Reviews

Yes, Hallmark Christmas movies are cheesy. Here’s why we still love them.
Yes, Hallmark Christmas movies are cheesy. Here’s why we still love them. osegura Fri, 12/14/2018 - 14:26 Advertisement
Child poverty takes the lead role in ‘Capernaum’
Child poverty takes the lead role in ‘Capernaum’ Tim Reidy Thu, 12/13/2018 - 16:25 Advertisement
SCR032: The Secrets of Bohemian Rhapsody
Bohemian Rhapsody, the movie about 70s supergroup Queen, unexpectedly became one of the biggest movies of 2018. Angela Sealana, Joanne Mercier, and Steve Nelson discuss the film from the perspectives of Queen fans and music lovers and dig into the hidden layers and deeper meanings found within. The post SCR032: The Secrets of Bohemian Rhapsody appeared first on SQPN.com.
Books on the Bible 2018: Fresh perspectives on sacred texts
Books on the Bible 2018: Fresh perspectives on sacred texts This year’s selection of noteworthy books on the Bible reflects current approaches to biblical writings, such as a focus on the history of their reception as well as new emphasis on theological and ecological readings of the texts. The selection also includes books that deal with some pressing questions asked about biblical writings, such as reconciliation of the biblical discourses with experimental sciences and what the Bible has to say about wealth and poverty. Advertisement The originality of its design, its wealth of information, its breadth and its accessible language make Scripture and Its Interpretation: A Global, Ecumenical Introduction to the Bible (Baker Academic, 2017), edited by Michael J. Gorman, stand apart among the large number of general introductions to the Bible available to readers. The volume is designed as a textbook, with each of 24 chapters written by a different contributor. Each chapter ends with a short annotated bibliography and a list of questions meant to facilitate discussion. The first part of the book deals with the Bible itself. It describes its character as a book and as a library, its geographical and historical contexts. It also surveys both testaments, explains the formation of the canon and the history of the translation of the Bible and even briefly describes some significant ancient books or collections of books associated with the Bible that are not part of the canon—for example, the Book of Enoch, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gospel of Thomas. While much of that information can be found in other general introductions to the Bible, the second and third parts give this volume its originality. The second part explains the reception and the interpretation of the Bible in various traditions: Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Pentecostal traditions, and African, African-American, Latinx and Asian/Asian-American interpretations. Gorman acknowledges lumping together various currents of interpretation in the case of Africa and Asia, but he is to be commended for including these traditions in a one-volume introduction to the Bible. The third part expounds on the relation between Scripture and spirituality, Christian ethics, Christian community and Christian mission. The volume ends with a substantial glossary. After the broad scope of Gorman’s volume, the next offering focuses on one text, the Book of Samuel, and a political reading of it. Many students of Hebrew texts will remember days and nights devoted to sections of 1-2 Samuel. Not only is the Hebrew style excellent for such learning, but the narrative quality is so elevated that the struggle to read and translate the text is amply rewarded by the many levels of meaning in the text. No wonder there are so many monographs written on Samuel. A recent title demonstrates the depths of interpretive riches for English-only readers of this book: The Beginning of Politics: Power in the Biblical Book of Samuel (Princeton University Press, 2017), by Moshe Halbertal and Stephen Holmes. Both authors are professors at New York University (not in Hebrew Bible but rather in the School of Law). They boldly profess that the Book of Samuel is “a book about politics...with copious insights into the nature of political power in general.” Their approach differs radically from many biblicists’ studies (whether the text is pro-David, anti-Saul, from different eras or ‘schools’ in Israel), in that they propose successive portraits of the workings of power in human relations and trace them in stories of Saul and David, of Jonathan and Joab, of the intervention of Abigail, of Uriah’s murder and the rape of Tamar, the death of Amnon and the rebellion of Absalom. At times their unraveling of a well-known story (e.g. the rape of Tamar) is absolutely riveting, and convincing because they have consulted and incorporated the results of so many biblical studies of this text. The authors begin by describing the dramatic theological shift encompassed in the Book of Samuel, from an older view of monarchy as part of the cosmic mythical order common in the Ancient Near East, where kingship was deified, to a new order and theology where “God is king” and kingship was “an institution…voluntarily embraced for strategic reasons in historical time.” Within this human institution, the play of power and pathos make for a story that is decidedly political and clearly theological at the same time. The next offering takes readers to the Wisdom corpus of the Old Testament. Many educated Catholics express dismay with the Old Testament because the subject matter seems too foreign to them or the historical texts are too confusing. But many also find the militarism and the praise of a divine warrior God who saved the Hebrew refugees from Egypt disgusting. Few have any awareness of the Wisdom books or what they might signify. John McLaughlin’s new book, An Introduction to Israel’s Wisdom Traditions (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2018), could prove quite helpful. Some people may find surprising and useful the literature described as “Wisdom” oriented, much of which contains little or no historical reference to God’s “mighty acts” for the people of Israel. These books—Proverbs, Job, Qoheleth, Ben Sira and the Wisdom of Solomon—form the core of the Wisdom tradition. Here the questions of everyday life, including family, marketplace and human relationships, take center stage; many readers will be surprised to learn how divine presence and activity is discerned in these texts. The Wisdom corpus of the Old Testament—Proverbs, Job, Qoheleth, Ben Sira and the Wisdom of Solomon—form the core of the Wisdom tradition. Here the questions of everyday life, including family, marketplace and human relationships, take center stage. McLaughlin discusses this literature with a clarity that does not sacrifice the complexity of the issues. He introduces the Wisdom influences for the Ancient Near Eastern cultures, and demonstrates their importance in the literature of the Dead Sea Scrolls and some early Jewish literature and the New Testament. This text will serve as a valuable reference to return to frequently. The next book experiments with feminist-inspired readings of texts of the Apocrypha and other Early Jewish texts. Early Jewish Writings (The Bible and Women: An Encyclopedia of Exegesis and Cultural History; Volume 3.1, SBL Press, 2017), edited by Eileen Schuller and Marie-Theres Wacker, features essays on books considered as Apocrypha (LXX Esther, Judith, Letter of Jeremiah) and some classified as Pseudepigrapha (Joseph and Aseneth, the Life of Adam and Eve, 1 Enoch). In addition, there are essays that plumb the texts of Philo and Josephus. It concludes with an essay that surveys the Dead Sea Scrolls in terms of gender and sectarian identity: “The World of Qumran and the Sectarian Dead Sea Scrolls in Gendered Perspective,” by Maxine Grossman. This essay was the high point, because it looks at such a wide range of Qumran texts and through a special perspective. At first glance Mothers of Faith: Motherhood in the Christian Tradition (Orbis Books, 2017), by Wilfred M. Sumani, appears to be a book about biblical characterization of mothers. Closer contact reveals a book of meditations and theological reflections on mothers encountered in the Bible (Old and New Testament) and in early Christian tradition. Finally, Part IV, “Motherhood as Theological Analogy,” features God as “Mother of Compassion,” Jesus as the “The Gathering Mother,” the Holy Spirit as “Mother of Newness” and Earth as the “Nurturing Mother.” Sumani describes this section as a mirror of important qualities of God, which also constitutes a presentation of the sacramental character of motherhood. The “biblical mothers” (Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Rebekah, Leah and Rachel, Hannah, the Widow of Zarephath, the Mother of the Maccabean Brothers; Elisabeth, the Widow of Nain, Zebedee’s Wife, the Syro-Phoenician Woman and Mary the “Mother of Meditation”) also receive treatment. Each chapter offers a literary presentation of the narrative about each mother. Sumani searches for a dominant motif and interprets the mother with generous use of patristic materials (especially John Chrysostom) and focused insights from African culture and customs. These last illustrations often form the most powerful witness to the mother in question. The tone and the elements of his presentation make this book on “Mothers of Faith” a delight to read and especially to ponder in a meditative fashion. Our next book focuses on figurative language in the Bible. As the Gospel according to Mark has it, Jesus did not speak to the crowds without a parable (Mk 4:34b). Yet this mode of speech can be opaque for the audience, which “hears but does not understand” (Mk 4:12). It is therefore not surprising that these short stories—sometimes one-liners—have piqued the imagination of Christians from all places and all generations. David Gowler’s book, The Parables After Jesus: Their Imaginative Receptions Across Two Millennia (Baker Academic, 2017), explores the diversity of reactions to the parables from the second to the 21st century. Not only do the reactions compiled in the volume include those of early, medieval and modern church writers (Augustine, Macrina the Younger, Hildegard von Bingen, Thomas Aquinas, Calvin and Luther) and biblical scholars (Adolf Jülicher, David Flusser) but also those of artists in the areas of visual arts (Byzantine iconography, Rembrandt, William Blake), music (“Godspell,” blues music) and literature (Shakespeare, Frederick Douglass, Flannery O’Connor). In all, one finds 50 modes of reaction to the parables. The condemnation of greed is an integral part of the Gospel: Nineteen passages of the New Testament speak about greed. By comparison, only three passages of the N.T. speak about homosexuality, an issue that draws disproportionate attention in some Catholic circles. In each case, Gowler considers how the author, artist or tradition enters into dialogue with the parable, whether it shows an attempt to control or restrain the meanings of the parables, whether it tries to solve the enigmas and challenges posed in the parables, and what kind of response it gives to the parables. Gowler is also attentive to the context of these various interpreters. After the publication of “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis was criticized for entering onto the turf of economy by some who consider the pope’s jurisdiction limited to the proclamation of the Gospel, a gospel assumed to be silent about the uses and misuses of wealth. As Raymond Collins remarks in Wealth, Wages, and the Wealthy: New Testament Insights for Preachers and Teachers (Liturgical Press, 2017), the problem is that the condemnation of greed is an integral part of the Gospel: Nineteen passages of the New Testament speak about greed. By comparison, only three passages of the N.T. speak about homosexuality, an issue that draws disproportionate attention in some Catholic circles. Collins highlights how each book of the New Testament has something to say about wealth. Each chapter walks the reader through one section of the New Testament and explains pertinent passages. Collins’s study shows how knowledgeable he is about the texts themselves and how well read he is in contemporary biblical scholarship. Each chapter ends with a short discussion of the contemporary relevance of his analysis of these passages of the New Testament, including a final chapter on the uses and misuses of wealth. This is a timely book that has numerous prophetic accents. Our next book follows on the same topic but focuses on one large section of the New Testament: Luke’s Gospel and Acts of the Apostles, both of which are replete with statements that can make a strong impression upon any committed Christian looking for some guidelines for one’s right attitude toward wealth and poverty. How should one assess the various trends of the Luke-Acts discourse about money and wealth? What in this discourse is relevant and applicable in the 21st-century global context of the academy? After reading Renouncing Everything: Money and Discipleship in Luke (Paulist, 2016), by Christopher M. Hays, one will likely not have a definitive answer to all these questions, as Thomas J. Massaro, S.J., notes in his foreword to the book, but one will understand better the nuances of Luke-Acts discourse on wealth and money. In addition, one will gain some sense of how this discourse fits within the pursuit of the kingdom of God in one’s daily life. Based on Hays’s doctoral dissertation, this slim and very readable volume explains the various ways one can understand and apply this discourse, depending of one’s situation—as long as it is motivated by Jesus’ double love command in Luke: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lk 10:27, conflating Dt 6:5 and Lv 19:18). The New Testament scholar Dale B. Martin has ventured away from his usual turf in Biblical Truths: The Meaning of Scripture in the Twenty-First Century (Yale University Press, 2017). This insightful work contains Martin’s experiments in theological interpretation of Scripture that are mostly not derived from the use of historical methods and historical criticism. Rather, Martin self-consciously adopts a premodern approach, that is, an approach that does not distinguish between theological and biblical scholarship. He aims at offering a nonfoundationalist, postmodern, Marxist, orthodox, ecumenical and provisional interpretation of the New Testament that, albeit being influenced by Protestantism (especially Anglicanism), will be recognized as orthodox by Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. The volume takes the reader through various aspects of the Christian faith—namely, knowledge, Scripture, God, Christ, Spirit, human and church. It is well informed by the author’s broad knowledge of the historical and cultural context in which the writings of the New Testament came into existence—even if this kind of information is subservient to the theological impetus of the book. How would St. Paul describe himself if he were to have his own LinkedIn page? Now we turn to a very specific biblical personage: St. Paul. How would Paul describe himself if he were to have his own LinkedIn page? One can guess that he would use the terms apostle, missionary and theologian that have come to be associated with him in Christianity. To these terms, he would also add the label “pastor,” because all his letters are meant to nurture the life of Christian communities and/or to attend to the needs of specific individuals (e.g., Onesimus and Philemon). Yet, as Andrew Lincoln remarked in 1989, while there is an abundance of books on Paul and his letters, they generally overlook his role as a pastor. Paul as a Pastor (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018), a collection of essays edited by Brian S. Rosner, Andrew S. Malone and Trevor J. Burke, intends to fill this lacuna by studying Paul the pastor from exegetical, theological and historical angles. One essay focuses on the portrayal of Paul as a pastor in the Acts of the Apostles; another on Paul as a working pastor (tentmaker) while three other essays discuss the perspective of Paul as a pastor in the Church of England, in the works of Augustine of Hippo and in the work of George Whitefield (1714-70), one of the founders of Methodism. The essays that focus on the letters highlight their rich relational language as an important feature of Paul’s representation as a pastor. Still, beyond a few passages, Catholics tend not to be very familiar with Paul’s letters. Thomas D. Stegman, S.J., explains this lack of familiarity by the way the readings from Paul’s letters are integrated into the liturgy: that is, without offering intentional points of contact with the other readings and by the difficulty of these letters in comparison with the stories of the Gospels. Stegman’s book Written for Our Instruction: Theological and Spiritual Riches in Romans (Paulist Press, 2017) attempts to alleviate this lack of familiarity concerning one of the most daunting among Paul’s letters—a letter that nevertheless has much to offer to contemporary believers and that also resonates in the teachings of Pope Francis. Each chapter of the book deals with a different aspect of Romans by seeing what it has to say about God, Jesus, the Spirit, salvation and church. Each chapter also ends with 10 questions for prayer and reflection. As Stegman confesses, this book is no substitute for reading the letter to the Romans, but it offers a helpful guide for this endeavor. Christians often have difficulty reconciling the Genesis creation account of humanity with scientific discoveries about the origins of the human species. Accordingly, it is not uncommon for these Christians to feel that they must choose between two camps: either the Genesis story or evolutionary biology. Some avoid this decision by compartmentalizing these two beliefs. Dennis R. Venema and Scot McKnight’s book Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (Brazos Press, 2017) puts these two perspectives into dialogue. The originality of this endeavor partially resides with the disciplines of the two authors. Venema is a professor of biology at Trinity Western University (British Columbia) and specializes in genetics. McKnight is a professor of biblical studies at Northern Seminary (Illinois). Both authors are evangelical Christians, but the questions they address are widespread across most Christian denominations. Venema wrote the first four chapters of the book, a crash course on contemporary genetics and its contribution to the understanding of the origins of the human species. Venema patiently explains major concepts in contemporary genetics using numerous analogies. McKnight wrote the remaining four chapters. He contends that once read with awareness of the initial context in which the stories found in Genesis came into existence as well as the various contexts in which Genesis has been interpreted, these stories provide fresh ways of interacting with science today. For instance, McKnight counterintuitively (and by contrast to the subtitle of the book) upholds the primacy of Scripture but considers that Scripture should always be read as the point of departure toward other books—the study of nature being one of these other texts. In many ways we live in an apocalyptic world: Burning forests, flooded territories, contaminated lands and waters surround us; the gap between rich and poor has become a chasm; and truth is not truth anymore. Many scientists have written books on the relation between the Bible and evolution, but Lester Grabbe’s book, Faith & Fossils: The Bible and Creation & Evolution (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2018), might be the first book by a biblical specialist to address the topic at such length. In the first section he describes his own journey from Bible Belt conservatism to a deeper knowledge of ancient civilizations and reading the Bible in its original languages. As a noted biblical scholar who no longer identifies as an evangelical Christian, he still considers their questions to be very important. In the first part he provides lucid interpretation of three key texts in the discussion: the creation account in Genesis 1; the account of the Flood in Genesis 6-9; and the notion of “after its/their kind” in Genesis 1. While some evangelicals try to accommodate notions of science with these texts, he demonstrates the artfulness and poetry of the biblical texts and the great distinction from scientific description. He bypasses the technical language of literary sources of many biblical scholars. In Part Two he discusses the conversation between science and religion, between the Bible and evolution, addressing the claims of Richard Dawkins in the discourse of biologists, paleontologists and geologists on this topic. Readers will appreciate the vast survey of contemporary voices in this debate, though they might regret the seeming lack of Catholic voices other than Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. For those of us primarily interested in the Bible, Grabbe offers an excellent chapter on “How We Got the Bible” and how that process affects our understanding of these realities. The Book of Revelation provides hope for its initial audience by describing how God will renovate and renew creation rather than discarding it. Let us move to the other end of the Bible. In many ways we live in an apocalyptic world: Burning forests, flooded territories, contaminated lands and waters surround us; the gap between rich and poor has become a chasm; and truth is not truth anymore. This can make us feel hopeless and guilty about leaving our children such a dire place as an inheritance. In that context the title of Micah D. Kiel’s book, Apocalyptic Eschatology: The Book of Revelation, the Earth, and the Future (Liturgical Press, 2017), sounds like the ultimate oxymoron. Taking a counterintuitive approach, Kiel argues that the book of Revelation elaborates a completely new reality, which is what we need to survive our contemporary ecological crisis and to regain hope for our future. [Sign up to receive the Catholic Book Club newsletter, featuring book reviews, poetry and literary material from our archives.] The author confesses that writing this book has changed him and hopes that readers will experience the same type of change once they understand Revelation better in light of modern ecology. Kiel’s work combines a rigorous study of Revelation and a creative dialogue between its response to the ecological situation in which it came into existence and what could be our response to the contemporary ecological crisis. All this written in a lively and accessible prose. To help appreciate Revelation, Kiel first examines 1 Enoch, one of Revelation’s ancestors that already gives the earth a voice in a context of Hellenistic wars. Kiel next explains the lasting impact of the Roman empire: deforestation to build military fleets and war machines, water pollution through mining and large-scale extermination of wild animals in circus games. The scenes of destruction described in Revelation are therefore not predictions of future events. They rather describe the actual situation of its first audience. Revelation provides hope for its initial audience by describing how God will renovate and renew creation rather than discarding it. Medieval interpreters who illuminated manuscripts expressed this hope for renewal by paying far more attention to the representation of the natural world than to scenes of destruction. In Kiel’s words, they understood how the book “calls us to contemplate the world around us to come to grips with the way all things are connected. God, humans, and creation are all entangled together.” keane Fri, 11/30/2018 - 14:43 Show Comments ( ) Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more. Advertisement
Orphan bonds with alcoholic in tragicomic mish-mash
The
 Belly
 of
 the Whale
 (15A)   He dresses like a homeless person. He grunts as if he’s just climbed a mountain. His face bears the scars of 101 bad dawns. Yes, it’s Pat Shortt giving us the flipside of his comic persona in yet another of those down-at-heel roles that have become disarmingly familiar for him in recent years. He plays Ronald Tanner, a recovering alcoholic. He’s just spent his life’s savings on a thousand teddy bears. He’s been told he can make a tidy profit on them to pay for medical treatment for his wife. She has a bad heart. This is untrue. Nobody wants the teddies. Ronald goes back on the bottle to drown his sorrows. Then his camper van gets burned down at a caravan park. It’s an accident caused by wild child Joey Moody (Lewis McDougall). Moody has run away from his foster parents to try and make a go of the park. His father owned it. We’re led to believe he killed his father, Playboy of the Western World style. But then it’s suggested he committed suicide. Which is it? Moody speaks with a Scottish accent. Isn’t he supposed to be Irish? What’s going on? I’m not sure writer-director Morgan Bushe, whose debut this is, could tell us. Neither does he properly explain how Ronald goes from wanting to strangle Moody to becoming a surrogate father to him as the pair of them try to make some much-needed cash by robbing a grimy amusement arcade presided over by Gits Hegarty (Michael Smiley) It’s all a bit of a mess.  Unable to make up its mind if it’s a comedy, a drama or a bonding parable, it gives us a penn’orth of allsorts in a bid to serve up a melange of Martin McDonagh and the Coen Brothers. Stock
 types We’ve been here too many times before. Bushe doesn’t add enough new things to the mix to intrigue. It’s the kind of film Neil Jordan might have made round about the time of The Miracle – or Quentin Tarantino anytime. Shortt gives such a subdued performance it almost disappears into itself. Under-reacting – be it to the burning of the caravan or the death of a wife – is fine but when you play it too mutedly you lose the emotion altogether. There are a lot of stock types in the film: the cartoon criminals, the sleazy politician, the lost souls involved in an unlikely communion. As matters head towards the predictably violent climax it’s hard to care. What you’re watching is a trope unfold. You can almost mouth the dialogue before the characters do. The wafer-thin plot needed more grit to prevent the downbeat hues becoming tiresome. But it captures the out-of-season milieu well. And the sight of Shortt in a supermarket trolley plonked in front of a motorcycle on the way to a heist is almost worth the price of admission alone. Bonnie & Clyde eat your heart out. The post Orphan bonds with alcoholic in tragicomic mish-mash appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Bio soars as Nightingales fail to lift off
I’m reluctant to praise a drama series based on the first episode – too often I’ve done this only to find the series deteriorating (dramatically or morally!) in or after the second episode. One interesting new drama, with some religious elements, is Mrs Wilson (BBC1, Tuesdays), two episodes in at the time of writing. This is an intriguing true story of a woman who finds out she doesn’t know her husband very well when secrets surface after he dies suddenly. Ironically this Mrs Wilson is played by her granddaughter Ruth Wilson – and she’s really good at portraying the dismay as she discovers layers of secrecy. Again there are some suggestive scenes and a somewhat skewed morality at times, but it is engaging. The husband in question was Catholic, at least in name – in one bizarre moment we see him saying a guilty Rosary after a pre-marital fling with the future Mrs Wilson. Conflict In last week’s episode we saw the confused and betrayed Mrs Wilson in a church, apparently saying the Rosary, or at least hanging on to the Rosary beads when she is approached by a kindly priest (Ian McElhinney), her late husband’s pastor. The drama has more than its fair share of family conflict but it feels like it is marked by an understanding and love of humanity, with so many characters you could empathise with. Even after two episodes I’m finding it hard to warm to Death and Nightingales, a BBC-RTÉ co-production based on a Eugene McCabe novel I haven’t yet read, but this drama does it no favours. The Catholic-Protestant background in 19th-Century Northern Ireland is interesting enough but under-developed, as are the political plot threads. The script is dull, the pace slow moving and the plot rather hackneyed (young girl escapes brutal stepfather and takes up with poor but handsome young lad). Jamie Dornan is passable in the latter role, while Ann Skelly shows some potential as the young girl. The Dornan character is Catholic in name though he has a picture of devils beside the Sacred Heard picture and makes a disparaging remark about the latter. There are some unnecessarily suggestive scenes, as has become all too common. There’s major guilt on behalf of the abusive step father, but for once it’s not ‘Catholic guilt’! In last week’s episode the pace slowed down further and it really was turgid, when, with a crime plot afoot, it should have been tense. I nodded off twice!  At least the priest character (Seán McGinley) is pleasant enough though I’m not sure he’s entirely genuine. Back in the real world, Walk While You Can (RTÉ1) last Thursday told the by now well-known story of Fr Tony Coote’s motor neurone diagnosis and his impressive efforts to raise awareness and funds to combat the disease and care for those suffering from it. This fine documentary focused on his walk through Ireland with a huge number of supporters though Fr Tony himself had to spend the time in a wheelchair. The word “inspiring” was mentioned several times and what an apt description! I’m sure the film will do a huge amount of good – at a basic level the walk raised €520,000 and I was glad to read the next morning that a fourth nurse can now be employed to look after MND sufferers thanks to the fund raising. He said the disease was challenging but he was still a person of faith and hope despite everything. Though feeling the support of Jesus, he could get frustrated too, and missed his independence, especially dreading the loss of his voice sometime in the future. He was glad he had given priesthood a chance back in the 1980’s, and he felt his work now validated his choice. The walk for him was like a pilgrimage and it was impressive to see how many joined him at various stages of the journey, including some, like himself that suffered from MND. Also joining him was his doctor Orla Hardiman from Trinity College, and I enjoyed the banter between them. He had special empathy with people who were marginalised and thought the Church had been too inclined to judge and condemn in the past.  Let’s hope that the programme will encourage people to refrain from such attitudes towards people, even though there will always be a case for judging and even condemning actions…especially actions that leave others uncared for and hurt.   Pick of the week MASS RTÉ1, Sunday, December 16, 11 am Mass on Sunday with a gathered congregation of people involved with Crosscare, the Social Support Agency of the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin. MY FAITH AND ME: GAVIN PEACOCK BBC1, Sunday, December 16, 11.30 am Gavin Peacock guides us through his life story, talking publicly for the first time about the difficulties of being one of the only openly Christian footballers of his generation. RTÉ INVESIGATES - TRAVELLERS, LIVES ON THE FRINGES RTÉ1, Wednesday, December 19, 9.35 pm Two years on from being their recognised as a distinct ethnic group, this programme examines the accommodation crisis for Travellers. The post Bio soars as Nightingales fail to lift off appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
A selection of Christmas books for readers of all kinds
At Christmas it is nice to give people a book which they will enjoy on other occasions, a book that will provide not just interest and amusement, but also insights of lasting value. Here is a small selection of books currently in the shops which we think readers may want to give or would love to receive. But a visit to your local independent bookshop will reveal many, many more. A happy Christmas and a great new year to all our readers.   And Life Lights Up, by Alice Taylor, photographs by Emma Byrne (O’Brien Press, £19.99) Where would the season of Christmas be without a new book from the always popular Alice Taylor? In her latest book, Taylor guides her readers through the steps and ways to live a conscious life and focus on the goodness of the world around us. She also inspires readers to be attentive to the here and now and embrace moments as they arise, especially the small graces of everyday life.   Gratias: A Little Books of Gratitude by John Quinn (Veritas, €14.99) Author John Quinn, well remembered from his RTÉ days, has edited a book that will have wide appeal. Gratias is an anthology of personal experiences, poems, memories, reflections and prayers in which expressions of thankfulness are recalled by a wide range of contributors, over a hundred of them. The gifts of grace which inspired thanks take many forms. An inspiring book.   The Little Flower – St Therese of Lisieux: The Irish Connection by Colm Keane and Una O’Hagan (Capel Island Books, €11.99) The Little Flower’s blueprint for a good and fulfilling life –her “little way” – was a belief that everybody is important. Every little deed mattered. Her philosophy is as relevant today as it ever was. Popular author Colm Keane and his wife have written an account of her, focussing on the Irish connections to her devotion. St Thérèse’s suffering as a nun, the bullying she experienced at school, and details of her tragic death from tuberculosis at 24 are described, but so too her many miracles, including cures from cancer, arthritis and infertility.   Francis: A Life in Songs by Ann Wroe (Jonathan Cape, £14.99) This is an unusual book by an unusual but widely admired writer. She tells the life of St Francis of Assisi through verse. Though this might awake in some fears of those long Tennysonian narratives of the Victorian era, Ann Wroe is a writer with a modern sensibility. She captures here the essential spirit of the saint – himself a poet after all, whose work has never died – making this a delight to read. A book not to be missed, which will send the reader back to The Flowers itself.   Game Changer by Cora Staunton (Penguin Books, £20.00) The first-ever autobiography of a female GAA star, Game Changer will take its place as one of the most influential and powerful sports books in recent years. Cora Staunton is an iconic figure. In this revealing autobiography, she describes her extraordinary journey from teenage novice to the highest-scoring forward in the history of Ladies Gaelic Football. She recounts the triumphs of her career and the personal struggles that have plagued it. Of all the sporting books published at this season, this seems to be by far the most interesting.   Prue: My All-time Favourite Recipes by Prue Leith (Pan Macmillan, £25.00) Prue Leith took over from Mary Barry on The Great British Bake-Off TV show. But the pair are united by a similar drive through both their careers to improve the way people cook and eat, actualities that lie at the heart of family and community. This is, amazingly, Prue Leith’s first cookery book in 25 years, and she has woven around the recipes stories from her life.   France: A history from Gaul to de Gaulle by John Julius Norwich (John Murray, £25.00) This is the last book by Lord Norwich, former diplomat turned popular historian. In some 400 pages he deals with the history of a country and a culture which has long been central to the Expression of European culture in all its aspects. Like all the authors books it is driven by a personal engagement with the subject, one which began when he was taught French by his mother at the age of four. Once “the oldest daughter of the Church” France has also been many other things over all those centuries.   A Narrow Sea by Jonathon Bardon (Gill Books, €24.99) Scotland was the first colony of the Irish people, and this is the first history of that special relationship between Ireland and Scotland from respected historian Jonathan Bardon, based on his popular radio series. A Narrow Sea traces how the long and complex nature of Ireland’s connections with Scotland, over the centuries, defined the relationship between these two spirited neighbours. In 120 brief, episodic chapters, A Narrow Sea offers a sweeping overview. Moving across the centuries, from the first migrations of the regions’ Palaeolithic tribes, through the accounts cryptic and vague Greek and Roman explorers, to the incursions and settlements of the Vikings, Normans and Stuarts, this is the story of how a shared ancestry created two now very contrasting nations.   The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy by Michael Lewis (Allen Lane, £20.99) Traditionally we used to delight in spooky stories for Christmas. But here, recounted by a skilled and well informed journalist, is a horror story for real. This is a short book (120 pages), fast and furious and fear-filled. The morning after Trump was elected president, the people who ran the US Department of Energy – an agency that deals with some of the most powerful risks facing humanity – waited to welcome the incoming administration’s transition team. Nobody appeared. Across the US government, the same thing happened: nothing. People don’t notice when stuff goes right. That is the stuff government does. It manages everything that underpins our lives, but it also plans for the future not the next term, not even the next decade, but the next generation. This the present US administration does not do; rather it tries to prevent federal civil servants from doing it. Today the US government is under attack – by its own leaders. For president Trump and his appointees, the mantra of ‘small government’ has become a matter of ‘no government’.   How the World Thinks: A global history of philosophy by Julian Baggini (Granta, £20.00) We tend in Europe, or at least in Ireland, to think that the way we think is the way humans all think. Nothing could be further from the truth. The symbolic tale of the Tower of Babel, applied to thought for thought finds its expression in language All cultures are different, and have different ways of thinking. In How the World Thinks, Julian Baggini provides a wide-ranging map of human thought. He shows us how distinct branches of philosophy flowered simultaneously in China, India and Ancient Greece, growing from local myths and stories – and how contemporary cultural attitudes, with particular attention to the West, East Asia, the Muslim World and Africa, have developed out of the philosophical histories of their regions. Interviewing thinkers from all around the world, he asks why, for instance, do our European systems of governments and justice differ so widely from the East? Why can Islam not easily incorporate secular knowledge? How do we understand China? By gaining greater knowledge of how others think, we can become less certain of the knowledge we think we have, the first step to greater understanding. Many of these philosophical systems derive from religious view so this book serves as well to increase readers’ idea of other religions.   People on the Pier by Betty Stenson & Marian Thérése Keyes (New Island, €24.95) The authors are connected with the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown library system. Rightly regarding the pier at Dun Laoghaire harbour as a great asset not only to the district but to the whole country they have put together a book which celebrates not so much the past and the great and the good, but the masses of ordinary people who use and enjoy the pier for all sorts of things, including (in our experience) informal rock concerts at the very end of it. A delightful and very human book.   A Short History of Europe: From Pericles to Putin by Simon Jenkins (Viking, £25.00) Well actually, at 400 pages, perhaps not so short, but at least concise when you consider what it covers. As Ireland now indentifies itself with Europe, rather than with the people next door, perhaps we all need to learn a little more about the development of the continent as a whole. This may seem to some curiously old fashioned, in that it still writes of Greece as the cradle of Europe; whereas prehistorians and geographers have made us realise that this chronicle of civilisation has more to do with European elites that nations and peoples. Many of Europe’s continuing problems lie in prehistory and in the very shape of the land and its climate. The Balkans, for instance, with its thousands of valleys has many thousands of communities. It is in the clashes of those countless communities that the roots of Europe and its conflicts lies. Perhaps the books of Barry Cunliffe will fill out the deep backgrounds that Jenkins neglects.   Some other gems worthy pursuing...   The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor (HarperCollins, €14.99) Looking for a Christmas ‘good read’, this new novel from an English-born Kildare resident writer, whose own story will doubtless encourage many others to start that novel they’re always thinking about. Those who have read Hazel Gaynor’s earlier novels will be delighted to hear of a new work. For new comers this is a tale of two themes inspired by the legendary Grace Darling and a young American girl in modern times, united by the idea, the image of the lighthouse and of saving others.   The Lighthouses of Ireland: An Illustrated Guide to the Sentinels that Guard our Coastline by Roger O’Reilly (The Collins Press, €24.99) And while some in the house are reading Hazel Gaynor, here is a book that might go with it, for the rest of the family. In a way the whole experiences of Ireland is bound up with the lighthouses around our rugged and often dangerous coasts. Author Roger O’Reilly will inspire many memorable summer, or even winter, outings for families and lighthouse enthusiasts (for whatever reason) around the country.   Speeches of Note: A celebration of the old, new and unspoken edited by Shaun Ussher (Hutchinson, £25.00) We live in the era of the sound bite, rather than the set piece speech. And yet from the classic era onwards the rhetoric of speech has often been how great men, great events, and special moments were captured. Think, indeed, of pages of Thucydides and Plutarch. But also such speeches as President Lincoln’s Gettysburg address – a brief oration which many modern holders of his great office would now be incapable. Shaun Usher in his elegant choice captures the span of this history, recalling people who rose to the moment with appropriate words. Here are some of the really great examples of how words have been used in the past. Hopefully that power can be recaptured again.   Prayerful Ireland by Helena Connolly (Messenger Publications, €19.95) The cover shows an unusual view of one of the stations on Station Island in Lough Derg. It captures the feeling of this book which explores all the shrines, and sites and places associated with feelings of spirituality and of responding prayers. Many of them are usual, or perhaps not previously as well observed as here. This is a book that lies in its images, but which will arouse many streams of thoughts and reflections in its readers. An ideal little book the Christmas season, and a quiet reminder to us all of what the season is really about. The post A selection of Christmas books for readers of all kinds appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
A 1940s French film is one of the most Catholic horror movies ever made
A 1940s French film is one of the most Catholic horror movies ever made osegura Thu, 11/29/2018 - 15:22 Advertisement
A Catholic queen is surprisingly woke in ‘Mary Queen of Scots’
A Catholic queen is surprisingly woke in ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ Tim Reidy Fri, 12/07/2018 - 11:28 Advertisement
Wonderful children’s books for Christmas
At this time of the year the book shops are flooded with books for children and young adults, all hoping for great sales over the few weeks of the year when people go on a splurge of holiday related book buying. But like a puppy, a good book isn’t just for Christmas. On these pages we present a selection of those that, one way or another, seem the most relevant, the most interesting ...and the most entertaining. Younger children   Guess How Much I Love You: Here I am! A finger puppet board book by Sean McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram (Walker Books, €10.99) Previously a highly popular picture book, this new adaption highlights the bond between parent and child, and as a finger puppet book is perfect for reading and playing together, involving as it does the affectionate life of Big Nut Brown Hare and Little Nut Brown Hare.   Animalphabet by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Sharon-King Chai (Two Hoots, €16.99) Filled with all kinds of animals, this is an exploration book of an intriguing kind, by the ever popular Julie Donaldson, who has long been a Christmas favourite.   Happy Christmas Pigín by Kathleen Watkins, illustrated by Margaret Ann Suggs (Gill Books, €14.99) A new book from a celebrity author, with the emphasis on author. Here Pigín and badger go Christmas shopping in Dublin, seeing all kinds of familiar streets and shops. A visit to Clarendon Street Church to see the Christmas crib – a lovely touch, which many will appreciate – leads to a treat in Bewley’s. Truly a Dublin filled book.   Grandpa Christmas by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Jim Field (Egmont Books, €11.99) Rather than buying presents Grandpa shares his memories of his own childhood with his granddaughter. But these days many of things he enjoyed in the world of nature seemed to be endangered. A warm hearted book, that carries a warning to all about helping to preserve the world as it ought to be. This is a tale for smaller children by the author of Warhorse, founded in familial love.   Oi! Duck-Billed Platypus by Kes Gray, illustrated by Jim Field (Hodder Children’s Books, €14.99) Using the strange names and often stranger appearance of animals, this funny, rhyming, read-aloud picture book, will amuse both children and parents and perhaps inspired a few poets in the making.   The President’s Cat by Peter Donnelly (Gill, €14.99) Author Donnelly’s first account of the fun events in the Áras was a great success last year. Here the saga continues. And after the re-election of his Mr Higgins, is likely to continue for some years to come. The wandering presidential cat has difficulty getting home, but thanks to an assortment of people in many iconic places, all is well in the end. Delightful, locally inspired entertainment.   Older children   Mythical Irish Beasts written and illustrated by Mark Joyce (Currach Press, €22.99) Assembled from ancient myths, medieval legends, and local traditions it is a delightfully mixed bag of Irish monsters of all kinds. They are called monsters, but really in many cases they might well have been quite imaginary, or real creatures misunderstood. But this is just the thing for all those caught up in the present day fantasy trend. And who knows it might even inspire a few cryptozoologists of the future. A list of suggestions of sources and further reading would not have come amiss. Dr Hibernica Finch’s Compelling Compendium of Irish Animals by Rob Maguire, illustrated by Aga Grandowicz (Little Island, €18.99) The know all Irish professor, channelled by Rob Maguire, explores with readers the extraordinary world of Irish wild animals, illustrated by a very talented artist who can really paint. A fine introduction to what for some will be a lifelong joy.   The Great Irish Weather Book by Joanna Donnelly, illustrated by Fuchsia MacAree (Gill, €19.99) Author Donnelly, familiar from TV as she works for Met Éireann, knows her isobars from her stratocumulus. As weather nowadays looms ever larger in all our lives, learning early about what it really is, and isn’t, and how it changes, is a very good idea. The large size means it is a stay-at-home book, and not for use out and about.   The Dog Who Lost His Bark by Eoin Colfer, illustrated by P.J. Lynch (Walker Books, €12.99) Both author and artist grew up aware that life is not always kind or even fair. In this book a boy and a dog, who have their own separate losses, become united and create a new life based on affectionate love. A moral fable for our time by the renowned Wexford writer, but a lovely tale too, illustrated by an admired artist from troubled Belfast, who finds the best in places and people and dogs.   Young adults   Island of Adventures: Fun things to do all around Ireland designed and drawn by Jennifer Farley (O’Brien Press, €16.99) This will be of immense help to children (and parents) in putting down the little media mind grabbing monsters, and getting out and about to explore, discover things, and have lots of activity based fun. Ireland is the sort of country where even the rain cannot discourage people from chasing about the place. Just the thing for the car or the bicycle carrier bag.   Secret Science: The Amazing World Beyond Your Eyes by Dara Ó Briain (Scholastic, €14.99) Comedian Dara Ó Briain has created for himself from his own interests a second career as a popular presenter on TV. This book, derived from his kids science show, wants to show readers that science isn’t stuff that goes on among daft boffins in secret labs, it happens everywhere. Once this would have been called ‘understanding the world around you’, but now, what with the distraction of commercial interests that surround children, it has to be made a little more hectic and fun to become absorbing. Given those wonderful presentations at the annual science fair a book like this is a great idea.   I am the Seed that Grew the Trees edited by Fiona Waters & Fran Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow Books / The National Trust , €23.99) This anthology provides a poem for every day of the year, even leap years. They are drawn from a remarkable range of poets, but are all accessible to children. Lots of old favourites are here, William Blake, Emily Brontë, Walter de la Mare (what anthology could be without him – a great anthologist in his own right). But also more challenging choices ancient and modern from Shakespeare to Robert Frost. This is the sort of book that, encountered early on, may become a life changing standby for good and bad days.   Focused readers   100 Poems by Seamus Heaney (Faber & Faber, €12.99) This collection may make young readers realise that Seamus Heaney is not just a poet for study at school, but a man whose voice might come to mean something very special to them in other areas of their life. It is never too soon to learn that our literary heritage is for all, and is not just the preserve of teachers and experts.   Unlock Your Imagination: 250 Boredom Busters (DK Childrens Books, €16.99) Aimed at children seven to nine years old by the publishers, this is a compendium that might be enjoyed by a wider audiences. It encourages readers to leave their phones and screens and do something, making and exploring, playing games for groups, enjoying messy but rewarding crafts and challenges. The book comes with a free double-sided board, counters and a press-out dice that can be used to play chess, draughts, and snakes and ladders; now there is a case of back to the future... Adventures in Philosophy: Stories and Quests for Thinking Heroes by Brendan O’Donoghue, illustrated by Paula McGloin (Gill Books, €19.99) The aim of author and philosopher Brendan O’Donoghue is to put an end to the thoughtless child. Philosophy has not much place in Irish schools, or indeed Irish life one often feels. This is in contrast to our friends in Europe. Here is a remedy in which the joys of curiosity and problems solving and learning about life will be encouraged. A very welcome initiative indeed. ...and don’t forget the classics Now that Greek and Latin have been abandoned by Irish schools and parents, younger readers should be encouraged to make some contact with the literature of past ages. But not I think through books like Stephen Fry’s meretricious new book. The Odyssey, after all, is quite approachable by any child between 10 and 26 (which seems to be the age at which childhood ends for some these days). But what about Thomas Kinsella’s translation of The Táin – that too is very readable and enhanced by Louis le Brocquy’s evocative drawings? Then there is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as an introduction to the Arthurian saga, Dorothy L. Sayers translation of The Song of Roland might lead on to tasting (if not consuming) her magisterial translation of the Divine Comedy. Then on to Magnus Magnusson’s Viking sagas, or Vladimir Nabokov’s translation from the medieval Russian, The Song of Igor’s Campaign. When we enter the great era of the novel as work of art from about 1800 to 1940 there is a world treasury to open. So don’t let any child just read what are often shabby derivatives of the truly great and marvellous that fill the bookshops today. If anyone is to enjoy Emily Dickinson in later years they should at some time (boys and girls) have read Louisa Alcott’s Little Women and Jo’s Boys. Nothing quite beats the classics, for in a sense they are all interconnected. Then there are the classics of Irish literature – everyone on from Canon Sheehan to Patricia Lynch – which Irish publishers so often seem in a conspiracy to keep out of print. But that is what second hand bookshops are for. An introduction to the joyous serendipity of book hunting and finding something remarkable to read that even your parents have never heard of cannot begin too early. Shopping on the internet just doesn’t do it.   Adulthood And certainly no young person, girl or boy, should grow to adulthood without having read the full text of Robinson Crusoe, itself an epic of human endurance, creativity in adversity, and resolution in the face of misfortune. That one book is an education itself – as Gabriel Betteredge claimed in The Moonstone (1868) by Wilkie Collins, a book which a great poet (T. S. Eliot) once called “the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels in a genre invented by Collins and not by Poe ...” There is just so much to read in the world who could ever be bored. The post Wonderful children’s books for Christmas appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
A great sporting victory…and its consequences
Stand Up and Fight: When Munster Beat the All Blacks by Alan English (Yellow Jersey Press, €14.00 / £9.99) Presently the Irish team is enjoying first place in the pecking-order of world rugby. This has not resulted from a meteoric rise from rags to riches. For decades rugby has been played in Ireland to a high standard. To find the source of last month’s victory, when Ireland defeated the All Blacks in Europe for the first time since 2012, we need look no further than the victory of Munster over the much-vaunted All Blacks in 1978, recounted here in a 40th anniversary edition of a famous book. Between October 10 and December 16, 1978, that touring All Blacks team played 18 matches, including internationals against England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. They won every one of those games, except one – against Munster at Thomond Park, Limerick, on October 31, 1978. Alan English provides a blow-for-blow account of the game and pen pictures of the players on both sides who played in it and describes the crucial role of Tom Kiernan, manager of the Munster team, in crafting the historic victory. Rugby was introduced into Ireland more than 140 years ago. It was part of the British colonial cultural outreach. Rugby and soccer clubs and leagues were established in the garrison towns across the country. British army and navy personnel were mainly involved in those early clubs and leagues. Apart from members of the armed forces, rugby was the preserve of the middle-class, soccer that of the working-class. However, as Mr English notes, from the outset the natives of Limerick adopted rugby as their own and its fans have always been drawn from all sections of the community in the city. The author does not eschew ‘rugby’s elephant in the room’ – the appalling rate of injuries, some devastating, suffered by those who play it. The consequences of these injuries can persist for many years even when players have ceased playing the game. Just a few of those who featured in the celebrated match in Thomond Park escaped without injuries from their playing days. The author catalogues those injuries. The two Kerrymen who starred in the historic win in Thomond Park have been ‘up front’ about the consequences of their playing rugby. Retirement Moss Keane in his autobiography musing about his retirement wrote: “My shoulders were shagged; my lower back was crocked; I also had a lot of knee trouble. I had only 70 percent rotation in my neck…and the many stories of terrible rugby injuries troubled me!” Donal Spring’s rugby career was cut very short by a severe back injury which bedevilled him for the rest of his life. Camaraderie and solidarity are qualities found in all good teams. There was no short supply of it in Thomond Park on that fateful day. It persisted for decades among those Munster players and even between their respective families. In the more than 100 interviews conducted with players, fans and citizens of Limerick, Mr English brilliantly captures the atmosphere surrounding the match. He also provides a fascinating socio-economic cameo of the Limerick of that time. English adds two valuable appendices, ‘Record of the legendary Eight All Blacks Tour 1978’ and ‘Munster’s’ Record against Overseas Teams 1905-78’. The latter includes a comprehensive list of those who represented Munster on all those occasions. The preliminary pages include comments from a score of well-known sports journalists in Britain and Ireland praising Mr English’s account of Munster’s heroics in Thomond Park. His book has rightly been called a classic of sports writing. And so it is, one just right for Christmas. The post A great sporting victory…and its consequences appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
What’s wrong with challenging consensus?
I have quite a few interesting interviews to pore over this week, with some new voices featuring and an older voice retiring. On last Thursday night’s Tonight Show (Virgin Media 1) I was impressed by writer and lecturer Dr David Thunder, who spoke of the media creating a narrative that served only the liberal side in debate, especially in recent referenda. He saw certain views being promoted in media as the “right” ones, and those who didn’t agree being demonised or marginalised. I’d like to have heard more from him, but the item was too short, there were three others on the panel and he wasn’t inclined to butt in and speak over people. Kitty Holland of the Irish Times gave a spirited defence of her newspaper, but in a way proved Thunder’s point by regarding the referendum results as showing “a new consensus”, though later backpedalled somewhat by referring to “a new majority way of thinking”. Thunder pointed out that there was no way that having just two in three agreeing on something could be described as “consensus”. Actually this attitude only serves to make the one third invisible and wouldn’t you think journalists might be more at home challenging consensus? Holland thought that conservative viewpoints might in fact be overrepresented in the media! Former Rose of Tralee, Brianna Perkins, from Australia,  thought Ireland one of the safest places for free speech, suggesting that no journalist’s life was under threat  (that‘s a low bar!). Wendy Grace didn’t want journalists broadcasting opinion as news, and lamented the way public discourse was being tribalised. During that debate when issues related to the referendum on the Eighth Amendment arose, guest presenter Sinead O’Carroll of The Journal said “we don’t want to have that debate again”, and I thought why not? If the other side had lost you can be sure we’d be having that debate over and over. And it wasn’t the first time I’ve heard that line. On last Thursday’s Pat Kenny Show (Newstalk) guest presenter Jonathan Healy had a very timely interview with midwife Mary Fitzgibbon about conscientious objection relating to the abortion bill currently going through Dáil Éireann. At one stage he said “I don’t want to re-open a debate”…but earlier in the show he was  effectively re-opening the Brexit debate, with remainer Alistair Campbell. It felt like two pals discussing the issue and both having the same viewpoint. What happened to journalist’s neutrality – surely you should thoroughly interrogate the views of those you agree with as well as the views of those you don’t? Partisan The abortion related  item was flagged earlier, referring to nurses and midwives ‘who object to treating patients on moral grounds’ – but surely to call abortion treatment is to take a partisan position? I presume the objecting midwives have no problem with “treatment”; it’s just that they don’t want to be complicit in the destruction of babies. If you wanted an entirely laughable example of media bias on the issue you could look back on last weekend’s Sunday Show on Virgin Media 1. It was an early review of the year, and so the abortion referendum figured prominently. The panel consisted of prominent pro-choice repealers Senator Catherine Noone (FG), Louise O’Reilly TD (SF) and Stephen Donnelly TD (FF). Presenter of the show was Dr Ciara Kelly, who was speaking at Doctors For Choice meetings before she took over George Hook’s lunchtime show on Newstalk. The clips shown by way of introduction were all of the ‘Yes’ side. Last Monday morning on the Pat Kenny Show Dr Tiernan Murray of Doctors for Choice was given a 20-minute interview to discuss last weekend’s controversial EGM of the Irish College of General Practitioners. A texter complained that we were only getting one side of the issue, but Kenny pointed out that a pro-life doctor had given the other side earlier on Newstalk Breakfast. I checked, and Dr Andrew O’Regan had got a six-minute interview. Finally, I was sad listening to George Hook’s final Saturday Sit-In (Newstalk). It was an emotional show with lots of heartfelt tributes from regular guests – Teresa Lowe in particular became quite choked up. I wasn’t always a fan of Hook’s views or style, but his show differed from the mainstream, didn’t suffer from the usual suffocating group think and got me listening to the radio earlier than is natural on a Saturday morning.   Pick of the week MY FAITH AND ME BBC1, Sunday, December 9, 11.30 am Invictus Games medallist JJ Chalmers reveals how his faith and support of his family and friends helped him to overcome devastating injuries. ADVENT REFLECTIONS EWTN, Sunday, December 9, 2.30 pm (also Monday, December 11, 7.30 pm and Friday, December 14, 9 am) Fr Marius O’Reilly encourages Catholics to take Advent as seriously as they do Lent. From St Mary’s Church in Cork. THE SIMPSONS Channel 4, Tuesday, December 11, 11.05am Bart casually sells his soul to Milhouse and is surprised at the drastic consequences. The post What’s wrong with challenging consensus? appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Delicious choices of the oddly seasonal Messiah afoot
Pat O'Kelly   Not surprisingly, December reaps its usual crop of Handel’s Messiah even if the work relates to Christ’s Passion and Resurrection as much as to His Nativity. Messiah covers the Church’s year from advent to advent with Christ Triumphant as its magnificent coda. Along with the Irish Baroque Orchestra, the choral group Resurgam, directed by visiting English conductor Robert Hollingworth, takes the oratorio to the National Opera House in Wexford this evening (Thursday, December 6), Dublin’s St Patrick’s Cathedral tomorrow (Friday, December 7) and Galway’s Cathedral on Saturday, December 8. Resurgam’s soloists are Anna Devin, William Purefoy, Dean Power and Alex Ashworth. Belfast’s Philharmonic Choir joins the Ulster Orchestra at the city’s Waterfront Hall also tomorrow evening under Handel connoisseur Laurence Cummings. The Phil’s soloists comprise Irish soprano Ailish Tynan, Dutch mezzo Cécile van der Sant, English tenor Nicholas Mulroy and Norwegian bass Njår Sparbo. Continuing its long association with Messiah, Our Lady’s Choral Society presents three performances at the National Concert Hall on December 12, 13 and 14. Under music director Proinnsias Ó Duinn, the indefatigable RTÉCO supports Sarah Brady, Patricia Bardon, Andrew Gavin and Padraic Rowan. My earliest memories of Messiah bring me back to childhood and Dublin’s Capitol Theatre. Taken by a dear aunt to an Our Lady’s Sunday matinee I can’t recall the actual performance, but I remember a front-of-house usher, on seeing me, courteously informing the aunt: “No pictures I’m afraid today, Mam.” With the somewhat imperious response, “I am well aware of that”, the good lady guided me to the balcony. Main 
stay Among other seasonal events the Goethe Institute Choir, under its conductor John Dexter, will be at the NCH on Monday, December 17 making Cantatas 1, 3 and 4 from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio the main stay of its programme. Accompanied by the Goethe Ensemble, the soloists are Katy Kelly, Christina Whyte, Eoghan Desmond and Gyula Nagy. Written in Leipzig in 1734, Bach’s Oratorio opens with high trumpets and stirring timpani in the exuberant Jauchzet, frohlocket! (Rejoice, exult!) – one of the glories of the choral repertoire. Neither Bach nor Handel find a niche in Chamber Choir Ireland’s Christ Church Cathedral concert on Sunday, December 16. Instead, conductor Paul Hillier prefers Thomas Tallis (1505-1585) and his setting of the Mass based on the plain chant Christmas introit Puer natus est nobis. The programme also offers Britten, Pärt and traditional carols. CCI’s recent Before Bach and After programme in Dublin’s St Ann’s Church brought three related, and fascinating, pieces by Maynooth-born David Fennessy. I find Letter to Michael, haunting, unsettling and, at times, beseechingly innocent. Slow and soft to begin, Ne reminiscaris (Remember not), which pays homage to renaissance Orlando Lassus, gradually rises to an ecstatic apex before the final Japanese inspired Hashima Refrain. Disquieting on the one hand and consolatory on the other, CCI responds with unfailing assurance and virtuosity to Fennessy’s ingenious blending of simplicity and complexity in each piece. Fennessy (b.  1976) studied with John Feeley at DIT’s College of Music before moving to James MacMillan at Glasgow’s Royal Conservatory where he is now a lecturer. The post Delicious choices of the oddly seasonal Messiah afoot appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Bawdy film about Polish priests divides audiences
Bawdy film about Polish priests divides audiences Tim Reidy Thu, 11/29/2018 - 17:13 Advertisement
Review: Babe Ruth’s mighty hits and misses
Review: Babe Ruth’s mighty hits and misses An argument could be made that the storied baseball stadium on 161st Street in the Bronx is not the house that “Ruth built,” but instead the house the Xaverian Brothers built. As Jane Leavy notes in her sprawling new biography, it was while a young George Herman Ruth was living at St. Mary’s Industrial School in Baltimore that the Sultan of Swat fell under the spell of a baseball-loving Xaverian brother named Martin Leo Boutilier, known as “Brother Matt.” Advertisement “Ruth would credit Brother Matt for his pigeon-toed gait and his uppercut swing—saying he was born as a hitter the first day he saw [Brother Matt] hit a ball,” writes Jane Leavy. Before he died in 1948, at the age of just 53, Ruth fondly recalled Brother Matt “teaching me how to play ball—and how to think.” That’s not exactly a compliment, given the more tempestuous moments of Ruth’s life (as well as Brother Matt’s, it turns out), all of which are colorfully documented here. Right up front, Leavy—who has also authored biographies of Mickey Mantle and Sandy Koufax—cites the Jesuit maxim: “Give me the child for the first seven years and I’ll give you the man.” Slightly disappointing, then, that she makes rather quick work of numerous seemingly fascinating figures from St. Mary’s. Leavy’s main focus is a cross-country barnstorming tour Ruth and fellow Yankees slugger Lou Gehrig embarked upon in the autumn of 1927, after what was arguably Ruth’s and the Yankees’ greatest year. The Bronx Bombers won a record-shattering 110 games (out of 154) that year, and swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series with a lineup that featured seven future Hall of Famers. And yet, when the season ended, Ruth—already the most prominent athlete of his era—felt compelled to hit the road to participate in a tour that was part baseball exhibition, part traveling circus and (most importantly) very, very profitable. From the Jersey Shore to Sioux City, Baltimore to L.A., Ruth dazzled big crowds, playing exhibition games against local talent as well as (controversially) Negro league stars. Ultimately, Jane Leavy's The Big Fella is very much like its subject, Babe Ruth: ambitious, entertaining and always willing to swing for the fences. Leavy then steps back to chronicle Ruth’s life and times, with a heavy emphasis not only on the culture Ruth played in, but the ways he radically altered that culture, with the help of his visionary agent Christy Walsh. “What is most striking about Ruth at this remove is how thoroughly modern he was,” writes Leavy, “not just in the way he attacked a baseball but also in the creation, manipulation, and exploitation of his public image at the precise moment in history when mass media was redefining what it meant to be public.” Walsh paved the way for future sports agents who—for better or worse—would transform mere athletes into revenue-generating “brands.” No small feat, considering that just a few years prior to his historic 1927 season, Ruth was a pariah: a tabloid piñata who had very publicly ruined his marriage, and whose debauched lifestyle had led to reports that he was near death. Leavy’s book (like other Ruth bios) could have taken a broader look at how St. Mary’s shaped this enormous public figure, who maintained an intriguing relationship with Catholicism throughout his life. Walsh, Leavy notes, convinced Ruth to actively campaign for Al Smith in 1928, yet there is no mention of what Ruth may have thought about the election’s anti-Catholic hysteria. And while Leavy’s exploration of swift 1920s changes in everything from marketing to media morality is compelling, a closer look at elite controversial athletes who preceded Ruth—boxer Jack Johnson and baseball stars Ty Cobb and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson come to mind—might have offered broader insights into the evolution of sports, celebrity and scandal. Ultimately, The Big Fella is very much like its subject: ambitious, entertaining and always willing to swing for the fences. keane Fri, 11/30/2018 - 16:00 Show Comments ( ) Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more. dumindablog2@gmail.com2 hours 26 min ago Peggo TV app allows you to download the youtube videos in both video and audio format. All is you need is your video URL and you seamlessly convert the youtube video to the desired format and watch it on the go. https://www.peggopro.com/ Advertisement
‘Roma’ is a sumptuous tribute to a serene and holy caregiver
‘Roma’ is a sumptuous tribute to a serene and holy caregiver Tim Reidy Thu, 11/29/2018 - 16:49 Advertisement
Review: The roots of American conservatism
Review: The roots of American conservatism Who was William F. Buckley Jr.? How did he achieve the prominence he did? And what does he mean to the modern conservative movement? Alvin Felzenberg attempts to answer these questions in A Man and His Presidents: The Political Odyssey of William F. Buckley Jr. Advertisement Buckley is known to most people today as the founding editor of National Review, the premier conservative magazine and, for a long time, the only prominent conservative magazine in the United States. But as Felzenberg reveals, Buckley was more than a prolific writer: He was the brains and coalescing force of a post-World War II philosophy that gradually became known as “conservatism” and which culminated with the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan as president. Prior to Buckley’s efforts, U.S. politics was comprised of various shades of “liberal,” which according to Buckley meant not only big government but also a rejection of immovable “ancient truths”—and a belief that democracy could determine societal truths, among other tenets. The New Deal, something Buckley vehemently opposed, had actually been accepted by self-styled conservatives. Even the Republican president Dwight Eisenhower was considered a milquetoast by Buckley for his stance toward the Soviet Union and his refusal to condemn it the way Buckley would have liked. That ardent anti-communism was a stance he never abandoned. Felzenberg goes into great detail about Buckley’s later friendship with Ronald Reagan, but first, he delves into the life and times of Buckley himself. He begins not with Buckley but with his grandfather and his father’s family and upbringing, tracing Buckley’s elite Catholic roots and involvement in politics and laying the foundation for some of Buckley’s views as he grew older. From there, he describes in detail the young Buckley’s life at boarding school, first in England at the Jesuit-run St. John’s Beaumont, then in the United States as World War II drew closer. Buckley began to express some of his earliest and most controversial opinions even then, such as his support for isolationism prior to the United States’ entry into the war and a notorious dislike for African-Americans and Jews. But where Buckley really came into his own was at Yale. There he was the chair of the Yale Daily News, participated on the debate team and was a member of the Skull and Bones society, among several other campus groups. As Felzenberg stresses, Buckley “found himself a devout Catholic on a largely secular campus.” His experience at Yale—where he was often at odds with students and administrators—would lead to his controversial book God and Man at Yale, published in 1953. The fruits of William F. Buckley Jr.'s labor to build not only a philosophical movement but also one that could get people to the polls culminated with Ronald Reagan’s election to the presidency in 1980. After Yale, Buckley continued to raise his media profile and eventually served as a nexus between right-leaning politicians and the conservative intelligentsia, to the extent it coherently existed in 1950s and 1960s America. Similarly, with the establishment of National Review, Buckley positioned himself as the gatekeeper of U.S. conservatives and ostracized anti-Semites, crackpot conspiracists like the John Birch Society and eventually (although, as he later admitted, slower than he should have) pro-segregation, anti-black racists. His change of heart on Jews and African-Americans came about first from his experience in the army at the tail end of World War II, where he was exposed to a more diverse cast of people than he had ever been before. His deep Catholic faith also guided him past the institutional racism he grew up around. The fruits of Buckley’s labor to build not only a philosophical movement but also one that could get people to the polls culminated with Ronald Reagan’s election to the presidency in 1980. Buckley had established a friendship with Reagan in the 1960s when he was the governor of California, and that friendship carried into the presidency and thereafter. Buckley was never a formal adviser in any way, but he certainly helped shape Reagan’s worldview and consistently communicated with him while he was in office. In some ways, Buckley’s political odyssey ended after Reagan’s presidency. The conservative philosophy he helped articulate in the 1950s came full circle and became a movement that arguably either continues today or died with Donald J. Trump’s election. Either way, his mission to entrench his principles in society was a success by any measure. Felzenberg’s book is a wonderful look at Buckley’s life and legacy and makes for excellent reading for ideological friends and foes alike. keane Wed, 11/28/2018 - 15:04 Show Comments ( ) Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more. J Cosgrove3 hours 8 min ago Conservative means different things in different political societies. In the US it means classical liberalism of the Lockean philosophy. Read Jonah Goldberg’s “The Suicide of the West” to get a good analysis of where our prosperity came from. The miracle started in England over 300 years ago. Advertisement
Review: Sarah Smarsh on the hard-to-find American Dream
Review: Sarah Smarsh on the hard-to-find American Dream “We can’t really know what made us who we are,” Sarah Smarsh declares early in Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth. “We can come to understand, though, what the world says we are.” Smarsh is an intellectual tornado and Heartland a narrative prairie fire. Advertisement As a fifth-generation farm girl growing up in rural Kansas poverty, then, what does Smarsh learn she is, according to the world? She answers by interrogating the corrupt origins of the term “white trash,” (as well as “redneck”, “country” and “flyover country”) finding in its etymology that “the term was first favored by white-supremacist politicians in the South, who aimed to pit poor whites against poor blacks.” She does not learn the term “white working class” until adulthood, or how it “contains both racial privilege and economic disadvantage, which can exist simultaneously.” Nor does Smarsh know as a child that her family is “below the poverty line.” What she does know is myriad: where her dinner’s pork chops come from, when to brace for a tornado, how to ticket the weight of harvested grain. Sarah Smarsh is an intellectual tornado, and her memoir Heartland is a narrative prairie fire. “The American narrative of a hard-luck individual working hard, doing the right thing, and finding success for it is so deep in me, my life story so tempting as potential evidence for that narrative’s validity,” Smarsh writes of her own upwardly mobile economic and intellectual trajectory, “that I probably sometimes err on the side of conveying a story in which I’m an individual beating the odds with her own determination.” Smarsh is, conflictingly, that individual, she acknowledges, but she distinguishes her narrative with an equal acknowledgment of the shape and stakes of those odds. Both she and her brother “were born weeks before an election that Reagan won,” she notes with characteristic political acumen, and her family “would be able to map our lives against the destruction of the working class: the demise of the family farm, the dismantling of public health care, the defunding of public schools, wages so stagnant that full-time workers could no longer pay the bills.” What follows is a riveting excoriation of how government programs and the American Dream function as “two sides of the same trick coin—one promising a good life in exchange for your labor and the other keeping you just alive enough to go on laboring.” The imperatives of faith also embroil themselves with these slow crises through the inheritance of Smarsh’s Midwestern Catholicism. She notes how her father’s pragmatic “parents were both Catholic and farm people, groups that had different but intertwining reasons for producing a lot of children—the former thinking birth control sinful, the latter needing help raising wheat.” The author is sharply attuned to how Jesus’ loaves and fishes and Joseph’s hammer and nail resonate in her family’s labor: “Before communion, the priest spoke Jesus’s words: ‘This is my body, which will be given up for you.’ It was an idea we understood.” The cultural tableau Smarsh presents, then, is a prairie whiteness inflected by this Catholicism, as well as economic hardship, rurality, geographic instability and the memoir’s primary conceit: unplanned teen motherhood. Like Ta-Nahesi Coates’ Between the World and Me, Heartland is addressed to its author’s child, but unlike Coates’, Smarsh’s child is permanently imaginary. Instead, she writes to a poor child born of the teen mother she will now never be but so easily could have been. By this narrative flourish, Smarsh opens multiple lenses: into the forces that have conspired with her to elude a cycle of rural poverty, into the stifled rage she has watched nearly all her female relatives endure and into the many ways the American economy consigns young single mothers to poverty. “How can you talk about the poor child without addressing the country that let her be so?” And indeed, how can you address the country without talking about the poor child? Sarah Smarsh's memoir Heartland is possessed of a fierce feminism, though one enacted by women likely to chafe at that word. Heartland is also possessed of a fierce feminism, though one enacted by women likely to chafe at that word. The mother, grandmothers and aunts who raise Smarsh embody a kind of “female prairie populism;” for these women, “work wasn’t a liberation from the home or a revelation of self. It was a way of life—familiar, essential, and unsung for generations.” Her grandma Betty, perhaps the book’s most emanating folk heroine, oversees probationers at the county courthouse. Betty recalls the probationers she encountered years later: “They’d say, ‘Thanks for being such a tough bitch.’ ‘My pleasure,’ I’d tell ’em.” On a sentence level, as above, Heartland is lyrical, homespun, plainspoken and eloquent (which can exist simultaneously); Smarsh is 10 times the poet most writers who set out to produce economic analysis are. Assertions like “Unwed mothers were clever whores who deserved their poverty” convey both how intimate Smarsh is with these classist barbs and the consequent bomb-squad precision she can bring to defusing the dangerous American falsehoods they contain. Like its author, Heartland resists easy categorization: It is both a farm daughter’s memoir of a troubled and inchoate childhood and an adult scholar’s sophisticated jeremiad on economic inequality in America. It manages both searing honesty about the flawed, human adults who reared Smarsh and unflagging compassion for those people as subjects of systemic dysfunction. It is both an epistle to Smarsh’s unborn daughter and an exposition of how matrescence burdened her forebears. It is both an exhibit of the power of hard work and a silhouette of that power’s limits. An exegesis of the value, meaning and impact of hard work is at the core of Heartland: “If a person could go to work every day and still not be able to pay the bills and the reason wasn’t racism, what less articulated problem was afoot?” While it would betray the book’s imperatives to canonize Smarsh for wresting economic stability from a system rigged against her, the outcome of the hard work the book itself has clearly entailed—Heartland took Smarsh 15 years to write—remains luminous. Smarsh could have written either a table-flipping philippic on how the economic policy of the last half-century has decimated the American working class or a jaggedly beautiful memoir of a childhood on a Kansas farm. Instead, she wrote Heartland, which is both. keane Wed, 11/28/2018 - 14:56 Show Comments ( ) Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more. switch color3 hours 45 min ago To have a new article, which means you have to learn and try a lot in the search, I am very impressed with your article, great.candy crush soda Advertisement
Stephen Markley’s ‘Ohio’ is the novel you need to read to understand the Midwest today.
Stephen Markley’s ‘Ohio’ is the novel you need to read to understand the Midwest today. There is a smugness that I hate in post-election coastal journalism that wants to “figure out” what happened to the Midwest. Everyone has an explanation: opioids, globalism, machine automation, racism. Fox News, nationalism and being angry at people who don’t “Respect the Flag.” They’re afraid. They’re economically anxious, and they voted for him. Why is the only thing worth figuring out about these godforsaken parts of the country: As long as we’re giving them these votes in the electoral college, we have to understand why they voted for him. Hosting a Jay-Z and Beyoncé concert in Cleveland didn’t move the needle—and neither did LeBron James—so what will? Advertisement Depending on whose account you read, Midwestern voters (this, again, is all they are worth) are enslaved or indifferent to the structures they live and work in: a never-ending war(s) on terror, the 2008 financial crisis, the proliferation of opioids, an Affordable Care Act that still allows thousands to go broke from health care costs. These are absolutely determining factors that deprive flyover citizens of agency; we ought to excuse the wrongs of rural America in light of these. On the other side of the argument, these corporate structures are totally irrelevant to the individual moral and political choices that have led the individual into despair. They just need to shape up, go back to church and pull themselves out of ruin. The best storytellers resist both of these impulses and write the superstructures into the scene without leaving individuals bereft of the drama of their own lives. Stephen Markley’s debut novel, Ohio, does not seek to answer the question of Trump’s rise—even if others will read reasons into it. Other reviewers will undoubtedly call it the Hillbilly Elegy novel. (Do not believe them.) Stephen Markley’s debut novel, Ohio, does not seek to answer the question of Trump’s rise—even if others will read reasons into it. Other reviewers will undoubtedly call it the Hillbilly Elegy novel. (Do not believe them.) Ohio is an intimate, long look at a single night in New Canaan, a fictional “corn and rust” town set somewhere between central and northeast Ohio. The narrative revolves around four natives of New Canaan, who have all moved away and are returning for disparate reasons that eventually collide in dramatic turn. There is Bill Ashcraft, the cocky coked-out and burned-out activist; Stacey Moore, an English Ph.D candidate confronting a former friend and lover’s parent; Dan Eaton, a three-tour veteran who can’t get over a high school love (none of them can do this); and Tina Ross, who everyone vaguely remembers as the high school tramp. The New Canaan they return to is different from the one of their childhood. “Zanesville Road, once nothing but fields, had vanished under pavement and parking lots. Gas stations, pet stores, tanning salons, Pizza Hut, AutoZone, Ruby Tuesday, Staples, Dairy Queen, Discount Tire, and finally a new crop of prefab homes, each one a clone of some original vinyl-sided patient zero.” This is precisely what Paddy Gilger, S.J., has called in these pages the “the napalming of community performed by an individuating neoliberal capitalism.” As for the people they left: one of their classmates is dead from overdosing, another killed by a sniper in Iraq, another hasn’t been heard from since fleeing for Southeast Asia days before graduation. The pregnancies, layoffs and suicides of their classmates await them. At times when reading Stephen Markley’s debut novel, Ohio, I felt like I was reading a novel written for me. Markley’s ability to draw the reader into the lives of New Canaan’s denizens blinded this reader to the plot he develops throughout the book, which comes together suddenly and brilliantly in the novel’s coda. He treats his characters with tender care, even while they drunkenly stagger through the drama of their adolescence and adulthood. At times, I felt like I was reading a novel written for me. I grew up in and around the towns that New Canaan is based on. Stephen Markley grew up in Mount Vernon, Ohio. A neighboring town, Danville, is still a place where I can walk into a Kroger grocery store, have a stranger observe my wide nostrils and brown curls, and say to me, “You must be a Durbin” (my mother’s maiden name). When Markley’s characters reference memorizing the map of Wyandot Lake Water Park, I am 5 years old again, lost in that very park’s wave pool, scared and separated from my mother for the first time. Markley has penned a love letter to my home and his—but anyone who has left their hometown for whatever reason will see their own home in this novel. Markley writes, “Even if you’ve traveled the world and seen better sunsets, better dawns, better storms—when you get that remembered glimpse of the fields and forests and rises and rivers of your home meeting the horizon, your jaw will tighten.” Do not be mistaken—this is not a novel filled with sentimentality or nostalgia. It is filled with flawed characters and takes the reader deep into the heart of evil. But buried underneath the regrets, sorrows and sins of his characters, Markley surfaces an undying kernel of hope. I sat at my desk in Manhattan while writing this review, when I flipped through the novel and found the “About the Author” page. I read the last line and haven’t stopped thinking about it since: “He lives in Los Angeles.” keane Wed, 11/28/2018 - 14:36 Show Comments ( ) Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more. Jacob Torbeck2 hours 34 min ago I feel this. Great review, Mr. Davis. Advertisement
John Cheever’s sad Christmas story is ideal Advent reading
John Cheever’s sad Christmas story is ideal Advent reading Tim Reidy Tue, 11/27/2018 - 10:48 Advertisement