Friday, August 28

The Seven Sacraments: Entering the Mysteries of God (2006)

By Stratford Caldecott

Not every pattern of seven in Scripture or tradition can be forced into a scheme that relates it to the seven sacraments.” So Stratford Caldecott admits on page 100 of this short but fascinating book. But if there are any patterns that can be so “forced” that he does not find and integrate into a magnificent and interlocking web of sevens that yields a wealth of insightful connections between the seven Sacraments of the Church and a host of other lists … well, I would have no idea what those might be.

This is the second book by Caldecott that I have read – less than ideally, I am reading what I would consider (in my somewhat ill-formed opinion, having discovered him only fairly recently) his “Catholic Trilogy” out of order, having started with the middle book, All Things Made New. And having proceeded directly from The Seven Sacraments into The Radiance of Being, which deals with the mysteries of existence itself, I’ve come to the conclusion that Stratford Caldecott is right up there with G. K. Chesterton in another way, beyond those noted in my blog review of All Things Made New [LINK]. He makes Christianity weird in a fascinating and beautiful way [see here with regard to GKC: LINK]. Sure, as I told my wife the other night, “I’m going to read some more Stratford Caldecott and get a headache,” trying to get my head around the concepts he throws around makes my head hurt, but I think that is just my mind being forcibly expanded – to the better.

Tuesday, August 25

How Dante Can Save Your Life: The Life-Changing Wisdom of History’s Greatest Poem (2015)

By Rod Dreher

I’m not a big fan of self-help books. To be fair, of course, there’s nothing wrong with them, and I’m sure they help a lot of people. But none of them, however valuable they look like they might be, ever hold my attention long enough for me to get anything of worth out of them. This book is not, strictly speaking, a “self-help book,” but the extended title rightly hints that it does share a lot in common with that genre, taking the novel approach of describing how a 700-year-old medieval Italian poem helped modern conservative commentator Rod Dreher to put his life back on track after what I would term (he does not) a nervous breakdown, a total emotional meltdown that was wrecking even his physical health, which readers of the quasi-prequel memoir, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, would not have expected as imminent.

Saturday, August 22

Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets and Beyond (BBC 2004)

Space Ship Pegasus at Europa
Directed by Joseph Ahearne

Even though it never made it into my "currently-reading" sidebar, and I haven't blogged about it yet, I just got finished reading Andy Weir's The Martian, soon to be a major motion-picture starring Matt Damon. In case I don't get around to blogging it soon or ever, it is amazing! Really good, essentially contemporary hard-science fiction is so rare; I enjoyed the hell out of it, and the trailers for the movie look like they are going to follow the story almost slavishly. (There's one thing I spotted in the trailer that leads me to think they're going to change something about the main character's background to up the emotional ante, so to speak.) Anyway, when I finished it, I was wanting more, and I thought about an old faux-documentary I saw about a decade ago about a "Grand Tour" of the Solar System, and a few minutes' research found it, the subject two-part faux-documentary from BBC. I downloaded it from Youtube, put it on my portable hard drive, and USB'd it to the BluRay player, and voila!, it plays just like a DVD!