Heaven, Hell and Purgatory: Rethinking the Things That Matter Most
by Jerry Walls
(Brazos Press, 2015, 240 pages)
Andrew is one of our more prolific readers (as you might have noticed) and he wrote an in-depth review of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory that is published in the Englewood Review of Books.
An Unexpected Light: Theology and Witness in the Poetry and Thought of Charles Williams, Michael O’Siadhail, and Geoffrey Hill by David C. Mahan
(Wipf & Stock, 2009, 246 pages)
In An Unexpected Light David Mahan asks the question “Can poetry matter to Christian theology?” (1). He believes that it can and that the poetry of Charles Williams, Micheal O’Siadhail, and Geoffrey Hill reveals that it does. Mahan makes the case that modern poetry’s contribution to theology is more than a question of adorning traditional doctrines with emotional resonance. The poetry of these three poets has functioned as a response to the “rhetorical and imaginative challenges,” of late-modernity, serving the purpose of “revitalizing the language of faith in ways that are at once faithful and compelling” (19).
I was particularly interested in Mahan’s close reading of Charles Williams’ Arthurian poems. Williams’ retelling of the Arthurian myth is highly original, drawing out and developing the latent theology of the Arthurian tradition. Mahan handles this material with real skill, revealing, among other things, how Williams’ poetry demonstrates and develops the incarnational nature of the Christian faith. The ideas in the book are slightly obscured at times by overwrought and overly technical prose. This minor quibble aside, Mahan’s book is a significant contribution to the interdisciplinary study of literature and theology.
Blue Horses by Mary Oliver
(Penguin Press, 2014, 96 pages)
These poems are beautiful meditations on the transcendent and personal qualities of nature and her creatures. I love the simplicity and directness of Oliver’s language. In the poem “A Little Ado About This and That,” she says that “I would like people to remember of me, how / inexhaustible was her mindfulness” (69). I would be hard pressed to come up with a better way of expressing the perceptive quality of her poems. Oliver has the subtle power to make her readers more mindful of the environment that surrounds them and their own place within it.
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
(Simon & Schuster, 2015, 320 pages)
The Wright Brothers is another well-written book by Pulitzer Prize winner, David McCullough. As the title indicates, this book is a biography of the Wright Brothers. Wilbur and Orville Wright were two brothers with the intellect and mechanical know-how that allowed them to invent, build, and fly a plane. The Wright Brothers is a story of determination and courage. In the early years, almost no one was interested in the Wright Brothers’ attempt at flight. The general public didn’t really believe that two brothers who owned a bicycle shop could make a successful flight. When the brothers did start making successful flights, they couldn’t get the attention of the United States government. Instead, they got the attention of the French government. The French people were the first to see successful demonstrations of Wilbur Wright flying a plane.
I had never given much thought to the Wright Brothers being from Dayton, Ohio, but choosing Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to start testing their gliders. Wilbur and Orville Wright picked Kitty Hawk because of the prevailing winds and the sand. It was quite an ordeal to pack up their glider and themselves and get to Kitty Hawk. Once on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, there were no hotels. They had to build shelter for themselves and their glider. It seemed there was no end to what the brothers could do.
I enjoyed reading this book. It was much shorter than the other McCullough books that I’ve read. If you want a behind-the-scenes look at the Wright brothers home life, upbringing, business sense, and attempts to fly, The Wright Brothers is for you.
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
(Doubleday, 2014, 317 pages)
I am not a person who enjoys being scared, but I still decided to pick up this book. I’d heard good things about it and was convinced I could handle any scary element this book had. Let’s just say that I made a point of not reading it after dark – it was a daylight hours only type of read for me.
The book revolves around the diary entries recorded in the early 1900s by Sara Harrison Shea. Sara was born and raised in a small town in Vermont and after the death of her daughter, Gertie, mysterious things began to happen around town. When the book cuts to the present day we are introduced to Ruthie who lives in Sara’s old house. Ruthie comes home one night to find her mother missing. As she searches for any information about where her mother could have gone Ruthie uncovers Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden in her mother’s room.
There is a history of disappearances in Ruthie’s town and people are convinced that something evil lurks at a rock formation known as the Devil’s Hand, which is located in the woods behind her home. This history shadows Ruthie’s search for her mother and there is a definite sense of foreboding. Something happened after Gertie’s death in 1908 and things haven’t been the same since.
This summary doesn’t really do the book justice. McMahon does a great job building suspense and causing the reader to question what’s really going on. There’s definitely a fantastical element and if you enjoy dark, chilling books I think you’ll appreciate reading The Winter People.
You can also read Theresa’s review of this title.
Saga (Volume 4) by Brian K. Vaughan; illustrated by Fiona Staples
(Image Comics, 2014, 152 pages)
Saga (Volume 4) picks up where things left off in volume 3. Marko, Alana, and Hazel are still on the run, residing undercover on a small planet. Alana is working in the entertainment world while Marko stays home and takes care of Hazel. As their family tries to stay safe as danger closes in, Marko and Alana find their marriage tested under the stresses of their situation…
An added bonus to volume 4: Lying Cat has a cameo.
Vaughan and Staples continue to work their magic with the Saga series. They development of the story and the imagery can’t help but draw you in… Look for another review on the series when Volume 5 comes out 🙂
Gone by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
(Little, Brown and Company, 2013, 416 pages)
Detective Michael Bennett, a former NYC detective, led the capture of the notorious Perrine. As a result, a hit was put on Bennett. The FBI put Bennett’s family (ten adopted children, a nanny, and his grandfather) into a witness protection program that forced them to live in seclusion in rural California. The hard work of farm life made the kids rebellious, but their love for Bennett made it tolerable. The nanny, Mary Catherine worked wonders homeschooling, teaching the kids how to care for themselves, and causing them to develop self-respect. However, drug lord and underworld boss, Manuel Perrine escaped from prison and commissioned a killing spree, which causes the FBI to bring Bennett back into service.