Philosophy professor explores human origins for nonscholars

Throughout the ages, scholars have pondered the "what" and "why" of human origin. In his book "From Big Bang to Big Mystery: Human Origins in the Light of Creation and Evolution" Father Brendan Purcell, an adjunct professor in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney, Australia, attempts to provide answers to these questions, with a great deal of success. Father Purcell has delivered a scholarly work (with 625 footnotes and a 22-page bibliography) that is, at the same time, accessible to the nonscholarly reader. Because the work deals primarily in philosophy and science, the book requires effort to read and understand, yet Father Purcell makes it an interesting and enjoyable read throughout.

‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ seen as allegory to 1930s’ fascist march

NEW YORK (CNS) — First published in 1937, Catholic author J.R.R. Tolkien’s children’s novel “The Hobbit, or There and Back Again” has proved so popular in the decades since that it has never gone out of print. With “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Warner Bros.), director Peter Jackson provides movie audiences with an epic 3-D […]

The good, bad, ugly: Church can’t shy away from Twitter’s Wild West

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With Pope Benedict XVI's new presence on Twitter, people from all over the world can now post papal messages with just the push of an on-screen button. While many have welcomed the pope's foray into the virtual world, his @Pontifex handles and “reply-able” posts have also meant that rude and crude […]

Children’s book reveals pope’s sensitive side, secretary says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A new children’s book, released by the Vatican publishing house, accurately reveals the “very, very, very sensitive soul” of Pope Benedict XVI, said his personal secretary, Archbishop-designate Georg Ganswein. The Italian-language book, “The Mystery of a Little Pond,” was written and illustrated by the Russian painter Natalia Tsarkova and was presented […]

Powerful memoir takes readers into Catholic family’s life in Maine

“When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico, Maine” by Monica Wood. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Boston, 2012). 235 pp., $24.  Memory is a wondrous, awesome thing. Sometimes you can’t remember what you want to remember; other times out of the clear blue the most trivial, oddball things pop into awareness, and you say to […]

Green Arrow: God’s justice, or man’s?

NEW YORK (CNS) — Although superhero movies have been all the rage in recent years, the superhero TV series is more of a rarity these days. Once upon a time, Adam West’s Batman was a staple of primetime television; the caped crusader is now almost exclusively a movie franchise. While comic book adoptions for TV […]

New books offer wealth of options for spiritual reading during Advent

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Here is a selection of recent releases that might be suitable for your spiritual reading during Advent and the Christmas season: — “Exploring Advent With Luke: Four Questions for Spiritual Growth” by Timothy Clayton. Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame, Ind., 2012). 149 pp., $13.95. — “A Catholic Family Advent: Prayers and Activities” […]

‘Facing the Screen Dilemma’ helps navigate ‘media-saturated’ culture

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Every time you ask a question about your TV, even if it doesn’t answer back, you’re doing the right thing. You are becoming more media literate. It’s perfectly fine to ask questions about the pervasive influence of commercials, the content of programming, and the seductive spell cast by the glow of the […]

‘Killing Them Softly,’ and gruesomely, and cynically

NEW YORK (CNS) — Though ambitious and well-acted, the crime drama “Killing Them Softly” (Weinstein) is also brutally violent and deeply cynical. Taken together, its explosive gore and jaundiced view of the world make it unsuitable for audiences of any age. That’s all the more unfortunate since, like some of its best Depression-era predecessors, writer-director […]

“First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty,” to air on PBS

NEW YORK (CNS) — As numerous church leaders have warned in recent years, the rights of believers are increasingly under threat — not only around the world but within the United States as well. So the documentary “First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty” — a look at the origins of the religious guarantees enshrined […]