Fordham: The History of the Jesuit University of New York by Thomas Shelley (Fordham University Press, £34). Since 1841 Fordham has played a pivotal role in the educational and cultural life of the Bronx and wider New York City. Shelley provides a detailed institutional history that charts both triumphs and setbacks, the shifting pedagogical trends, and Fordham’s identity in the new millennium: the Jesuit presence around the halls is not what it used to be. Envisaged as a college to serve the local Catholic community, Fordham also managed to secure an impressive reputation within the broader American academy and its meandering story is highly instructive.
Great Catholic Parishes by William E Simon Jr (Ave Maria Press/Alban Books, £12.99). In 2012, the author founded Parish Catalyst, which studied 244 exceptional US parishes, and he describes the findings here. Four common practices that help parishes to flourish are sharing leadership between clergy and laity; creating formation programmes for parishioners’ varying needs; concentrating resources on the celebration of the liturgy; and evangelising. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, has written the foreword. “Our pastors and their staffs are the heroes of this book,” Simon concludes.
In a Glass Darkly by Zoe Bennett and Christopher Rowland (SCM Press, £25). This book is subtitled “The Bible, Reflection and Everyday Life” and takes as its starting point the need for readers of the Bible to be critically aware of their own stories and context. In other words, the text and people’s lives are inextricably intertwined. This groundbreaking work considers the role of emotional engagement alongside critical understanding in biblical interpretation. The cover, Velázquez’s painting of the Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus provides a subliminal illustration of how the tasks of daily life are inseparable from Scripture.
The Jesuits and Globalisation by Thomas Banchoff and José Casanova (Georgetown University Press, £26). The world-girdling nature of the Jesuit missionary enterprise can teach us a great deal about the mechanisms and tensions of globalisation. Universalist goals and assumptions, and what the Jesuits would call their “way of proceeding”, often collided with the particularities of local cultures and circumstances. The Jesuits were typically very good at bridging this gap. Contributors explore Jesuit adventures across Asia and the Americas, and delve into themes as diverse as education, the early encounters with Islam and recent missions to refugees.
Unreal City by Peter Mullen (Bretwalda Books, £11.99). The Rev Peter Mullen describes what it was like to take responsibility for two City of London parishes in 1998: St Michael’s Cornhill and St Sepulchre’s. Reluctantly retiring in 2012 (the author makes it clear that his traditional views on liturgy and pastoral ministry diverged from those of his superior, Bishop Richard Chartres), Mullen has written an amusing account of his sojourn in the City, with its ancient traditions and colourful characters. His appreciation of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land is apparent throughout this readable narrative.
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