Wednesday, September 30, 2009

So Many Books, So Little Time

I am seriously behind on book reviews. Every time I think I am going to get a chance to review something, work gets in the way. If only I didn't have to pay bills, I'd just write reviews for you all day.

As well, I've gotten in a slew of books recently. And most of them are good, y'all. Which is why I have about six of them "in progress" all over the house.

Here is a bit of myIn Progress/To Read list, just to give you an idea.

Mary, Mother of the Son trilogy by Mark Shea
These books I actually bought and let me tell you that is a rarity around here, especially for theological materials since I am blessed with review copies from various publishers. I was not much interested in these books until I read The Curt Jester's glowing review. I really am glad that I plopped down the cash. The first book is fantastic so far and I enjoy Mark's style so much that I am picking it up instead of Frederica (by Georgette Heyer) some nights for bedtime reading. Now that's a ringing endorsement as any Heyer-lover will tell you. The Curt Jester was right on the money with this comment:
All of my hesitations about a three volume apologetics book set on Mary were dispelled. Mark's writing is informative and much of it with a smile behind it. His writing is not adversarial in any way and so any Protestants reading his book will not get any sense of "us against them." Like so many ex-Catholics, Mark is quite positive about his time as a Protestant, but is also very good at showing the cracks that he started to see when he questioned some basic assumptions or psuedo-knowledge. So I think these are great books to read both as an apologetics work and/or spiritual reading.
The Abbess of Andalusia by Lorraine V. Murray
After reading several reviews of a very unsatisfactory fairly new biography of Flannery O'Connor, it was a pleasure to read the materials on this very different sounding book about her.
In these pages you will come to know Flannery O'Connor not only as a writer and an icon, but as a theologian and apologist; as a spiritual director and a student of prayer; as a suffering soul who learned obedience and merited grace through infirmity; and truly, as the Abbess of her own small, but significant, spiritual house.
Just got it today, so I must read in a dedicated fashion to clear room. Our Catholic women's book club is going to be reading a few of O'Connor's short stories since one member offered to do the work of researching just what they might mean. (I've only read one of her stories but I was flummoxed until I read a couple of papers on it.)

This Tremendous Lover by M. Eugene Boylan, O.C.R.
This is one of those books whose name I have seen mentioned time and again in other books. I picked it out from Tiber River, part of Aquinas and More Catholic Store's review program. By the way, there are a lot of good reviews over at Tiber River and some interesting review lists as well. I must say that I received the book and was a little taken aback. I hadn't expected a 350 page, densely packed work. Also, the modern forward kept stressing the fact that this had been very popular in its day but that parts of it were necessarily out of date since it was 60 years old. However, upon flipping through it, I came upon section after section full of common sense about how to live one's faith and how to build a relationship with God in the midst of a busy life. As well, the first chapter is one I may have to excerpt here. Boylan talks about the Trinity in such a wonderful way that I felt I actually had a real understanding of something which usually just makes my head hurt. So far, I'm lovin' it.

The Power of Pause by Terry Hershey
An easy to read book of 52 reflections about how slowing down our lives will make them better and help us connect with God more. Yes, we've heard it a thousand times, but Hershey makes you want to do it. In fact, Tom and I have begun doing just that thing ... but that's the subject for a different post.

Retreat in the Real World
This is the book form of a popular personal retreat was originally offered online through Creighton University. In fact, I got about a quarter of the way through that retreat before I slipped away. Part of that was from having to print out pages to put in my notebook and so forth. (Hey, I never said I wasn't a light weight, ok?) At any rate, I am looking forward to pursuing it with this more accessible form.

The Bible Blueprint by Joe Paprocki
An engaging and simple look at the Bible which encourages us to read and study it.What has me interested in the back half which has a very interesting resource list and ideas about how to begin parish Bible studies.

In Production; film about Hitler's plan to kidnap Pope Pius XII

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Review: "The Jesus You Can't Ignore"

The Jesus You Can't Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ

by John MacArthur
Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 2008

In The Jesus You Can't Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ
John MacArthur (no relation) argues that Christ was not the meek, mild character modern Christianity has made him out to be. Yes, he dealt gently with sinners, healed the sick, and preached peace. In his dealings with the official Jewish religious establishment, however, he was much harsher. Not only that, he didn’t merely wait for them to question his teachings or his methods, he provoked them. As MacArthur points out, “from the time Luke first introduces us to the Pharisees in Luke 5:17 until his final mention of the ‘chief priests and rulers’ in Luke 24:20, every time the religious elite of Israel appear as a group in Luke’s narrative, there is conflict. . . When [Jesus] speaks to the religious leaders or about them – whether in public or in private – it is usually to condemn them as fools and hypocrites. When he knows they are watching to accuse Him of breaking their artificial Sabbath restrictions or their manmade systems of ceremonial washing, He deliberately defies their rules.”

“The Jesus You Can’t Ignore” is a very informative book. I learned much from his discussion of the various Bible texts in which Jesus confronted the Jewish establishment. However, MacArthur writes from an Evangelical perspective. His main purpose in writing this book is to encourage the Evangelical community to not back down from religious debate. He wants them to condemn false teachers and false teachings more and stand up for what is right. In his Epilogue, MacArthur does caution against “judging the secrets of men’s hearts – their motives, their private thoughts, or their hidden intentions.” However, he maintains that “people who actively teach serious error – especially doctrines that corrupt vital gospel truth – are to be confronted and opposed.” This creates some problems. As a Roman Catholic, I view MacArthur as a brother Christian, someone who I do not agree with totally, obviously, but a fellow Christian who is working for the kingdom of God. I feel that he is in error with some of his beliefs, but I trust that God will sort all that out. He feels that I am someone to be “confronted and opposed.” I believe I am right about my faith as much as he feels he is right about his. Neither one of us is going to win that battle. This is a book well worth reading, but it is important to know MacArthur’s purpose in writing before delving in.

Reviewed by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Gingrich working on documentary on Pope John Paul

Cross-posted from A Catholic View

Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the US House of Representatives who was received into the Church earlier this year, is working on a documentary on Pope John Paul’s 1979 apostolic journey to Poland. “Nine Days That Changed the World” will explore the relation between the journey and the subequent downfall of Communism in the nation.

story here

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Butterfly Circus" wins Doorpost films contest!!

Go to Doorpost Films to see this award-winning and deeply moving film which will challenge your views of what a circus can be.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Movie Review: Surrogates - PG13

cross-posted from A Catholic View

As the previews indicate, the story is set in the future, where most people (referred to as 'operators') have a robotic surrogate who lives their lives for them. The operator basically stays home in a lounge chair. They are connected to their surrogate by computer so that they see what the surrogate sees, hear what they hear, smell what they smell, etc. This has resulted in a substantial drop in crime rates, because if a surrogate is 'killed' or injured, there are fail safes in place to protect the operator.

The story opens with the murder of the son of Dr. Lionel Cantor, the inventor of the surrogates. Bruce Willis is FBI agent Tom Greer. Greer appears to be reluctantly using a surrogate for his job. He seems to want to live his own life. His wife also uses a surrogate, because it is how she copes with the loss of their son years earlier. Greer and his partner agent Peters are investigating the murder.

The investigation begins with a cult, led by the 'Prophet' (Ving Rhames), who doesn't believe in using surrogates. They also have a weapon that not only works on surrogates, but also on operators. It isn't too long before someone is able to penetrate the surrogate network and control other people's surrogates. This not only makes the investigation harder, but presents a threat to every operator.

Content Warnings: A sex scene early on, some gore and violence throughout.

Although set in the future, they are careful to not mention the year or to otherwise date the movie. Bruce Willis is very good. Very well done, and I highly recommend.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

‘Stay Home, Stay Happy’ Wisconsin mom writes book about motherhood experience

Rachel Campos-Duffy, mother of five children under the age of 10 and an active member of Ashland, Wisconsin’s Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Community, just wrote what she calls a “love letter” to stay-at-home-moms. The letter is actually a book, “Stay Home, Stay Happy: 10 Secrets to Loving At-Home Motherhood,” which was published at the end of August by the Penguin Group.

In her late-night writing and editing of the new book, Campos-Duffy took care to include “common sense and practical ideas that we all need to be reminded of,” she said in a recent interview.

“I wanted to edify women who have chosen to be at home with their families,” she said.

The world at large can often be oblivious to what transpires in a home, including the ongoing efforts of stay-at-home mothers, Campos-Duffy said.

“There’s just not a lot of validation,” she said. “But it’s never been a better time to be an at-home mom.”

story here

Monday, September 21, 2009

Born-Again Christian Gavin Mcleod Stars in New Faith-Based Film

cross-posted from A Catholic View

As Murray Slaughter, he wrote for airhead anchor Ted Baxter on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" for seven years. As Merrill Stubing, he captained the "Love Boat" for nearly a decade after that. Today, iconic TV actor Gavin Macleod says "I know who my admiral is," referring to his faith in God.

Macleod, 78, is a born again Christian now piloting a career in the Christian film industry, and starring in the movie "The Secrets of Jonathan Perry," which opens this weekend.

"I've worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Gregory Peck, Mary Tyler Moore," he told FOX News in an exclusive interview. "[But] the biggest honor I have ever had was to play the role of Jonathan Sperry in this simple but special film."

story here

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Movie Review: Whiteout - R

cross-posted from A Catholic View

Approximately 50 years ago, a Russian plane crashed in Antarctica when the co-pilot went bad and shot the crew, who shot him in return. Now, 50 years later U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko is the law enforcement at a government research station in Antarctica. A body is found on a desolate area of ice, and Carrie investigates. Soon, the plane the plane that crashed 50 years ago is found, and a connection is drawn between the body and the plane. The plot revolves around 2 questions: Where are 6 containers that are missing from the plane? And what what was in them? The factor that adds to the suspense is that because of the investigation, Carrie and a couple of people helping her miss the last plane out and are now stuck at the research station for 6 months.

Content warnings: A few scenes with blood, a scene with frostbite, and one scene of Carrie in the shower (only seen through the shower door).

Plenty of action, and very suspenseful. The term whiteout refers to a snow storm, and those scenes were particularly awesome. The story was well-told, but a bit drawn out. There is a good plot twist toward the end. Overall, a good movie worth seeing.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Vocation Boom!

This is hosted at YouTube but comes from a great new site, Vocation Boom! It is designed to encourage and nurture vocations to the priesthood and you can see that they understand what they're talking about. For instance, I found their piece on what it really means to be a priest to be very inspirational personally in that it reminded me of how thankful I am that Jesus gives us priests ... here's a bit:
A Catholic priest is a man who has been called by God to live in persona Christi – in the person of Christ. In simple terms, that means that when man is ordained a priest, he receives a permanent mark on his soul – similar to the mark we all receive at baptism – that changes him forever and makes it possible for him to perform certain actions that otherwise only Jesus could perform. A priest’s primary purpose is to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, and to feed God’s people with the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist, which the Church has always understood to be the main way that Christ’s death on the Cross is made available to people. Only a validly ordained priest can give this great gift to the world.

What this means is truly amazing. Because of the gift of holy orders – the priesthood – a man’s very soul is changed and he is made like Jesus in a way that someone who is not ordained can never experience. Jesus is God. And, as God, He is able to share His power with those men he calls to the priesthood, allowing them to do for God’s people what Jesus Himself does: feed us with His Body and Blood, forgive our sins, and more. ...
I also really liked their gallery which has gathered some excellent videos and links for easy viewing (for example, I see that my favorite Diocese of Paris video is included). Of course, my favorite is the video above which was created especially for this website right here in Dallas. I actually know two of the young men who are pursuing vocations as priests as they are from our parish.

There is much more there for anyone interested in pursuing or encouraging a vocation. A couple of the spots are awaiting info but I know that this site launched just this week so they probably will be filling in those gaps soon.

Check it out. Send the link to anyone you know who may need a bit of encouragement.

This is a good reminder for us also to pray for many men to hear the quiet whisper of God's call so that they respond "Here I am. I pray that we will have a Vocation Boom in the priesthood thanks to efforts like this helping show the way.

I completely forgot to mention that I also know the very talented designer who designed the site. (Ahem, that would be because Tom did the website layout for him.) He's good. Very good. And I don't throw around those terms lightly when speaking of design, believe me.

Just a comment also to say that my inside track on this isn't what makes me so interested in it. Frankly, after hearing all the behind the scenes discussions and work that goes into something, I am usually pretty tired of hearing about it by the time we see the final product. Vocation Boom surprised me because it came together to transcend all the pieces that went into it (also the sign of a good design). And, of course, it is about something I am passionately interested in...

Quick Looks at Some Good Books

Something Old
Lord of the Hollow Dark by Russell Kirk
Mr. Apollinax gathers a group of 13 people together in a castle that was the scene of a horrific murder earlier in history. Known to each other only by pseudonyms taken from T.S. Eliot poems, the goal of this group is to experience a mystical "timeless moment." We see the story alternately through the eyes of innocent Marina who has brought her baby with her and hopes for a glimpse of God and through those of the lustful rapist Sweeny who has no thoughts but those of personal gain. The story is an interesting mix of horror, occult, and philosophy. This book irresistibly called to mind Edgar Allen Poe or perhaps H.P. Lovecraft, in that although the story was peopled with evil, twisted characters it is written in such a way that the reader does not actually become frightened. (Except at one point close to the end where I was surprised at how horrified and repelled I was by something a character said.) This leaves the reader free to appreciate the more philosophical aspects as well. It was written in a style that definitely reminded me of other 1970's vintage horror/occult books I had written which was a strange style of reminiscing. I'm not sure if I'll reread it but I do know that I couldn't put it down.

Something New
Ana Markovic by David Murdoch
We meet Ana, a homeless alcoholic, in the hospital where she is recovering from almost having died from alcohol poisoning. As she recovers, Ana begins to remember an amazing "dream" that began with St. Michael, the Archangel offering her a chance for redemption. Interlaced with the story of the dream are Ana's memories of why she became homeless, commentary about what it means to truly live one's faith as a Catholic, and analysis of how all this weaves together with modern life to make it necessary to fight a heroic battle for salvation. Ana feels she does not matter and God knows she does. The question becomes whether Ana can be made to believe it or whether she will reject God. This issue appealed to me, especially considering my atheistic parents. Murdoch's writing style is straight forward and direct. His reasoning is passionate and the teaching style of the story put me in mind of The Shack, although this is definitely a Catholic book. I read this partly because I was interested to see the apologetics for so many arguments that are raised these days against Christianity. However, mostly I read it ... in two days straight ... because I was hooked. I can't put my finger on why the way that I can with most of the books I read, but I found this book really interesting and enjoyed reading it. (Note: I did see some misspellings and a couple of format misses that should have been caught by an editor.)

Something for the Gents
Crossing the Goal -- Playbook on the Virtues
by Danny Abramowicz, Peter Herbeck, Curtis Martin and Brian Patrick
This is a study guide companion to the sports format EWTN show of the same name. However, I don't think that one must have seen the show to get a great deal of good out of the book. Using eye-catching graphics and subtitles like "Pregame," "Kickoff," and "Game Plan" to emphasize different sections, the book is a straight forward approach to why men should care about and practice the virtues. I liked this on two levels. The direct approach was very easy to understand but left room for conversation and thought. As a woman, it gave me a bit of insight into the issues that men struggle with which are different from those of my sex. As well, I really liked the idea that men would struggle and care about following Jesus in a ... well ... manly way. These days, that is a commodity all too little valued. It made me have an added appreciation and love for the Christian men in my life, both family and friends. I am not the target audience, of course, but I know a lot of men's men who would really appreciate the approach this book takes. Recommended.

Something for the Ladies
Courageous Love: A Bible Study on Holiness for Women
Courageous Virtue: A Bible Study On Moral Excellence for Women
Courageous Women: A Study On The Heroines Of Biblical History
by Stacy Mitch
I just encountered these Catholic Bible studies for women and am really impressed. I say that as someone who does not really enjoy self-guided studies where one must look up verses and answer questions. However, there is something compelling about the way that Mitch threads together thoughtful commentary, personal experiences, saints' quotes, and prayers with Church teachings and scripture. Even though each book has the leader's guide in the back (that's right ... the answers), I have been more interested in looking up verses and coming to my own conclusions. Distinctly surprising was the way that Mitch snuck up and struck me dumb on several occasions when I thought smugly that "everyone knows the answer to that" ... but humored the process by looking up the answer (I'm always the smart aleck rolling her eyes at the back of the class ... but you knew that right?). Of course, everyone might know those answers, but I didn't. Not only did this leave me respecting Mitch even more but some of those answers were very big ones that are repeatedly useful as I struggle in daily life to be a good disciple of Christ. These are great studies and I'm going to be recommending them to a lot of my friends.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Animated Catholic Film Inspires Catholic Youth to Live With Fearless Faith

cross-posted from A Catholic View

In an age increasingly resistant to faith, no one is more vulnerable to secular attacks than our children. Catholic Heroes of the Faith presents "The Story of Saint Perpetua", a riveting, true account of a young woman whose faith and eventual martyrdom has left a lasting impression throughout the centuries. This first episode of the new animated series will inspire Catholic youth to respond with fearless courage and unselfish love in the midst of a godless culture.

According to the review on the United States Catholic Council of Bishop's website, "This is an uplifting half-hour animated dramatization of the arrest, imprisonment and martyrdom of saints Perpetua, Felicity and their companions, in the North African city of Carthage circa 203 AD. Aimed at viewers eight and up, the hand-drawn cartoon adheres to the journal Perpetua kept in prison, and shows her pagan father's efforts to convince her to abandon the faith, her bold testimony during her trial and -- as recorded at the end of the journal by a follower -- her fortitude in the arena."

story here

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Movie Review: The Final Destination - R

cross-posted from A Catholic View

Nick and his friends go to a race, and he has a vision in which he foresees a crash, which precedes a collapse of the stands. Both they, and a group of people in the stands around them escape.

One by one, those who escaped the racetrack begin to die in freak accidents. The point appears to be that it was their time to go, and if they escaped that event, they will die by some other means, in the same order.
This point seems to conflict with the main plot, in which Nick and his girlfriend Lori and George, the security guard from the racetrack, believe that if they break the pattern by saving one of them, they can prevent the others from dying. One by one, they try to do just that.

If you can overlook the gory scenes, the 3D was really cool. I wouldn't call it an action movie, but the plot kept it interesting, more so than a typical horror movie.

Content Warnings: Plenty of gore, especially items going through peoples' heads. A scene where someone is caught and killed in an escalator. A scene where someone is caught and killed in a pool filter. A sex scene with nudity.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Movie Review: The Time Traveler's Wife

I reviewed the novel here. When I heard it was going to be a movie, I wondered how the story would be handled. There's a lot of jumping around and changes in point-of-view, switching from Henry to Clare and back again. How would a movie audience not become confused?

Screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin did an excellent job. The movie begins with young Henry DeTamble in the car with his mother, an opera singer, on a fateful Christmas Eve, when Henry discovers his ability to move through time. An older Henry (Eric Bana) meets him at the side of the road, bringing a blanket, and reassuring young Henry that, although this experience is strange, it will be okay.

Flash forward several years. A young student, Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams), needs a book in the Collections section. She is referred to the librarian, whom she recognizes as Henry. However, Henry hasn't met her yet, so he's confused. Over dinner, Clare explains how she knows Henry from her childhood. And why his time-traveling doesn't surprise her.

It does surprise the boyfriend of her roommate, however. Gomez (Ron Livingston) is very protective of Clare. When he sees Henry fighting in alley while wearing a pink ruffled top and cutoff shorts, he has a few questions. He has a few more when Henry breaks into a surplus store and when Henry disappears. Gomez tries to tell Clare, but, of course, she knows all about Henry's traveling.

Henry's travel causes several awkward moments, especially since he seems to "travel" during times of stress. His traveling has also created a rift with his father (Arliss Howard), who wants to know why Henry can't prevent his mother's death. And, apparently, time traveling is genetic. Clare has several miscarriages as the developing fetus "travels" out of her uterus. (Why this didn't happen with Henry--or where his time travel gene came from--is never explained, which bugs me a bit.)

The emotions and relationships among the characters are well done and realistic, especially when Henry and Clare deal with the miscarriages. There is one, almost obligatory, slam against Clare's father who is "a Republican and he hunts." Of course, the fact that this particular Republican paid for Clare to study art in college is never mentioned. Ignore that and the miscarriage/gene plot hole and enjoy the movie.

The ending, although different from the book, is poignant and satisfactory.

There are some sex scenes which are more sensual than sex. When Henry time travels, he arrives nude, but these are also tastefully done. There is one phrase ("Oh, sh..!") that recurs, but usually in situations where I'd say the same thing. It's rated PG-13, which seems appropriate, but I don't think many younger teens would enjoy it.

I made Hubs take me to this movie. To quote him, "This is a chick flick a guy can enjoy!" There's the science fiction element, it's not mushy, and there is some action--Henry is definitely not a beta male.

On the March Hare scale: 4.5 out of 5 Golden Tickets

Crossposted at The Mad Tea Party

Book Review: One Life

One Life: Hope, Healing and Inspiration on the Path to Recovery from Eating Disorders

by Naomi Feigenbaum
Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2009

When I had the opportunity to review “One Life: Hope, Healing and Inspiration on the Path to Recovery from Eating Disorders” by Naomi Feigenbaum, I did so with both interest and fear. I am a recovered anorexic myself. It’s been nearly twenty years but I can still remember the feelings associated with that period as if it were yesterday. From this vantage point, I was able to fully appreciate the struggle Naomi went through. She has written a powerful book detailing her experience of recovery at an inpatient treatment center. She has done so in a positive way, trying to help those who may follow in her footsteps. As she states, “It is my hope that the description of factors common to all eating disorders, as well as the skills I have learned to deal with them, will help other women gain the hope, courage, and confidence to give up their own eating disorders and to fully recover.”

The title of this book “One Life” comes from a statement that one of Naomi’s therapists makes, “You only have one life; don’t waste it on an eating disorder.” Each chapter in the book corresponds to one week of her treatment. Naomi begins each chapter with a skill for recovering anorexics to work on. She lists the skill, how to use this skill, and when to use it. The skills run the gamut from Being Honest to Using Your Voice to Reaching Out to Others and Relinquishing Control. These are useful skills for everyone to have.

Naomi is to be commended for her honesty and willingness to share. A powerful passage comes towards the end of the book when she finally realizes the reason for her eating disorder, “I was afraid of life. I was afraid of confrontation with others and not getting what I needed, so it was easier not to ask. It was difficult to cope in healthy ways and far easier to resort to attention-seeking behaviors and forcing others to take care of me. Life is full of challenges. It was easier to sink into non-existence, comforted by the familiarity of the eating disorder I had known for years.”

“One Life” should be required reading for anyone touched by an eating disorder. I would particularly recommend it for parents who have a child struggling with an eating disorder. It provides a valuable window to what is going on in the mind of someone struggling with this. Thank you, Naomi, for writing this book.

Reviewed by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Eduardo Verastegui tells Catholic youth about call to holiness

cross-posted from A Catholic View

Catholic actor Eduardo Verastegui was one of several speakers at an annual festival held at Walsingham, England during the country’s August bank holiday weekend. About 1,500 young people took part in the five day session of camping, music and Catholic renewal. Verastegui told the youthful audience that they were called to holiness in their everyday lives, according to a press release from Youth 2000. He also spoke to the young pilgrims about chastity.

He explained that after his conversion he refused film scripts that did not promote Christian values.

“I was without work for four years,” he said.

He told the audience he had felt called to become a missionary in the Brazilian jungle, but a priest told him “Hollywood is your jungle.”

Verastegui founded Metanoia Films, a company dedicated to producing films that are upbeat and promote virtue. The actor starred in Metanoia’s 2007 film “Bella” about the story of a young girl who was considering an abortion.

story here

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Christian Band BarlowGirl Hits on Women's Post-Abortion Pain in Song Tears Fall

cross-posted from A Catholic View

The popular all-girl Christian rock band BarlowGirl hits on the emotional pain women frequently experience following in an abortion in a new song. The track "Tears Fall" off of their new album "Love and War" is a reminder that abortion hurts women as well as unborn children.

The piano-based ballad is written from a post-abortive woman's perspective and shares her painful memories and dreams of children who will never experience life.

"I have had the same dreams many times it haunts my mind, It starts with a light but it ends every time, Oh so many faces that this world will never see, A reason for your life but your heart will never be," the song begins.

The song is descirbed as having a Norah Jones-ish quality and a gospel choir adds a soulful background to the chorus.

story here

Book Review: Fearless by Max Lucado

Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear

by Max Lucado
Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2009

The title of Max Lucado’s latest book is a powerful one. “Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear.” One reads that and thinks, “Wow, that would be nice. It’s not possible, but it would be a great thing if it were only true.” After all, there is so much to fear. Every day the news media tells us of all of the threats to our very existence and way of life. Lucado acknowledges that fear. He understands that we are all very much afraid and does not make light of it or dismiss it. Rather, he encourages us to lean on the One who tells us not to fear. As Lucado tells us, “The Gospels list some 125 Christ-issued imperatives. Of these, 21 urge us to ‘not be afraid’ or ‘not fear’ or ‘have courage’ or ‘take heart’ or ‘be of good cheer.’ The second most common command, to love God and neighbor, appears on only eight occasions. If quantity is any indicator, Jesus takes our fears seriously. The one statement he made more than any other was this: don’t be afraid.”

Lucado explores the very real fears that we do have and offers God’s word to help allay those fears. He examines the fear of not being worth anything, the fear of disappointing God, of not having enough, of not protecting one’s children, of facing challenges, of violence, of death, and fearing that maybe our faith is all for nothing, that maybe there really isn’t a God at all. Through it all, Lucado does not sugarcoat the reality of life. Perhaps that is the most refreshing quality of this book. He does not promise that all will be well simply if we believe in Jesus. He knows that is not the case. True believers still encounter all the evil that the world has to offer. What Lucado does do is encourage readers to lean on God through it all, to give Him our fear and trust that God knows what He is doing. Lucado writes, “real courage embraces the twin realities of current difficulty and ultimate triumph. Yes, life stinks. But it won’t forever. As one of my friends likes to say, ‘Everything will work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.’” He maintains that difficulties have a different purpose when viewed from an eternal perspective. “What makes no sense in this life will make perfect sense in the next.” He compares this world to life in our mother’s womb. A lot of things were going on there that no doubt made no sense to us and served no real purpose in utero. Yet, they existed for life in this world. The same will hold true for what we encounter now and life in the next. We have no need to fear. We are in good hands.

Reviewed by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Leticia's new gig; Hartford Catholic Examiner

Click here to read my first story on the famous 1971 letter to a prolife constituent to see how far Teddy Kennnedy strayed from his Catholic roots.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Press interview Eduardo Verastegui; star of "Bella"

Here is the video link of the August 11, 2009 press interview with Eduardo Verastegui and yours truly.
I was impressed by his humble demeanor, he went round the room in the beginning, shaking hands and hearing introductions, and when he sat down, right in front of me, he looked a little nervous. Eduardo has just been to China, Italy and Africa advancing the cause of needy pregnant poor women, raising money for a hospital for the poor in LA, and he is nervous in a provincial college in front of mostly Catholic press. It shows that his focus in not on his impressive accomplishments. When asked if he fears being pigeonholed as a 'Catholic' actor, he looked steadily into the questioner's eyes, and replied, "there is only one thing I am afraid of; not serving God".
Courtesy of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate from
Photos courtesy of my daughter Gabriela in the red shirt.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Documentary to examine ‘Blood Money’ motive in abortion industry

cross-posted from A Catholic View

An upcoming pro-life documentary named “Blood Money” aims to shake the viewer “to the very core” and expose the “inconvenient truth” about the money involved in the abortion industry. The documentary interviews pro-life leaders, former abortionists, and women who have been harmed by abortion.

One of the interviewees featured in the movie trailer, Carol Everett, was a part owner of several abortion clinics in the Dallas area who has repented of her involvement in abortion.

In the Blood Money trailer she talks of the unsavory practices her clinics were involved in.

“Our goal was three to five abortions from every girl from the ages 13 to 18,” she says.

Everett describes a plan to “sell abortions” by using sex education to “break down” the natural modesty of children, separate them from their parents and their values, and establish the abortion provider as the sex expert in young people’s lives.

“So they would turn to us when we would give them a low-dose birth control pill they would get pregnant on, or a defective condom,” she says.

story here

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Our Lady of Guadalupe on bestseller lists

Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Andersen's book, "Our Lady of Guadalupe; Mother of a Civilization of Love" debuted on the New York Times and Publisher's Weekly bestseller lists. It was written with the postulator of the cause of St Juan Diego, Msgr Eduardo Chavez of Mexico City.

It's good for the nation to see evidence that Our Lady is still a powerful evangelizer. After the appariaiton, over six million Aztec Indians converted to Catholicism.

I hope to be attending a book launch event with Msgr Chavez next week. I'll report on it here.

Read the entire story at CNA.