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Showing posts from October, 2012

Another new blog -- Sci Fi!

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At the top of this page, underneath the title banner you'll find a new tab called "My new sci-fi blog, Sancta Futura." Click it and you will be whisked to the new blog, which will chronicle my venture into the world of writing science fiction (from a Christian point of view) during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

They say if you want to build readership these days, you have find a marketing niche and, believe me, there is no smaller niche than Christian science fiction. I think the time has come! What do you think?

Flannery O'Connor and the Overwhelming Power of Grace

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I had a friend who used to say, "Sometimes God gives you a sign, sometimes BILLBOARDS!" Flannery O'Connor is famous for saying that her characters were so colorful (critics like to call them "grotesque") because you have to draw large pictures for the blind and shout at the deaf: "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." I'll admit that, fascinated as I was with her work when I first began to read it, I was often puzzled as to what was going on. I remember waking up in the dark hours of the night, years after first reading "A Good Man is Hard to Find," with a sudden understanding of what the Misfit meant when he said, "She would of been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

For anyone similarly puzzled, my advice is to read "Revelation," which probably makes clearer than any of her other stories just what Flannery is up to. (See my analysis of the climactic scene here.) If…

Sunday Snippets: Flannery O'Connor and Catholic Social Teaching.

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Wow, Sunday again already? I've been busy this week getting my new blog, the Catholic Reading Project, up and running. (Well, that and trying to find an assisted living place for my father.) So my contributions to this blog have been rather meager: a post on a reading method that will help you make sense of all different kinds of written works, and one on some books by and about Flannery O'Connor that I recommend. I've got plenty of posts in the development stage, though, and will publish them as soon as I get time. Meanwhile, if you are at all interested in Catholic Social Teaching (and, by golly, you should be!), take a look at the new blog and consider joining us!

And, oh yeah, by request, I've added a little more info to my online profile, in case you're interested. If you'd like to know what some other Catholic bloggers have been doing this week, don't forget to take a look at Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival.

My Friend, Mary Flannery

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IS IT WEIRD to be friends with someone who died years before you ever heard of them? Not if you believe in the Communion of the Saints, I guess. At any rate, since I first read any of her work, way back in my college days, I've thought of Flannery O'Connor as a friend I never got a chance to meet. There are some parallels in our lives (for instance, we both grew up in the South and attended the University of Iowa as graduate students -- where we even worshiped in the same parish, Saint Mary's.) Since then, I've come to know her better and I'm just sure that in Heaven we will be best buddies. I can imagine us laughing at each other's jokes (dry wit, our specialty) and completing each others' sentences -- you know, when we aren't discussing theology or doing imitations of our country cousins.

I don't suppose it really is too weird to look forward to great conversations after death, especially with those we never got a chance to meet in this life. Our …

Learn to read intelligently, even when you are out of your depth

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My experience teaching college taught me that most college students are poorly equipped to read on their own (most of them don't read at all, unless you hold a gun to their heads, as I've pointed out before), by which I mean that they don't know how to make sense of what scholars call "primary texts" (works as they are actually written, rather than works as they are digested and described by others -- such as textbooks). To help my students learn to read primary texts from any of a number of fields (e.g., I regularly taught philosophical and theological works in my Humanities classes), I developed a 4-step method for understanding, analyzing, and evaluating works of all sorts. From time to time, a student would tell me, in a tone of amazement, that this method had helped them read books and articles for their other classes. (They were amazed the method worked, I was amazed that they'd actually tried it and noticed that it worked.)

Now over on the Catholic Re…

Sunday Snippets: Year of Faith

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The new Year of Faith was definitely my theme this past week, with a couple of posts about my new online Catholic Reading Project, and a feature on the catechism study package from Logos Bible Software. I'm so busy lately that I have trouble reading as much as I would like, so I'm going to start posting book reviews based on Kindle samples -- most of my book selections these days start out with reading the downloadable Kindle sample of the book. I've found you can tell a lot from the sample -- probably more than from flipping through a physical book in a book store -- and since I'm doing lots of "sampling," I may as well let others get the benefit of my experience.

If you'd like to know what other Catholic bloggers are up to these days, don't forget to take a look at the Sunday Snippets round-up

UPDATE on Year of Faith Reading Project

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I have launched a new site for the Year of Faith Reading Project I mentioned in a recent post. Now if you click the tab at the top of this page, you will automatically be redirected to the new site (you will leave this blog and go there). I don't have any way to make the redirection open in a new window, but you can try right-clicking the link and selecting "open in new tab/window."

Please consider joining this "virtual reading group" by subscribing to (or "following") the new blog. The more people who join the better. See you there!


Logos Software offers great resource for studying the Catechism in the Year of Faith (and beyond!)

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The Year of Faith that officially began last week calls Catholics to reacquaint themselves with (or perhaps enter more deeply into) the Faith they profess, in order to live it more effectively and to present a more compelling witness to the love of Christ for the world. Reflecting on this, I realized that there will probably be lots of people using the Catechism to systematically review the Catholic faith. Sure, lots of Catholics own a copy of the Catechism and perhaps even pull it out from time to time as a reference to clarify the Church’s teaching on one point or another, but probably few have tried to read it cover-to-cover. Many parishes around the country have, in the last few years, used the Why Catholic? Program to re-catechize the adult faithful, a program which is based on the Catechism and follows its organization (i.e., fleshing out the tenets of the Nicene Creed). My experience with Why Catholic, however, was not very encouraging – there was too little of the Catechism a…

New Reading Project for the Year of Faith

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In his apostolic letter, Porta Fidei, announcing the new Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI said:
It often happens that Christians are more concerned for the social, cultural and political consequences of their commitment, continuing to think of the faith as a self-evident presupposition for life in society. In reality, not only can this presupposition no longer be taken for granted, but it is often openly denied. Whereas in the past it was possible to recognize a unitary cultural matrix, broadly accepted in its appeal to the content of the faith and the values inspired by it, today this no longer seems to be the case in large swathes of society, because of a profound crisis of faith that has affected many people. The Holy Father goes on to say that the Year of Faith is intended to help Catholics overcome this "profound crisis of faith," because
What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word o…

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

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Those of you who like reading Catholic blogs of whatever sort should take a look at Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival, on the blog This, That, and the Other Thing, by another Catholic book blogger, RAnn. There you'll find a round-up of the week's posts from a variety of Catholic bloggers. I've already found a new one I like, TV for Catholics.

This past week I posted On Film Adaptations of Beloved Works of Literature and announced that you can now subscribe to this blog on Kindle, but then I collapsed under a terrific head cold. Unfortunately, when I can't breathe, I can't think either, so that was all the writing I did for the week. I'm glad to be breathing pretty freely today and back in the saddle!

Review: Catholic Philosopher Chick Makes Her Début

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One of the things I want to do for the newly begun Year of Faith is write more reviews of books by Catholic authors. Today’s selection is a book that I’ve just read and really enjoyed, but I almost didn’t read it. Rebecca Bratten Weiss, co-author of Catholic Philosopher Chick Makes Her Début (double-billed with Regina Doman), was a classmate of mine in the Institute of Philosophic Studies at the University of Dallas, and when I saw on Facebook that she had a new novel published I immediately downloaded the Kindle sample from Amazon. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of looking at some of the featured reader comments on the Amazon web site, one of which was, “Highly recommend to anyone searching for an clever addition to the so called chick lit genre, or anyone who needs a quick brush up on philosophy!” It wasn’t the “brush up on philosophy” remark that put me off (actually, that was one of the features that interested me!), but the “clever addition to chick lit” crack. 

As far as I k…

New! Subscribe to this blog via Kindle

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If you hate reading things on computer screens (or dinky little smart phone displays), you might like to know that you can now subscribe to this blog, A Catholic Reader, via Kindle. If you have a Kindle, you can either click the hyperlink in the previous sentence to sign up on the Amazon web site, or select the "Shop the Kindle Store" menu option on your Kindle and then type in "a catholic reader" in the search bar. There is a small fee of 99 cents per month to have the blog delivered to your Kindle reader, but you can try it for 14 days at no charge. You'll get automatic updates each time a new article is posted. I have tried it, and find it much easier to read. The images download as well as the text, if you care about that sort of thing.

One nice thing about subscribing to blogs via Kindle is that if you press the center of your five-way button (on Kindles that have one), you get an article list with the title of each post (and image, if there is one), maki…

On Film Adaptations of Beloved Works of Literature

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Many fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's novels of Middle Earth are waiting anxiously for the premiere of Peter Jackson's new film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which will cover the first part of Tolkien's famous novel about Bilbo Baggins's taking off from his comfortable life in Hobbiton to travel with a band of dwarves bent on retrieving a bunch of treasure from a dragon. I use the term “anxiously” advisedly, as many Tolkien purists were not entirely happy with Jackson’s massive three-film adaptation of Tolkien’s even-more-massive novel, Lord of the Rings, and are worried that he'll similarly distort this story of a beloved Hobbit, as well. As a Tolkien admirer myself, I must admit that, while I have greatly enjoyed Jackson’s films about the One Ring and the humble hobbit tasked with destroying it (the extended editions, not the truncated versions that aired in cinemas), I was somewhat put out that the films distorted or obscured many of the themes found in the novel…

Found it on Kindle Blogs: Reading Clive Cussler

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UPDATE: Publishing blogs on Kindle is, alas, a thing of the past. But blogs themselves, of course, are still "a thing." That includes the blog, Reading Clive Cussler.
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This is a new feature I'm thinking about adding: reviews of blogs that you can subscribe to via Kindle. I've been subscribing to the daily Kindle feed of the National Catholic Register for almost as long as I've had my Kindle, but I hadn't really started sampling other blogs via Kindle until recently. Since I can try each one for free for 14 days, I thought I would sample some and, if I like them, cancel my Kindle subscription and just read the blogs online for free.

The first one I'll mention just called out to me because, as I've said before, I enjoy Clive Cussler's novels, even though they are formulaic (in fact, Cussler apparently just outlines the books, then has various "co-authors" write the actual novels). Anyway, the idea that someone wanted to annotate Cussl…

More Free Catholic Books, from CatholiCity.com

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These days, with the proliferation of ebooks, many of us are figuratively wading through heaps of free books. Twenty years ago, however, when the Mary Foundation and Saint Jude Media began giving away books, people thought they were crazy. Of course, Saint Jude Media was giving away actual, physical books, so there was considerable cost involved: typsetting, printing, binding, shipping and handling. Nonetheless, their books (also CDs) were available for free, although they did ask for a donation. I was heartened to see recently that they are still at it, on their CatholiCity web site.

CatholiCity.com is an apostolate dedicated to feeding the minds and edifying the souls of ordinary Catholics. On the website, there is a wealth of resources that serve this end: a number of talks on the Sacraments and the rosary, which can be ordered on CD, downloaded as podcasts, or listened to online; links to the latest Catholic news and commentary, prayers, devotions, the Baltimore Catechism, the ne…

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