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Showing posts from September, 2012

Apocalypse and Alternate History: the novels of Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson

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Now that so many people are reading books on electronic devices, more and more books are being made available in digital format. Since I became a Kindle owner a couple of years ago, I have really enjoyed dipping into the many old, out-of-copyright books that available to be downloaded at no cost. Project Gutenberg, which claims to be "the first producer of free electronic books (ebooks)," has for some years provided digitized versions of books in many formats, including those used on the Kindle and the Nook and other devices. Even more convenient for Kindle owners like myself is the fact that every time Project Gutenberg releases a "new" old (public domain) book, Amazon immediately publishes it for the Kindle at no cost. This provides an extra convenience for Kindle owners, since we can have it downloaded to our device automatically (cutting out a step, compared to acquiring it directly from Project Gutenberg) and we can keep the title in our library "cloud&q…

Celebrate the Year of Faith with Free Catholic Books!

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Some kind soul has created a web site for free Catholic devotionals and spiritual reading, available for download in PDF format. When you take a look, just keep scrolling down the page -- there are LOTS of books, including some of the Fathers of the Church.

Books= good! Free=Good!! Catholic=GOOD! Free Catholic Books = what more could you ask? In the Year of Faith, plan to do some reading that will help you grow to an even deeper appreciation of your Catholic faith. These free books will help you do that.

By the way, you will also find free holy images (scanned prayer cards) that you can download in zipped folders.

Book Review: 21 Ways to Worship, by Vinny Flynn

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I thought I would start reviewing the books I picked up recently at the Catholic Marketing Network's trade show. I'm starting with Vinny Flynn's 21 Ways to Worship: a Guide to Eucharistic Adoration (published jointly by MercySong and Ignatius Press), because I began to use it almost as soon as I got it. After the New Media conference ended on Friday, I headed over to my parish church (which fortuitously is just a couple of miles from the conference site) to spend some time in Adoration, and I took Flynn's book with me.

Now, at our church (and maybe at yours, too), on days when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for Adoration, a collection of Holy Hour books is made available in the narthex so that people can have some devotional material to use during their time before the Blessed Sacrament. I don't know how many people avail themselves of this resource, but probably most of those who adore regularly have gotten tired of just reading the same devotions over and over…

The Narnia Code: Hidden inklings of the God-breathed cosmos

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A couple of years ago, I wrote a couple of posts on Michael Ward's theory of the unifying principle  that guided C. S. Lewis in writing the Narnia tales, and Ward's book, Planet Narnia, in which he provides a detailed analysis of the Narnia novels. The book was based on his doctoral dissertation and was, I suppose, fairly scholarly in tone. Apparently Ward and/or his publisher felt that Planet Narnia would be heavy reading for a lot of Narnia fans, so now there is a new book which (as far as I can tell from the preview available on Amazon) is essentially Planet Narnia reworked for the popular market.

The new book is The Narnia Code: C. S. Lewis and the Secret of the Seven Heavens. Here's a portion of the publisher's blurb:
In The Narnia Code, Michael Ward presents an astonishing literary discovery. Drawing on the whole range of Lewis’s writings, Ward reveals the single subject that provides the link between all seven novels. He explains how Lewis structured the ser…

Toxic TV: From Vast Wasteland to Vast Cesspool

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Here's the link to the blog post I tried to link to in my reply to Terry's comment on "Moral Imagination: Beauty, Truth, and Goodness" -- Catholic in Brooklyn: TV: From Vast Wasteland to Vast Cesspool. Thanks for writing this post, Catholic in Brooklyn! You've saved me a rant of my own.

For the record, I quit watching "television" three years ago; I now watch selected television shows available in streaming video via the internet, because I can choose only shows that I actually want to see (and see them whenever I like), I don't have commercial interruptions, and I can watch shows that haven't been on broadcast or cable TV for years. Plus, I get to watch some foreign shows that don't make it to American TV.

Moral Imagination: Beauty, Truth, and Goodness

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Recently I wrote about literature as being capable of conveying, and even discovering, truth, which can be called “poetic knowledge.” Both Aristotle and St Thomas Aquinas upheld a similar view, Aristotle by demonstrating that poetry is “more philosophical” (i.e., more capable of demonstrating truth) than history, and St Thomas acknowledging poetry as a kind of “science” (scientia) or knowledge, albeit a lower form of knowledge than philosophy because it relies more on imagination than intellect. Today I’d like to consider the value of beauty, an abstract value, but one that we often associate with poetry, as well as music and the fine arts.
Beauty lifts us up My thoughts are prompted by this interesting feature article from the National Catholic Register, “True Beauty Satisfies the Human Heart,” an interview by Trent Beattie of psychologist Margaret Laracy, who identifies beauty as a kind of knowledge. Laracy has made a study of the healing effects of beauty on those suffering from …

Catholic Writers and the New Media

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A few weeks back, I took part in the wonderful synergy created by three concurrent events, the Catholic Writers Conference, the Catholic New Media Conference, and the annual trade expo of the Catholic Marketing Network. I was able to attend all of the talks of the writers’ conference, as well as the third day of the New Media conference, which focused on blogging, and also had several opportunities to stroll through the marketing trade show, meet the vendors (who had an astonishing variety of products), and pick up a huge assortment of freebies (mostly books – how could I pass up free books?!?).

I met lots of wonderful people, and got plenty of ideas – too many, really, and it has taken me a couple of weeks to recover! There was a palpable feeling that we've arrived at a new moment in which the Catholic faith can be communicated to the world in a fresh, new way, thanks to modern technology and the new media.

One of the results of this great experience is that I decided to revive…

Poetic Knowledge, the lost "science"

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I was delighted to run across this article on the Crisis Magazine web site. The article is a review by Kirk Kramer (originally published in 1999) of a book by James Taylor called Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery of Education. Actually, I was amazed to find anything whatsoever in print (even the “virtual” print of an internet magazine) referring to poetic knowledge, because I thought that the deconstructionists, not to mention relativism's current reign of terror in contemporary society, had put paid to any notion that “poetry” (i.e., “literature”) can shed any light on truth, which is what is meant by the term “poetic knowledge.” But, of course, Crisis (and undoubtedly many of its readers) is part of the Catholic counter-culture, who continue to teach and believe that there is such a thing as truth, that it can be known, and that it can make you free.

Taylor, it should be noted, takes his term “poetic knowledge” from Thomas Aquinas's own term poetica scientia, one of four sci…

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