The World Will Be Saved by Beauty: A review of a much anticipated biography of Dorothy Day

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Just like Kate Hennessy at the beginning of this book, I don’t even know where to start. In life, Dorothy Day hated to be written about. I hope she’s looking down happy with this book. I bet she is.

I bought this book on pre-order the moment I learned about it. I’m a huge Dorothy Day fan only becoming more and more so with each passing year. When I became a Lay Dominican, I chose her name as my religious name. As I write this review, I have an icon of her looking down on me from on top of my printer.

I was not disappointed. As the subtitle says, it is a truly intimate portrait of Kate Hennessy’s grandmother. It tells the story of her life in great detail from the roaring ’20s until her death and it’s aftermath. It speaks lovingly of the good, the bad, and everything in-between and I guarantee any follower of Dorothy Day will learn something new. It certainly gave me more to ponder.

In some ways, the book was as much about Tamar, Ms. Hennessy’s mom and Dorothy’s daughter, as Dorothy. It was not a detriment, however. I’m sure plenty of Dorothy Day’s fans, like me, are just as curious about Tamar as Dorothy. I’m not alone in wondering what it was like growing up with the Catholic Worker in the shadow of a famous mom.

The book itself is simply beautiful. The image above doesn’t do the cover justice. Inside the cover, the writing is poetic and memorable. Kate Hennessy does bounce around a bit in the timeline so sometimes it’s hard to follow. The beginning was so hard to follow, I got a little worried, but it became easier to follow with time. Her writing did remind me a lot of her grandmother’s. It is clear that she comes from a long line of writers and thinkers on both sides.

It touches upon some important social justice issues, as you’d expect. It reveals some family secrets. It paints everyone as the human beings they were, gifts, flaws and all.

The World Will Be Saved by Beauty is available now from your favorite bookseller. It is a must-read for any and all Dorothy Day devotees. It is also such beautiful writing, I’d recommend it also to anyone who is curious about Dorothy Day who loves poetic writing.

PS: I’m now an Amazon affiliate, so if you click on that link and buy anything from Amazon (it doesn’t even have to be the book, although I’d recommend it), I get a cut at no extra cost to you. Please support my family and the blog!

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She Means Business: A Different Review

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Today I’m gonna break from my usual routine of religious and spiritual books. I’ve been on an entrepreneur kick lately trying to get my rosary shop off the ground and looking into other opportunities. I’ve discovered there are hundreds of people out there who want to help women succeed as business owners. Two in particular have become my favorites. One of those, Carrie Green, has recently published a book.

She Means Business reads just like you’re sitting at a coffee shop talking business with your best friend. Carrie Green is so transparent, so real. She talks personally about the nitty-gritty of having an idea and working to make that idea a reality. She gives practical steps to help you solidify your idea and make it happen.

She talks about all the things we don’t want to admit: doubts, fears, procrastination, losing the fire. She gives tips to help through all those things.

You can easily read the book through in one sitting. All the writing is bite-sized and very conversational. I read it over a week because I tried to respond to all her action steps as I went along. If you buy it soon, you can join a Facebook group of like-minded women who are really great to get to know. You might have the option of taking the 28 day challenge with us (I’m not sure if that was only for pre-orders.)

I know a lot of my followers are Catholic like me so I will add a disclaimer: Yes, she does sprinkle in some of that new-age-y, pop psychology stuff that might make you uncomfortable. Like, didn’t that nun back in grade school warn us about this stuff? I think the value of the book far outweighs those sprinkles though and it’s really not that bad.

Being an entrepreneur is a lonely road, it’s good to have a girlfriend, even if she’s a book and she doesn’t share your religious views. And, as I’m sure Carrie would encourage, look for another entrepreneur to meet with in person, too!

Is the Bible Good for Women? Review

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Is The Bible Good For Women? I’m gonna spoil the whole book for you. Yes, yes it is.

But really, in this well-researched, well-reasoned book, former Presbyterian deacon Wendy Alsup makes the case in this post-Christian, feminist world why the Bible is actually really really good news for women. The main premise is that you have to read the whole book through the lens of Jesus, which all Christians are really supposed to do anyway.

I had heard all the time in my Graduate studies that the Old Testament should be read in light of the New. In this book, she gives very solid examples of just that, tackling head on some of the hardest parts of scripture such as the rape of Dinah. All of these difficult parts of scripture look very different in light of the Savior.

As a Catholic reading this book, I still got plenty out of it. Yes, she probably has a much heavier emphasis on scripture than I do (“Sola Scriptura” and all that), but that does not mean that anything she says about Scripture is wrong. In fact, I love her concept of “The Bible is the best commentary on itself.” One can go crazy with all the commentaries and translations of the Bible out there, but as it was all inspired by God, often the best way to understand a difficult passage is to look at other related passages where the same word or phrase is used or the same topic is discussed. As a Catholic, another one of my favorite commentaries would have to be the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but what she says is still sound advice.

I also really, really loved her analysis of Genesis. She really skirted along the edges of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in her discussion of the God-given dignity of women and their role in the world. I wonder if Wendy Alsup has ever read about Theology of the Body or John Paul II’s Letter to Women. I think she’d appreciate his work.

In short, I’d recommend this book to anyone trying to defend the Bible in today’s world. She gives a fair hearing of the other side of the debate and then defends the Bible very well.

I was given the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review through my membership in Blogging for Books. It will be available at your favorite bookseller on March 21st.

The Well: Review of a Retelling of a Familiar Story

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As I said a couple months ago, Walk in Her Sandals made me a fan of Stephanie Landsem. So I went out later that week to get a couple of her books from the library. Due to life and everything else, I am just now publishing the review from that reading. (Blame NetGalley and Blogging for Books for having such an awesome selection this fall.)

Two things I usually don’t like reading, novels by other women (I know, that sounds horrible 😔) and historical novels, are both here. Normally, I wouldn’t have given this book a second look, but after reading Walk in Her Sandals, I knew I could trust the author, so I specifically looked for this book. I’m glad I found it and I intend to buy a copy.

The Well follows the story of the daughter of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:4-26). Not a terribly far stretch that a woman with 5 husbands has two kids. The first half of the book introduces the situation and connects you to the characters. Then, we reach the visit from a mysterious stranger and everything changes.

Just like in Walk in Her Sandals, I’m impressed by how much homework the author clearly did. And not only did she do her homework with the story she told, but with the way she told it. The two main characters, Mara and Shem, illustrate very well the feminine and masculine genius, the sexual complementarity that our Church teaches. From a Theology of the Body perspective, this book is very illustrative of what John Paul II was talking about.

The story has something to say for everyone. It has sacrifice, hard work, love, healing, hope and a wide variety of characters. Wherever you are in life, this book has a message for you and I’m sure that message is from the Holy Spirit.

One reviewer on Amazon complained that it has a sad ending. I wouldn’t call it a sad ending. I don’t think Mara, the daughter, would consider it sad at all. I think she would say it was all for the glory of God. I don’t want to give too much away, but it does touch on another popular story from Scripture.

The Well is available at your favorite book seller now. It was the first in the Living Water Series and I look forward to reading the whole series.

 

 

 

Rad Women Worldwide is pretty radical!

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I read this book in one morning while waiting for my van at the repair shop. It was a good use of my time.

Rad Women Worldwide is a book of short, exciting, interesting profiles of women from all over the world who made history in a large variety of fields (sports, politics, education, the arts, the environment, exploration…). It made a point of not being European or American-centric, although it didn’t completely ignore contributions from those parts of the world either. It was written in a textbook style. The simple language seems to indicate that the intended audience for this book is around middle school. In fact, it has been approved to be used in schools as part of the Common Core curriculum around the 6-8 grades.

The profiles were, at most, 4 pages long each. The authors say that a lot of research went into all of the profiles. From what I know, all of the profiles were accurate, even if I don’t completely agree with what they chose to emphasize in all cases (most notably Emma Goldman). In situations in which the woman profiled is still living, the woman herself was asked to approve it. The creators of this book did a great job of highlighting a good mix of stories, many of which are rarely told.

This book illustrates the famous Margaret Mead quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” I dare any woman to read this book and not be encouraged in their own journey.

I really hope that my more conservative followers don’t throw the baby out with the bath water in regards to this book. Yes, it does feature one LGBT activist and highlights Emma Goldman’s work for birth control, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better book celebrating historical contributions by women around the globe. There were tons of women in this book I had never heard of from Africa, Central America, and Asia because my history classes growing up were so American and European-centric. They are fascinating stories of different cultures that I had never heard before. Instead of shying away from the book because of those two particular articles (two of 40 total), I would challenge you to use it as a spring board into discussion of what the Church teaches and why.

I got the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review through my membership in Blogging for Books. Thank you! It is available at your favorite bookseller now.

John Paul II on Christmas and the Dignity of Humanity

christmas-starAt the dawn of salvation, it is the birth of a child which is proclaimed as joyful news: ‘I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’ (Lk. 2:10-11). The source of this ‘great joy’ is the birth of the Savior; but Christmas also reveals the full meaning of every human birth, and the joy which accompanies the birth of the Messiah is thus seen to be the foundation and fulfillment of joy at every child born into the world (cf. Jn. 16:21).

-St. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae

Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion: What to get your mom for Christmas

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Sorry Netgalley and Ave Maria Press for taking so long to write a review on this one. I wanted to get a good sample of it read before I said anything.

The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion is the perfect book for the Catholic mom in your life. Every reflection is only a couple of pages long with a short prayer and a thought to ponder throughout your day. It’s short enough to fit into the most hectic morning.

This collection features the best Catholicmom.com writers (who am I kidding all the writers at Catholicmom.com are good!) and each day covers a very different topic. Often it discusses something appropriate for the time of the liturgical year or a certain feast day, but just as often it’s a simple reflection on the nitty-grittiness of life as a mom. The variety of topics keeps you reading and gives you something to look forward to each day.

I also blew off writing this review in order to have the product fresh in your mind as you start shopping for Christmas. At around 10 to 15 bucks, depending on where you shop, it’s a great gift to give to the Catholic mother in your life. (Note: It is cheapest at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, although it is always best to support the little bookstores when possible.)

Personally, I started this book about midway through the year and I look forward to reading it anew in the new year. Because of the way that the reflections truly all stand on their own, it’s not a big deal if you don’t start at the beginning. I’m just looking forward to reading this on my own without a book review over my head just working through the reflections as part of my morning routine.

Thank you Ave Maria Press for the opportunity. As you probably noticed, I did get the opportunity to read this book as part of my membership in Netgalley. Really, go get this book for the Catholic moms you know today!