The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun by J.R.R. Tolkien

Old Norse and Germanic tales were a huge influence on J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. He was a university professor specializing in philology, studying ancient languages and texts. Among the works he studied were the old Norse and Icelandic poems (called Edda) along with the later prose work Volsunga Saga. He re-wrote the poems concerning the hero Sigurd, who slays the dragon Fafnir, takes his horde of gold, frees the Valkerie Brynhild, and winds up at the court of the Niflungs (known in … [Read More...]

Book Review: Richard III by David Baldwin

Richard III by David Baldwin King Richard III (1452-1485) is one of the most controversial kings of England. He was the last of the Plantagenet line and was replaced by Henry Tudor, who became King Henry VII. Richard came to the throne through a mixture of circumstances and deliberate acts. His decision to take the crown may not have been the act of unbridled ambition it is often portrayed as. He lived a hard and unstable life, seeing many relatives die and many reversals of fortune as the … [Read More...]

Book Review: The Journey of the Mind to God

The Journey of the Mind to God by BonaventureSaint Bonaventure was a medieval Franciscan theologian. He wrote this brief but dense work inspired by Francis of Assisi, who often focused on seeking peace as a way to God. Bonaventure meditated on this peace and found a way to the mystical contemplation of God. He describes six steps that lead to God.The first step considers the very faint image of God in the "vestiges of the universe." By our human sense powers, we come to a knowledge of … [Read More...]

Book Review – When You Suffer

Jeff Cavins latest book When You Suffer: Biblical Keys for Hope and Understanding is aptly titled. Added to the well known “Death and Taxes” should be added “suffering” as something guaranteed for us. Jesus did not say “If you happen to have a cross, pick it up.” It is how we handle suffering that is the crux of the matter (use pun intended as always).So how do we handle suffering without losing hope? The whole modern world seems to be aimed at eliminating … [Read More...]

Book Reviews: Handed Down, Saints Who Battled Satan, Messy & Foolish

Handed Down: The Catholic Faith of the Early Christians by Jim Papandrea. Published by Catholic Answers Press.There are plenty of Catholic apologetic books showing the falseness of the idea of Sola Scriptura. As a part of this the subject of Apostolic Tradition is often covered in part. This book goes more in-depth regarding Apostolic Tradition and charts some of the development of doctrine as these traditions handed down become concrete in Church teaching. This charting is done via the … [Read More...]

Review: Thomas More: A Portrait of Courage by Gerard B. Wegemer

Thomas More: A Portrait of Courage by Gerard B. Wegemer This birth-to-death biography of Saint Thomas More has an interesting twist. As it goes through the personal history of More, it stops to review his various writings when he wrote them. Thomas More was the first great Christian humanist to write in English. He was close friends with Desiderius Erasmus, a Dutchman who was also a scholar and committed Christian. They studied and translated the Greek classics and both agreed that humor was a m … [Read More...]

Review: A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.In this post-nuclear-war future (centuries from now), education is something despised. Along with wiping out the government officials (all of whom were blamed for the war), the mobs killed as many intelligent people as they could (who were blamed for giving the government officials the power to wage such destructive war). In the aftermath, a small community of monks strives to preserve learning. One monk is on a Lenten retreat in the … [Read More...]

Review: English Catholic Heroines ed. by Joanna Bogle

English Catholic Heroines edited by Joanna BogleEnglish Catholic Heroines covers the history of Catholicism from the 600s up to the present day (the last woman, Helen Asquith, died in 2000). Readers get a clear historical picture, seeing the original evangelization, many key figures during Reformation, the intellectual rebirth of Catholicism in the 1800s, and the many different works accomplished during the 20th century.The women are quite diverse. Some of the women, like Queen Margaret … [Read More...]

Review: The Wisdom of Hildegard of Bingen

The Wisdom of Hildegard of Bingen compiled and introduced by Fiona BowieThis book is a collection of thirty short passages from the writing of Hildegard of Bingen, a twelfth century nun, abbess, theologian, musician, and writer. The passages are organized into sections like "The Trinity," "Human Responsibility," "The Harmony of the Celestial Spheres," etc. Often, they are accompanied by color reproductions of her paintings (yeah, she painted too!). The book is set up as a daily devotional … [Read More...]

Heloise and Abelard by Etienne Gilson

One of the most famous romantic tragedies of the Middle Ages was also a historical event--the relationship of Heloise and Abelard. Abelard was a philosopher and theologian teaching in Paris during the early 1100s. He had a towering intellect with an ego to match. His career was highly successful and occasionally controversial. He was hired by Fulbert to teach his niece Heloise. She had private lessons in Fulbert's house and the thirty-something Abelard fell in love and had an affair with the … [Read More...]