Daily Archives: October 15, 2008

What do we think of Paul O’Shea’s "A Cross Too Heavy: Eugenio Pacelli, Politics and the Jews of Europe 1917-1943"?

Well, “we” (meaning me) don’t think anything yet of the book, because we haven’t read it. All we have done is listen to the author on numerous radio programs, such as The Ark, The Religion Report and Sunday Nights. You can see what Brian Coyne thinks here, for one, and here is another take from the History News Network but I would be interested in hearing from anyone else on the matter.

It seems to me that he isn’t quite what the beatification cause is looking for in the way of “defence” of the late Pontiff, yet he certainly heads in that direction. I guess I would like to read it with the results of the Pave the Way Conference recently held in Rome by my side.

But here is the question that a priest put to me this afternoon: “Which is more saintly: to have spoken out with the only result being the deaths of many more people, or to be silent in the face of pressure to speak and to do what one possibly could to save those one possible could?”

Who can say? As Rabbi Cohen said: “God is judge”.


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N.T. Wright is at the Synod

Something I didn’t know, but picked up in this report from Zenit (also listed here in the official listing), is that Anglican bishop and scripture scholar N.T. Wright (often mentioned in these pages) is an ecumenical observer at the Synod of Bishops in Rome.

Isn’t that nice? I wonder if he will get to make a short speech as a guest, and what he will say if he does?

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"We don’t win awards"…

The Amateur Catholic B-Team blog has been inactive for some time, but I always was rather proud of their very accurate slogan: “We don’t write books or do speaking tours. In fact, we barely do our jobs.”

Actually, I am glad that one of the pre-requisites for membership is not “We don’t win awards”, because I just did.

Trusting that it is okay to blow one’s own trumpet on one’s own blog (no-one is forcing you to read this self-serving palava, you know), I will just mention in passing that the editor of Kairos entered my article on Phillip Pullman’s Golden Compass (“Some very Dark Materials”) for the annual Australasian Religious Press Association (ARPA) (they don’t have a website, so I can’t link them).

Turns out it won the “Gold Award” in the category “best review of another medium”. The review was of the trilogy of Philip Pullmans “Dark Materials” novels. I still haven’t seen the film, but perhaps it is time to get it out of the video shop (my daughters – somewhat more up-to-date than I, call it the DVD shop) and take a look.

Here are the Judges comments for this area.

Best review of another medium

Gold Award: The Golden Compass Some very dark materials – David Schutz
Kairos Catholic Journal Nov – Dec 2007
I found this review to be very strong. It contained everything I want to see in a review – background facts as well as the writer’s thoughts – but also some real and intelligent feelings and beliefs. Needless to say, I also found this movie very disturbing!

Silver Award: ‘J K Rowling – a 21st Century CS Lewis?’ – Dean Spalding
The Melbourne Anglican September 2007
I really enjoyed this intelligent take on the much-maligned Harry Potter. The writer brought out two good issues and thoroughly examined them, which was a nice surprise and very thought-provoking. Well done!

Bronze Award: ‘Religion stands accused’ – Jim Stuart
Touchstone July 2007
Another very strong piece – and one that examines the very pertinent issue of ‘anti-Christians’. However, there were too many books reviewed in this one article for it to give such an issue real justice. I would have also liked to have seen more of the writer’s own feelings/opinions on this issue.

Highly Commended: ‘Out of the Blue’ – Steve Taylor
Touchstone February 2007
I thought this piece brought out all the lovely elements of New Zealand – it was quite beautiful! I would have liked to have seen less questions and more answers though. And also more Christian input throughout the piece, instead of only at the end.

Highly Commended: ‘Three Gates to Paradise: Articles and Reflections’ – Marjorie Lewis-Jones
Insights March 2007
I really liked this piece. The wrire clearly had a big attachment to the book, but not so strong that she allowed herself to become too sentimental. Instead, she used some great, stand-out lines and phrases. Well done!


All in all, I was impressed with the quality of the reviews – only a few were left in my “very poor” pile and in the end it was very difficult to chose between my top three winners! But these winners stood out because they had something new and intelligent to say and they didn’t simply give the reader a basic rundown of the storyline. Well done to these winners!

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"I tremble for my country…"

“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.” – Thomas Jefferson

Matthias aluded to this quotation in a combox – but he got the wrong guy. It was Thomas Jefferson who said it, not Abraham Lincoln. Apparently the “country” he was speaking of was Virginia, and the injustice over which he trembled was slavery. The application to the current abortion debate is worth remembering, as is Pope Benedict’s reminder in Spe Salvi:

This innocent sufferer has attained the certitude of hope: there is a God, and God can create justice in a way that we cannot conceive, yet we can begin to grasp it through faith. Yes, there is a resurrection of the flesh. There is justice.

And you can buy the T-Shirt!


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Lost opportunity: Stephen Crittenden lets a slippery fish of the hook…

Stephen Crittenden is quite critical in this interview on the Religion Report with Associate Professor Anthony Burke of the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra, but at one point he lets him off the hook entirely:Stephen Crittenden:

Stephen Crittenden: One of the big themes of Critical Terrorism Studies is counter-terrorism. You say counter-terrorism, border protection, deterrence, homeland security, you describe them as ‘perverse, violent, exclusivist, ontologising technologies’. And you say, ‘counter terrorist strategies actually provoke the very thing they claim to be protecting us from.’ Is there any evidence that tough security measures are counter-productive in that way, that they actually provoke terrorism?

Anthony Burke: We don’t have evidence yet, but there’s a legitimate concern that – oh, you’re just trying to push me into a corner and not happy about it.

Stephen Crittenden: Look, let’s change the subject and take a look a bit more broadly.

“Let’s change the subject”!? Why??? You’ve got him by the short and curlies just where you want him, and you let him off the hook? He’s admitted that “we don’t have evidence” (the “yet” is rather hopeful) – and you let him get away with it! What sort of critical interviewing is this?


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