Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book Review: Will I See My Dog in Heaven?

Will I See My Dog In Heaven
by Jack Wintz, OFM
Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2009

I think that everyone who has ever loved an animal has wondered whether we will see them again in heaven. The traditional Catholic answer has always been "No" because animals don't have free will like we do. Therefore, they can't choose to love God and have no part in the beatific vision that awaits us after death. While Franciscan Friar Jack Wintz acknowledges that no one knows for sure whether animals will share heaven with us, in "Will I See My Dog in Heaven?" he makes a strong case that they will indeed share in the glory to come.

Wintz relies on Scripture and the witness of the saints to support his position. As a Franciscan, he takes St. Francis' position that animals are our brothers and sisters seriously. Not only does Wintz focus on the question of whether our beloved pets will be in heaven, but also on the broader issue of "Does God intend the whole created world to share in God's saving plan?" Believing that God intends heaven to be a new Garden of Eden (and that scripture expresses this), Wintz' answer is an unequivocal "yes." After all, God cares for all of his creation, not just the humans. In the Biblical telling of "Noah and the Ark," God makes sure that all the animals are saved. The covenant symbolized by the rainbow is made not only with humans, but with all the other living creatures (Gen 9:8-10). In the tale of Jonah and the city of Ninevah, the animals fasted along with the people. All were required to turn from their evil ways. In Psalm 148, all of creation gives God praise. These are just some of the pieces of evidence Wintz offers. His arguement is well-thought out and compelling.

No one knows for certain what heaven will look like, but Wintz does make a strong case that we will see our faithful four-legged friends and all of the animals in the kingdom to come. I very much hope that he is right!

Reviewed by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

You Are What You See is NOW AVAILABLE

You Are What You See: Watching Movies Through a Christian Lens is now available as an e-book. The paperback will be released on June 10th.


Click below to read some sample chapters from the book:

Chapter One: Sometimes You Have to Die Before You Can Be Reborn

Chapter Eleven: Christians and Culture: Backseat Driving on the Road to Hell

Chapter Twenty-Seven: Morality Points

You can find more on the site.

Don't forget to visit my Facebook page.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Review: "Final Justice" by Marta Perry

Mason Grant and Jennifer Pappas were friends in college, and they have recently reconnected since their 10-year college reunion.  During construction on campus, the body of their friend Josie is found.   She had had  a baby shortly before her death.

Mason has a lot to deal with: a DNA test shows that he is the father of Josie's 10 year-old daughter Alexis,  and now he is trying to develop a relationship with both Alexis and Jennifer.

They soon find themselves threatened by Penny Brighton, the woman who killed Josie (I was a bit surprised that this was revealed so early in the story, but that fact is essential to the rest of the plot).  Penny soon shows that she can get to either Alexis or Jennifer whenever she wants.  Mason must now  try to protect both Alexis and Jennifer from Penny.

I love the combination of suspense and faith.   While both Mason and Jennifer rely on each other and their faith,  they must also deal with past events from their lives.

An excellent story.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Narnia: The Dawn Treader - December 10

On December 10, audiences from around the globe will be able to return to the magic and wonder of C.S. Lewis' beloved world - via the fantastic Narnian ship, the Dawn Treader. In this latest installment of the blockbuster The Chronicles of Narnia motion picture franchise, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, along with their cousin Eustace and their royal friend King Caspian, find themselves swallowed into a painting and on to the Dawn Treader. As they embark on an incredible adventure of destiny and discovery, they confront obstacles beyond imagination.

Book Review: "Twin Targets" by Marta Perry

U.S. Marshal Micah McGraw has the unpleasant job of informing Jade Summers that her sister Ruby, who was in Witness Protection, is dead. They soon find out that he now has the dangerous job of protecting Jade, because she is next on the killer's list. Their only clue as to why she is a target is that it possibly relates to a 20 year-old case. They get help from Micah's brother, an FBI agent who worked that case.

Although Micah and Jade begin to develop feelings for each other, they both start to wonder who, if anyone, they can trust as the danger continues. The suspense builds to an exciting climax: I couldn't put it down, and I also couldn't guess the guilty party. My only disappointment was that two questions remain unanswered.

This is the 4th book by Ms. Perry that I've read; I've become a fan of hers. If you're looking for romance and mystery, without offensive language or offensive scenes, Ms. Perry is a good place to start.

cross-posted from A Catholic View

Another Batch o' Books

Books that have been flowing through our house and my consciousness ... which can provide good reading.

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey *****
A classic mystery except that it is conducted by a Scotland Yard inspector who is in the hospital for several weeks bored out of his mind (this is before television). He is known for his ability to "read faces" and is intrigued by a portrait of Richard III. Could such a sensitive face actually belong to a king who murdered his nephews to secure his crown? With the help of an American scholar, he investigates using historical sources, and then must investigate their sources. This is a brilliant work that remains deservedly one of the best known mystery stories ever.

Blackout by Connie Willis *
I never thought I'd give Connie Willis a one-star review. Honestly? If they had no stars, that is what I'd give. What a waste of time. If it were any other author I'd have stopped long ago but I kept giving her more chances.

This is the first of a two-part series about traveling back to WWII London. Problems with the book: Soooo many different characters. Thrown in seemingly randomly in fairly similar settings so it takes me a bit to catch the switch. That is quite annoying. Worse yet, no forward motion ever takes place. The various characters move throughout their little stories, all wondering why no one from home base has come through to save them and take them back to their own time (they do this over and over and over ... aaargh .. what a bunch of wusses). You may or may not care about the characters and their stories, but eventually you tire even of those because they, too, go nowhere. What a lot of wasted ink and paper.

Editors, you should have reined Willis in and forced the story into one book. I no longer care what happens to any of them so the second book is completely wasted. What a shame and a waste of writing talent.

How's Your Drink? Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking Well by Eric Felten ****
I always enjoyed reading Eric Felten's weekly cocktail column in the Wall Street Journal and was very sorry when it recently ended. Luckily, this book conveys the interesting combination of history and drink that Felten is so good at writing. With delicious and carefully selected recipes, naturally! I have tried the Raspberry Shrub and found it delicious.

The Beer Trials by Fearless Media Critic ****
As with The Wine Trials, the authors give many different kinds of beer the paper-bag review treatment. This allows them to find the best tasting beer without prejudicing results by seeing labels or brands.

I can say this is probably the only book that Tom has ever hijacked from me. He spent quite some time perusing the results and reading aloud various selections that had been reviewed. Yes, we're more beer drinkers than wine drinkers in our household.

The book also has a very interesting front section that describes the difference between all the different kinds of beer. Who knew? Not me!

We have several sorts of beer on our list to try now and luckily we can probably find many of them at our nearby Central Market.

Highly recommended. (This was a review copy.)

The "R" Father by Mark Hart ***
Written in a straight forward fashion but providing surprising insights to the Our Father (The Lord's Prayer) from the perspective of reflecting on it in 14 phrases. I plan on reviewing this properly but don't wait for that. Get it. Recommended.

City of Dragons by Kelli Stanley *
I believe that many have read my comments from when I was about halfway through this book. Just when I thought I was reconciled to all the above, was jogging along, in a story that has been told in the detective's POV (including thoughts) ... the author suddenly throws in one sentence that tells us what someone else is thinking. Then back to usual. I figured it was an editorial miss from rewriting. But no, a couple of pages later, there is a whole paragraph that way again. No warning, just tossed in there and then gone again. So disruptive to the reader. Or at least this reader. It tosses me out of the story completely. And guess what? It tells us nothing new. Nothing. We already knew those things about the reporter. Was it that the editor missed this? Lost a fight? Or, worse, thought it was a good idea? Oy veh ...

In summary: this noir wannabe is actually chick lit. It should have been cut in half by the editors. This could have been easily achieved by not indulging the author in her desire to "take us back in time" by describing every single item, person, and place encountered. I know her afterward discusses the authenticity. I'd prefer an authentically well told tale to meandering about in old San Francisco.

These Just In
From St. Benedict Press I received this interesting grab bag of books:
  • Bleeding Hands, Weeping Stone by Elizabeth Ficocelli: when Ficocelli discovered that she wasn't the only one who'd never heard of many of the Church's approved miracles, she wrote this book.
  • The Essential Belloc edited by McCloskey, Bloch, and Robertson: quotes and fairly lengthy excerpts make up this compilation, sorted by subject. I was initially uninterested, however, as I have always meant to read Belloc, this actually looks like a good beginning point what with those lengthy excerpts and all. Tom picked this up, flipped through, and instantly began laughing and reading me a bit. Which is a good beginning I think we would all agree.
  • The Judas Syndrome: Seven Ancient Heresies Return to Betray Christ Anew by Thomas Colyandro: I believe that this is the book I wrote to request. I am fascinated by all the ways that old heresies pop up in new clothing to mislead us anew. This looks very interesting.
  • The Three Marks of Manhood: How to be Priest, Prophet and King of Your Family by G.C. Dilsaver: Tom saw this and instantly quipped, "As long as I'm king then I don't need to be priest or prophet." Joking and title aside, this actually looks like a pretty good book for those who want to regain a sense of proportion about their marriages and homes. Rather akin to the goals that I see and agree with in The Art of Manliness, which is a regular read for me.
I just wanna say one more time to small publishers ... giant type makes baby Jesus cry. Puhleez people!

Cross-posted from Happy Catholic. You can see much more of my reading at Good Reads.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Movie Review: Iron Man 2 (2010)

Short Review: Everything they did right in the first movie, they did wrong in this one.

In this follow up to Iron Man, director Jon Favreau comes down with a serious case of the sophomore blues. The original film had a sarcastic edge that smoothed out a clunky but still enjoyable plot. The origin story of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) introduced an externally belligerent/internally weak man who finds the cure for his mid-life crisis. In the original Stark is forced to beat down his past self, personified by his business partner Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges). This outing avoids all of that messy character stuff and focuses on lots of loud noises, flashing lights and Scarlett Johansson in a body sock.

Tony Stark returns having achieved world peace thanks to his use of the Iron Man suit. At least, that is what we're told. We never get to actually see him protect the world. It's all explained in a Senate hearing. This makes Stark's hero work an abstract. This in turn makes it meaningless. If it is not on the screen, it doesn't exist for the audience.

The screenplay by Justin Theroux clearly explains that the world is at peace in the opening moments. One would then expect that in turn this world peace would be threatened. Nope. Stark is attacked by Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), a Russian physicist with a grudge. Vanko's personal vendetta is funded by Stark's weapons manufacturer rival Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell). World peace is never actually threatened. The only things threatened in this story are the egos of a bunch of scummy super-geniuses. This does not make for a riveting central conflict.

This lack of stakes is the main reason the film fails so completely. Theroux doesn't paint himself into narrative corners, he paints himself out of the whole room. He is so busy introducing characters for the upcoming Avengers movie and fumbling with technological presentations that he almost doesn't have time shoehorn in any actual characterization.

There are numerous scriptural issues that make the story fall flat. This is evidenced in Stark giving up his company in the first act. Once he does this he has literally nothing to lose. At no time does he find it critical to get his company back. It is just something that happens. If it has no deeper value, why does Theroux involve it in the film?

At one point Hammer tells Vanko to take Stark's "legacy" from him. How does the audience know when his "legacy" is taken away? We are given a statement of action by the villains and it involves a motive no less intangible than them saying they're going to hurt Stark's feelings. This is poor writing.

Vanko's whole motivation is a vacuum. Favreau gives us enough to understand that Vanko is fueled by revenge, but this revenge is hollow because we don't understand its cause. This results in Vanko being little more than another hurdle Stark must overcome instead of a villain to confront. (Spoiler warning) This is why at the end, Stark so easily overcomes Vanko and his droid army and why Vanko's death has zero dramatic punch. He is a non-entity. (Spoiler done)

The film also lacks any symbolism or meaning. In the original we were given the cheesy, but effective symbol of Stark's heart. Does Tony Stark have a heart? Yes, and its sitting in this little glass box. It is a symbol that is referred to and played upon throughout the entire film.

In this film, Favreau sets up a similar conceit. Stark is literally being poisoned by his suit. While the suit gives him fame and glory, it is also making him more toxic (both literally and figuratively). This is a solid metaphor and it is strongly established early on. It is then left unused.

One would hope that when they set up in the first act that Tony Stark and Iron Man are one in the same and that he gains so much through wearing the suit, that in the end he would have to discard the suit in order to complete his heroic task. This would make Stark the real Iron Man and make the suit his accessory, instead of it being the other way around. No such luck.

Overall, this version of the film is an incomplete draft of what should have been a more enjoyable production. It stinks of something that was rushed to market. This is not a good movie. Its not even a passable one. The film ultimately becomes an elongated teaser trailer for the upcoming The Avengers movie, hitting screens in 2012.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Movie Review: Robin Hood - PG13

cross-posted from A Catholic View

The latest version of the Robin Hood tale.   I'm more of a Kevin Costner fan than a Russell Crowe fan , but I give Crowe the nod on this story.

Robin is part of the army of King Richard the Lion Heart.  When Sir Richard Loxley dies in battle,  Robin returns Richard's sword to his widow, Marion Loxley.  He poses as her husband so she won't lose her property (this is 12th century), and later  falls in love with her.  

When King Richard is also killed in battle, his brother John becomes king.  King John is neither qualified nor reputable.

There are two battles being fought.  The people are rebelling against the tyranny of both the Sheriff of Nottingham and King John,  and the  King's army and the people are resisting an invasion by the French.  Robin is key in both battles.   Robin's crew are very capable, and very loyal to him.

There is lots of action, mostly battle scenes.  The scenery is beautiful. The story could have been told better, because it doesn't always seem to flow well.   The audio could have been better, because in many scenes, Russell Crowe sounds like he is mumbling.  I did like the characters because they are unique, personable and entertaining.  

Content warning: There is one scene where one of the sheriff's men gets Marion alone and there is a very sexually suggestive scene.
I would NOT recommend for kids, but adults will likely enjoy it.  Overall, very enjoyable.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Book Review: "Buried Sins" by Marta Perry

cross-posted from A Catholic View

In the first book, "Hide in Plain Sight", the central character was Andrea. The second book, "A Christmas to Die For" focused on Rachel. This third and final book in the Three Sisters Inn series focuses on the youngest sister, Caroline.  She's been living in Santa Fe, and comes home to the inn after her husband dies...or did he?   It's been years since Caroline lived with her  family, and she isn't quite sure what type of a reception to expect.   She's drifted away from her faith as well.   She describes her deal with God as  "He leaves me alone, I leave him alone".  She's been in trouble in the past, and she's brought some with her: someone has followed her home from Santa Fe.  Fortunately, Police Chief Zach Burkhalter is quick to figure out that Caroline is in danger and he helps her uncover the truth about her husband's death, and who is threatening her.  She must now rely on three things she is very unaccustomed to relying on: her family, a cop, and her faith.

I very much enjoyed this trilogy.  Ms. Perry has definitely saved the best for last.  I enjoyed the characters, and the story is very well told.  It is  a good mystery, but it is not so involved as to make it hard to enjoy.  I like the intertwining of the mystery with values such as faith and family.  I was only able to figure out one of the guilty parties, but Ms. Perry saves a nice twist to surprise us.

An excellent book.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

In one word--magnificent. But you will need more than one word. So--it is beyond comprehension that this is a first book. The elements of story, character, setting are so tightly bound, so perfectly intertwined, and so absolutely in-tune with one another. It is as if one had taken the fine-tuned sensibility of a Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer and wedded it to the intricate series of incident and entanglement (but NOT coincidence) that makes up a Dickens plot.
Steven Riddle's review at A Momentary Taste of Being is practically a work of art in itself. I already had requested it from the library before he began posting excerpts. This culminating summary makes my mouth water even more. No wonder I am #304 out of #350 requests at the library. I'd like to quote the entire review, but won't. I will let you enjoy it all at his blog. Here's just a touch more to lure you over there.
This is NOT a romance, even though it is a classic love story. It is a story centered around love and learning to love and understanding what love is and what love means, and by that understanding coming to forgive oneself one's shortcomings and to forgive the shortcomings so obvious in others. It would not be an exaggeration to say that properly read, this novel can be life-changing in the best possible way.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Book Review: "A Christmas to Die For" by Marta Perry

This book is a follow-up to "Hide in Plain Sight", which I reviewed earlier.   Andrea and Cal are away on their honeymoon, and Rachel is now running the Three Sisters Inn Bed and Breakfast, along with her grandmother.  One of her first guests is Tyler Dunn.  He has come to town to both dispose of his grandfather's property, which he now owns after the death of his mother, and to uncover the circumstances of his grandfather's death some 20 years earlier.  Because she knows the town and its residents, Rachel assists Tyler in his investigation, which can best be described as a 'relentless pursuit of the truth',  because it threatens to implicate Rachel's family.   Despite this, they begin to develop feelings for each other;  he doesn't want to hurt her, but he will not be deterred from his pursuit.  I like Rachel's occasional uttering of short little prayers such as "Lord, show me the way", reminding us to include God in our lives. 

Again, Ms. Perry does a very good job of developing and shaping her characters.  You'll never figure out the guilty party...and isn't that the way a good mystery should be?  The story is well told, at a good pace.  We even find out the answer to one of the mysteries from the earlier story.  The circumstances of Tyler's grandfather's death,  combined with their feelings for each other, creates a very suspenseful reading experience.

An excellent book.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Book Review: "Go in Peace"

Go in Peace: Your Guide to the Purpose and Power of Confession

by Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J. and Sean Brown
West Chester, PA: Ascension Press, 2007

If there is one area of Catholicism that causes more confusion than any other, it is the Sacrament of Reconciliation (also known as confession). In "Go in Peace: Your Guide to the Purpose and Power of Confession," Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J. and Sean Brown do an admirable job of explaining this sacrament. In a straight-forward question and answer format, they provide concise explanations of 101 aspects of sin, confession, heaven, hell, purgatory, and indulgences. Non-Catholics who wish to understand more about Catholicism will gain much information from this book. Catholics who struggle with the Sacrament of Reconciliation will find more reason to appreciate its value and the need for it. Catholics who regularly take advantage of the sacrament will still learn from "Go in Peace." The section on indulgences is particularly well-written and does much to clear up misunderstandings regarding this practice. "Go in Peace" also features a helpful Examination of Conscience at the end of the book to help people review the state of their soul prior to going to confession.

- Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Movie Review: Iron Man 2 - PG13

From the beginning, it is obvious that Tony Stark has parlayed being Iron Man into celebrity status.  His behavior is erratic and unpredictable, but that is because the power cell in his chest is making him sick.  Despite that, the point is quickly made that others have tried, and failed, to replicate the success of his Iron Man suit.   It's like he has become the country's only defense, and the reason for world peace.  But that is about to end, because evil  Ivan Vanko (Rourke) is working on replicating the suit, and gets backing from billionaire Justin Hammer (Rockwell). 

There was  more of a plot than I expected.  The visual effects were awesome, and there was plenty of action. I think Iron Man's alliance with War Machine (Jim Rhodes'  alter ego) and Natasha Romanoff added a lot to the story.

I liked the characters. Specifically, the strong character portrayal.  Robert Downey was very narcissistic, which was the main requirement for his character. Mickey Rourke was diabolical as Ivan Vanko. Sam Rockwell was annoying as Justin Hammer.  Don Cheadle was a better fit as James Rhodes than Terrence Howard was.  Scarlett Johansson was very weak as Natalie Rushman, but better as her alter ego  Natasha Romanoff. However, the best acting was Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts.  Samuel Jackson was flat as Nick Fury.

When watching a sequel, it is natural to draw comparisons between the two,  In this case, I think Iron Man 2 was much better than Iron Man.  I think at least some of the audience agreed;  at the end, the audience applauded.

2 words:  SEE IT!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Comedy Central developing Jesus Christ cartoon

What a bunch of hypocrites.
They were too afraid to air even one episode mocking Muhammad, but they're doing an entire series to insult Jesus.

Comedy Central might censor every image of the Prophet Muhammad on "South Park," yet the network is developing a whole animated series around Jesus Christ.

Jesus-south-park As part of the network's upfront presentation to advertisers (full slate here), the network is set to announce "JC," a half-hour show about Christ wanting to escape the shadow of his "powerful but apathetic father" and live a regular life in New York City.

In the show, God is preoccupied with playing video games while Christ, "the ultimate fish out of water," tries to adjust to life in the big city.

"In general, comedy in purist form always makes some people uncomfortable," said Comedy Central's head of original programming Kent Alterman.

When asked if the show might draw some fire, especially coming on the heels of the network's decision to censor the Muslim faith's religious figure on "South Park," Alterman said its too early in the show's development to be concerned about such matters.


They don't even mention it on their site, and they really don't appear to want any feedback or comments:  HERE is their "feedback" page.   Their parent company, MTV, is not much better.  HERE is their "feedback" page.

You can mail Comedy Central's CEO, Doug Herzog,at 2049 Century Park East, Ste. 4000, Los Angeles, CA, 90067. 
His email is 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Movie Review: The Preacher's Kid - PG13 - Now on DVD/Blue Ray

"The Preacher's Kid" was released on DVD & Blue Ray today, May 4.

As the title implies, Angie King is the daughter of a preacher, Bishop King in Augusta, GA.  She is young, talented and  eager to explore the world.  She gets the opportunity to do just that when she leaves home and joins a traveling gospel show.  Her father is angry when she leaves, and tells her not to return. Angie turns her back on the life and the people she knows but doesn't appreciate, to enter a world she doesn't know, but gets drawn into.  She learns a lot about people, and herself in the process, especially who her real friends are.   She finds herself in a bad position, because the world she is encountering is NOT the world she expected, but she is also afraid to go home, not knowing if her father will welcome her.

As with the story, some of the characters are not as they appear, and some are exactly what you'd expect.  My favorite character is Wynton; my least favorite character is Devlin. 

I like the pace at which the story is told; it progresses and unfolds in a well told manner.  There are no sex scenes, but it is clear that Angie spends the night with Devlin.  I did not like the scenes where a man hits a woman.  The whole story is reminiscent of the parable of the Prodigal Son.   The primary recurring  theme is that of family. There is also the theme of redemption when people wander away from God and return to Him.  I particularly  enjoyed the music.

For an uplifting movie: check out the DVD!

Reviewing "Paul: Tarsus to Redemption" ... He's back, he's manga, and this time ... it's personal

We all know that with St. Paul it was always personal. Right?

This is not specifically Japanese manga, but a graphic novel that should entertain young readers (12+).
Paul's a young Jewish firebrand who kills or captures anyone who follows the new sect of Christianity. His closest friend, Septus, is a renegade Roman officer who helps Paul dominate the countryside. Paul gains a mentor but loses his friends when he finally embraces truth. He faces death at the hands of his closest companion, betrayal, constant danger, and destroyed love. Lose yourself in this epic reimagining of first-century Palestine.
I really enjoyed Paul: Tarsus to Redemption. One thing you've got to admit, scriptural stories are bigger than life (even though they usually were life) and lend themselves very well to dramatic depictions graphically.

The only point that somewhat confused me was the beginning ... who was Paul's blond buddy, why were they going to see the rabbi, and so forth. However, I believe that I was bogged down by my adult knowledge of St. Paul and trying too hard to connect it with the book. Once I "let go" then I was able to fully sink in and enjoy the story telling.

Likewise, I appreciated the ending of the book (is that a potential sweetheart we see on the scene?) completing the story full circle, even though it is clear that Paul will be traveling on. In fact I went back and read the beginning again. Whereupon it all made perfect sense. This graphic novel tweaks St. Paul's story only in the sorts of details that the best storytellers use to make their tales come alive. It is true to Biblical roots.

As I mentioned when I excitedly posted because this book was on the way ... if only Paul had shed some of those streaming manga tears, my joy would have been complete. He comes thiiiiiis close. So near and yet so far. Well there is always volume two to hope for.

I never met a girl yet who didn't enjoy stuff written for the guys, but in case you've got more feminine readers around than I did you might want to check out the upcoming Judith: Captive to Conqueror.
The Israelites have returned to their homeland after the Babylonian captivity, but now a new threat looms on the horizon. Holofernes, the wicked and conniving general of the Assyrian army, is sent to conquer all the world's temples, and now heads toward the Promise Land. But in Bethulia, the one city that stands between the Assyrians and Jerusalem, is Judith, the only woman with enough faith and courage to defend the Temple with her life.
Oh yeah. She's got it going on.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bill Donohue reviews newest Philip Pullman book on Jesus

Philip Pullman's new book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, is available in the U.S. on May 4; it is published by Canongate U.S. Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on it today:

The publisher was kind enough to send me an advance copy of Pullman's new book, no doubt hoping I would give it some free publicity by hammering it. They may be disappointed: it's an interesting fable and not in the slightest degree anti-Catholic.

My beef with Pullman's trilogy, His Dark Materials, and more specifically with the movie based on the first book, "The Golden Compass," centered on the attempt to seduce young people into thinking that atheism is the answer and the Catholic Church is the problem. But this book has no hidden agenda—it's a fanciful account of the Gospel story, one that displays the author's fervid imagination. Pullman's fairy tale sees Mary giving birth to twins: Jesus, a figure who bears resemblance to the Son of God known to Christians, and Christ, a less admirable character who is preoccupied with institutionalizing his legacy.
The most important statement about the book is not its contents, rather it is the decision to write it in the first place. Why would England's most famous atheist storyteller find it necessary to repair to the Gospels to write this book? What is it about Christianity that Pullman can't live without? And why does his fascination with religion not extend to other religions? To be sure, had Pullman taken liberties with Islam, he would have been a marked man. So much easier to deal with those Christians, most of whom are very nice.

The real issue remains. Christian novelists are not known for finding material in atheistic accounts of human existence—they simply ignore them—but the contra is not true. Perhaps Pullman can write another story explaining why.