Saturday, May 01, 2010


My daughter sent me this link to a column on the BBC web page about celibacy by Fr. Stephen Wang, a priest of the Diocese of Westminster. She was astounded that such a positive look at priestly celibacy would appear in the mainstream media.
I realised that I had been seeing celibacy in negative terms: 'No' to marriage, 'No' to sex, 'No' to children - when in reality it was a profound 'Yes'.
It was a way of putting Christ at the centre of your life, of giving your whole heart to those you would serve as a priest.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Catholic Book Review Monthly

At Fr. van der Peet's funeral yesterday I ran into my old friend Mary Brittnacher, who runs the Catholic Book Review Monthly web page. I've mentioned it before on this blog, but it has been some time since I looked at it myself. Wow! Have I been missing some great reviews! Here is the list from the last year:
  • Newman 101: An Introduction to the Life and Philosophy of John Cardinal Newman by Roderick Strange, Christian Classics, 2008. Download
  • Newman 101: An Introduction to the Life and Philosophy of John Cardinal Newman by Roderick Strange, Christian Classics, 2008. Download
  • How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Thomas E. Woods, Jr., Regnery Publishing, Inc., 20 Download
  • Flannery O’Connor: Spiritual Writings by Flannery O’Connor, ed. Robert Ellsburg, Orbis Book Download
  • A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World by Carl Anderson, HarperOne, 2009. Download
  • Everlasting Man by G.K. (Gilbert Keith) Chesterton, Ignatius Press, r Download
  • Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton, John Lane Co, 1908, reprinted by Download
  • Economics for Helen: A Brief Outline of Real Economy by Hilaire Belloc, Forward by Dr. Alberto Piedra, Int Download
  • Second One Thousand Years: Ten People Who Defined a Millennium by Richard John Neuhaus, editor, William B. Eerdmans Download
As you might suspect, Mary is both a Chestertonian and a ROFTer (Reader of First Things).

Here is the mission statement of Catholic Book Review Monthly. It's purpose corresponds closely to the purpose of this blog:

Our goal is to provide a gateway into good and great books for readers who wish to read spiritual books from an authentically Catholic perspective. We aim to help readers select from the vast array of books available from both the past and the present with an emphasis on the more recent. An author profile or links to information about the author will be included when appropriate.

The reviews are meant to be primarily summaries of the books, rather than critical
assessments, though they may occasionally contain elements of criticism. Thus the reader can obtain some of the benefits of the book, and may be stimulated to read it as well.

I think Mary writes some of the reviews, and Chris Chan writes others. I don't know if she has any other contributors.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Circling the Wagons

I'm rereading The Lord of the Rings right now. One of the great things about it are the little gems of wisdom that are embedded throughout. I started thinking about the Utopian impulse among home schoolers after reading this quote. When fleeing the Shire, Frodo is talking to Gildor the Elf :
"I knew that danger lay ahead, of course; but I did not expect to meet it in our own Shire. Can't a hobbit walk from the Water to the River in peace?"

"But it is not your own Shire," said Gildor. "Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out."
One of the debates in home school circles is to what extent does one engage in the very disturbed world, and to what extent does one just separate oneself and try to live rightly, thus avoiding the deleterious effects of much of the world's evils. There are some who seem to think that if you withdraw to the country, turn off the t.v, and try to create a perfect environment in the home, you will avoid the worst ills of the world. We've been homeschooling for sixteen years. All I can say from my observation is that such a desire is a pipe-dream.

The problem is, of course, you take the basis for the ills with you, and so you will discover them in your "paradise." Even in LotR itself the evils in the Shire do not come completely from outside. It took Sharky's arrival to foment the latent depths of evil that already existed in the heart of the Shire, but the evil was already there, hidden by the bourgeois normalcy of life in the Shire.

I do think, though, that turning off the t.v., for the most part, living closer to the land, when possible, and doing things better at home are better for all involved. The kind of Catholic education and home environment homeschooling can provide is really better than the education one gets in a public school and, unfortunately, in many Catholic schools who seem to want to conform to the public school standard rather than dipping into the 2000 year tradition of Catholic eduction and culture. I also think we should not immerse ourselves in much of what the culture offers us as "entertainment." I know I'm more strict on this than most, but I've seen no great benefit in those who indulge in the sexually explicit and violent fair Hollywood offers to change my mind.

A robust Catholic education gives children an advantage over those who are simply immersed in the world when the flesh, the world and the devil strike, which they will--and hard.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


The ease with which one can inadvertently, but apparently seriously offend someone on Facebook is staggering.

Good thing there is a "delete" link.

Enough said.