One perk of being a book reviewer is that publishers regularly send emails, catalogs, and a steady stream of advanced review copies.
I try to review as many as I can, but I can’t get to them all. So each month I highlight a few new and upcoming books that I’m particularly excited about.
(The descriptions below are either from the publisher or from Amazon.)
by Trent Horn
Catholic Answers Press, 334 pages, paperback
Released on September 11, 2014
Are you scared to talk about abortion? Don’t worry—almost everyone is. Either we think the subject is too impolite, or we don’t want to be branded an intolerant fanatic, or we’re afraid we won’t represent the pro-life side well enough. Whatever the reason for this fear, it causes many of us pass up opportunities to speak out on behalf of the unborn.
You can overcome this fear, says Trent Horn in his new book Persuasive Pro-Life. With a little knowledge and a few proven techniques, you can become a bold and effective apologist for life.
Drawing on over a decade as a pro-life organizer, Horn helps you cut through the diversions and obfuscations of the “pro-choice” side in order to accurately frame the legal, historical, and medical issue surrounding abortion. Then he demonstrates—with vivid personal examples from his years of campus activism—the importance of being charitable in all abortion debates, no matter how strident the other side might be. We must be not just warriors for the pro-life cause, he says, but ambassadors for it.
Then Horn leads you a guided tour of the many types of pro-abortion opponent or inquirer (“the pragmatist,” “the skeptic,” “the conflicted”) along with more real-life examples. In each case he teaches you specific approaches—what to say, what not to say, and how to bear yourself—that are custom-tailored to every situation.
The struggle over abortion has never been hotter, and the stakes could not be higher.
Read Persuasive Pro-Life today and never again be afraid to speak up for the precious and fundamental right to life.
by Eve Tushnet
Ave Maria Press, 224 pages, paperback
Released on October 20, 2014
In this first book from an openly lesbian and celibate Catholic, widely published writer and blogger Eve Tushnet recounts her spiritual and intellectual journey from liberal atheism to faithful Catholicism and shows how gay Catholics can love and be loved while adhering to Church teaching.
Eve Tushnet was among the unlikeliest of converts. The only child of two atheist academics, Tushnet was a typical Yale undergraduate until the day she went out to poke fun at a gathering of philosophical debaters, who happened also to be Catholic. Instead of enjoying mocking what she termed the “zoo animals,” she found herself engaged in intellectual conversation with them and, in a move that surprised even her, she soon converted to Catholicism. Already self-identifying as a lesbian, Tushnet searched for a third way in the seeming two-option system available to gay Catholics: reject Church teaching on homosexuality or reject the truth of your sexuality.
Gay and Catholic is the fruit of Tushnet’s searching: what she learned in studying Christian history and theology and her articulation of how gay Catholics can pour their love and need for connection into friendships, community, service, and artistic creation.
by Peter Kreeft
Ignatius Press, 376 pages, paperback
Released on October 21, 2014
From a lifetime of studying the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, popular author Peter Kreeft says that his amazement has continually increased not only at Aquinas’ theoretical, philosophical brilliance and sanity, but also at his personal, practical wisdom, his “existential bite.” Yet this second dimension of St. Thomas has usually been eclipsed by the other. Kreeft wrote this book to help bring that sun out from its eclipse. He provides easily digestible samples of the religious wisdom of Aquinas.
Here are 359 pieces of wisdom from St. Thomas’s masterpiece, the Summa Theologiae , which Kreeft says “are literally more valuable than all the kingdoms of this world because they will help you to attain ‘the one thing needful,’ or ‘the greatest good’ “, the ultimate end and purpose and meaning of life. Three of its names are “being a saint,” “beatitude” (“supreme happiness”) and “union with God.” That was the principle for Kreeft in choosing which passages to use: do they help you to attain your ultimate end – sanctity, happiness, union with God? St. Thomas would have agreed with writer Leon Bloy, who often wrote that in the end “there is only one tragedy in life: not to have been a saint”.
These 359 gold nuggets have helped Kreeft in the struggles of real life, to live in the real world, to grow closer to the Lord, and he hopes they will do the same for his readers. After each passage directly from Aquinas, Kreeft provides brief spiritual commentary to help explain it and apply it – practical, personal, existential, “livable” thoughts.
He has framed these readings as answers to questions that people actually ask their spiritual directors. Each answer is taken word for word from Aquinas.
by Scott Hahn
Image, 192 pages, hardcover
Released on October 21, 2014
What could be more familiar than the Christmas story — and yet what could be more extraordinary? The cast of characters is strange and exotic: shepherds and magicians, an emperor and a despot, angels, and a baby who is Almighty God. The strangeness calls for an explanation, and this book provides it by examining the characters and the story in light of the biblical and historical context.
Bestselling author Scott Hahn who has written extensively on Scripture and the early Church, brings evidence to light, dispelling some of the mystery of the story. Yet Christmas is made familiar all over again by showing it to be a family story. Christmas, as it appears in the New Testament, is the story of a father, a mother, and a child — their relationships, their interactions, their principles, their individual lives, and their common life. To see the life of this “earthly trinity” is to gaze into heaven.
by Ian Ker
Oxford University Press, 192 pages, paperback
Released on October 28, 2014
John Henry Newman is often described as “the Father of the Second Vatican Council.” He anticipated most of the Council’s major documents, as well as being an inspiration to the theologians who were behind them. His writings offer an illuminating commentary both on the teachings of the Council and the way these have been implemented and interpreted in the post-conciliar period. This book is the first sustained attempt to consider what Newman’s reaction to Vatican II would have been. As a theologian who on his own admission fought throughout his life against theological liberalism, yet who pioneered many of the themes of the Council in his own day, Newman is best described as a conservative radical who cannot be classed simply as either a conservative or liberal Catholic. At the time of the First Vatican Council, Newman adumbrated in his private letters a mini-theology of Councils, which casts much light on Vatican II and its aftermath.
by Austen Ivereigh
Henry Holt and Co., 464 pages, hardcover
Released on November 25, 2014
An expansive and deeply contextual work, at its heart The Great Reformer is about the intersection of faith and politics–the tension between the pope’s innovative vision for the Church and the obstacles he faces in an institution still strongly defined by its conservative past. Based on extensive interviews in Argentina and years of study of the Catholic Church, Ivereigh tells the story not only of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the remarkable man whose background and total commitment to the discernment of God’s will transformed him into Pope Francis–but the story of why the Catholic Church chose him as their leader.
With the Francis Revolution just beginning, this biography will provide never-before-explained context on how one man’s ambitious program began–and how it will likely end–through an investigation of Francis’s youth growing up in Buenos Aires and the dramatic events during the Perón era that shaped his beliefs; his ongoing conflicts and disillusionment with the ensuing doctrines of an authoritarian and militaristic government in the 1970s; how his Jesuit training in Argentina and Chile gave him a unique understanding and advocacy for a “Church of the Poor”; and his rise from Cardinal to the papacy.
What new and notable books are you looking forward to?