Faith-Based Reflections on American Life by William J. Byron, SJ

Faith-based Reflections on American life is a collection of seventy-nine concise and thought-provoking general interest essays that grew out of the author’s experience as a regular syndicated columnist for the Catholic News Service.

Benefiting from the author’s richly focused Catholic eye on life, the reader is invited to reflect upon a wide range of contemporary topics and issues that include family, church, public policy, peace and justice, education, and business. These essays offer a starting point for further thought and ongoing discussion as a way to continue the important and necessary dialogue between religious faith and American society.

Father Byron offers thoughtful reflections, helpful anecdotes, and insightful perspectives from his background, training, and varied experience as a Jesuit priest, research professor, professor of business and society, former university president, author and pastor for over the past forty years.

God’s Voice Within by Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ

May of us do not trust our own thoughts, feelings, and desires when it comes to discerning God’s will. Instead, we look outside ourselves to determine what God wants form and for us. In God’s Voice Within, spiritual director Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ, shows us how to access our own spiritual intuition and helps us understand that the most trustworthy wisdom of all comes not from outside sources, but from God working through us.

Following the principles of Ignatian spirituality, Fr. Thibodeaux helps us understand that the decisions we make in life are always undergirded by one of two spirits: the false spirit or the true spirit. He thoroughly explains how to recognize each of these spirits, how to respond to each one and how to move from discerning spirits to actually making decisions consistent with God’s will for our lives.

By learning to discern what is at the root of our actions and emotions, we are well prepared to respond to God’s promptings inside us and rather than unconsciously reacting to life around us.

Healing the Heart of Democracy by Parker J. Palmer

At this critical moment in American life, Parker J. Palmer looks with realism and hope at how to deal with our political tensions for the sake of the common good.

Building on his decades of social activism and inner life exploration, Palmer examines ways to restore the invisible infrastructure of American politics. What he did for educators in The Courage to Teach, he does here for citizens by seeking answers to democracy’s dilemmas within us and between us. He points the way to a politics rooted in the commonwealth of creativity and courage still found among “We the People.”

“Democracy…” writes Palmer, “is a nonstop experiment in the strength and weakness of our political institutions, our local communities and associations, and the human heart…”

The democratic experiment is endless, unless we blow up the lab, and the explosive to do the job are found within us. But so also is the heart’s alchemy that can turn suffering into community, conflict into the energy of creativity, and tension into an opening toward the common good.”

Palmer names the “habits of the heart” we need to revitalize our politics and shows how they can be formed in the everyday venues of our lives. He proposes practical, promising ways to hold the tensions of our differences for the sake of restoring a government ” of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Tangled Webs by James B. Stewart

America faces a crisis: an epidemic of perjury and false statements occurring at the highest levels of business, politics, sports, and culture. How and why has this happened? What are the consequences? What can be done?

James B Stewart applies his investigative reporting and storytelling skills to four dramatic cases, all involving at the top of their fields: Martha Stewart, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Barry Bonds, and perhaps the most notorious liar in financial history, Bernard Madoff. Stewart draws on extensive interviews with participants, may speaking here for the first time, and previously undisclosed documents and transcripts show how such celebrated and successful role models found themselves accused of lying- with devastating consequences not just for them but for an ever-widening circle that ultimately includes everyone who cares about the truth.

Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration

Responding to the threats to everyday life that are caused by crime and fear of crime, the bishops tackle the issues of crime and corrections, justice and mercy, responsibility and treatment. Recognizing that the dignity of the human person applies to both victim and offender, the bishops use scriptural foundations, sacramental and historical heritage, Catholic social teachings and policy foundations and directions promote further dialogue and action.

The Ignatian Workout by Tim Muldoon

We look at the world—and at God—in drastically different ways than our ancestors did, and yet the wisdom of a sixteenth century Catholic saint suits our doubtful, antiauthoritarian, pluralistic age. St Ignatius of Loyola believed that we know God better by paying attention to his work in our lives, our experiences, our imagination, and our feelings. His Spiritual Exercises, an enduring masterpiece of spiritual insight, teaches us to grow spiritually by learning to respond in concrete, practical ways to this divine presence.

The Ignatian Workout presents St Ignatius’s wisdom in today’s language – as a daily program of “workouts” to achieve spiritual fitness, tailored to people with busy schedules. It is a program that shows us how to recognize and respond to a God who is already at work in us, inviting us into a deeper relationship and into richer lives of love and service.

Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle

For twenty years, Gregory Boyle has run Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world. In Tattoos on the Heart, he distills his experience working in the ghetto into a breathtaking series of parables inspired by faith. Arranged by theme and filled with sparkling humor and glowing generosity , these essays offer a stirring look at how full our lives could be if we could find the joy in loving others and in being loved unconditionally . From giant, tattooed Cesar, shopping at JCPenney fresh out of prison, we learn how to feel worthy of God’s love. From ten -year old Lula we learn the importance of being known and acknowledged. From Pedro we understand the kind patience necessary to rescue someone from the darkness . In each chapter we benefit from Boyle’s gentle, hard-earned wisdom.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

This book tells the inspiring story of a young man in Africa who used the only resource available to him to build a windmill and elevate the lives and spirits of those in his community. William Kamkwamba’s achievement with wind energy should serve as a model of what one person, with an inspired idea, can do to tackle the crisis we face.

William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was a mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger, and a place where hope and opportunity were hard to find.

Enchanted by the workings of electricity as a boy, William had a goal to study science in Malawi’s top boarding schools. He was, however, forced to drop out and help his family forage for food as thousands across the country starved and died.

Yet William refused to let go of his dreams. Using scrap metal, tractor parts, bicycle halves, William forged a crude yet operable windmill, an unlikely contraption and small miracle that eventually powered four lights, complete with homemade switches and a circuit breaker made from nails and wire. A second machine turned a water pump that could battle the drought and famine that loomed with every season.

Faculty Priorities Reconsidered by KerryAnn O’Meara and Eugene Rice

Faculty Priorities Reconsidered traces the history of the movement to redefine scholarship. It examines the impact of the 1990 landmark report Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The book assesses the widespread initiative to realign the priorities of the American professoriate with the essential missions of the nation’s colleges and universities: to redefine faculty roles and restructure reward systems.

The Suspicion of Virtue by John J. Conley, SJ

The salon was of particular importance in mid- to late seventeenth century France, enabling aristocratic women to develop a philosophical culture that simultaneously reflected and opposed the dominant male philosophy. Father Conley, S.J. explores the moral philosophies developed by five women authors of that milieu: Madame de Sable, Madame Deshoulieres, Madame de la Sabliere, Mlle de la Valliere, and Madame de Maitnenon.

Conley examines the various literary genres (maxim, ode, dialogue) in which these authors presented their moral theory. He also unveils the philosophical complexity of the arguments presented by these women and of the salon culture that nurtured their preoccupations.