Living the Mystery of Merciful Love edited by Anthony Lilles and Dan Burke (Emmaus Road, £11). Using personal letters from St Thérèse to her sisters and close friends, the authors present the saint’s “Little Way” of total self-offering to God. The latest in the series “Navigating the Interior Life”, which make the timeless insights of the saints accessible to the ordinary reader, this 30-day programme will be helpful to all who love the Little Flower. Thérèse is a favourite saint of modern times and her limpid prose will give encouragement to those who desire to come closer to Christ.
Invisible Weapons by M Celia Gaposchkin (Cornell University Press, £57). In the midst of Crusader conflict, especially when the tide turned against Christian forces, a great deal of praying and atonement was apparently called for. This, as one medieval pope put it, represented the “invisible weapons” against Muslim armies. Gaposchkin’s fascinating study reveals how this central, but easily overlooked, aspect of crusading had a lasting impact on liturgical practice across Europe for centuries. It’s a wonderful idea for a book, skilfully executed.
Aesthetics: Volume I by Dietrich von Hildebrand (The Hildebrand Project, £20). Hildebrand insisted that objectivity plays a role in assessing the qualities of beautiful things but he also sustained a sense of the mysterious. He wrote of “beauty of the first power” and also beauty “raised to the second power”, which touches on concepts of the sublime. Such musings took him across “the entire region of matters aesthetic” and, as well as determining that Beethoven wrote the best symphonies, he also found time to adjudicate the various merits of our animal friends. Lions and horses apparently lead the pack, while hippos and hyenas bring up the rear.
Deaths of the Poets by Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley (Jonathan Cape, £14). The authors, poets themselves, have conceived the idea of visiting the sites where various verse writers have died and then, where possible, relating the manner of their deaths to the poetry written. They also quote the last words of the poets where these are known, such as Larkin’s gloomy and predictable “I am going to the inevitable.” Travelling to the US for John Berryman, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson and others, as well as to Greece for Lord Byron, they have produced a readable and intriguing, if inconclusive, picture.
The Future: A Very Short Introduction by Jennifer M Gidley (Oxford University Press, £7.99). The future seems a strange topic for OUP, but Future Studies are now part of any self-respecting university curriculum. Gidley asks how much we can actually know about the future and what scientific tools we can use. Unfortunately, too much of this book is a recap of all the different academic approaches and, while useful for the student, it is not the most scintillating read.
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