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BOOK AND MOVIE REVIEWS

THEM: WHY WE HATE EACH OTHER--AND HOW TO HEAL

Author: Ben Sasse

Sasse's subject is "the evaporation of social capital"--the satisfactions of work and community. This reflects a perverse phenomenon: What has come to count as connectedness is displacing the real thing. And matter might quickly become dramatically worse.

Loneliness in epidemic proportions is producing a loneliness literature of sociological and medical findings about the effect of loneliness on individuals' brains and bodies, and on communities. Sasse says there is a growing consensus that loneliness--not obesity, cancer or heart disease--is the nation's number one health crisis. Persistent loneliness reduces average longevity more than twice as much as does heavy drinking and more than three times as much as obesity, which often is a consequence of loneliness. Research demonstrates that loneliness is as physically dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and contributes to cognitive decline, including more rapid advance of Alzheimer's disease. Sasse says, "We're literally dying of despair," of the failure "to fill the hole millions of Americans feel in their lives."

Symptoms large and small are everywhere. Time was, Sasse notes, Americans "stocked their imaginations with the same things"; In the 1950s, frequently, 70% of television sets in use tuned in to: I Love Lucy." Today, when 93% of Americans have access to more than 500 channels, the most-watched cable news program, "Hannity," has about 1% of the U.S. population. In the last quarter of the 20th century, the average number of times Americans entertained at home declined almore 50%. Americans are hyperconnected but disconnected, with fewer non-virtual friends than at any point in decades. With the median American checking (according to a Pew survey) a smartphone every 4.3 minutes, and with nearly 40% of those 19 to 29 online almost every waking minute, we are addicted to distraction and parched genuine community.

Work, which Sasse calls arguably the most fundamental anchor of human identity, is at the beginning of a staggering level of cultural disruption swifter and more radical than even America's transformation from a rural and agricultural to an urban and industrial nation. At that time, one response to social disruption was alcoholism, which begat Prohibition. Today, one reason the average American life span has declined for three consecutive years is that many more are dying of drug overdoses.

The crumbling of America's social infrastructure presents a daunting challenge: We do not know how to develop what Sasse wants and calls new habits of mind and heart . . . new practices of neighborliness.

Sasse is a U.S. Senator and a fifth-generation Nebraskan who dedicates his book to the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs and other little platoons of Fremont, Nebraska.

THE BLACK WALL OF SILENCE

Author: Paul F. Morrissey, OSA

"The Black Wall of Silence" is the story of the tension between loyalty and honesty in the Catholic Church. This novel will take you on a journey with Father Zach, a gay Catholic chaplain at Riker's Island Jail in New York. You will read about how he is thrown into conflict with his bishop, who apparently is involved in a sexual abuse cover-up. Which will prevail, the loyalty demands of the bishop, or the honesty of the priest as he struggles to be true to his conscience in a Church that would hide his orientation and reward him for his silence?

College students, LGBT people, clergy, and people in the pews will be inspired to form their own consciences on sexuality and faith--to speak honestly in hopes of healing the church we love before it is too late.

Ideal to use in religious studies' courses and parish discussion groups.

Available at: http://www.Amazon.com

 

THE CHURCH AS WOMAN AND MOTHER: HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS

Author: Cristina Llego Gomez. Cristina has a doctorate in theology from Charles Sturt University, Australia. She is currently research fellow for Charles Sturt University's Public and Contextual Theology Research Centre.

This book demonstrates how we have inherited gendered images for the church that derive from particular contexts, and that the loss of these contexts makes the images devoid of the depth that they possessed originally. Ancient roman concepts such as "virginity," "marriage," and "motherhood," projected onto the church, actually pointed to positive concepts. Examples of these concepts are the cultivation of virtues, the affirmation of bodies and sex, and the call to active participation of the entire community. The concept of "virgin-motherhood" itself is a stumbling block for many Christian women today and yet for the early Christians, aware of the implications from ancient Rome, virginity as producing spiritual/moral fecundity made perfect sense. Overall then, this book contributes to the conversation about the role, suitability, and implications of gendered imaging and rhetoric used for and within the contemporary Catholic Church.

AVAILABLE AUGUST 18

$29.95 + tax
Paperback--240 pages

Paulist Press
1-800-218-1903
FAX: 1-800-836-3161

 

THE CLIMATE OF MONASTIC PRAYER

Author: Thomas Merton
Foreword by Sarah Coakley

This guide to monastic prayer, written in 1968 and thus turning out to be Thomas Merton's final testament to us, is now available in a new edition commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of his death.

While Merton wrote this for other monastics, all seekers drawn to explore the full dimensions of prayer will be enriched by his words, especially as they take on added meaning in today's dizzying world. The climate in which monastic prayer flowers is that of the desert, where human comfort is absent, where the secure routines of the "earthly city" offer no support, and where prayer must be sustained by God in the purity of faith.

Merton assures us that our feelings of self-doubt, exile, and what he calls "lostness" are at the heart of when and why to pray--to discover who we are.

Liturgical Press
2950 Saint John's Road, PO Box 7500
Collegeville, MN 56321-7500

800-858-5450

Hardcover with dust jacket, 168 pp., 5 X 7, $19.95


I AM THROUGH YOU SO I

Author: Brother David Steindl-Rast

UNPARALLELED--Unique biography of one of the most significant spiritual teachers and global guest speaker.

Hermit, Zen Christian, spiritual globetrotter: in time for his 90th birthday in July of 2016, "Brother David" tells his incomparably rich life story. Beginning with his childhood in Vienna, he describes his time in World War II and his years as a student after the war, his family's emigration to the U.S. and his entry into the then newly founded Benedictine monastery in the state of New York. There, he soon began looking for what were then still untrodden spiritual paths with undiscovered entryways to non-Christian religions.

He became particularly involved in the dialogue between Christianity and Buddhism, founding the "Center for Spiritual Studies" in 1968, together with Rabbis, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. His work encouraging dialogue between religions earned him the 1975 Martin Buber award.

Contemplation and periods of public life alternate with Brother David: he spends half the year living as recluse in the hermitage near his Benedictine monastery. Mysticism is his mission--but not a mysticism devoid of connection to the world. His is a mysticism of the everday, of life immediate in the now, of experiencing fully. He is convinced that God's spirit speaks in and to us all.

Paperback
232 pages
$19.95
Paulist Press
Phone: 1-800-218-1903

THIS FIGHT IS OUR FIGHT: THE BATTLE TO SAVE AMERICA'S MIDDLE CLASS

Author: Senator Elizabeth Warren

While the middle class has been shrinking for decades and income inequality continues to soar, hardworking Americans struggle everyday to make ends meet as they watch as Donald Trump and right-wing politicians in Washington slash our social safety net to hand out massive tax breaks to the country's richest.

As the poor and middle class are hammered by an unfair system, progressive champion Senator Elizabeth Warren offers hope and practical solutions to reverse the dwindling middle class in her New York Times bestseller, "This Fight is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America's Middle Class." Using personal stories as a framework--from her upbringing taking advantage of social programs that grew the once-thriving middle class to the critical battles she has waged in the Senate to protect and strengthen the middle class--Senator Warren takes to task the extreme conservative politicians who began dismantling the middle calss 30 years ago with so-called "trickle-down economics" and offers a plan of action to rebuild it in the age of Trump.

Written in her trademark practical, no-nonense style, this thought-provoking book is a powerful and important insight into Senator Warren's ideas to protect the economic security of everyday Americans, shrink the gap between the rich and poor and ensure progressives continue fighting no matter what in the face of a corrupt and incompetent administration.

Thank you to CREDO for this book review.

 

COOKING FOR CHRIST COOKBOOK

Catholic Rural Life's beloved cookbook, has been a cherished favorite by many over the years. First created by Florence Berger in 1946 this "kitchen prayer book" leads you through the liturgical seasons and applicable recipes surrounding special feast days, holidays and other traditions.

This new edition of the vintage cookbook preserves the original stories and recipes, but also includes new recipes, reflections, and Church traditions. Faithful to the liturgical year, this book celebrates food, family and faith.

Contact Annie@CatholicRuralLife.org for additional information.