Author: Mary Eberstadt
Publisher: Ignatius Press, San Francisco, Calif., 2012, 270 pp., $19.95 hardcover; 800-651-1531
Subtitled “Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution,” “Adam and Eve after the Pill” is another brilliant and biting commentary on contemporary culture by the author of “The Loser Letters.” Here, Eberstadt focuses on the true impact of the sexual revolution and proposes most convincingly that far from creating a promised utopia it has paradoxically produced widespread discontent and unhappiness. Her approach places her at odds with almost all contemporary secular takes on the era of sexual freedom that was ushered in by contraception. As she notes, in the “standard celebratory rendition, the sexual revolution has been a nearly unmitigated boon for all humanity.” The truth is, she writes, shockingly different, as what she calls the amputation of sexual behavior from procreation has resulted in a disaster for both men and women, and has brought its most painful cost upon the weakest in society.
The book looks closely at the impact of the sexual revolution on both men and women, but it also looks at children and young adults. She also asks two important questions under the heading of the transvaluation of values: “Is food the new sex?” and “Is pornography the new tobacco?” Finally, she writes a brilliant argument for the vindication of Humanae Vitae (“Of Human Life”), the prophetic 1968 encyclical by Pope Paul VI.
Eberstadt is a gifted writer with a vast sweep of knowledge and resources that are all marshaled in her argumentation, including contemporary literature, art and music, pop culture, modern women’s studies, dietary guides, advertisements, television shows and films. While a very intellectual exercise, this is a must read.
He Speaks to You
Author: Helena Raphael Burns, F.S.P.
Publisher: Pauline Books and Media, Boston, Mass., 2012, 384 pp., $10.95 paper; 800-876-4463
Described as a daily discernment book, “He Speaks to You” is a compendium of short maxims, prayers, meditations and suggestions for each day of the year, but it is also quite unique in that it is geared for young Catholic women and has been compiled by women Religious. Each month has a different theme, starting with January (which kicks off the year with “God’s Love” and progresses to “His Life, His Cross” all the way to “In His Arms” for December), and each day includes God’s Word, words of wisdom, to-do suggestions, space to journal and prayer. Collectively, the compendium is intended to serve as an instrument in spiritual formation, and its most valuable aspects are the to-do sections for those who prefer some practical activity (what they call the Marthas) and the to-journal section on contemplating and writing (the Marys). Recommended for young Catholic women ages 20-30.
Director: Jean-Yves Fischbach
Publisher: Ignatius Press, San Francisco, Calif., 2012, 53 min., $17.95 DVD; 800-651-1531
An excellent film on the life of one of the greatest Catholic minds of the 20th century, this documentary on Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) looks at his role as philosopher, teacher and defender of human rights. A quiet and rather intimately photographed film, this life of Maritain places its gaze on his intellectual and spiritual development and his beautiful journey to the Church.
The story, of course, would not, indeed could not, be complete without the presence of Raïssa Maritain (1883-1960), a philosopher and convert in her own right who married Jacques in 1904. The film is in French with English subtitles.
Fools, Liars, Cheaters, and Other Bible Heroes
Author: Barbara Hosbach
Publisher: Franciscan Media, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2012, 144 pp., $13.99 softcover; 800-488-0488
One of the best ways to introduce Scripture to young people and those unfamiliar with the Bible is to make the topic enjoyable and memorable and so encourage further reading. “Fools, Liars, Cheaters, and Other Bible Heroes” looks at the remarkable stories of 28 men and women of Scripture from both the Old and New Testaments. As Hosbach writes, “Pious or arrogant, famous or unknown, military leader or quiet contemplative — all responded to Gods invitation.” The list is, indeed, remarkably varied, ranging from Rebecca, Gideon, Ruth and Nehemiah, along with Anna, Martha, the Samaritan Woman and the Man at the Pool. Hosbach is willing to look at figures who are not known by name but who are worth knowing because of the lessons they impart and the way that all of us can identify with these flawed humans who were transformed by their encounter with the divine. Reflection questions at the end of each chapter engage the reader. A good gift for those who complain that Scripture offers little by way of people relevant to our own lives.
Author: Peter S. Williamson
Publisher: Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, Mich., 2010, 384 pp., $21.99 paper; 800-877-2665
Part of the series “Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture,” “Ephesians” offers a valuable commentary from the all-important Catholic perspective. In this volume, the commentary focuses on Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, described by Williamson as the “most eloquent of the letters attributed to St. Paul” and offering “some of the richest theological writing in the Christian tradition.” Valuable supplements include a glossary, a list of suggested resources, an index of pastoral topics and an index of sidebars.
How to Defend the Faith without Raising Your Voice
Author: Austen Ivereigh
Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, Ind., 2012, 160 pp., $13.95 softcover; 800-348-2440
There is no getting around the fact that we now live in a time when anti-Catholicism is a regular part of culture and Catholics face soft forms of bigotry, the mocking of the faith and erroneous claims about what we believe.
The ability to refute those arguments and lies is now an essential task for any faithful member of the Church. Ivereigh offers a terrific guide for using logical tactics to defuse contentious discussions and turn them into opportunities to teach and explain Catholicism. This book doesn’t focus on hypothetical situations, but rather real-world situations, specifically a group of knowledgeable lay Catholics in England who volunteered to serve as on-air guests answering somtimes hostile questions about Catholicism during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to England in 2010.
Ivereigh titles his book in full, “How to Defend the Faith without Raising Your Voice: Civil Responses to Catholic Hot-Button Issues,” and he has compiled classic topics that come up in conversation, including why the Church gets involved in political dialogue; whether the Church has a right to take a public stance on issues; whether Catholic politicians should be held to their faith first; Church teaching on homosexuality, marriage, AIDS, abortion, contraception, women’s roles and end-of-life issues such as assisted suicide; whether the Church has the right to maintain an organization tied to its moral belief system; Church accountability and resolution pertaining to clerical sex abuse. He also provides a chapter on the “Ten Principles of Civil Communication” to help readers prepare for discussions.