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Editor’s note: Here are four short reviews of books we think you’ll enjoy.


Strange Gods

Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life

Elizabeth Scalia (Ave Maria Press)


Ever read the biblical accounts of the Israelites falling into idol worship and wonder what, exactly, their problem was? It’s hard not to feel superior to these primitive people. On the contrary, according to author Elizabeth Scalia. “Our present day idols are much less obvious, but they are also less distant and more ingrained within us.” How do you know if something in your life has achieved idol status? Think of the words of the first commandment: “You shall not have strange gods before me.” Take that before in a nearly literal sense: something that gets plopped in front of God, making it hard to see him, easy to forget him. Something that is neutral or even good can become an idol when our love for it is disordered. It could be politics, fitness, Facebook—there are hundreds of possibilities. This book will sometimes make you laugh, but other times it will make you squirm as it reveals your own idols.


Do No Harm

A novel

Fiorella de Maria (Ignatius Press)

A young woman attempts suicide by drug overdose and lies in a coma. The ER doctor who saves her life must now stand trial for assault: He didn’t honor her “Living Will,” and in England, such actions can be punished by imprisonment. Catholic doctor Matthew Kemble had no wish to make a statement or precipitate a test case. He only acted in accord with his conscience and his medical training. Now he finds himself at the center of a media circus, with public opinion against him. His lawyer works feverishly to build his defense, while Maria, his assistant, does some investigative work of her own, often in defiance of her boss. Maria’s headstrong determination to save Dr. Kemble repeatedly gets her in trouble, and eventually forces her to confront her own dark past. This legal/medical thriller will keep you turning pages.


Under the Mantle

Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest

Father Donald Calloway, MIC (Marian Press)

In his previous book, No Turning Back, Fr. Donald Calloway told his dramatic conversion story. This new book is a collection of essays adapted from hundreds of conference talks. Topics include the Catholic Church, confession (“spiritual diaper change”!), prayer, divine mercy, manhood, femininity, and, of course, Fr. Don’s favorite topic, the Blessed Virgin Mary. He speaks eloquently about “the Woman of our dreams,” whom he holds directly responsible for his conversion from faithless teenage delinquent to ardent Catholic. Every chapter is replete with humor, enthusiasm, and a love for Our Lady that readers will find contagious. The author’s fascination with all things Catholic, seen through the prism of Mary, will challenge and startle ordinary pew-sitters into a renewed faith.


Salt and Light

The Commandments, the Beatitudes, and a Joyful Life  

Mark Shea (Servant Books)

Popular blogger and author Mark Shea thinks Catholic moral teaching is more than a long list of “don’ts” mostly involving sex. It’s a lifetime project of learning perfect love. The Ten Commandments are the foundation—they “keep us, who are prone to doing evil, in check.” But the Beatitudes are the pinnacle, says Shea: “They remind us that the purpose of the Christian life is not ice-cold rule keeping but happiness—total, unending, ecstatic, fiery joy…. [They] point us not to the bottom of the moral ladder but to the top, which reaches into heaven itself.” Each chapter is a tour of one commandment or beatitude. Readers will delight in Shea’s incisive analysis. He applies timeless truth to modern situations that encourages readers to take the time for soul-searching, discernment, and—just maybe—repentance.

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