30-Second Book Reviews (5/10)

The Catholics Next Door: Adventures in Imperfect Living
Greg and Jennifer Willits

Real parenting involves grit and that’s what you’ll find in Greg and Jennifer Willits’ new book, The Catholics Next Door: Adventures in Imperfect Living (Servant Books, paperback, 160 pages).

The authors, co-hosts of the popular SiriusXM radio show by the same name, have written a real-world guide for Catholic families who stumble toward holiness. They don’t ignore the daily grind of screw-ups, arguments, yelling, pooping, and trying to form saints against all odds.

The book is a collection of stories showing the up’s and down’s of their own family life. You’ll find children lassoing each other with rosaries, the difficult darkness of miscarriage, profound moments of conversion, and fun adventures in between.

Greg and Jennifer don’t sugar-coat the tough times, nor do they embellish the good. They simply tell it like it is without disguise and it’s this authenticity that makes the book so attractive.

The Catholics Next Door will refresh and inspire any parent with one foot on the floor and one in heaven, who seeks saintliness even in an imperfect world.

Encountering Jesus in the Gospels
William C. Mills

A couple years ago I reviewed a great book by Fr. William Mills, an Orthodox priest, titled A 30 Day Retreat. I complimented Fr. Mills’ “eye for the transcendent,” which was his deft gift for spotting the divine in ordinary situations.

In his newest book, Encountering Jesus in the Gospels (Orthodox Research Institute, paperback, 119 pages), he turns that same vision to Christ himself. The book follows the style of Eric Sammons’ Who Is Jesus Christ? by devoting a chapter to each of Jesus’ titles, including Shepherd, King, Prophet, and Rabbi. Fr. Mills unpacks each name through Biblical analysis and first-century background, providing a colorful picture of the God-made-man.

Encountering Jesus in the Gospels is a bit simpler than Sammons’ book, and leans less on theology and the Church fathers, yet it’s a breezy devotional ripe for personal reflection. To love Jesus more you have to know him better, and this book helps you do that.

Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Media
Dr. Eugene Gan

If we don’t use the media, the media will use us. That’s the warning proposed by Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Media (Emmaus Road, paperback, 144 pages), a new book by Franciscan University professor Dr. Eugene Gan.

To make sure we’re the ones in control, Gan offers seven timeless principles culled from seventy-five years of Church teaching on social communications. They include:

  • Balance
  • Attitude Awareness
  • The Dignity of the Human Person
  • Truth-Filled
  • Inspiring
  • Skillfully Developed
  • Motivated By and Relevant to Experience

Gan devotes one chapter to each and provides real world technology tips, several quotes from Church documents, and useful questions Catholics can ask of any media in order to use it well. There’s also a helpful Appendix with info on every Church document dealing with social communications since 1936–more than 65 in all.

To master the media around you, and to see Christ in it all, pick up Dr. Gan’s helpful book.