Sunday, December 27, 2009

Favorite Books of 2009

by Steve Ray on December 27, 2009

Carl Olsen of Ignatius Press always asks authors for their favorite books of 2009. The lists he has compiled will be posted in a few days on  IgnatiusInsight. I offered my own unconventional list, as follows:

Hello Carl: My list follows. Since I have been writing Scripture commentaries for and studying the lands of the Bible — especially since we lead groups through these lands — that is where my interest has landed this year.

One other thing as well. Since I am turning 55 this year I again realized how important it was to take care of the one body God has granted me, so I have been reading about health and exercise and nutrition — and putting it into practice. I have lost 30 pounds and am running over 1000 miles a year, and biking a thousand miles too.

My list will probably be quite different than most of your other authors, so I might add some variety. So, here goes:

One book on nutrition and food that I read and used a lot this year: SUPERFOODS RX by Steven G. Pratt, MD. A good book for us gluttonous American Catholics :-)  I know this is not the typical “Catholic book” you are looking for, but I think we Catholics need to focus more on these kind of things and become better examples. OK, I’m off my soapbox and here are the “religious” books.

There are three relatively new Bible commentary series, and one that has been around for awhile. The first two sets are based on quotes from the Fathers of the Church — unhappily they are both by Protestant publishers. The third is a Catholic series and the fourth is a Jewish series.

IMG_5127Of all the books I have used this year, the vast majority are electronic books. I have Logos Bible Software 4 on my computer and have it running constantly. I couldn’t live without it. I have almost 3,500 books and resources in its electronic library and there is nothing else like if for those interested in studying the Bible. But, let’s get to actual turn-the-pages kind of books.

The first is ANCIENT SCRIPTURE COMMENTARY ON SCRIPTURE published by IVP. The second has only three volumes released so far but I am using the one on 1 Corinthians which is exceptional. It is THE CHURCH’S BIBLE series published by Eerdmans. They follow Scripture verse-by-verse and provide quotes from the Fathers to enlighten each passage of the Bible. VERY helpful.

There is also an excellent new Catholic Commentary series edited by two friends of mine (wish they were published by Ignatius!) — Peter Williamson and Mary Healy. It the CATHOLIC COMMENTARY SERIES and is published by Baker Academic. They have three volumes out so far: Mark, Ephesians and 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus. I covet the whole series and can’t wait for the other volumes to be published. Hey, is “coveting” always bad?

Another series I have found extremely valuable — actually brilliant — is the JPS BIBLE COMMENTARY series. The JPS stands for Jewish Publication Society. Having a scholarly Jewish commentary series adds a whole need deep dimension to Old Testament study. I used the volume on Genesis while writing the commentary on the first book of the Bible and found it extremely insightful and brilliant.

So much for health and commentaries.

I also have enjoyed Kenneth Howell’s new translation and commentary on the Apostolic Fathers with his first edition: IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH & POLYCARP OF SMYRNA (Early Christian Fathers) published by Coming Home Network. I love the Apostolic Fathers because — to be honest — they were the ones that brought me into the Catholic Church. These two were very influencial. My friend Ken did a fantastic job of bringing them to light again for a modern audience. Can’t wait for future volumes.

Regarding Biblical Lands I have enjoyed three older books but relevant in their own way of revealing the lands of the Bible before they became too modern. They were written by Henry V. Morton and published by Da Capo Press.

IN THE STEPS OF THE MASTER following his travels in the Holy Land

Well Carl, there you go. Sorry no IP books this year though there have been some very good ones. I have had little time to read for fun since I am busy in certain areas and focusing thusly.


Blind Side

by Steve Ray on December 27, 2009

blind_side-476x710If you haven’t gone out to the cinema to see BLIND SIDE yet, then get the your keys and your kids and GO! We saw it today with our daughter Emily and her friend Sean. We were moved to tears again and again.

It is a very Catholic movie, though it was not produced by Catholics (to the best of my knowledge) and never mentions the word “Catholic.” Yet it is the kind of movie that exhibits true Catholicism — putting ourselves aside to care for others less fortunate – to serve rather than to be served. I think a wise man said that a long time ago :-)

I am writing a commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians for and the whole emphasis of the first ten chapters of 1 Corinthians is to give up your own lives to love others. This movie is a beautiful example of laying down your own life for the less fortunate.

A BIG black boy has no family. A Christian woman is driving along and sees him walking in the cold with no where to go. She says, “Get in the car!” and takes him to her million dollar house. I won’t tell you more — other than to say it is well worth the $8 (or whatever it is; Janet bought the tickets while I parked the car) and the few hours it takes to see it.

I will take my mom and dad (88 and 90 — recently celebrated their 70th anniversary) and my brother Dave to see the movie later this week since we loved it so much.

We need to support such movies and avoid the trash that seems to always get the big bucks. Let’s put our money where our faith is!

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