occult” worry is really overplayed. Even if a story with dragons and such isn’t a particularly good Christian allegory, I don’t really see it as a serious threat to Christianity. I think much of the worries about the occult come from days when sorcery and such were a viable competitor to Christianity. Nowadays I don’t really think that threat exists.

  • What *I* find troubling is that this post didn’t stir up any anti-HP lurkers…

    I know, poor Foxfier thought he’d get to see some sparks fly when he subsribed above; instead it’s an anti-anti-fantasy echo chamber.

  • e., my guess is that even Saint Paul took some time for recreation. If life is all grind stone and no mirth, it is a poor life indeed.

  • She, actually, although with a ‘nim like mine it’s not always clear.

    I wouldn’t consider bloody smiting of horrific evil all that childish…. *shrug*

    Some folks go bowling; I roll dice.

    I was less interested in sparks than in stopping the stuff I’ve seen hurt my friends. Some folks I dearly love are still estranged from the Church because of the actions of well meaning but wrong folks.

  • Well, if any anti-Potter forces want to swarm the post, we appear to have plenty of people with high hit-points ready to stand to the defense…

    E., [what is the preferred punctuation and capitalization for addressing you?]

    Myself, I could never see the point of video or role playing games (though I do enjoy strategy board games and occasionally play Go and chess on the internet) but I’m not sure one can really sort out the rhyme or reason of what people consider a fun way to spend their leisure hours.

    I can never understand how some people manage to spend hours watching sports, and I’m sure that many would question the maturity of my spending an hour or two each day blogging and commenting.

    So long as people don’t let their avocations overwhelm their vocations, I don’t see any harm in it.

  • She, actually,

    Whoops. Sorry!

  • Call me a geek again and I’ll bash ya with my +5 battle-axe!

  • Here, Kyle, use this.
    *tosses a +5 vorpal sword of reason*

    It works nicely!

    JH– no offense taken– and it puts my mind at ease, actually. I spent a lot of time cropping the icon I’m using to make sure it wouldn’t upset folks. ^.^

  • Foxfier (and others),

    My last comments were made only in jest.

    (On the name though, perhaps ‘Sailorette’ (?) might have been a better name to go by ;^) since Foxfier seems to evoke more of a male persona.)

    I really did like going over the comments and found the ongoing discussion about role-playing games rather enjoyable and, in some cases, even interesting, thanks to the sincere participation of folks here & elsewhere.

    I did have classmates in school though who actually participated in a number of these role-playing modules.

    In fact, they not only had D&D but also (and folks can correct me here if I should happen to refer to any of these in error) included other versions such as Marvel World as well as even Star Trek (complete with schematics as well as the popular alien languages, I believe!)!

    At any rate, I think the comments from Darwin Catholic as well as Mr. McClarey remain the more relevant even insofar as the Potter matter (as well as role-playing games) is concerned — less we descend into some deleterious Walter Mittian condition from which there may be no escape.

  • Jeez,

    I just play Civ III. Haven’t even gotten into Civ IV. Guess I’m getting old.

  • Phillip, get it with all the expansions. There is no finer computer strategy game on the market, with the possible exception of Europa Universalis III (There, I’m sure I have raised the blog’s geek quotient by at least 2% with this comment!)

  • Donald, I’m glad to hear that you and your wife are gamers. My wife and I are, too.

    I’m still playing D&D 20 years after I started, and I get to introduce my kids to it, too.

    As I said on a gaming board (Knights & Knaves Alehouse) some months back: trad gamer, trad Catholic…looks like I’m just a trad.


  • Flambeaux we grognards have to stick together!

  • Haven’t even heard of Europa Universalis I or II let alone III. I think you’ve just pegged the geek meter.

  • Phillip I cannot leave you in the dark on such a vital subject:

  • Let’s ask an exorcist.

    A quote from Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International and an exorcist:

    “I’m very set against Harry Potter,” he said. “It’s pumping into our children’s minds the language and imagery of the occult. It’s extremely spiritually dangerous.”

    Let’s be prudent and take his advice.

  • If that quotation is accurate, Euteneuer is wrong. End of story.

    I know witchcraft. I practiced witchcraft. And neither Harry Potter nor D&D has anything on real witchcraft.

    Avoid it if you feel you must, but don’t slander it out of ignorance.

  • Thank goodness “set” of an exorcist isn’t binding!

    I rather doubt he’s read the books, or even has any idea about what’s inside of them– since he lumps them with Wicca and New Age practices.

    From the sound of the other select quotes– which can be very easily edited to give a false impression, so who knows what the facts are– he’s of the “It has witches? Bad. It has vampires? Bad. It has dragons? Bad.” school.

  • Donald,

    Looks good. Of course I lived too many years in New England and became quite a Yankee (the cheap kind.) That’s why I’m still on Civ III. So it might take a while before I feel comfortable parting with the cash for Europa. 🙂

  • Donald,

    I’m honored to be considered a grognard. 😀

    If you get a chance, drop by the Alehouse. I use the same handle there as here.

  • A long while back, I got a bit annoyed and went into a D&D spellbook to show folks what the “magic” is like– I think it was some idiot “magik” or “magick” or whatever user claiming that D&D was accurate to reality-based magic.

    I looked into the augment spell “Bear’s Endurance” and the possibly inflammatory “Augury.”

    I also did a long-winded overview of alignments.

  • Being an exorcist does not in itself make one competent to speak on literature or even on the symbolism of evil in literature.

  • Phillip, imagine the library fine! I hope that I would have been honest enough to return the book, but volume I of Napier’s Peninsular War would have been very tempting to retain!

  • Flambeaux, I’ll drop by the Alehouse sometime. It sounds like fun.

  • Connie

    There’s a worse book for people to study. Here, I have a post all about it:

    As I point out at the beginning, “Wheelock’s Latin Grammar: just the mere mention of this book should send shivers down the spines of good Catholics everywhere. It’s a deceptive little book, trying to convince good, faithful Catholics into reading pagan literature which glorifies the evil pagan gods of Rome.

    Good Christians died so they didn’t have to praise Jupiter or Pluto. Such worship, they believed, would jeopardize their very souls. And what do we have here? A book which an unsuspecting Catholic might use to teach themselves Latin. It convinces its adherents to write out long, detailed praises to the those gods which we all know were in reality bloodthirsty demons. Christians, the martyrs died so we could abandon the ways of pagan Rome, so why do you go back and fall for this blatant piece of pagan propaganda? If you question the seriousness of this, just look at what kinds of books are put next to it: Virgil’s Aeneid, Cicero’s On the Nature of the Gods, or Apuleius’ Golden Ass. Can any good come from a book associated with such evil? Of course not!”

  • I’ve used the Wheelock book to study Latin. It doesn’t strike me as a form of idolatry to translate such texts, but rather the use of what we call classical Latin.

    I’m curious as to what text of quality Latin one would have us translate. The majority of Romans at the time happened to be pagan, therefore, it should show up in their work. I’m not sure that a ‘good Christian’ would be afraid to read the words of a pagan, if the ‘good Christian’ is educated enough in their faith to follow the errors of paganism.

  • Eric

    I suggest you read the post.

  • *big grin* Not quite analogous, but nice.

    It does bring up another point– almost everyone does “world mythology” by fourth grade. For that matter, Stargate: SG1 has a lot of “gods” and powers. (Heck, I even named one of my cats after the worst bad guy!)

    SG1 is also in a similar situation as Harry Potter– it’s a hidden project. Additionally, there’s a lot of rejection of authorty, generally without much of a result.

  • FF, while I’ve seen episodes of SG1 here and there, I just watched the first season in order on Hulu… it’s an enjoyable show (I’m waiting for additional seasons to be posted), but it definitely earns an occasional eyeroll for the various manifestations of the superficial materialism and faith in progress which informs its worldview.

  • Just wait until you get to the Ascended.

  • Darwin:
    “Yes, Tolkien’s work is deeply Christian, but not because he has direct correlaries for the Virgin Mary and the Eucharist in his story, but rather because Middle Earth works in the way the way that Catholics see the real world as working in certain key ways.”

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Oh, and I’ll cheerfully take up my husband’s epee (hey, those things can leave some welts!) and help man the barricades against anti-Potterian prejudice.

    Ditto what Darwin said above: Tolkein denied that his work was Christian allegory. I prefer to think of it as implicitly rather than explicitly Christian.

    Why am I not surprised to learn you’re an ex-RP gamer?

  • Anyone watch the trailer for HBP last night? I’ve been generally happy with the film adaptations, and this one looks to be of the same quality.

Hell and Back Again

Thursday, April 2, AD 2009

For those American Catholic readers who aren’t familiar with my previous online life, I’m on my third year of blogging through Dante’s Divine Comedy on my personal blog as a Lenten exercise. On the category page here you can find entries for the entirely of the Inferno and nearly all of Purgatorio, which I should be wrapping up by Easter.

Time and motivation permitting, I may start Paradiso during Easter season — or perhaps I’ll have to save that for next year. If you’re interested, feel free to stop by and read along in this timeless spiritual and literary classic during what remains of Lent.


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3 Responses to Hell and Back Again

  • Audie Murphy and Dante, now that is a movie I wish that Hollywood had made!

    Screenplay-To Hell and Back II-Scene 15

    “Dante, Vigil and Murphy are ambushed by a squad of SS Demons.
    Virgil: “Watch out Murph!”

    Murphy, using his spiritual tommy gun to blast the demons, : “Got ’em Virg, thanks!”

    Of the many translations of Dante I have sampled I prefer Laurence Binyon’s. Here is an Amazon list of other translations in English.

    Binyon, who served in World War I as an overage ambulance attendant on the Western Front was no mean poet himself:

    For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon

    With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
    England mourns for her dead across the sea.
    Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
    Fallen in the cause of the free.

    Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
    Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
    There is music in the midst of desolation
    And a glory that shines upon our tears.

    They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
    Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
    They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
    They fell with their faces to the foe.

    They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning
    We will remember them.

    They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
    They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
    They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
    They sleep beyond England’s foam.

    But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
    Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
    To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
    As the stars are known to the Night;

    As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
    Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
    As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
    To the end, to the end, they remain.

  • Thank you so much for the link! Its just what I have been looking for!

  • Your meditation has been very helpful, and it is excellent motivation to pursue a study myself.

    Thank you.

Top Ten Catholic Bestsellers for November 2008

Friday, November 21, AD 2008

One of the major resources that I used to educate myself on my Christian faith were reading books.  I am a book-hound.  I have a stack of books that I haven’t even begun to read yet that are all on Catholicism.  Whether if they are about saints, history, mysticism, philosophy, or our Holy Bible, I am just enamored with almost anything Catholic in book form.  Right now I’m reading several books (not all at the same time).  Render Unto Caesar by Archbishop Chaput, St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, and Father, Forgive Me, for I Am Frustrated by Fr. Pacwa just to name a few.

I am always hunting for books at my favorite Catholic bookstore here in Houston, Veritas, or Half Price Books.  Yes, I even browse the books at Barnes & Noble and Borders.  And if that’s not enough, I go online to  I have always enjoyed reading books and this love of reading helped me a lot in learning as much as I could about Christianity.  Having to hold a book in my hand and read it rather than going online to learn more about Catholicism, it is difficult to explain but it just can’t be beat. 

So in order to share my love of reading to you all, I’ve decided to post Amazon’s* Top Ten Bestsellers for Catholic books.  I find Amazon’s to be more concise than other providers.  Enjoy!:

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One Response to Top Ten Catholic Bestsellers for November 2008

  • Great resources. I’ll have to see if we can add some of these titles to our Book Club list. I’ve only read number 4 and 9 myself, though I did read Arroyo’s first biography of Mother Angelica. Jesus of Nazareth was great, but I was a little disappointed in Return of the Prodigal Son.

What Palin Reads

Tuesday, October 14, AD 2008

Some may recall that there was an episode of media hysteria a couple weeks ago over fears that the GOP vice presidential nominee couldn’t read — based upon Governor Palin’s failure (or refusal) in an interview with Katie Couric to name magazines and newspapers that had “formed her worldview”.

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8 Responses to What Palin Reads

  • I hope you’re right. But the elitist in me still wishes she was able to name some magazine or thinker or journal she reads to inform herself. It’s not essential, but wouldn’t it be nice?

    At the time I imagined she was told not to say anything for fear of incriminating herself. But who knows, maybe she doesn’t read much. With 5 kids, it’s certainly understandable.

  • Exactly what magazines or journals produced by pagan modernity are worth basing one’s world views on? The Christianity that imbues works by CS Lewis and the life of George Sheehan is sufficient (and the ONLY thing on which we ought to base our world views). The great St. Paul was an apostle for Christ first and foremost, and a Roman secondarily. Liberal elitism that demands a pagan substitute for Christian virtues must be defeated – and in the end, it will be defeated, for we know the conclusion of the story – Christ wins, not some politician, left or right.

  • Zach,

    My impression from her picks (and how she described them) is that she is probably not an extensive or deep reader. I’d guess that like several Christian executive types that I know, she reads books and articles about Christian living (I’d bet she’s read Purpose Driven Life) and about her hobbies. She probably doesn’t read any particular newspapers or magazines all the time, but reads a lot of individual articles that get pointed out or emailed to her.

  • Ross Douthat has been on fire lately in his comments about the necessity of elites and the directions of anti-intellectual, populist party politics.

  • On fire he’s been, though I only agree with about half of what he has to say.

    I do certainly think that a party needs intellectuals (and to listen to its intellectuals — though I think many of the pundits streaming towards the exits of the conservative building have in fact failed, and long failed, to provide a coherent intellectual case for conservatism) but I’m not at all clear that the vice presidential or even presidential candidate need be intellectuals themselves.

  • I’ve been impressed with how swifty she has improved as the campaign has gone on. Her stump speeches are some of the best I’ve heard since Reagan rode into the sunset. She probably isn’t well read, but I believe she has a quick and agile mind. At 44 she is going to be a power in Republican politics and the nation for a long time to come.

  • But Darwin, certainly there is a difference between being an intellectual and being able to answer simple interview questions coherently. Palin’s inability to answer questions like ‘what kind of periodicals do you read?’ or ‘why have you cited Alaska’s proximity to Russia….?’ or questions on the bailout or Supreme Court cases suggested an ignorance deeper than ‘not being an intellectual.’ George Bush is no intellectual and he could have easily handled those questions.

    Douthat is simply acknowledging that Palin came across as woefully unprepared in those interviews. She has other talents, and, with time, she may develop her own voice and a coherent political philosophy. Nevertheless, she’s similar to a very talented high school basketball player at this point. She could be Kobe Bryant or she could be Kwame Brown.

  • Actually — it’s not so much Douthat’s assessment of Palin that I disagree with (I get the impression he’s still basically rooting for her but feels she was pulled national four years too early, which may be true) but his assessment of the important of figures like David Brooks and George Will and Christopher Buckley in the wider conservative movement. While I agree with Douthat that the movement needs its intellectuals, I don’t think those are necessarily important ones for the movement (nor that their departure on this campaign or even permanently is a bad sign) because I don’t think they agree with the modern conservative movement on many key issues.