Tuesday, October 15, 2013

These Books Just In: Angels, Bones, Marriage, Buckets, and Modern Martyrs

It's book publishing time and often when I check my mailbox I get that wonderful feeling of receiving an unexpected gift. I haven't read these books ... yet ... for the most part, but I will be.

However, I wanted to give a heads up on these because I don't want you to wait on me.

Entertaining Angels by Mike Aquilina
Catholic Scripture Study
Every Sunday Roman Catholics (like many other Christians) stand to profess our faith in God who created "all things visible and invisible." and we confess our sins the presence of "all the angels and saints." Discover that angels are spiritual, personal, and immortal creatures, with intelligence and free will, who glorify God without ceasing and who serve God as messengers of His saving plan!
We all know that I'm a fan of Mike Aquilina's books and anyone who, like me, read his book Angels of God knows that he's wonderful at explaining the ethereal in ways we can relate to. This is a 10-lesson scripture study that covers angelic information from creation to salvation history to spiritual combat and beyond. I've been a fan of the Catholic Scripture Study program since they used to be featured free on Catholic Exchange (yes, waaay back in the day). Aquilina and CSS make a good combo.

These Beautiful Bones: An Everyday Theology of the Body by Emily Stimpson
It was Blessed John Paul II's greatest gift to the Church: The theology of the body. A window into who we are, the theology of the body is a theology for the rooms where we make love. But it's also a theology for the rooms where we work, where we eat, where we laugh, and where we pray. These Beautiful Bones takes you on a walk through those rooms. With both humor and practical wisdom, it sheds light on what the theology of the body has to say about life beyond the bedroom, about the everyday moments of life, helping you discover how to let grace enter into those moments and make of them something extraordinary.
For everyone who thought that the Theology of the Body is only about sex ... which it is ... and it isn't. Full disclosure: I did the graphic layout on the cover and text for this book. I read just enough of it here and there in the course of my work to know that this was a book I wanted to read. Relatable and thought provoking ... at least the parts I read as I went.

Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak
Nationally syndicated radio hosts and international family life speakers Greg and Lisa Popcak combine decades of counseling, the latest findings in marriage research, twenty-three years of marriage, and the wisdom of Catholic teaching to offer newlyweds a master plan for creating a strong bond in the first five years of marriage.
I know, I know ... blah, blah blah ... self-help ... and so forth. This one I've actually read, albeit super fast. So let me give you the short version: this is now the book I'm going to give newlyweds. I wish we'd had it when we got married. I wasn't religious at all then and my husband was not a practicing Catholic. Nevertheless, I stand by that. It would have helped us tremendously. And it's good for those married longer than that too.

God's Bucket List: Heaven's Surefire Way to Happiness in This Life and Beyond by Teresa Tomeo
Scripture tells us only God knows the desires of our hearts. It was, after all, God who placed them there because they are designed to lead us to His will for our lives. Why, then, is it so challenging at times to figure out if we are on the right track when it comes to what we believe we want or need? God's Bucket List will examine what God wants for each of us: mercy, fruitfulness, fellowship, and peace, just to name a few, and will explain what the Christian faith teaches about these gifts and how we can begin to achieve and cross out, one by one, the items on that heavenly list.
Not being into bucket lists, this didn't sound like the sort of book I wanted to spend time on. However, when I read an excerpt Tomeo was talking about exactly the sorts of things I agree with and struggle to accomplish, like being able to just sit in the back yard and enjoy the day ... without having to be doing anything. And, it was something I needed to hear right then, which is kind of the point of this book. So ... I'm interested.

The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution by John L. Allen Jr.
This book is about the most dramatic religion story of the early twenty-first century, yet one that most people in the West have little idea is even happening: the global war on Christians. We're not talking about a metaphorical "war on religion" in Europe and the United States, fought on symbolic terrain such as whether it's okay to erect a nativity scene on the courthouse steps, but a rising tide of legal oppression, social harassment, and direct physical violence, with Christians as its leading victims. However counterintuitive it may seem in light of popular stereotypes of Christianity as a powerful and some­ times oppressive social force, Christians today indisputably are the most persecuted religious body on the planet, and too often their new martyrs suffer in silence. ...

This is a truly ecumenical scourge, in the sense that it afflicts evangelicals, mainline Protestants, Anglicans, Orthodox, Catholics, and Pentecostals alike. All denominations have their martyrs, and all are more or less equally at risk. A 2011 report from the Catholic humanitarian group Aid to the Church in Need described the worldwide assault on Christians as “a human rights disaster of epic proportions.”

This book looks to shatter that silence.

The mere introduction dealt with horrifying images of what Christians are subjected to, right now, specifically because of their faith. I cringed away from the idea of reading an entire book about this, but felt that if I didn't at least try then I was failing them somehow, was denying that they were actually in the dire straits they suffer. So I accepted the review copy. I trust Allen and I think looking away is not an option for me right now.

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