John M. DeJak

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To Have and to Hold
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To Have and to Hold

Mine! How the Hidden Rules of Ownership Control Our Lives by Michael A. Heller and James Salzman  Doubleday 336 pp., $28.95   Aristotle’s observation that philosophy begins in wonder has, for many, conjured up an image of a curious child, bright-eyed and fascinated with the world around him. Similarly, in this book about the philosophical...

Faith and Country Weighed in the Balance
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Faith and Country Weighed in the Balance

American Catholic: The Politics of Faith During the Cold War by D. G. Hart  Cornell University Press  280 pp., $29.95   “What the hell is an encyclical?” is probably the most honest and articulate response ever uttered by a Catholic politician in the United States. It was mouthed by New York’s first Catholic governor, Al...

The Life of the Mind
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The Life of the Mind

Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life; by Zena Hitz; Princeton University Press; 240 pp., $22.95 “What do I need to know for the test?” This common refrain, repeated endlessly by high school and undergraduate students, sums up one of the great heresies of our age: the view that learning is a...

Catholic Comfort for a Wounded South
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Catholic Comfort for a Wounded South

Catholic Confederates: Faith and Duty in the Civil War South by Gracjan Kraszewski; The Kent State University Press; 216 pp., $45.00   Brother Brutus J. Clay, S.J., was a fixture at Loyola University in the early-to-late 1990s. The wiry Southerner with a thick Kentucky accent not only attended to the Jesuit Fathers’ chapel as sacristan, but was involved...

A Decadent Diagnosis
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A Decadent Diagnosis

The Decadent Society: How We Became Victims of Our Own Success by Ross Douthat; Avid Reader Press; 272 pp., $27.00   The ancient latin aphorism per aspera ad astra (“through rough things, to the stars”) might well be a fitting epigraph for New York Times columnist Ross Douthat’s latest book. Its cover features a 19th century French illustration of Rabelais’ Gargantua et Pantagruel being fed...

A Skeptic on the Road of Saints
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A Skeptic on the Road of Saints

A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith, by Timothy Egan. Viking Press 384 pp., $28.00 “Men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tide of rivers, the vast compass of the ocean, the circular motion of the stars, and yet...

Books in Brief
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Books in Brief

The Long Night of the Watchman: Essays by Václav Benda, 1977-1989 (St. Augustine’s Press; 352 pp., $35.00). On July 4, 1983, in Prague, there occurred one of those moments that may rightly be considered a single loose pebble that caused an avalanche. Film director MiloŠ Forman had been permitted to return to his native Czechoslovakia...

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Books in Brief

Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center by Tyler O’Neil (Bombardier Books; 240 pp., $16.99). Journalist Tyler O’Neil of PJ Media has been busy. From roughly around the time of the Charlottesville racial conflagration in 2017 to the filling of the inkwells that were used to print this book, O’Neil has...

The Making of the Midwest
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The Making of the Midwest

David McCullough’s latest offering, The Pioneers, takes the reader into that little-known period of American history in which the intrepid veterans of the Revolutionary War set out to settle the territories on the banks of the Ohio River. It was the first thrust of Westward expansion that would characterize the United States during the rest...

Defining Work
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Defining Work

This collection harkens back to a bygone era when the essay was a common medium of the literary artist.  As one can pick up a volume of essays by G.K. Chesterton or Hilaire Belloc nearly a century after their first publication and still be enthralled and enchanted by their freshness and continuing relevance, the same...