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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: The Old Testament

GetImage.ashx?Path=%7e%2fAssets%2fProductImages%2fIOTH.jpg&maintainAspectRatio=true A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: The Old Testament

By John Bergsma and Brant Pitre

Although many Catholics are familiar with the four Gospels and other writings of the New Testament, for most, reading the Old Testament is like walking into a foreign land. Who wrote these forty-six books? When were they written? Why were they written? What are we to make of their laws, stories, histories, and prophecies? Should the Old Testament be read by itself or in light of the New Testament?

John Bergsma and Brant Pitre offer readable in-depth answers to these questions as they introduce each book of the Old Testament. They not only examine the literature from a historical and cultural perspective but also interpret it theologically, drawing on the New Testament and the faith of the Catholic Church. Unique among introductions, this volume places the Old Testament in its liturgical context, showing how its passages are employed in the current Lectionary used at Mass.

Accessible to nonexperts, this thorough and up-to-date introduction to the Old Testament can serve as an idea textbook for biblical studies. Its unique approach, along with its maps, illustrations, and other reference materials, makes it a valuable resource for seminarians, priests, Scripture scholars, theologians, and catechists, as well as anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the Bible.

"A remarkable achievement. Substantive and systematic, it integrates history, theology, faith, reason, Scripture, and tradition—all in light of the living authority of the Church." — Most Rev. Robert Barron, S.T.D., Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Los Angeles; Founder, Word on Fire Ministries

"This is the introduction to the Old Testament I've been waiting for! It is up-to-date, erudite yet accessible, succinct yet thorough, and most importantly, it responds to the Church's call for biblical scholarship done from a hermeneutic of faith." — Mary Healy, Ph.D., Professor of Scripture, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit

“The Best Books I Read in 2018”

“The Best Books I Read in 2018” | CWR Contributors | Forty CWR editors and contributors share their favorite reads from the last year.

On evangelizing the culture and why hobbits (really) need the Shire | Conor Sweeney | We, as “Christian hobbits”, need to understand that the real imperative and challenge of evangelization takes place well before we can even think of doing anything “out there.”

Living Advent and celebrating Christmas in a secularized, materialistic society | Fr. Peter M. J. Stravinaskas | Nine suggestions on how to re-capture a proper celebration of the Advent-Christmas cycle of the Church’s year.

An Advent Examination | Fr. Kenneth G. Davis, OFM Conv. | While not encouraging it as the grump who steals the joy of Christmas, what better way to prepare for Christ than by preparing our conscience?

Spanning continents and centuries, Our Lady’s message is clear | Jeanette Flood | At various times and places, the Blessed Mother has communicated to her children on Earth the need for repentance and trust in God’s mercy.

A short defense of authentic synodality | Dr. Adam A.J. DeVille | Prior to the conclusion of Vatican II, synods were not thematic conferences discussing boutique interests of some group or other. Far from it. 

The End and the Eucharist: Advent Wisdom from Newman and Knox | Fr. Charles Fox | In a very real sense, the end is always near, and the nearness of Christ’s coming calls us to action, to preparation, and vigilance.

Catholic. 100% Pro-life. Feminist. | K. V. Turley | “Like other pro-life feminists,” says Fiorella Nash, author of The Abolition of Woman, “I see abortion as a form of exploitation and a sign that contemporary feminism has lost its way.”

Saint Paul, the Apocalypse, and the mystery of evil | Conor Sweeney | Satan relentlessly pursues the best so that the worst might be that much more effective a lie.

A Spirituality of Advent | Fr. David V. Meconi | As God’s chosen ones “on the way,” we must insist on the quiet of Advent.  

Why I came to believe that Mary was conceived without sin | Dr. Leroy Huizenga | Most Catholic-Protestant debates surrounding Mary and beliefs such as the Immaculate Conception take place on a surface level.

February meeting at the Vatican needs to address directly the crisis of leadership | Christopher R. Altieri | The evils plaguing the US hierarchy are not limited to the capitally gruesome realities of child abuse and coverup, but include entrenched networks of corrupt and morally bankrupt clerics, high and low.

The Benedict Option for a “Monastic” Church | Richard H. Bulzacchelli, STD | When we confuse the City of God with the City of Man and believe Christians have more in common with the world than not, we assimilate to the world. 

Environmental questions we ought to (but rarely) ask | Thomas M. Doran | The greatest environmental threats are not in America or Europe but in autocratic states and in faux-democratic countries where privilege and graft are rampant.

Avoiding another Roman fiasco in February | George Weigel | There are disturbing signs that Those Who Just Don’t Get It are still not getting it, I’d like to flag some pitfalls the February meeting should avoid.

The Pope fiddles, the bishops fumble, and the laity fume | Carl E. Olson | No, it’s not clear that the Holy See is taking the abuse crisis seriously. And the USCCB isn’t helping matters.


From bartender to priest: 'God is very insistent!'

Following the conviction of Cardinal George Pell in the Australian state of Victoria last week, new details have emerged about the nature of the crimes for which he has been found guilty.
·      Daily Readings
·      Saint of the Day

“Mass of the Americas”

Triumphant premiere for “Mass of the Americas”: December 8 Mass in San Francisco incorporated a 16-voice mixed chorus, the organ, a string quartet, bells and marimba, with parts in Spanish, Latin and English, as well as Nahuatl

Churches worth driving to: St. Peter Chaldean, El Cajon

Ventura College: “I think there’s a higher being”: Inquiring Minds - second in a series

“They have convicted an innocent man”: Trial observer: “It was absolutely clear to everyone in that court that the accusations were baseless. It wasn’t that Pell didn’t do what he’s accused of -- he clearly couldn’t have done it.”

California bishops back push to end childhood poverty: California Catholic Conference joins press conference in support of package of legislation that would increase state funding for multiple services to children and low-income families

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Christianity Today's 2019 Book Awards

Christianity Today's 2019 Book Awards
Christianity Today's 2019 Book Awards
Our picks for the books most likely to shape evangelical life, thought, and culture.
There’s a funny graphic making the social media rounds that confirms a truth universally acknowledged, at least by bibliophiles. Under the heading “Do I need more books?” sits a pie chart partitioned into a big slice (in teal) and a much smaller slice (in yellow), representing the dueling impulses in play. Predictably enough, the teal portion depicts the overwhelming urge to answer with an emphatic “YES.” But then we confront the nagging, still small voice of conscience, ...
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Good News/Bad News from Psychology

Good News/Bad News from Psychology

First the bad news:
Here we shine some evidence-based light on the matter through 10 dispiriting findings that reveal the darker and less impressive aspects of human nature. … We view minorities and the vulnerable as less than human…. We experience Schadenfreude (pleasure at another person’s distress) by age four…. We are vain and overconfident….
And on it goes. Such are some of the less noble findings of the science of psychology. The article ends on a hopeful, if naïve, note:
Don’t get too down—these findings say nothing of the success that some of us have had in overcoming our baser instincts. In fact, it is arguably by acknowledging and understanding our shortcomings that we can more successfully overcome them, and so cultivate the better angels of our nature.
Maybe with God’s help. Which as it turns out, is another recent conclusion of the science:
Studies have shown that religious people are less prone to depression and anxiety, are less likely to abuse alcohol and drugs, and have above average immunity to physical diseases. As a result, psychologists are now developing faith-based approaches to treating chronic anger and resentment, the emotional scars of sexual abuse, and eating disorders.
If God is a crutch, it turns out he’s a very useful one. But of course, religion, and Christianity in particular, is not ultimately about us or our mental well-being. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it, it’s about glorifying God and enjoying him forever. Often that leads to mental health. But sometimes to a dark night of the soul. Yet always, in the end, to the Source of all goodness and life.
The ‘Religion of Humanity’
Life without God—well, that has been the goal of the movement known as humanitarianism. Author Daniel Mahoney has written a book about what he calls “The Idol of Our Age,” and the book is reviewed by Gerald Russello in City Journal:
Mahoney draws on a tradition of reflection on humanitarianism, including Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Hungarian philosopher Aurel Kolnai, and Russian Orthodox thinker Vladimir Soloviev. As Mahoney frames the debate, “woefully ignorant of sin and of the tragic dimension of the human condition, [humanitarianism] reduced religion to a project of this-worldly amelioration. Free-floating compassion substitutes for charity, and a humanity conscious of its unity (and utter self-sufficiency) puts itself in the place of the visible and invisible Church.”
Sounds like an important book that will spark more comment in the coming weeks.
Christian Humanitarianism in Action
A number of Christians in the Netherlands believe God is calling them to help some humans by worshiping, now for nearly 1,000 hours straight:
A marathon worship service held by a church in the Netherlands to shield a family of asylum seekers has garnered worldwide attention. The feat has proved impressive for its longevity alone—now going on six weeks—but also represents a unique ecumenical moment among Christians in the tiny European nation.
Dutch law generally prohibits officials from interrupting a religious service, so Bethel Church in The Hague has kept worship going non-stop in order to turn its church into a sanctuary for an Armenian family who faces expulsion.
A Picture of Courage—and Help
Speaking of working together, check out this video of hyenas attacking a lion. It looks like it’s going to become gruesome, but stick it out to the very end. It’s a picture of Proverbs 30:30 (“a lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats before nothing”) and Psalm 46:1 where God is described as “an ever-present help in trouble.”

4 Reasons to Believe in the Christmas Miracle

Why the supernatural events of this season are both credible and incredible.
Rebecca McLaughlin
“I don’t believe that.”
I’d just read my four-year-old the story of the angel Gabriel meeting with Mary. I tried not to panic.
“Well, do you believe that God made you?”
“Yes, I believe that.”
“And do you believe that Jesus died for your sins?”
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Comforted by Shared Pain

We Were Women Comforted by Shared Pain
We Were Women Comforted by Shared Pain
I never imagined my fibromyalgia would help me serve refugees. But chronic pain is something we both understand.
Tabitha McDuffee
“It’s just the stress of being a college student,” the doctor assured me. “Try to get some more rest and you’ll feel better soon.”
“Your blood work came back completely normal,” another doctor said. “Have you considered going to therapy? Because to me, it sounds like you might just be depressed.”
I had been bouncing around from one doctor to another for two years, trying to find a medical explanation for the pain I felt in every joint and ...
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Independent Baptists are abusers too

Investigation by Fort Worth Star-Telegram finds 400 allegations against 168 leaders spanning almost 200 churches and institutions.
Kate Shellnutt
Hundreds of women and men have accused leaders of independent fundamental Baptist churches of sexual misconduct in a major investigative report published last weekend by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The series uncovered 412 allegations of abuse across nearly 200 churches and institutions, which by definition ...
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On Sunday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram published a four-part series on more than 400 allegations of sexual misconduct affiliated with the independent fundamental Baptist movement. The scope of their reporting spanned nearly 1,000 churches and organizations across 40 states and Canada. The report noted: ...
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Ferment at the frontier

Religion News Service: Founders of one of the nation's largest seminaries owned more than 50 slaves and said that slavery was morally correct, but an internal investigation found no evidence the school was directly involved in the slave trade.

Lost in the debate over Trump's silence during the Apostles' Creed: a bigger issue for progressive Christians
Baptist News Global: Progressive Christians can't afford to trash the Apostles' Creed unless we've come up with a fitting substitute, says Alan Bean.

Ferment at the frontier shows a chasm within America's world of faith
The Economist: The chasm between the religiously inspired left and the religious right is deep, and migration from the south is an equally intractable bone of contention.

Top cardinals embroiled in sexual abuse scandal no longer on papal council
NPR: The Vatican announced Wednesday that two cardinals have been let go from a papal council, the day after one of them was reportedly convicted of sexual abuse by an Australian court.
America: Cardinal Pell, top advisor to Pope Francis, found guilty of 'historical sexual offenses'

Volunteer shortage pushes Longview church to end food program
The (Longview, Washington) Daily News: It is a problem nonprofits across the nation are facing: They are finding it hard to replace the corps of aging volunteers who make their work possible.