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  • Author reflects on clerical celibacy as spiritual fatherhood

    "Why Celibacy? Reclaiming the Fatherhood of the Priest" by Father Carter Griffin. Emmaus Road Publishing (Steubenville, Ohio, 2019). 215 pp., $24.95. When reading Father Carter Griffin's book "Why Celibacy?" this summer, I repeatedly had to close it and think of my father.

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  • More than an introduction, book offers deep dive into church history

    "Timeless: A History of the Catholic Church" by Steve Weidenkopf. Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana, 2019). 573 pp, $19.95. When a book has more than 500 pages, more than 1,000 footnotes and a 10-page bibliography, it would be a disservice to call it an introduction. Consider "Timeless" the equivalent of at least a two-semester college overview course in Catholic Church history that touches upon key movements, events and people.

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  • Fordham theologian takes new approach on pro-life, social justice issues

    "Resisting Throwaway Culture: How a Consistent Life Ethic Can Unite a Fractured People" by Charles C. Camosy. New City Press (Hyde Park, New York, 2019). 374 pp., $19.95. In a time of intense polarization in both church and society, the new book from Fordham theologian Charles Camosy seeks to outline "a revitalized consistent life ethic" that "could demonstrate how to unify a fractured culture around a vision of the good." Above all, Camosy's book seeks to overcome the Catholic battles between pro-life and social justice issues, a dichotomy that too often mirrors the incoherence of our political parties.

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  • Uncritical biography oversimplifies life of anti-nuclear archbishop

    "A Disarming Spirit: The Life of Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen" by Frank Fromherz. Marymount Institute Press (Los Angeles, 2019). 477 pp., $29.95. This well-meaning, uncritical biography of Archbishop Raymond G. Hunthausen (1921-2018) is exhaustively researched, overly detailed and needlessly repetitive; Fromherz references every interview he conducted or document he read, and so much detail detracts from what is an inherently compelling narrative.

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  • Agnostic author pens atypical 'appreciation' of religion's worth

    "Why We Need Religion" by Stephen T. Asma. Oxford University Press (New York, 2018). 256 pp., $29.95. Stephen Asma once was a Catholic altar boy. Today he calls himself an agnostic. He confesses he prayed when his son "was in the emergency room with an illness" but did not believe that prayer would help to heal him.

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  • Author's advice on moral investing not the only Catholic way

    "In God We Trust: Morally Responsible Investing" by George P. Schwartz with Michael O. Kenney. Tan Books (Charlotte, North Carolina, 2018). 274 pp., $29.95. George P. Schwartz, a certified financial adviser and CEO of Schwartz Investment Counsel, explores the idea of "participating in the capital markets in a purposeful, reasoned and ethical way to achieve legitimate investment objectives and avoid morally objectionable businesses" in his book, "In God We Trust." Schwartz names this idea "morally responsible investing," and practices it through the Ave Maria Mutual Funds, which he manages.

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  • New books outline history, modern realities of religious liberty

    "Liberty in the Things of God: The Christian Origins of Religious Freedom" by Robert Louis Wilken. Yale University Press (New Haven, Connecticut, 2019). 248 pp., $26. "Sacred Liberty: America's Long, Bloody and Ongoing Struggle for Religious Freedom" by Steven Waldman, HarperOne (New York, 2019). 416 pp., $28.99.

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