Monthly Archives: November, 2011

The Long View (Review: “A Canticle for Leibowitz”)

photo by Svadilfari

photo by Svadilfari

I’ll admit it: I like sci-fi. My mom and I used to tease my dad endlessly about how much he liked to watch Star Trek. I finally sat down to watch an episode with him one day, though, and I was hooked. It’s not just the scientific aspects that draw me in, though, it’s the stories. Sure, the characters talk to their computers and use ultra-thin portable document readers, but they’re still ordinary people underneath. There’s still love and war and learning in space. The same is true for police procedurals, medical dramas, and sitcoms.

With that openness in mind, I decided to tackle A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter Miller. Other online reviewers described it as being almost sci-fi. I chose it primarily for its Catholic aspects. It’s also historical fiction, and it’s a dystopia to boot. There’s so much going on in this book I could barely believe it, but Miller handles it astoundingly well.

A Fairly Bad Introduction (Review: “Catholicism: A Very Short Introduction”)

I initially chose this book as a candidate for my book review column at Austin Catholic New Media. I wound up reviewing Catholicism for Dummies instead and was delighted to find that I’d posted it right in time for the new second edition of that title. Having now finished Catholicism: A Very Short Introduction, I am very glad I decided not to review it for ACNM, because I didn’t like it.

O’Collins self-admittedly writes as “an insider,” but he fails to make Catholicism accessible to most newcomers. His organization of topics begins with two chapters of Church history. If you’re trying to reach people who just want the basic of Catholicism, laying out literally two thousand years of history is a very poor way to start. He continues on through chapters on theology, sacraments, and morality before concluding with predictions about the future of the Church.

In the final chapter, I was downright offended by his use of the term “Eucharistic ministers” (which is always wrong; they are “extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist” or of Holy Communion) and his suggestion that the Church must allow more* married men to be ordained in order to survive. That last suggestion is offered with no theological or Scriptural support. Apparently a little bit of social commentary is enough to justify changing a centuries-old practice.

I wanted this to be a shorter intro book in comparison to Catholicism for Dummies, because not everyone is willing to even flip through 400 pages. I was sorely disappointed.

*This is one of the biggest misconceptions of Catholicism. Priests can be married, but never after they’re ordained. That’s just currently the exception and not the norm.

Booking Through Thursday: Thankful

What book or author are you most thankful to have discovered? Have you read everything they’ve written? Reread them? Why do you appreciate them so much?

The obvious answer would be J.K. Rowling. I’ve read everything except some random forewords I know she’s written and whatever’s up next on Pottermore. I appreciate her the most for making reading cool again. I never would have thought that’d be possible, and I didn’t really care, but I’m so glad it happened. Harry Potter is fun and educational. What’s not to love?

On a less predictable note, I’m glad to have discovered Jason Evert. Reading If You Really Loved Me changed my life at a time I desperately needed it. He’s getting more mature and broad-focused as he ages and spends more time being a father, and I appreciate that. It’s making him a better speaker and writer.

Friday Five: Pre-Thanksgiving

This is very U.S.-centric, but I’ll go with it. (And I live in the U.S., so it makes sense.)

  1. Do you or someone you live with cook your own meals at home or tend to buy frozen dinners/eat out? I live alone. I balance about half-and-half preparing food at home and eating out. When you work late as many nights as I do, it’s not sensible or feasible to eat at home more.
  2. What is your favorite dish to cook? Or if you don’t cook, what do you wish you could cook? It’s called Pasta Lindsay because I named it that, and it’s super easy: rotini, ground sausage, and pasta sauce. Then, you add the secret ingredient: love.
  3. The best experience you’ve ever had at a restaurant? This is a sentence fragment. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a particularly fantastic restaurant meal. I’ve had too many great meals with too many great people to keep track!
  4. The worst experience you’ve ever had at a restaurant? This one’s a fragment, too. I’ve never had a really bad time, either. I’ve had some minor mishaps, but nothing huge.
  5. If you had to give up one of your favorite foods for the rest of your life, which would you choose and why? Ooh. I probably ought to give up Coke Zero. I gave up sodas for Lent one year (before I re-became a practicing Catholic, actually), and it was actually a nice experience. That was before the invention and my discovery of Coke Zero, though. It’s so fantastic.

The Friday Five

Booking Through Thursday: Category

Of the books you own, what’s the biggest category/genre?

Is this also the category that you actually read the most?

Today’s BTT reminds me that, although Goodreads has been fantastic for keeping track of what I’m reading and want to read, I should be better about categorizing my books (“creating shelves” in Goodreads Land).

Even without the shelves, though, I can tell that most of my books are either YA or books I read for school. I used to have every Fearless book, but the series ended, I finished it, and I left all of those at home. I could only fit so many books with the rest of my life’s possessions in my car for the drive to Austin.

Now that I’m not in school anymore, I don’t have any books to read for school. The ones I read for work and ACNM are usually ones I would want to read anyway, and usually about Catholicism, obviously. I read a lot more nonfiction than I used to, but I think my heart still belongs to YA.

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