On sexuality, the hierarchy has usurped the entire teaching office


For more than three decades the Catholic church has seen no progress in formulating a contemporary understanding of human sexuality, one that will provide principles for pastoral accommodation to new insights. If this were a board game, the church’s piece would still be sitting on “Start.”

Book Review

Praying to a God who is larger than religion

By William Cleary
Published by Sorin Books, $15.95

Anyone who has perused current book catalogs from religious publishing houses is aware of the questions surrounding the practice of prayer. Many persons of faith have apparently reassessed their traditional spiritual practices and found them wanting.

In light of a more contemporary worldview and its effects on religious thought, our long-held image of God as a patriarchal tribal deity (or a God “we can pinch”) is no longer credible. Feeling awkward in addressing a God behind “the cloud of unknowing,” many find themselves unsure of how they should pray. “How can we speak to a God who is not a ‘person’ -- a God who may or not be affected by our prayers?”

Put simply: “Does it make sense to pray?” If so, “how do we pray in a way that is true to our changed religious perspectives?”

As a result of this shift in religious imagination, many seem to be simply abandoning word prayers altogether and replacing them with nonverbal contemplation and/or spiritual disciplines found in other cultures.

Book Review

Books to give at Christmas 4 of 4

A Mended and Broken Heart: The Life and Love of Francis of Assisi
By Wendy Murray
NY: Basic Books, 2008

Like the search for "the historical Jesus," the author of this work set out to find the historical Francis. From the data obtained in her research, she has given us a believable profile of this beloved saint, and it doesn't look like a garden statue.

Book Review

Books to give at Christmas 3 of 4

The 19th Wife
David Ebershoff
New York: Random House, 2008 and 2009

Instances of polygamy popping up occasionally in the news indicate that its practice is still to be found in isolated cases. In this novel, the author exposes the practice of "plural wives" that formerly operated wholesale among members of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons).

Although a work of fiction, it is based upon their archival materials in Salt Lake City, as well as stories from the press, and the memoir of Ann Eliza Young (Brigham Young's 19th wife) published in 1874. The historical structure is fleshed out by the author's creative imagination.