Divorcing Marriage: Unveiling the Dangers in Canadas New Social Experiment.
Edited by Daniel Cere & Douglas Farrow.
McGill-Queens University Press. 208 pp. $22.95 paper.
”J.A. GraySarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver.
By Scott Stossel.
Smithsonian. 704 pp. $32.50.
Scott Stossel, the author of this excellent authorized biography, asks readers to consider what might have happened if Lyndon Johnson had chosen Sargent Shriver, rather than Hubert Humphrey, as his vice presidential candidate in 1964. Would Shriver, a faithful Catholic, have been in a better position to effect the next decades realignments within the Democratic Party? Shriver was born in 1915 to a French-German family whose ancestors had arrived in Maryland in the early eighteenth century. Sarges parents were both Shrivers”they were second cousins, in fact”but their backgrounds were nonetheless very different. Sarges father, Robert Shriver, was a Republican Protestant, while his mother, Hilda, was Democratic and Catholic. The family had built a modest fortune on manufacturing and banking, and they were able to send Sarge to the best schools: first, the lay-run Catholic Canterbury School, where he first met his future brother-in-law John F. Kennedy, and later Yale, where he studied as both an undergraduate and as a law school student. After his combat service with the Navy in the Pacific theater of World War II, he worked briefly as a journalist in New York. There he met Joseph P. Kennedy, for whom he went to work at the Kennedy familys business in Chicago. After a long courtship, he married Kennedys daughter Eunice in 1953. The rest of the book chronicles Shrivers long life of government service, a life which is exceptional in its breadth of accomplishment. He was the founder of the Peace Corps under Kennedy, led various government programs as the head of Johnsons War on Poverty, and served as Ambassador to France, where he became a friend of Charles de Gaulle. After leaving government service, Shriver became a partner at a prominent Washington law firm. Until fairly recently, he showed up every weekday at the office of the Special Olympics, which he and his wife founded. And during all this time, the couple also raised five children, who continue the family tradition of public service and dedication to philanthropy. The book explores Shrivers complicated relationship to the Kennedy family; he remained loyal to the Kennedys even when it could have cost him a political office. Shrivers story is a useful reminder of how strong Christian convictions can be brought to bear on difficult political debates, and of the frequent tensions between private honor and political achievement.
”C. John McCloskeyPurity of Heart: Reflections on Love and Lust.
By Sam Torode.
Philokalia. 86 pp. $13.95.
The second of four little books presenting John Paul IIs theology of the body as set forth in his Wednesday audiences from 1979 to 1984 and here adapted into everyday English. The introduction by Christopher West”whose books and talks have done much to popularize this teaching”underscores that this fully ecumenical understanding of sexuality is less about following the rules than about discovering the freedom of living in the truth, especially freedom from the myriad strategies of lust.The Divine Voice: Christian Proclamation and the Theology of Sound.
By Stephen H. Webb.
Brazos. 256 pp. $24.99 paper.
Webb, the author of American Providence , a groundbreaking study of the idea of divine guidance in American history (see FT, February 2005), here undertakes a different task of discernment, searching for the ways in which sound and sounds disclose the voice of God. To say this is a study in the phenomenology of sound or acoustemology may be off-putting to both the speakers and the hearers of the Word. There is something less academic and more urgent at stake here. Webb invites those who have been given the job of preaching to adventure into the mysteries of what it is too easy to do routinely. Alertness to sound, he suggests, prepares us for heaven where our voices will no longer be carried along by vibrations but instead will travel at the speed of grace. The Divine Voice is winsome and provocative, leaving the reader with a haunting sense of wonder in the ordinary.The Best American Spiritual Writing: 2004.
Edited by Philip Zaleski.
Houghton Mifflin. 304 pp. $14 paper.
Philip Zaleski, a contributor to this journal, notes that many aspire to being spiritual writers but are not sufficiently alert to the possibility that they are taking their souls, and the souls of others, in hand. The term spirituality, once used almost exclusively by Catholics, has over recent decades become pervasive and muddled. Zaleskis judicious selections from a wide range of sources inclines one to believe that it is perhaps the unavoidable term for a genre of writing that engages the high risks of the souls salvation.Christ and Apollo:The Dimensions of the Literary Imagination.
By William F. Lynch.
ISI. 371 pp. $15 paper.
Flannery OConnor praised this study when it was first published in 1960, and little wonder, since her work so powerfully exemplifies Lynchs insistence upon embodiment, finitude, and the adventure of limitation in literature. Dante, Shakespeare, Proust, Eliot, Greene, Trilling, and a host of others are examined with reference to their choice between Apollonian escape from particularity and the ever-so-particular reality of incarnation. Lynchs argument did not carry the day in literary studies, but it is very much worth reading with a mind open to the possibility that its time may yet come.A Passionate Pilgrim: A Biography of Bishop James A. Pike.
By David M. Robertson.
Knopf. 304 pp. $24.95.
Bishop Pike, who died in the Judean wilderness in 1969, is not much remembered today, but he was for years one of the most publicized religious leaders in the country. Pike had been Dean of St. John the Divine in New York and then Bishop of California. His death mooted an item on the agenda of the Episcopal bishops who were at the time meeting on the campus of Notre Dame University: it would not be necessary after all to vote on officially declaring him no longer a bishop. His 1960s books, A Time for Candor and If This Be Heresy , along with his quick one-liners advocating fewer beliefs, more belief, had made Pike a media favorite. After a while, his role as religious maverick and bad boy began to wear thin. Three marriages, an uncounted number of affairs, the suicide of a son, excursions into bizarre regions of spiritualism, and the abandonment of identifiably Christian belief had all taken their toll. Robertsons very readable biography is, all in all, sympathetically critical”certainly more critical than the 1976 account by William Stringfellow and Anthony Towne, The Death and Life of Bishop Pike . One has to wonder, however, if there is today an audience for a book about James Pike. Perhaps there is, among those who remember him fondly, among students of religious liberalism, and among those who see him as a precursor of Episcopalianisms turn toward the wilderness.Our Lady and the Church.
By Hugo Rahner, S.J.
Zaccheus. 152 pp. $10.95 paper.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger calls this little book, first published in 1961, one of the most important theological rediscoveries of the twentieth century. Avery Cardinal Dulles concurs. It helps to remember that, leading up to the Second Vatican Council, there was a powerful revival of Marian piety, reflected in and reinforced by the 1950 definition of Marys bodily assumption, and also a theological resurgence of ecclesiology. These two developments seemed to some to be on a collision course. At the Council, there was strong support for a separate document on Mary, but it was finally decided to fold the reflection on Mary into the constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium . It is in that context that one appreciates the importance of Hugo Rahners study, which draws upon the early fathers of the Church and their understanding that Mary and the Church are one. Again and again”in systematic treatises, homilies, and poetry”the patristic literature asserts that Mary is the Church and the Church is Mary, both giving birth to Christ in the lives of the faithful. St. Augustine plays a particularly prominent part in Rahners account. In its historical context and for the continuing life of the Church, this is an extraordinarily instructive book that well deserves the new life given it by the small Zaccheus Press of Bethesda, Maryland.