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Fellowship of the Book: T. M. Doran's Toward the Gleam (Review)

Christmas is upon us, and Peter Jackson's new Hobbit movie has recently premiered, which reminds me of a great book I've been meaning to recommend. Anyone looking for a Christmas gift for fans of Tolkien's tales of Middle Earth should take a look at T. M. Doran's novel, Toward the Gleam (from Ignatius Press , available in hardback, ereader, and audio editions; get the Kindle version from Amazon .) It is both an homage to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and a gripping tale in its own right. The makers of the book's trailer definitely wanted to draw attention to the connection between Doran's novel and Tolkien's. The cover art design for the book should also remind readers of LOTR. Toward the Gleam 's cover was designed by John Herreid and executed by a wonderful Catholic artist, Daniel Mitsui . You can see that it incorporates some of the design elements from the well-known covers of the 1986 Houghton Mifflin edition (below), such as the r

Book Review: 21 Ways to Worship, by Vinny Flynn

21 Ways to Worship, Vinny Flynn, MercySong
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. Many people, however, don't know how to spend their time alone with the Lord, and others may find they have fallen into a "prayer rut." 21 Ways should be helpful to both groups, and really to anyone who wants to deepen their personal relationship with Christ.

precious blood of Christ
The first thing I noticed is that the book is very attractively designed. While this is not essential, it is helpful. So many devotional books are full of such dense, ugly type that it is a kind of mortification to read them. You can see from the cover image above, this is a book that does not want to look intimidating. Inside there is an attractive layout on cream colored paper (not stark white), with attractive typography and enough "white space" to make the book easy on the eye. But, lest the graphic treatment seem too zippy for more traditional tastes, each chapter is illustrated with traditional devotional black and white images taken from old missals and prayer books, similar to those you see here.

Christ cleansing the temple
The text also nicely balances being fresh and accessible while drawing from the wellsprings of traditional devotional practice, in such a way that even the most venerable devotional practices take on a new sheen. Flynn writes in a conversational style, and each chapter title is a friendly exhortation: "Evict the Tenants!" (dispel distractions), "For God's Sake, Shut Up!" (be silent and allow the Lord to speak), "Go to the Office!" (pray the Liturgy of the Hours),  twenty-one in all. Throughout, the author is encouraging you to try new things, none of which are really new at all but may be unfamiliar or untried. There is nothing "iffy" about the author's advice: all is tried-and-true, taken from long Catholic traditions of prayer and meditation, just re-packaged to make it appealing and fresh to contemporary readers.

This book has gotten kudos from people such as Jeff Cavins, Fr. Larry Richards, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, and others who will be familiar to most Catholic readers, and it deserves their praise. I think this book should get as warm a welcome from those experienced in meditative prayer as from those who feel that they should spend more time before the tabernacle but don't quite know what to do when they get there. I know I will be getting lots of inspiration from 21 Ways to Worship -- and I may even have to buy an extra copy for the narthex table.


  1. Great review of not just the content but also the appearance. I like the way you put it in the setting of Adoration. I hope to read it soon.

    1. Thanks, Nancy. I hope all the other freebies I picked up turn out to be as good as this book!


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Fellowship of the Book: T. M. Doran's Toward the Gleam (Review)