Friday, March 26, 2010

Springing into Marriage at Loome Theological Booksellers

Today Loome Theological Booksellers had a first - we assisted in a romantic and literary proposal of marriage!  Greg called us this morning and asked for a favor.  He had a very special book he asked for us to put on hold so that his girlfriend could pick it up this afternoon. He further explained that he had written this book for her and that in the end of the book was a marriage proposal. We agreed to help him out this one time.

Around 12:15 he brought the book which we promptly put on hold.

Around 2 PM Greg started browsing around the bookstore (but he was really waiting for his girlfriend Lindsey to show up!).  Lindsey DID show up at 2:26 and retrieved the book on hold for her (she had been told it was a first edition C.S. Lewis title - but it really wasn't!).

Then much waiting ensued - both on the part of Greg and the staff here at the bookstore.

Lindsey had to read the whole book before she came to the end - the important end!  It wasn't until 2:33 that she finished the book and headed outside to meet Greg and her destiny.  By 2:38 (note: only five minutes from the time she finished the book) the happy couple was back inside to report the great news: she said "OK".  That was probably the most important "OK" she ever said in her life.

We at Loome Theological Booksellers extend a hearty congratulations to Greg Atkins and Lindsey Wible on their happy engagement. Greg, what an awesome proposal. We cheer on your romanticism and literary flair in writing a book and proposing at Loome Theological Booksellers.

"We know that all of us need God's blessing at all times; but at the time of their engagement to be married, Christians are in particular need of grace as they prepare themselves to form a new family. Let us pray, then, for God's blessing to come upon this couple, Greg and Lindsey: that as they await the day of their wedding, they will grow in mutual respect and in their love for one another; that through their companionship and prayer together they will prepare themselves rightly and chastely for marriage." (Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, page 237).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Albino Squirrel: Caption?

This photograph was found in a book just a few days ago. It appears to be a man in a cassock/habit stooping towards a fairly friendly albino squirrel. It's the sort of image that begs a variety of interpretations in the form of CAPTIONS. Got any bright ideas? Send them along.
Father Albert (age 87) mistakes the albino squirrel for his guardian angel. Brother Timothy's skills in the treatment of animal wounds were put to use once again.


Forgoing use of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, Brother Maynard, O.Cist., attempts to befriend the Killer Squirrel of Caerbannog


Harold the Abbey Squirrel, moments before his passing, is anointed by kind-hearted Father Theophilus. Rumor has it that Abbot Melchior is considering a requiem Mass.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Seminarians Visit from Lafayette, IN

It happens about this time of year: vocations directors show up at seminaries for the dreaded (not exactly) evaluations of the young men studying for their dioceses. If this brings them to the Twin Cities AND they know what's good for them, they make a pilgrimage out to the store in order to hunt for theological books.

This week we met Fr. Brian Doerr, along with 7 of the 30 (!) young men from the Diocese of Lafayette (Indiana) studying at St. John Vianney Seminary. There were also 2 other young men who came with Father in order to check out the seminary.

They seem to have enjoyed their time here (note the genuine smiles), and we enjoyed meeting them. We hope the books from our store will serve them well!

Dear James She Wrote

Dear Misfits,
We've just finished another great book from our Catholic literary tradition.  Jon Hassler's wonderfully Catholic novel,  Dear James, definitely belongs to that literary tradition.  The author is intensely Catholic and probably the last who will write with the authenticity of a Catholic literary genre represented by authors who were raised in the pre-Vatican II church.  Our discussion of the novel noted that a natural Catholicism permeated the story and formed a legitimate and authentic backdrop for the actions of the characters.  It was a delight to read! 

Jon Hassler, only recently deceased (1933-2008), wrote a dozen novels, most of them set in MinnesotaDear James is one of his four predominantly "Catholic" novels (Simon's Night, A Green Journey, and North of Hope).  Of the four, Dear James and A Green Journey are his most intimately Catholic novels.  They portray characters who take their religious vows and commitments seriously and faithfully.  The power of the friendship between the two protagonists in Dear James and A Green Journey, Father James O'Hannon and Agatha McGee, portray a love that transcends sexual love.  Misfit Loome placed the friendship of James and Agatha into the context of the four loves described by C. S. Lewis in his book by that name and as derived from the four Greek words for love: affection, friendship, Eros, and charity.  

However, if you are going to read the novels that deal with Agatha and her friend, James, start with A Green Journey (1985) and then read Dear James (1993).  The novels do stand alone but you will have a deeper understanding of the characters and the story by reading them in that order.

Now to the future:

April, 2010:  We will read the play, Murder in the Cathedral by T. S. Eliot.  (We said at the beginning that we would read Catholic novels, biographies, poetry and plays. We have never read a play so this will rectify that shortfall!)  Eliot's short play was originally written for the Canterbury festival and tells the story of the murder of Archbishop Thomas Beckett (1118-70) by Henry II's henchmen. One reviewer notes that it “is essentially an extended lyrical consideration of the proper residence of temporal and spiritual power, of the obligations of religious believers to the commands of the State, and of the possibility that piety can be selfish unto sin."

May, 2010: We are going back to our childhood and read The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien's wonderful fantasy novel.   We're looking for a "change of pace" and believe that this novel is it.  It will get us ready for summer...and perhaps, heighten our imaginations!  The novel is set in a time "Between the Dawn of Færie and the Dominion of Men", The Hobbit follows the quest of home-loving Bilbo Baggins to win a share of the treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction. The book remains hugely popular and is recognized as a classic.

June, 2010:  We don't have the time to read War and Peace but we do want to read Tolstoy!  Therefore, we will read The Great Short Works of Leo Tolstoy (Harper Perennial Modern Classics -March 2, 2004)  I did a bit of research and this volume is generally regarded as one of the best anthologies of Tolstoy's short stories.  (We'll decide which selections we'll read at our next meeting--the book runs to 720 pages!)

July, 2010:  We will continue our summer exploration of great short story collections by reading the Great Short Works of Fyodor Dostoevsky (Perennial Classics).  I think this work has some of Dostoevsky’s best short stories in what is regarded as a very good translation.  (As with our June selection of Tolstoy, we'll decide which selections we'll read from this collection at our next meeting--this volume runs to 768 pages!)

May the joy of the risen Lord be with you,

Misfit Buzz:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fr. John Berg, FSSP

Today at the store we experienced a surprise bibliographical visitation by Fr. John Berg, superior general of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. Father Berg, a native of the Twin Cities, has had a long history of making pilgrimages to the store. We were pleased, as always, to be able to provide a nice stack of good books for good uses. (As is evident in the photo at right, Fr. Berg is pleased with his book selections.) May God bless Fr. Berg and the FSSP!

Which leads me to consider more the idea of making a "pilgrimage" to Loome Theological Booksellers. I am amazed at just how many people refer to their trips here as pilgrimages. Even prelates of the Church have used the expression!

So what would it take to have an indulgence attached to visiting the store (with the usual conditions, of course)? Could we have the store named as a sort of Holy Book Shrine? I should have asked Fr. Berg while he was here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cardinal Spellman's Bookplate

One of the most excellent of bookplates I've come across is that of Francis Cardinal Spellman (1889-1967) (shown above). The fineness of it does not come through in a photo, but everything including the paper & print quality is far above your average bookplate. I was pleased to find recently the same image (pictured below) while going through some (well, very many) volumes of Liturgical Arts Quaterly. Clearly, Spellman's bookplate image came from a drawing for the renovated Cathedral of St. Patrick, which renovation took place right around 1930.

The caption reads: "New marble altar and bronze baldachino in Saint Patrick's Cathedral, New York City. Designed by Maginnis and Walsh, Architects, and executed under their supervision."

(Liturgical Arts. Volume 10, No. 2; Feb. 1942)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Belated Gift Certificate

[The recipient's name has been covered on the image above in order to protect identity and good standing amongst men.]

Just the other day a certain cleric visited the store and presented a gift certificate... from 1990! Certificates in this style have not been seen in many years. We endeavored to honor the gifted amount, but the cleric would have none of it. Rather, he wished kindly to share the humor in having only recently rediscovered the object.

[Here, a view of the certificate unfolded, with a nice reproduced, hand-sketched image of the store.]

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Psyche and the Shadowbrute

Dear Misfits,

How not to like a story that begins “I am old now and have not much to fear from the anger of the gods.”?   This is the opening line to C. S. Lewis’ wonderful novel, Til We Have Faces: a Myth Retold.   The Misfits at our meeting all said that they liked the book and definitely recommend it as a tale of adventure, redemption, and spiritual seeking. 

In the story, Orual, Queen of Glome, commits a tragic sin against her sister, Psyche.  Orual lives to deeply regret her misguided attempt to “save” her sister from the “Shadowbrute”, the god who lives on the Grey Mountain.  The “Shadowbrute” had taken Psyche to be his wife when she was sacrificed by the villagers of Glome.  Our discussion of this tragic event led us to conclude that Lewis used the consequences of Orual’s actions to metaphorically represent the destruction of faith through the rigid application of reason by secular forces.

Though set in pagan times, the story reflects C. S. Lewis’ deeply held Christian beliefs.  It also reflects his great intellect and writing skill.  It is a great read for Catholics or anyone interested in matters of faith versus reason.  John Paul the Great put it this way, “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth…”  In the end, Orual, Queen of Glome, comes to understand that truth has as much basis in faith as in reason.

If you decide to read the novel, it is recommended that you go to the back of the book and read Lewis’ very helpful “Note” at the end of the story.  There, Lewis explains that the novel is based on the mythological story of Cupid and Psyche.  This background helps explain the pagan setting of the story…and the tragedy that follows.

Now on to our next book.  We have decided to change the order of our next two books.  The changes are as follows:

For March, we will now read Jon Hassler’s touching novel, Dear James.  The story is set in the fictional small Minnesota town of Staggerford.  The story features Miss Agatha McGee, an upright elderly resident with a saw-toothed tongue. The novel deals with a relationship that Agatha develops with a pen-pal in Ireland--who she subsequently discovers is a priest.  It is rich novel of simmering envy, charity, and finally, redemptive love.

Then in April, we will read the play, Murder in the Cathedral by T. S. Eliot.  (We said at the beginning that we would read Catholic novels, biographies, poetry and plays. We have never read a play so this will rectify that shortfall!)  Eliot's short play was originally written for the Canterbury festival and tells the story of the murder of Archbishop Thomas Beckett (1118-70) by Henry II's henchmen. One reviewer notes that it “is essentially an extended lyrical consideration of the proper residence of temporal and spiritual power, of the obligations of religious believers to the commands of the State, and of the possibility that piety can be selfish unto sin.”

Please drop me a line if you have books you want placed on our “must read” list.  All recommendations are welcomed and will be considered.

Warmest regards,

Misfit Buzz

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More HAIR METAL in the 17th century

1680s Hair
- versus -
1980s Hair

Frederick, Duke of Saxony, &c, has both MORE HAIR and is sporting MORE METAL than Bobby Rock, sometime drummer of Nitro. The 1980s is beat on both counts.

[The engraving of Duke Frederick comes from a lovely folio edition of the works of St. Jerome. See here.]

Monday, March 1, 2010

Meet Fr. Kevin from the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center, Boulder, CO

This last week we were pleased to meet Fr. Kevin Augustyn, pastor of the campus ministry parish, the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center, at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Fr. Kevin made the trip here in order to select a good many books for the Center's growing library, which serves the Catholic students of the university.

We at Loome's were impressed with Fr. Kevin's book selections; one could readily apply the term "bookish" to him (mind you, this is a good thing). He definitely knew what he was after, and if I may say so, he came to the right place to find it.

Allow me to recommend taking a moment to visit the Center's website. For it is interesting and rather encouraging to see the good things they are up to, including the hosting of some very fine upcoming lectures (one of which is on Newman's idea of a university by Fr. Ian Ker).