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Michael Degnan RSS Feed (Philadelphia, PA USA)

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Acedia and Its Discontents: Metaphysical Boredom in an Empire of Desire
Acedia and Its Discontents: Metaphysical Boredom in an Empire of Desire
by R. J. Snell
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.46
37 used & new from $13.44

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than you may want to know -- in the best sense, April 21, 2015
I had the opportunity to read this in manuscript form before publication. It's excellent -- clear, direct, beautifully written and unsettling in the best sense. In an age of frantic activity, the sin of sloth can seem implausible as one of the "seven deadlies." But acedia, properly understood as a moral numbness that mutates into cynicism, indifference and spiritual fatigue, is pervasive in contemporary culture. Like Rusty Reno's "Fighting the Noonday Devil," this is the kind of penetrating little book that tells you more than you may want to know about your own interior life. That makes it priceless.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 5, 2015 3:05 PM PDT


Voyage to Alpha Centauri: A Novel
Voyage to Alpha Centauri: A Novel
Price: $16.17

4.0 out of 5 stars Long and loose, but engaging, March 11, 2014
I've been a fan of O'Brien's work -- "Father Elijah," "Strangers and Sojourners," "Island of the World," etc. -- for years. Space fiction is pretty distant from his usual material, but this is a solid, engaging piece of work, with echoes of Lewis' Space Trilogy. O'Brien is great at creating characters with substance, and moral conflicts that matter. There are sections and scenes in this novel that are quite moving, ingenious, even riveting. But the plot is too long and twisting, and the book at times becomes a burden. The conclusion is beautiful but also rather too pious. Overall this is worth reading; I just wish it had been tighter.


The Wreck of the River of Stars
The Wreck of the River of Stars
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and often tedious, February 27, 2014
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I'm a big fan of Flynn's wonderful novel "Eifelheim," but "River of Stars" could be cut in length by a third and lose nothing of substance. The storyline is fundamentally sound: Space-faring crewmembers, quietly divided against themselves, take conflicting steps to save their crippled ship and end up ensuring its disaster instead. But the writing is fat with techno-jargon, and the characters are oddly cold and lifeless. Flynn tells us a great deal about each crewmember, but none of them is finally very likeable or tugs at our sympathy. I finished reading it out of duty, not passion.

Read "Eifelheim" instead. It's his best work.


The One Thomas More
The One Thomas More
by Travis Curtright
Edition: Hardcover
15 used & new from $49.20

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent scholarly resource, January 2, 2013
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This review is from: The One Thomas More (Hardcover)
There's a very good review of this book on the website of The Public Discourse, December 19, 2012, which led me to purchase it. No regrets. Both the book and the review are well worth reading. Curtright's text may not be not for the casual reader, but as a scholarly and effective rebuttal to modern, revisionist critics of Thomas More, it performs a real service. For anyone seriously interested in the Henrician Reformation, this book is a "must read."


Humanism, Reform and the Reformation: The Career of Bishop John Fisher
Humanism, Reform and the Reformation: The Career of Bishop John Fisher
by Eamon Duffy
Edition: Paperback
Price: $44.99
27 used & new from $40.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection, December 3, 2012
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John Fisher is typically overshadowed by the popular appeal of Thomas More. In comparison to his lay counterpart, Fisher -- beheaded just a few days before More -- can seem remote and austere. In reality, he was extraordinarily committed to being present to his people and serving the pastoral needs of his diocese in a time of absentee prelates. He had a sophisticated and reforming mind; but one devoted to the continuity of Christian tradition. His ambition for the excellence of his university, Cambridge, was matched by his lack of interest in self-promotion. This collection of essays on the various aspects of Fisher the man is a wonderful resource for understanding the "other" major Catholic victim of Henrician ego.


The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society
The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society
by Brad S. Gregory
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $34.68
60 used & new from $18.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding scholarship that leaves you thinking; a great read, October 2, 2012
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I have an interest in the roots of modern secularism, so I picked this up purely on the basis of its title. I'm very glad I did. The writing style may seem, at times, complex for the non-specialist reader. But this is a minor flaw. Gregory's command and organization of the material, his fairness of tone, the thoroughness of his research and the explanatory power of his arguments make for a deeply satisfying experience of history. I've gone back to read particular chapters several times. It's really that good.


A Heart on Fire: Catholic Witness and the Next America
A Heart on Fire: Catholic Witness and the Next America
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $0.99

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brief, clear and articulate: classic Chaput on an urgent issue, March 28, 2012
In his talks and in his writings, Archbishop Charles Chaput was ahead of the curve on the religious liberty debate by several years. And he was completely accurate in his concerns. What always makes Chaput's work so compelling is that he combines strong, well-researched ideas with a vivid writing style, respect for persons with opposing views and a confidence in Jesus Christ that transcends politics. This extended essay is no exception. While brief, "A Heart on Fire" is uniquely relevant to today's attacks on religious freedom; but it's also a terrific reflection on the nature of American democracy, the public role of Christian faith and the emerging face of the next America -- an America much less friendly to religious faith than at any time in the past.

It's impossible to buy a better read for 99 cents. Don't be fooled by Chaput's easy, pastoral manner; there's real depth and a serious intellect at work here. Well worth the investment of pennies and time.


The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II -- The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy
The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II -- The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy
by George Weigel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.14
60 used & new from $0.01

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, great achievement, October 5, 2010
Whether one likes or dislikes his teaching, Karol Wojtyla is one of the central figures of the 20th and early 21st centuries. And for good reason: It will be a long time before any world religious leader rivals his combination of intellect, energy, vision and wisdom learned from his personal experience of war and repression. This biography is really the crowning achievement of George Weigel's career. It's elegantly written, thoroughly researched and a vividly engaging portrait of Wojtyla and his legacy; a worthy conclusion to the story begun in Weigel's "Witness to Hope."

We often learn best from the lives of other people. Weigel has chronicled with uncommon skill one of the pivotal lives of our age.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 28, 2012 2:53 PM PDT


Elite Squad
Elite Squad
DVD ~ Wagner Moura
8 used & new from $29.94

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly done; don't miss this one, June 13, 2010
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This review is from: Elite Squad (DVD)
Don't be fooled by the mediocre title; this film ranks with "Battle of Algiers" in quality. Excellent performances by Wagner Moura (Nascimento), Andre Remiro (Matias) and Caio Junqueira (Neto)as BOPE police commandos; intense directing; and an intricate, absorbing story with just the right combination of dark humor, social irony, character development and realistic violence. The "texture" of this film is simply terrific: It has a gritty immediacy that captures the barely controlled chaos of Rio's slums, and the energy and contradictions of Brazilian life, in an extraordinary way -- but without political sermonizing. From start to finish, "Elite Squad" is riveting and intelligent. Not for the delicate, but definitely one of the best movies I've seen in the last decade.


ARMA Gold Edition - PC
ARMA Gold Edition - PC
Offered by Mike's Treasure Trove
Price: $5.15
24 used & new from $2.39

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best commercial milsim, period., May 28, 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
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In several decades of board and computer gaming, ArmA is one of the two or three best sims I've ever played. The AI has some flaws, and the graphics are good but not great. But the mission editor is astoundingly powerful, the gameplay is realistic and immersive, the multiplayer community is large, and the mods are numerous and high quality.

If you liked the original Ghost Recon, this sim is for you; in fact ArmA exceeds Ghost Recon in almost every category. This sim is not perfect, but it's very good, and very addictive once you get over the initial learning hump.


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