Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Joy of the Gospel

Evangelii Gaudium or The Joy of the Gospel was an apostolic exhortation delivered by Pope Francis on November 24, 2013, which was the Solemnity of Christ the King and the conclusion of the Year of Faith. In the introduction, Pope Francis gives Biblical examples showing the relationship between the joy of the Christian faith and the joy of missionary work. The rest of the exhortation is divided into five chapters:
  1. The Church's Missionary Transformation
  2. Amid the Crisis of Communal Commitment
  3. The Proclamation of the Gospel
  4. The Social Dimensions of Evangelization
  5. Spirit-filled Evangelizers
Looking at the numbers of this document, it is clearly a large document. It is 47,560 words. In this glut of words, Pope Francis uses the word "love" 154 times, "joy" 109 times, "the poor" 91 times, "peace" 58 times, "justice" 37 times, and "common good" 15 times. These figures were taken from Wikipedia. I am not going to analyze the words in this document. More brilliant minds than mine have done so. Instead, I am going to briefly compare two editions released by two different publishers.

The Image Books edition screams papal edition with its bright white cover. The unique features of this books are as follows. 1. It is a hardcover, so you know it will last longer and have shelf appeal. 2. It is deckle edged, which gives it a unique look. 3. It has a Foreword written by Fr. Robert Barron and an Afterword by Fr. James Martin. 4. The notes are at the bottom of the appropriate page and not at the end like normally issued by the Vatican. The only weird thing is the Table of Contents of the actual document (not the book) is in the back instead of the front and listed as an Index. 

The Word Among Us edition is a paperback version like, the one released by the USCCB. Because of this, it is slightly less expensive than the hardcover edition listed above. The cover is similar to other Word Among Us papal document releases, including Lumen FideiVerbum Domini, and Evangelii Nuntiandi. This creates an appealing looking on your shelf to have these important documents similar in look. The great part of this book and what sets it apart is the study guide. This makes it ideal for individual study or small group study.

So which edition should you get? The price is very similar, so you'll have to decide which features are most important to you. Perhaps, you're like me and will get both of them. The important thing is to read the words of our Holy Father, because they do contain a great deal of truth in them. Enter to win a copy here.

These books were provided to me for free by Image Books and Word Among Us Press. If you found this comparison helpful, click here and/or here and hit Yes!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Number the Stars (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Number the Stars takes place in Denmark in 1943. World War II is affecting people globally and the Nazis are spreading their reach in Europe. The story's protagonist is Annemarie Johansen, whose best friend is Ellen Rosen, a Jewish girl. During this period of time, Denmark was occupied by the Nazis, and the Nazis had plans to "relocate" the Jews. The people of Denmark, however, actively resisted the Nazis and wanted to save the Jewish people in the country. For example, in this story, Annemarie's family takes Ellen into their home and pretends to be part of their family. In this story, we not only see the tragedy of World War II, but the character growth and development of Annemarie. It is truly a remarkable and eye-opening story that, while aimed at a younger audience, has reached older audiences as well.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt released a 25th anniversary edition of this book. The cover looks like original cover, only with a Newberry Medal sticker on it. It is hardcover, which is nice because it will hold up to the multiple people in your house that will read this book through the years. The cons are that there are no added features. I'm not sure what I was expecting to be added, but it seems whenever a book or movie releases some significant anniversary edition, that there are "special features," like an author interview. So I was disappointed, even though I shouldn't have been. The book is fine as is. I have just been spoiled by what popular culture has taught me. With that said, if you already own a copy of this book, there's nothing new here for you. If you are looking for a new copy or a gift for someone, this makes a nice edition for that.

This book was provided to me for free by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Understanding Love and Responsibility (Pauline Books and Media)

Last year, I was privileged to receive a review copy of Love and Responsibility from Pauline Books and Media. I remember having a very profound sense of amazement reading the late Karol Wotyla's (Pope John Paul II) word. I also remember feeling over my head reading these words and wishing that I was smarter or that there was some guide in common everyday language so that I could better understand this. Well my prayers (and I imagine the prayers of many others were answered) with the release of Understanding Love and Responsibility.

This is the second book I have had the opportunity to review by the author, Dr. Richard Spinello. He has written several books about Pope John Paul II and his writings, so I knew this was the right person to undertake this book. Chapter One begins with a discussion of who Wotyla was and why we should want to read Love and Responsibility. If you own both books, like myself, you'll want to read this chapter before reading anything in Love and Responsibility. Each subsequent chapter then focuses on a specific section of Love and Responsibility. As ways of helping the common person grasp this text, Dr. Spinello provides examples, summaries, and simpler English. There are also a great amount of footnotes, some of which provide interesting cross-references to Wotyla's other works.

While it might be superficial to say, I found the concluding chapter of this book to be the most beneficial to me. Dr. Spinello not only beautifully and succinctly summarized Love and Responsibility, but he also provided a framework for defending Wotyla's work, which might prove helpful to some. Understanding Love and Responsibility is billed as a companion book, and that it is. However, I would argue that you could read it on its own, even though I know that wasn't the author's intent. My recommendation is that you read this book by itself first. Once you are finished, if you find yourself wanting to dig deeper, then by all means pick up Love and Responsibility. Be sure to keep this companion book handy. Otherwise, you'll risk getting overwhelmed by the depth that Wotyla can dive.

This book was provided to me for free by Pauline Books and Media in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!