"Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others." - St. Augustine
Since I've built up a large collection of extra books and resources, each week I give some away absolutely free, no strings attached.
Each giveaway lasts seven days with a new one beginning every Friday and you can enter any time during the week. Check out my past giveaways here.
Thanks to Image Books, today I'm giving away FIVE copies of an exciting new book on Pope Francis.
by Robert Moynihan
Image, 256 pages, hardcover
Released on April 30, 2013
From the founder and editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, the world's most well-informed, comprehensive monthly on the Roman Catholic Church, comes this enlightening introduction to the life and spiritual teachings of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, the first Pope of the Americas.
On March, 13, 2013, 115 Cardinals elected for the first time a Pope from outside of Europe. Pope Francis, a native of Argentina, is not just the first Pope from the Southern Hemisphere, he is also the first Jesuit to ever hold the Chair of Peter. This means a bridging of the Northern and Southern hemispheres and religious traditions in a way we've never seen before, signifying a new global vision for the 1.2 billion people who call themselves Catholic.
Now a leading expert on the papacy provides the ultimate introduction to this new Pope, including biographical information and an absorbing collection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio's most persuasive words.
I'm using Rafflecopter to help with the giveaway, which is cool because it allows you multiple entries for commenting, posting on Facebook, sharing on Twitter, etc. Click below to enter:
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The winner(s) will be randomly selected next Friday and the books will be sent out, free of charge, shortly thereafter.
(Since I'm covering the shipping costs, only residents within the continental United States are eligible to win.)
If you're in the Arlington or Washington, D.C. area, tomorrow night I'm speaking at the Catholic Distance University graduation gala. The event will be at the Westin Arlington Gateway and begins at 5:30pm. Hope to see you there!
While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he grew exasperated at the sight of the city full of idols. So he debated in the synagogue with the Jews and with the worshipers, and daily in the public square with whoever happened to be there.
Even some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers engaged him in discussion. Some asked, “What is this scavenger trying to say?” Others said, “He sounds like a promoter of foreign deities,” because he was preaching about ‘Jesus’ and ‘Resurrection.’
They took him and led him to the Areopagus and said, “May we learn what this new teaching is that you speak of? For you bring some strange notions to our ears; we should like to know what these things mean.”
Now all the Athenians as well as the foreigners residing there used their time for nothing else but telling or hearing something new.
Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said: “You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious. For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’ What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.
The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything. He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us.
For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’ as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’
Since therefore we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the divinity is like an image fashioned from gold, silver, or stone by human art and imagination. God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world with justice’ through a man he has appointed, and he has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead.”
When they heard about resurrection of the dead, some began to scoff, but others said, “We should like to hear you on this some other time.”
And so Paul left them. But some did join him, and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Court of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
Though the lectionary excludes verse 20 for some reason—"For you bring some strange notions to our ears; we should like to know what these things mean"—it still means that today, parishes and priests around the world are praying for the new site, even if, like the Athenians, they do so unknowingly.
("For as I walked around looking carefully at your lectionaries, I even discovered a verse inscribed, ‘To an Unknown Website.’ What therefore you unknowingly pray for, I proclaim to you.")
Today also marks the 118th birthday of Ven. Fulton J. Sheen, the patron of Strange Notions, who evangelized the digital content better and earlier than anyone else. What he did on radio and television we're trying to do online.
So on this special day, St. Paul, Dionysius, Damaris, and Ven. Sheen, pray for us!
I have some extremely exciting news that I've been keeping under wraps for some time, and this morning it finally came out. At 9:00am ET, I launched StrangeNotions.com, a major evangelistic project which was two years in the making.
Strange Notions is designed to be the central place of dialogue between Catholics and atheists. One implicit goal is to bring non-Catholics to faith, especially followers of the so-called New Atheism. As a 'digital Areopagus', the site includes intelligent articles, compelling video, and rich discussion throughout its comment boxes.
(If you can't see the video above, click here.)
Strange Notions gets its name from St. Paul's speech at the Areopagus in Acts 17:16-34. There he proclaimed the Resurrection to the intellectual elite of the ancient world, who responded by saying, "you bring some strange notions to our ears; we should like to know what these things mean." StrangeNotions.com helps those asking the same thing today. Open-minded atheists will encounter reasonable arguments for God and his Church, maybe for the first time in their lives, and like St. Paul's listeners they’ll leave intrigued by these strange notions.
I've gathered several top Catholic minds to contribute to the site. Right now we have over 30 on board, including Dr. Peter Kreeft, Dr. Edward Feser, Fr. Robert Barron, Fr. Robert Spitzer, Dr. Benjamin Wiker, Dr. Christopher Kaczor, Dr. Kevin Vost, Christopher West, Jimmy Akin, Jennifer Fulwiler, Marc Barnes, Leah Libresco, Stacy Trascanos, Mark Shea, Carl Olson, and many more. The project has also received several great endorsements including these:
"Brandon Vogt is at the cutting edge of using the Internet and social media as a tool for evangelization...I believe that his latest endeavor, StrangeNotions.com, is an excellent example.”
— Bishop Christopher Coyne, Archdiocese of Indianapolis
"Brandon Vogt brings his energy, enthusiasm, and prodigious intellectual gifts to the Catholic conversation and demonstrates how social media can be used effectively to advance the mission of the Gospel."
— Fr. Robert Barron, founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries
This site is timely for several reasons:
- On May 12 the Catholic Church around the world will celebrate World Communications Day. Pope Benedict XVI, shortly before he stepped down, composed this year's official message which he titled, "Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith: New Spaces for Evangelization." This project embodies that theme as it uses social networks as "new spaces" to evangelize.
- Over the last ten years, the number of self-identified atheists in America has increased 500%. They're one of the country's fastest growing religious groups yet almost no Catholics engage them. Strange Notions is a frontier project in this needed effort.
- In the midst of the Year of Faith and the New Evangelization, this is a creative example of using "new ardor, new methods, and new expressions" to evangelize.
Any way that you could cover the site, either with a blog post, an interview, or by sharing the video trailer would be a huge help.
If you have any questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please tell me what you think in the comment boxes!