Friday, 16 November 2018

Stick ‘Em Up Asking for a Little Help

Stick ‘Em Up Asking for a Little Help

I have had my website since 2000, and a blog since 2005. This blog originally started as an online archive for articles and reviews I was writing in newspapers and magazines that did not have an online presence. Early on my wife and I decided not to monetize the blog, because at that point I was getting about 90% of the books I was reviewing from publishers, marketing companies, or authors. From the beginning I created all the content, mostly reviews of books, with a smattering of technology and fitness reviews. Back when it started I spent time learning HTML, worked on customising templates and stayed on top of the technology. But my blog is my hobby. I work full time in IT, but Catholicism and books are my passion.

My original site is now standard HTML and does not allow adding HTTPS. It needs to be completely redone. But there are thousands of links to it from the blog and other sites. 

I need to redo the website from the ground up. But with almost 2600 posts with links to do it without a major interruption I will need to double my hosting and run in parallel for a few months to pull or a complete rebuilt. And I just have not planned for that. If you enjoy this blog, the reviews, reflections, and articles, and can afford it, would you consider making a small donation to the operating costs to plan and execute this cutover? I need a few hundred dollars to pay for the service I plan on moving to, and for assistance from a web developer friend.

So please donate a few dollars if you can, use the paypal button on the left sidebar or use this link.

And yes I copied the idea of this post, and part of the title from a much more famous Catholic author. To be honest the task of the upgrade was so daunting with my day job, and raising three kids that last year and this year I debated just folding my site. This help would give me time work work it out with far less stress and run in parallel until the cutover. So I am humbly asking for help.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

The Absence of War - Amy Welborn - A Short Story

The Absence of War
A Short Story
Amy Welborn 

I have read this story through twice. Actually, I read it once, and using text to speech listened to it on my walk home from work today. I have been a fan of Amy Welborn’s works since I first encountered them through Catholic bloggers, back in 2007 her blog Open Book, was one of the top 25 most visited Catholic Blogs. I fell in love with her writing style. And over the years have read a few of her books. But this is the first of her fiction I have encountered, and not only did I thoroughly enjoy it. I might have enjoyed it as much as her non-fiction.

The description of this book is minimalist:

“Mothers and daughters, faith lost, found and questioned. All before breakfast.”

It is an incredibly powerful story. It is at times amusing, but more often than not it causes deep reflection. The story focuses around 3 women, three generations, and stories about a fourth. It is a story about faith, lack of faith. It is about both looking back and reflecting forward. Dorothy is at home with her mother and her daughter. And there is talk of ger grandmother. Four generations of women in the family. The story is a mix of events that are taking place at the time of the story and remembrances and recounting.

What touched me most, and to be honest will have a lasting impact is the sense of other. Or to be more specific the recognition of other, not our impression, and memories, but a true encounter. It is not said, but what it reminds me of is the passage ‘Lord open my eyes to see.’. And that is what the story has done, helped me to see differently. 

An excellent story. More than worth the price and time to read. And I can only hope that Mrs. Welborn decides to share more of her fiction with us, If it is as good as this it will be a treat indeed!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Amy Welborn:
Reconciled to God Daily Lenten Devotions
Wish You Were Here: Travels Through Loss and Hope
A Catholic Woman's Book of Days
de-Coding Da Vinci: The Facts Behind the Fiction of the Da Vinci Code
Loyola Kids Book of Saints
Loyola Kids Book of Heroes: Stories of Catholic Heroes and Saints throughout History
Prove It! God
Prove It! Church
Prove It! Jesus
Prove It! The Catholic Teen Bible
Here. Now. a Catholic Guide to the Good Life
The Words We Pray
Praying the Rosary: With the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries
Decoding Mary Magdalene: Truth, Legend, and Lies
Come Meet Jesus: An Invitation from Pope Benedict XVI
Be Saints! An Invitation from Pope Benedict XVI
Mary and the Christian Life: Scriptural Reflections on the First Disciple
Adventures in Assisi: On the Path with St. Francis: On the Path with St. Francis
Prepare Him Room: Advent Family Devotions
Daybreaks: Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter 
Parables: Stories of the Kingdom
The Absence of War

Prove It Series:
Prove It! God
Prove It! Church
Prove It! Jesus
Prove It! Prayer
Prove It! You
Prove It! The Catholic Teen Bible

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Opus Dei Christians In The Midst Of The World - Peter E. Bristow

Opus Dei: Christians In The Midst Of The World
Peter E. Bristow
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860821288
ISBN 1860821286
CTS Booklet Mo 03

Over the last 15 years I have read many books about Opus Dei and the founder Saint Josemaria Escriva. What started as academic research has lead to a over half a life time of study, growing devotion and person practice. I am always intrigued to read more about The Work, and the founder. This booklet is a wonderful little read. It gives a great overview of the beginning of the work, and specifically the work in the United Kingdom. 

The description of the book is:

"This booklet answers the questions: what is Opus Dei, how did it begin and how does it work, what is its apostolate, its message and spirituality? Dating from the inter-war years, Opus Dei (or 'Work of God') has flourished both before and since the Second Vatican Council, contributing greatly to the rediscovery of the apostolate of the laity. Finding God in the ordinary things, in daily work and family life, the constant need for daily formation and conversion, lie at its heart. It's spirituality, organization and how to join are all set out."

And the Sections in the book are:

What is Opus Dei?
A Brief History
The message of Opus Dei
Finding God in ordinary things
Sanctifying work and renewing the world
Family life
Apostolate and evangelization
Vocation and Spirit
A lay spirit
Forming the laity
Children of God
Daily conversion and interior struggle
Prayer and interior life
The little cross of each day
Devotion to Our Lady
Love for the Church and the Pope
Living a vocation to Opus Dei
Opus Dei in the Church
What is a personal prelature?
Opus Dei as a personal prelature
Incorporation into the prelature
The Priestly Society of the Holy Cross
The co-operators of Opus Dei
How Opus Dei is organized
Financial matters
Apostolic Inititatives
Social projects
Some Final Thoughts
Opus Dei and the Second Vatican Council
The re-evangelization of society

If you are looking for a clear concise overview of Opus Dei, I cannot think of another book that accomplishes that so succinctly. The writing is crisp, and tight. There is a lot of information packed into this small volume. I loved reading about the growth and spread of the work, and the specifics of the work in the UK. I would love to see a booklet along the same lines providing an overview of the work in Canada. 

This booklet is small and concise. It can be read as a brief history. It can also be given to someone unfamiliar with the work as an excellent overview. I could see keeping copies of this in my breast pock and always having it on hand in order to be able to give it out. The more the pity as it is currently out of print. 

Another excellent read from the Catholic Truth Society. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Peter E. Bristow:
Christian Ethics and the Human Person: Truth and Relativism in Contemporary Moral Theology
Opus Dei: Christians In The Midst Of The World
The Moral Dignity of Man: 2nd Edition 1997

Books by St. Josemaria Escriva:
Christ Is Passing By
Conversations with Saint Josemaria
The Forge
Friends of God

Holy Rosary
In Love with the Church
The Way
The Way of the Cross
The Way, Furrow, Forge (3 in 1 Edition)

Books about St. Josemaria Escriva:
A Man Who Knew How to Forgive: Lessons from the Life of St. Josemaria Escriva - Francesc Faus

Josemaria Escriva - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky - CTS Biographies
Last of the Romantics: St. Josemaria in the Twenty-First Century - Mariano Fazio

Books about Alvaro del Portillo:
Alvaro Del Portillo The Power of Humility - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky
Saxum: The Life of Alvaro del Portillo - John F. Coverdale
40 Years with a Saint: Blessed Alvaro del Portillo on St. Josemara Escriva - Cesare Cavalleri


Books by Alvaro del Portillo:
Like Salt and Like Light: Anthology of texts compiled by Jose Antonio Loarte
Faithful And Laity In The Church; The Bases Of Their Legal Status
Journey with Jesus

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

The Isles: Is It All a Lie - Sara Francis - Terra Testimonies Book 1

The Isles: Is It All a Lie?
The Terra Testimonies Book 1
Sara Francis
ISBN 9780998993300

This is the first full length novel by Sara Francis and boy does it deliver. With hints at the Six Million Dollar Man, Ender’s Game, Starship Troopers, and the science of Batman Beyond, it is a science fiction tale to entertain and enthrall. This book is a science fiction tale on a grand scale. It has cyborgs, humans genetically spliced with animals, tech geeks, and weapons galore.

The Isles is a small colony of humans living on 6 islands, protected from discovery by invaders. The invaders have taken over most of the world, or at least that is what the children have been told. Each of the islands has a different speciality. The Islands are run by island Keepers, and the children for the most part do not remember their past. They are being raised and trained to help take back earth.

Island I Bionics
Island II Saviors (Healers)
Island III Research and Development
Island IV Assets
Island V Seers
Island VI Genetic testing

The story is told as a series of alternating first person accounts, journal entries, either written or recorded. They are told by Alison, Sami, and Aaron. Aaron is one of the head geeks from Island III, Sami is a test subject from island VI she was spliced with a house cat genome, and Alison is from island I and has robotic prosthetics down the whole right side of her body. She was the first successful test subject for biomechatronic implantation.

Because the story is told in journal style each of the three go back and tell what they remember, or what they were told about the time before. Now they are members of the island, and this year during the inter island meetings they become part of a team that wins a competition and end up being selected for a mission to the mainland. But they soon realize a team member knows more than he is letting on, and that all may not be as they have been led to believe.

This is not hard science fiction along the lines of Arthur C. Clark. It is more along the lines of Robert A. Heinlein, Alfred Bester, and Frank Herbert. It is a great story and looks to be a very promising series. I thoroughly enjoyed this read. The style alternating voices was intriguing. The characters are very well written. The plot jumps around a bit because of the format used, and the style but works well. There are some subtle religious undertones to the story. It will be interesting to see what that part of the plot goes in book 2. When you finish this book, you will be desperate to read book two.

The story is written with a Young Adult audience in mind but can be enjoyed by anyone who loves a good sci-fi story. So give the book a try and see who a group of young adults, teens and children who have been trained are preparing to take on the invaders and liberate earth!

Books by Sara Francis:
Stardust: A Collection of Poems

The Terra Testimonies Series:
The Isles: Is It All a Lie?
The mainland: It Has Begun!

The Adventure of Wobot Series:
Wobot and the 3 Technicians
Wobot, the Gear, and Motion

Monday, 12 November 2018

Family Grace A Story of Conversion Through Friendship - Father Michael E. Giesler

Family Grace: 
A Story of Conversion Through Friendship
Father Michael E. Giesler
Scepter Publishers

ISBN 9781594172236

After reading the amazing Junia Trilogy I have tracked down all of the books I can by father Michael Giesler. And this book did not disappoint. In fact, it was an incredible read. While reading it I kept forgetting it was a fictional account. But the events, and people in the story could exist and do. They are our neighbours, our friends, and our co-workers. The story is set within contemporary north American families. One for whom their faith has become relatively irrelevant. And another an immigrant family who have a bright dynamic faith and family life. When the two mix the spirit moves.

Part of the description of this book is:

“In Family Grace Fr. Giesler tells a similar story, but within the context of a contemporary American family that discovers the Catholic Faith in gradual and unexpected ways. He vividly narrates their temptations, failures, and victories in a setting very similar to what the early Christians faced: a society often hostile to the truth and goodness of the Gospel. 

As he did in his previous novels, Giesler uses the message of St. Josemaria Escriva as his inspiration---with his call to become saints and apostles in the middle of the world, a calling very similar to that of the early followers of Christ. 

“It was the family that converted the Roman world. Pagans saw that Christian homes were happy, and they wanted a piece of that happiness. This novel shows us the truth: the family is, still today, the key to evangelization and the key to happiness.” -- Mike Aquilina, author of The Fathers of the Church.”

The story follows Frank and nan from their first date, through courtship, marriage, children, and drifting apart and away from the church. But their daughter Kim has a close friend Rosa for whom faith is integral to her life. And Kim comes to depend upon Rosa as a rock in her turbulent life. When tragedy strikes the two families grow together and faith is renewed.

As mentioned I forgot that this was fiction a few times while reading it, and got chocked up. It is a powerfully written story. And I pray it will spark new hope and new faith in the families of all who read it. Another excellent offering by Father Giesler.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Rev. Michael Giesler:
You See Me, You Hear Me
Guidebook for Confessors
Family Grace: A Story of Conversion Through Friendship
Called by Name: Twelve Guideline Meditations for Diocesan Priests


Spanish Editions:
Dios te ve y te oye


Christian Historical Fiction Trilogy:
Grain Of Wheat