While Thavis makes no attempt to verify or disprove the authenticity of the phenomena he covers, his book is an engaging...



From angelic apparitions to demonic possessions, the realm of the supernatural makes its presence felt in Catholic communities around the world—but the Vatican often maintains a certain distance.

Former Catholic News Service Rome bureau chief Thavis’ (The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church, 2013) second book is a lively, far-reaching exploration of the paranormal aspects of the Catholic faith, investigating both the role that such phenomena play in the lives of parishioners and the official stance of the institutional church. Given his previous job, the author is well-positioned to tackle this subject, bringing to bear an impressive knowledge of the inner workings of the Catholic bureaucracy. Relying on correspondence and interviews with a panoply of colorful characters, he introduces readers to an embalmer described as “taxidermist to the saints” and to a nonagenarian exorcist who “says he has performed more than one hundred thousand exorcisms…[and] believes that Hitler and Stalin were possessed, that yoga is Satanic, that Halloween is a devil’s trick, and that Harry Potter books can open a dangerous door to the world of black magic.” Each chapter begins in an ethnographic vein, probing how the faithful respond to a certain type of perceived miracle or relic, before transitioning to a political and theological analysis of how the Vatican determines the authoritatively endorsed perspective. Frequently, as with the Marian visions at Medjugorje, this is one of carefully worded ambiguity, cognizant of the potential inexplicable events have to attract believers but mindful that “excessive attention” to the supernatural “is considered spiritually unhealthy for Christians, a distraction from their journey of salvation.”

While Thavis makes no attempt to verify or disprove the authenticity of the phenomena he covers, his book is an engaging introduction to the subject for lay readers—though it may prove dull for those expecting the drama of The Da Vinci Code.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-42689-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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The name of C.S. Lewis will no doubt attract many readers to this volume, for he has won a splendid reputation by his brilliant writing. These sermons, however, are so abstruse, so involved and so dull that few of those who pick up the volume will finish it. There is none of the satire of the Screw Tape Letters, none of the practicality of some of his later radio addresses, none of the directness of some of his earlier theological books.

Pub Date: June 15, 1949

ISBN: 0060653205

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1949

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Internationally renowned because of his earlier books, among them tape Letters, Surprised by Joy, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis making religion provoking, memorable and delightful is still more latest Reflections on the Psalms. Though he protests that he writes learned about things in which he is unlearned himself, the reader is likely thank God for his wise ignorance. Here especially he throws a clear lightly or not, on many of the difficult psalms, such as those which abound with and cursing, and a self-centeredness which seems to assume' that God must be side of the psalmist. These things, which make some psalm singers pre not there, have a right and proper place, as Mr. Lewis shows us. They of Psalms more precious still. Many readers owe it to themselves to read flections if only to learn this hard but simple lesson. Urge everyone to book.

Pub Date: June 15, 1958

ISBN: 015676248X

Page Count: 166

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1958

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