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The admired Best Catholic Writing series continues with contributions from Peggy Noonan, Robert Ellsberg, Pope Benedict XVI, Thomas Lynch, John Allen, and twenty-two other essayists, poets, novelists, scholars, and journalists. The selections bring vivid Catholic personalities to life (Dorothy Day, Flannery O'Connor, Pope John Paul II), address ethical issues and spiritual problems (torture, medical treatment at the end of life, the problem of suffering), and ask provocative questions (Are young Catholics embracing orthodoxy? Does the Church condemn evolution? Was Shakespeare a secret Catholic?).
Notable essays in this year's edition include Kevin Cullen's profile of a former IRA terrorist now studying for the priesthood, Robert Lockwood's argument with the conventional wisdom about the Crusades, Colm Toibin's meditation on the public face of John Paul II, poetry by Mary Oliver and Seamus Heaney, and a Wall Street Journal portrait of nuns who finance their nursing homes by begging in the streets. The collection includes writing from the UK and Australia, as well as material first published on the Internet.
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Brian Doyle's essays have appeared in the American Scholar, Atlantic Monthly, and Harper's, and they have been anthologized in "best essay" collections. He is the author of five books including Leaping and The Wet Engine. He is the editor of Portland Magazine and lives in Portland, Oregon.From Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. The "best of" collections can often appear contrived and forced, but Doyle, writer and three-time editor of this Loyola Press series, avoids such pitfalls. Drawing upon works from a variety of genres, Doyle assembles a truly "catholic" compilation. Included with the thought-provoking essays and articles are inspired poems by Mary Oliver and Seamus Heaney, alongside a true sign of the times—excerpts from Web logs ("blogs"). Kudos to Doyle for recognizing the creativity and vitality within this modern electronic medium. Catholicism, Doyle believes, should not be afraid of contemporary culture. Nor should it be afraid of a variety of perspectives. Doyle includes an impassioned article by Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for George H.W. Bush, with a Thomas Aquinas–inspired spoof called "The Existence of Chuck Norris" by ordained Protestant minister Douglas Beaumont. Other highlights from this collection include Orbis Press editor-in-chief Robert Ellsberg on Dorothy Day, funeral director and essayist Thomas Lynch on his relatives in Ireland, and Jesuit George Coyne's religion and science apologia. In his introduction, Doyle posits, "there's a stunning amount of terrific Catholic writing." He has managed to sift through much of it and find the cream of the crop. (Oct.)
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