October 2023: New Resources

J. Anthony Gaughan
Kingdom Books, 2023
ISBN 9781916476493

Canon J. Anthony Gaughan, or Fr Tony as he is best known to his parishioners and friends and now in his 90th year, has published more than four hundred reviews of well and lesser-known authors works great, good and indifferent. As a biographer, historian, philosopher, prolific author and publisher he is also the co-founder of Listowel Writers Week, President of Irish PEN and Chairman of the National Library of Ireland society. His lifetime of literary accomplishment and achievement gives him a unique vantage point when it comes to reviewing books. Following upon the success of his earlier volume Book Reviews 1975-2021 he has now published compelling accounts of a further 129 previously published reviews which he has selected on the basis of their interest and relevance to the general reader. These include items on church history, Irish history, fiction, biography and several other categories that are bound to attract the interest of his target audience. From a history of the Roman emperor Augustus to the alleged ‘murder’ of Pope John Paul I and from the stories of Irish migrants to Australia to the Vatican Council Memories of Bishop Michael Smith, Fr Tony demonstrates his reviewing skills to a degree that one suspects at times the review may actually be more enjoyable than the book itself! As autumn evenings beckon this is an ideal fireside companion.

Reviewer: Paul Clayton-Lean


God’s Lonely People

by John O’Brien OFM
ISBN 9798392755219, 2023

‘All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong? sang the Beatles in an era of dramatic social change in the 1960s. In the post-COVID 19 and AI conflicted 2020s the dilemma and condition of Eleanor Rigby seems even more dramatically reflected in the anxious Western human condition. In his latest publication The Outsiders: God’s Lonely People, John O’Brien OFM returns to one of his favourite themes – modern humanity’s struggle to find meaning in existence, especially as for many this gnawing uneasiness occurs in the absence or rejection of God. When even the concept that paradise is lost is lost as Romano Guardini once asserted, how do we approach the deep questions of life, who am I and why do I exist? Over 8 chapters and a little over a hundred pages John O’Brien with his regularly eclectic mix of poets, philosophers and scripture confronts the familiar theme of angst and purposelessness experienced by many and gently guiding the reader to healthier conclusions. He achieves this with the aid of a wealth of literary knowledge, music, popular culture and pastoral experience to help the reader ‘to come to terms with who we are and live fully.’ Another wise and ultimately encouraging read.


A Jesuit Vision
by Jim Maher SJ

Messenger Publications, 2023
ISBN 9781788126083
192 pp • €19.95

One of the advantages of working regularly with young people is the insight such interaction brings into their hopes and fears and how this might shape their future. Jim Maher SJ has spent most of his priesthood engaged with and teaching young people and is alert to many of the questions and challenges they pose for the Christian faith that he embodies and represents. He is very aware of the variety of questionable influences that touch their lives, helping to shape their attitudes and beliefs and which in many respects cultivates an individualism that leaves little room for reflective or empathetic living. In Reimagining Religion – A Jesuit Vision over 8 chapters – with headings that sound as though they emerged from young people’s observations – largely seen through the prism of St Ignatius’ spirituality he offers four Jesuit preferences of reflecting upon life’s experience and of being proactively compassionate in the creation of a hope-filled world as the foundations for the spiritual quest. In doing so he challenges the widespread rejection of Jewish and Christian wisdom and particularly the lodestar of biblical wisdom which has given purpose and meaning to life and what it means to be human. He concludes this stimulating and hopeful publication with the reminder that while young people hold the future in their hands, people of all ages will be the architects of a hope-filled world.