Sociologist responds to atheistic views on how Americans see faith

“The God Problem: Expressing Faith and Being Reasonable” by Robert Wuthnow. University of California Press (Berkeley, Calif., 2012), 304 pp., $34.95. Studies of religion in the United States have for many decades tried to understand faith by looking at everything except what people say about it, declares Robert Wuthnow in “The God Problem.” Poll-takers ask […]

Joseph Kennedy biography comprehensive, but may be too much for many

Before one even begins to read "The Patriarch," David Nasaw's comprehensive biography of Joseph P. Kennedy, there is a 10-page listing of the "Cast of Characters" in Kennedy's life. This section not only explains relations but it also reads as a "Who's Who" of the first seven decades of the 20th century. It shows how a young man fromBostonbecame a multimillionaire and reared a family that would be dominant in American politics.

4 seniors in ‘Quartet’ can’t resist the stage, even in retirement

NEW YORK (CNS) — Dustin Hoffman steps behind the camera for his directorial debut with “Quartet” (Weinstein), a comedy-drama about musical artists who face the ultimate curtain call: a date with the Grim Reaper. Based on the play by Ronald Harwood (who also wrote the screenplay), “Quartet” casts senior citizens in the same warm and […]

Is ‘game over’ the proper Catholic response to violent video games?

The Newtown tragedy should prompt more than just a discussion about how violent games may affect the mentally disturbed. Rather, it should inspire healthy players to take a step back and ask what the games they play are doing to their minds and, by extension, to their hearts and souls.

Disturbing ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ challenges viewers’ moral compass

NEW YORK (CNS) — “Zero Dark Thirty” (Columbia) offers moviegoers a challenging account, based on real events, of the decade-long hunt for terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. This gritty glimpse into the underworld of acknowledged detention centers and concealed prisons, known as “black sites,” raises ethical quandaries and presents content that will prove unsettling even […]

Author brings 16th-century Council of Trent to life

Catholic readers will be grateful for John O'Malley's "Trent," the long-awaited story of one of the most influential events in the religious history of Western Europe, the 16th-century council of the Catholic Church that set the tone for 400 years. The author has a mastery of the historical sources in all of the languages, yet the story is told with the verve and intrigue of a mystery novel.

‘Silver Linings Playbook’ takes page from troubled life, as seen in Delaware County

NEW YORK (CNS) — In “Silver Linings Playbook” (Weinstein), filmmaker David O. Russell attempts to fashion a winsome romantic comedy that also addresses mental illness with perceptiveness and sensitivity. It’s not an easy maneuver to pull off. But it works because the source material, a novel by Matthew Quick, is rooted in an actual place […]

‘Will Many Be Saved?’ Good question, but book’s answers hard to grasp

“Will Many Be Saved? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization” by Ralph Martin. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing (Grand Rapids, Mich., 2012). 320 pp.; $24.  One of the things Catholics are encouraged to do during the Year of Faith is to familiarize themselves — or refamiliarize themselves — with the […]

As a Christmas movie gift, ‘Les Miserables’ has it all

NEW YORK (CNS) — If your Christmas wish list includes a lavish, big-budget musical crafted in the classic Hollywood manner, then “Les Miserables” (Universal) is just the ticket. This rousing entertainment offers something for everyone: soaring anthems, tear-jerking romance, thrilling drama — and a positive portrayal of the Catholic faith. In fact, this faithful adaptation […]

‘Hitchcock’ shows the madness behind the genius of the man

NEW YORK (CNS) — The Greek philosopher Aristotle observed, “There is not great genius without a mixture of madness.” Case in point: “Hitchcock” (Fox Searchlight), an absorbing portrait of the legendary film director during the making of his biggest success, the 1960 horror classic “Psycho.” The “Master of Suspense” gets quite a dressing-down in this […]