Ecstasy and Intimacy

Feast of the Martyr Tatiana
Ecstasy and Intimacy: When the Holy Spirit Meets the Human Spirit by Edith M. Humphrey; foreword by Eugene Peterson

Ecstasy_and_Intimacy_Square.jpegDR. HUMPHREY, professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, is a theologian in love with God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In a few pages you’ll find references to St. Augustine, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. John Chrysostom, the Liturgy named for... Continue Reading

Friendship and the Moral Life

Feast of St Melania the Younger, Nun of Rome

Wadell__Frienship_and_Moral_Life_Square.jpgAN ELOQUENT argument for the centrality—not just importance—of friendship in human life, moral life, and Christian life. Wadell’s reading of the Nichomachean Ethics highlights friendship as the key to understanding Aristotle’s rich vision of eudaimonia, the good life; and his subsequent investigations in the Christian tradition lead him to expound friendship as a “school of love,” entirely consistent with agape,... Continue Reading

Spiritual Friendship

Feast of St Herman of Alaska
De_Speculo_Caritatis_Square.jpegSpiritual Friendship by Aelred of Reivaulx

BORN TO an influential clerical family in Northumbria, Aelred was educated in Latin and the Classics at the court of the King of Scots. The great influence of Cicero's On Friendship led Aelred, after his conversion to Christianity, to wonder what treasures on this subject might be in Holy Scripture and the writings of the Fathers. He... Continue Reading

Christian Friendship in the Fourth Century

Feast of St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan
Christian Friendship in the Fourth Century by Carolinne White

White__Xian_Friendship_in_4th_Cent.jpgDRAWING from her extensive research and translation of the early Church Fathers, Carolinne White has constructed an accessible, possibly seminal, study of friendship and its development in one of the most formative centuries of Christendom. This richly academic volume builds on the classical understanding of friendship and its subsequent synthesis within the body... Continue Reading

The Feasts of the Lord

Feast of Sts Philemon and Archippus of the 70
The Feasts of the Lord: An Introduction to the Twelve Feasts and Orthodox Liturgy by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos; translated by Esther Williams

Hierotheos__Feasts_of_the_Lord_Square.jpegBY SIMPLEST definition, a commentary on the twelve feasts of the Orthodox ecclesial year. But of course, we cannot leave it at that because it is Metropolitan Hierotheos’ Christological interpretation of these feasts (standing squarely on the shoulders... Continue Reading

The Meaning of Life

Feast of St Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist
The Meaning of Life by S. L. Frank; translated by Boris Jakim

Frank__Meaning_of_Life_Square.jpgTHE MASS of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” writes Thoreau in Walden, and the great Russian philosopher Frank pinpoints the cause: our fear that life is meaningless. “For a moment we can evade this question [of meaning], chase it away from ourselves, but the next moment it is... Continue Reading

Ascetical Works of St Basil the Great

Feast of St Lazarus the Wonderworker
Ascetical Works – Fathers of the Church Patristic Series, Vol. 9 by St. Basil the Great; trans. by Vasilii Blazhennyi and M. Monica Wagner

Basil_Square_6.jpgIF YOU have ever wondered why St. Basil is called ‘The Great,’ you need look no further than this collection of writings which, for their subsequent impact on Church and culture, rank among the most important documents of late... Continue Reading

To Change the World

Feast of St Nestor the Martyr of Thessaloniki
To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World by James Davison Hunter

Hunter_To_Change_the_World_Square.jpgHUNTER brings keen sociological insight to bear in these haunting reflections on the Christian impulse to change, transform, or redeem our troubled world. Such efforts are doomed to fail, Hunter argues, because American Christians often confuse culture with values, seek change... Continue Reading

Planet Narnia

Feast of the Holy Hieromartyr Cyprian and the Virgin Martyr Justina
Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis by Michael Ward

Planet_Narnia_Square.jpgTHOUGH CRITICS have tried to link the Chronicles to the seven virtues, the seven sacraments, the seven deadly sins, and even the seven books of Spencer’s Faerie Queene, none have publicly considered that Lewis might have built the Narniad upon what John Donne... Continue Reading

Christ in His Saints

Feast of St Eustathius the Great Martyr, His Wife and Two Children
Christ in His Saints by Patrick Henry Reardon

Christ_in_His_Saints_Square.jpegCHRIST IN His Saints is the beautiful exposition of nearly 150 saints from both the Old and New Testaments. As a speaker, pastor, and author, Fr. Reardon’s reflections are timely and insightful; there is more here than mere accounts of the lives of our holy ancestors in Christ. His narrative... Continue Reading

Anglican Difficulties

Feast of Hieromartyr Cornatus, Bishop of Iconium
Anglican Difficulties by John Henry Newman; introduction by Stanley L. Jaki

Newman__Anglican_Difficulties_Square.jpegIN 1850, John Henry Newman delivered a series of “Twelve Lectures on Difficulties Felt by Anglicans in Submitting to the Catholic Church,” which address his concern that Anglicanism, self-satisfied, was abandoning its “image as a via media between Protestantism and Romanism.” Newman said of these lectures in his characteristically sardonic tone,... Continue Reading

The Idea of a University

Feast of the Holy Martyr Calodote
The Idea of a University by John Henry Newman; edited by Frank M. Turner; contributors: Martha McMackin Garland, Sara Castro-Klarén, George P. Landow, George M. Marsden, Frank M. Turner

Idea_of_University_Square.jpegAS PART of a series from Yale University Press called “Rethinking the Western Tradition,” this is an excellent edition of Newman’s most influential work, first published in 1852. Helpful aids, such as an analytical... Continue Reading

The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints

Feast of the Ecclesiastical New Year and St Symeon the Stylite
The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints by Jacobus de Voragine; translated by William Granger Ryan; introduction by Eamon Duffy

Golden_Legend_Square.jpgTHE FIRST complete English rendering of the most widely read medieval collection of saints’ lives, originally compiled in about 1260, and without peer until replaced by Butler’s Lives of the Saints four hundred years later. The 182 readings... Continue Reading

St John Damascene: Tradition and Originality in Byzantine Theology

Feast of St Irenaeus of Lyons
St. John Damascene: Tradition and Originality in Byzantine Theology by Andrew Louth

Damascene_by_Louth_square.jpgWHEN A theologian sings, a special order of attention is due: his teaching has been transmuted into praise. St. John of Damascus (+ ca. 750), whose writings are often (if erroneously) marked as the close of the Patristic Age, gave us not only some of the greatest dogmatic treatises of all... Continue Reading

On the Dormition of Mary: Early Patristic Homilies

Feast of the Dormition of the Holy Theotokos
On the Dormition of Mary: Early Patristic Homilies, Introduction and translation by Brian E. Daley, S.J.

Daley__Dormition_Homilies_Square.jpgTHIS COLLECTION of patristic homilies on Mary’s dormition, or “falling asleep” in the Lord, offer a rich look at Mary’s central importance in Christian faith and spirituality. Through the words of Bishop John of Thessalonica, St. John of Damascus, St. Andrew of Crete, and St.... Continue Reading

The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future

Feast of the Holy Apostle Matthias
The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30) by Mark Bauerlein

Bauerlein_Dumbest_Generation_Square.jpegTHE AUTHOR, Emory University English professor and former director of research and analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts, is not saying that “the Millennials”—those youth who’ve grown up in the Digital Age—are less intelligent than their predecessors. He... Continue Reading

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

Feast of St Salome the Holy Myrrhbearer
The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr

Carr__The_Shallows_Square.jpgTAKE SERIOUSLY the subtitle of this book: Carr’s fascination with recent brain research threads continuously through all the excursions and speculations he offers. The key to many of Carr’s convictions is the increasingly important role of neuroplasticity in scientific descriptions of brain structure (go ahead and toss off the... Continue Reading

The Case for Books: Past, Present and Future

Feast of St Joseph the Righteous of Arimathea
The Case for Books: Past, Present and Future by Robert Darnton

Darnton__Case_for_Books_Square.jpgNEITHER A Luddite lamenting the digital age, nor an unabashed futurist trumpeting paper and ink’s demise, Robert Darnton (former journalist, eighteenth-century historian, and director of Harvard University Library) offers a perspective as modern as his electronic publishing project, Gutenberg-e, and as timeless as that of Italian classicist Niccolo Perotti, who... Continue Reading

Sanctifying the World: The Augustinian Life and Mind of Christopher Dawson

Feast of the Glorious Prophet Elijah
Sanctifying the Mind: The Augustinian Life and Mind of Christopher Dawson by Bradley Birzer

Sanctifying_the_Mind.jpgTHIS SCHOLAR of culture and history was one of the most counter-cultural of all intellectuals,” writes Bradley Birzer in his sympathetic biography of Christopher Dawson. “As the world rejected God, Dawson embraced God. As the world rejected myth, Dawson embraced myth. As the world rejected . . . prophets,... Continue Reading

The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, 200-1000 AD

Feast of Nicodemus the Righteous of Mount Athos
The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, 200-1000 AD by Peter Brown; 3rd edition

Brown_Christendom_Square.jpegPETER BROWN tackles an enormous topic in a short space in this tenth anniversary, revised edition of the 1997 original. In an important new 47-page preface, Brown sums up recent arguments in the field of Late Antiquity and points the reader to a “short selection” of... Continue Reading