Catholics Confronting Hitler by Peter Bartley (Gracewing/ Ignatius, £15). Bartley has written a well-argued and documented overview of the ways in which the Church responded to the Third Reich, with its public hostility and persecution of Jews and Christians. Using primary sources such as letters, diaries, memoirs and official government reports, as well as the testimony of churchmen, diplomats, members of the Resistance and ordinary Jews, Bartley joins a growing list of historians who have effectively challenged the infamous slur on the name and reputation of Pius XII. His book would be an admirable resource, particularly for students of history.
When You Can’t Pray by Finbarr Lynch SJ (Messenger Publications, £10). Fr Lynch, who works at the Jesuit Centre of Spirituality in Dublin, has long experience of teaching on prayer. His book is based on his experiences when leading retreats and giving spiritual direction. It is thus the fruit of sensitive pastoral work with those who struggle to have a personal relationship with God. Divided into two sections, the first for people who feel they can’t pray and the second specifically for spiritual directors, Lynch’s book is an invaluable resource for leading a richer Christian life.
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (Simon and Schuster, £20). Always one of the most articulate of musicians, deeply self-analytical and critical, Springsteen has produced an autobiography unlike any other. From being taught by nuns to becoming the world’s most successful rock star, Springsteen steers us through the power trips and pitfalls of fame. There are long discussions of his own depression, the legacy of his father’s mute anger and the kindness of strangers. There are also good times on the road, painfully detailed album sessions and an almost evangelical sense that music can make a difference to the world.
Stitches by Anne Lamott (Hodder, £9.99). A follow-up to her bestselling book, Help, Thanks, Wow, Lamott investigates how we can find peace and meaning within our stressful lives, how we recover after loss and how we discover our true identity amid fragmentary public personas. The author believes that we must try to reassemble the pieces of our emotional and spiritual fabric and sew them back together, one stitch at a time. Subtitled A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair, this slim book offers practical and humorous wisdom when “It can be too sad here. We so often lose our way.”
What is Wrong with Us? edited by Eric Coombes (Imprint Academic, £14.95). This anthology of essays, which includes two contributions from the doctor and writer Theodore Dalrymple, offers a wide range of cultural critiques. There are pieces on the emptiness of modern art and architecture, the corruption of universities and the banal deceptiveness of public language. The book bears the imprint of Roger Scruton’s influence, especially in a final essay by Mark Dooley, who argues that only the Church can save our culture, by opening our lives to “love, attachment, and belonging”.
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