Tag Archives: books

Finding God, Funny Times, and Failing Health (Review: “Operating on Faith”)

I tend not to like vignette-style books. I never did like The House on Mango Street, critical acclaim and racially diverse protagonist notwithstanding. I do, however, enjoy stories of young adults living the Catholic life with joy, not bitterness. It’s refreshing, and it’s my reality. With a lighthearted approach in mind, I read Operating on Faith: A Painfully True Love Story, by Matt Weber, and found much mirth infused by reverence.

A review of "Operating on Faith" at ATX Catholic.com

As I said, this book is a memoir told by way of vignettes through Weber’s first few years of marriage. I knew that the “for better or for worse” of Matt and Nell’s early marriage would come into play, but I still wanted a cohesive character journey to follow. Even with scattered scenes, I like to have the feeling that there is a running theme to a story, a particular meaning. In the author’s own words, the major takeaway is that we should “find the meaning.” I struggled with that. Weber definitely encourages his readers to find meaning in their suffering (physical and spiritual), but he has one critical factor that not everyone does….

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Carmelite Spirituality for the Analytical Mind (Review: “The Dark Night of the Soul” by Gerald May)

I have a relatively new interest in the intersection of psychology and spirituality. I have some good friends who are Catholics and counselors, and while I treasure the opportunities I’ve had to walk alongside people on their spiritual journeys, I’ve never wanted to pursue that path myself. I don’t even have much interest in spiritual direction. But I’m always up for a new book.

One of my roommates is aware of this interest of mine and has been recommending books that might help my casual research. Although I’ve never been much into Carmelites, I decided to give her latest recommendation a try. The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth, by Gerald G. May, M.D., is perhaps the best resource I’ve encountered for beginning to understand contemplative prayer and its role in the spiritual life.

"Faith darkens and empties the intellect, hope frees the memory, and love liberates the will." Gerald G. May, M.D.

The tricky thing about contemplation is that, if you think you’ve mastered it, you probably haven’t. In that way, it’s like trying to explain the Holy Trinity: the closest analogy you can muster up is probably a heresy. I have always struggled with contemplation and contemplative prayer for that very reason. I’m a very action-oriented person, although I am also quite reflective. This is probably why I can never wrap my head around Carmelite spirituality, but Augustinian principles speak straight to my heart. So I went into this book hoping that I might understand contemplative prayer a little more.

I’ve also struggled with the concept of the “dark night of the soul.” Have I been through it? Am I going through it right now? Is it something I should fear, like a punishment? Is it something I should want, like painful physical therapy that is needed to restore health? Should I fear it despite wanting it? Can I even figure out if I’m in it, or if I have been in it, or if it’s coming?

It’s all very confusing. This book, however, is not.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

For Women Only… and A Little Bit for Men (Review: “Discovering the Feminine Genius”)

I finally found a book about women’s spirituality that is (a) not about single life and (b) one I like! That is a rare find. I read (and write) a lot about being a single Catholic woman. There’s a market for it. There’s also a need for materials that explore women’s spirituality, but that usually turns into stuff for moms. I stop short of demanding that everyone cater to my needs, but it stings to feel left out. I am delighted to share that, through the kindness of a good friend, I stumbled across the book I’ve been looking for: Discovering the Feminine Genius: Every Woman’s Journey, by Katrina J. Zeno. In it, I finally began to discover what this whole “feminine genius” thing is about, how it applies to me, and how it fits into my real life and relationships in the light of the Theology of the Body.

Zeno begins her book with basic questions of identity formation, the same thing that starts plaguing us in adolescence. We all ask, “Who am I?” Zeno’s revolutionary (at least to me) answer is that we are first daughters of God, and then the bride of Christ. One of the nice things about still being single is that I’ve had no other choice than to form my identity as a woman without a man, as a daughter of God rather than the wife of my husband. (I also have a fantastic earthly father.) Zeno shares her own process of learning to find a new identity when the plan she’d built so carefully started to unravel. Her skill as a writer and storyteller is apparent; she starts with her own story, but she never made me as a reader feel disconnected just because my story is different than hers.

circle of women

photo by Ashley Webb

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

7 Quick Takes: Introducing Recommended Reads

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

I am introducing a new regular feature here at Lindsay Loves. One of my greatest loves is reading (although I usually say “Harry Potter” because it makes a better sound bite). As of this writing, I follow 81 RSS feeds using Feedly (5 are feeds of my own stuff, to make sure it publishes correctly). I send most of it through to Pocket to read there. I also save things to Pocket from Facebook, Twitter, and other random sources.

So that’s a lot of reading that happens entirely online. Once I successfully built a habit of processing my RSS feeds once a week and reading in Pocket at least once a week, I realized that I wanted to share what I’m reading quickly and easily. Pocket recently introduced super-easy dedicated profiles, but mine is only chronological, it’s not searchable, and it’s hosted by Pocket. I want to corral everything through this space since it’s a unified source, and I control it.

Enter Recommended Reads. I’ve been collecting posts that I want to recommend using an IFTTT recipe. Here are seven of my recommendations to get things started:

— 1 —

A Practical Wedding: Four Ways We Learned How to Stop Fighting About Money

FIGURE OUT YOUR BAGGAGE FIRST. The plan when we moved to California was always that I wouldn’t be in a hurry to find a full-time job when I got out here. Michael’s new gig afforded us a temporary financial cushion that would allow me to remove myself from the daily grind of my cubicle in order to take my photography business full time. (Heck, that was half the reason we said yes to uprooting our lives and moving clear across the country.) We were both on board, and we both knew it was a temporary situation. Still, it surprised me just how insecure I felt about my financial contributions once the plan was in action. While I had always been comfortable with Michael taking the lead on managing our finances, suddenly I was reading into every little thing he said about money like it was a personal dig at my employment status. Did he just ask me what I bought at Target? He’s trying to control me!

I was definitely projecting my insecurities onto Michael. But Michael wasn’t without anxieties of his own. Being the primary breadwinner made him feel like he needed to be extra responsible for our finances, since they depended mostly on his employment. So before we could tackle the logistical parts of our financial situation, we had to have a lot of conversations about our feelings. For example:

Him: I feel like I need to be extra vigilant about our finances, because if I lose my job, we don’t have anyone’s salary to fall back on.

Me: And I feel like I don’t get a say in our finances right now because I’m not making a competitive salary anymore.

And so on. Confronting our baggage didn’t fix things right away (more on that in a minute), but it helped us get at some of the root causes of our fighting and parse out what was financially triggered from what was emotionally triggered.

This is genius. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a better explanation of how to address people’s emotions around money.

— 2 —

The Catholic Thing, via Catholic Education Resource Center: We Can Do Better

The psychological reality is that every spouse brings special gifts into marriage, but they also bring psychological weaknesses, which are most often deeply buried out of conscious awareness.

The weaknesses commonly brought into marriage are the result of a lack of a secure loving relationship with one parent, most often the father; selfishness, described by many popes as the major “enemy” of marital love; severe weaknesses in trusting; emotionally distant behaviors resulting in spousal loneliness; controlling, disrespectful behaviors from unresolved hurts with a parent; failure to master anger daily by growth in forgiveness; misdirected anger that is meant for a parent or others; weaknesses in confidence; excessive anxiety associated with irritability; family of origin sadness/loneliness that spousal love cannot resolve; modeling after a major parental weakness; adult child of alcoholism or divorce anger and mistrust and the failure to understand Catholic marriage and its support from the Lord’s love and grace.

The majority of spouses who pursue divorce—in our experience with several thousand couples—have never worked on these issues.

A very critical article, but a valid point about strengths vs. weaknesses going into marriage.

— 3 —

Of the Hearth: The Dream in Fulfillment: What My Interracial Marriage Has Taught Me About Racial Harmony in the U.S.

Excellently written. This respects multiple points of view, I think.

— 4 —

Simcha Fisher at the National Catholic Register: Love in the Time of Zika

When the first world hears that third world women might have babies with birth defects, they set up a clamor for more abortion. This is how it always is: we see suffering, and we want to solve it with death.

— 5 —

Rorate Caeli: Breaking News: Cardinal Gerhard Müller Corrects Idea of Allowing Holy Communion for “Remarried” Divorcees

With this statement, Cardinal Müller corrects any speculation that he would support the idea that “remarried” divorcees could live in a sinful relationship and at the same time could receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion. With this statement, the crack in the door has been closed again by the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Good. We don’t need anyone else caving to “get with the times,” which are terrible, by the way.

— 6 —

Jackie Bledsoe for Michael Hyatt: One Simple Trick to Strengthen Your Marriage

It may be time for you to enroll in the continuing education about your spouse.

Conveniently, I love learning.

— 7 —

Money After Graduation: You Work Too Hard Not to Care

If the thought of tracking every penny that goes out of your bank account is making your head spin, I have a revolutionary idea that will make it infinitely easier: stop buying so much stuff so often.

I committed to tracking my expenses. I wanted to buy something. I didn’t buy it because I didn’t want to have to track it. I saved money.


For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Redemption Through Reflection (Review: “Remembering God’s Mercy”)

We all have memories of things we’d rather forget. Some things are embarrassing. Some are painful. Some are traumatic. Dawn Eden is no stranger to the latter, as she revealed in her previous books about chaste love (The Thrill of the Chaste and its recent Catholic edition) and about healing sexual wounds with the help of the saints. Many times, we are tempted to avoid even thinking about terrible things we have experienced. For those who experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), just not thinking about it is not an option. Rather than try to avoid these memories, Eden encourages readers to redeem their pain. The One who redeemed our fallen human race can take our painful memories and turn them into opportunities for purification. With some help from St. Ignatius of Loyola, Pope Francis, and a few other heavenly witnesses, Eden offers Remembering God’s Mercy, a rich guide to healing memories and opening ourselves up to the grace of God.

flower-letters-memories

Public domain image from Pixabay.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Your Battle Plan Against Porn (Review: “Cleansed”)

I hate pornography, so I am a fan of resources for people who also hate pornography but have a better sense of how to fight the good fight than I do. I’m not foolish enough to think that the problem of porn addiction is going to quietly disappear from our society, so I keep my eyes peeled for good weapons to wield. I was, therefore, very excited to hear about Marcel LeJeune’s new book, Cleansed: A Catholic Guide to Freedom from Porn. I happen to be acquainted with the author through my work in campus ministry. For that reason, I’m just going to call him Marcel. “LeJeune” just seems too stuffy. This is not a book for stuffy people, and I hope this does not turn out to be a stuffy review. It’s a book packed with stuff, but it’s good stuff.

"Porn kills love. But it can't kill hope." —Marcel LeJeune, "Cleansed" at ATXCatholic.com.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

The Last Stand (Review: UnDivided)

Statue of Liberty

Image CC0 from Pixabay.

It’s bittersweet when a journey comes to an end. I loved the ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I was sad to watch that chapter of my life (pun intended) come to an end, but I was very satisfied.

I feel the same way about UnDivided, the final book in the Unwind “dystology” by Neal Shusterman. Since I read the first book on a whim, I haven’t been able to stop raving about the series. The second book, UnWholly, was everything a good sequel should be. I struggled with book 3, UnSouled, because the fast pace from previous installments became markedly absent. Now that I’ve read UnDivided, the story has been brought to a perfect close, and I feel complete.

Beware: Spoilers for Unwind, UnWholly, and UnSouled follow.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

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