SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Books
August 14, 2020
Francis Phillips
Recommended to me several years ago, I have at last got round to reading the late historian John Lukacs’ Last Rites, published in 2009 when he was aged 85 (he died in 2019, aged 95). I hesitate to use the word “maverick” of  Lukacs as it is overused and imprecise, but it is safe to
August 14, 2020
Francis Phillips
Having blogged about Cluny Media’s 2020 republication of What I Believe by Francois Mauriac, I subsequently read a novel from their list of Cluny Classics: Mauriac’s Genetrix, also republished this year. The story of a mother’s malignant, possessive love for her middle-aged son, it was first published in 1923 and demonstrates its author’s sombre view
August 13, 2020
Francis Phillips
It is good news that Cluny Media has decided to republish this year François Mauriac’s classic statement of his faith, What I Believe. First published in 1962 when the famous French, Nobel prize-winning, novelist and man of letters was aged 77, it brings together in a mere hundred pages all the spiritual leitmotifs of Mauriac’s
August 13, 2020
Francis Phillips
The Scandal of the Scandals: The Secret History of Christianity by Manfred Lutz (Ignatius Press), with its arresting cover image of a robed figure gesticulating from a pulpit, made me at first wonder if it was unearthing new scandals in the Church’s long history not yet discovered by her enemies. In fact, this lively volume,
July 31, 2020
Francis Phillips
Every story of conversion is of interest as each convert has their own unique experience of faith to relate. Nonetheless, Ian Murphy’s Dying to Live (Ignatius Press), with its subtitle, “From Agnostic to Baptist to Catholic”, has a particular readability. This comes from his roller-coaster description of the spectacular nudges of grace he receives and
July 31, 2020
Francis Phillips
Having blogged about It’s Good to be Here (Sophia Press), the reflections of Christina Chase, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA type II), I decided to follow it up by contacting the author to learn more about her life and faith. I tell her that what caught my attention was the epigraph at
July 30, 2020
Francis Phillips
My Irish grandfather, who lived in Cork, used to tell me when I was a child that he was looking forward to the annual Redemptorist mission at his parish. He cheerfully related how the Redemptorists preached hellfire and how much the attendees appreciated their bloodcurdling sermons. This was in the 1950s. I suspect that the
July 30, 2020
Francis Phillips
I was especially drawn to read Mary Farrow’s article on Acedia on the Catholic Herald website for 19 May as I have a sneaky feeling that I suffer from it. I am constantly tempted (and sometimes succumb) to putting off what I should be doing and frittering away my time in displacement tasks. The lockdown
July 27, 2020
Bonnie Lander Johnson
Damascus By Christos Tsiolkas Atlantic, £16.99 Gen X is growing up. Christos Tsiolkas, once the pin-up boy of 1990s Grunge Lit, has turned 50 and written an intimate first-person account of St Paul’s conversion. Damascus exposes the reality of an ancient pagan society riven with sexual violence, enslavement, brutality and child-abandonment. From within this world
July 17, 2020
Mary Killen
The Colour of the Sky After Rain By Tessa Keswick Head of Zeus, £30 For most of my life I had no interest in China. It wasn’t corona that got me interested – it was seeing Chinese mansions spring up in Jamaica, or driving into the Ethiopian bush on Chinese-built highways (they need the fertile
July 10, 2020
Edward Feser
That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation By David Bentley Hart Yale University Press, 222pp, £20/$26 Eastern Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart denies that hell is everlasting. He does not merely claim that we have grounds for hope for the salvation of all. Nor does he hold that the unsaved will be
July 10, 2020
William Cash
Britain’s Pilgrim Places By Nick Mayhew-Smith and Guy Hayward British Pilgrimage Trust (forthcoming), 607pp, £19.99 Britain’s Pilgrim Places is a very welcome and highly original reference book on Britain’s sacred heritage. Whilst designed to appeal to those of all religious backgrounds – the authors’ watchwords are “open to all” and “bring your own beliefs” –