A theologically edifying dialogue between a committed Catholic and an observant Jew about the natures of their faiths and beyond.
Particularly in a religiously divisive age, an unabashed display of theological cooperation between two discussants of different but often related beliefs is simply inspiring. This book is essentially the cataloging of a conversation between two spiritually driven men, Richard Chapin, a rabbi, and Jerome Pitarresi, a lifelong Catholic, who exchange letters covering the basic controversies confronting men of religious conviction. Some of their conversations are scholarly and doctrinally centered, ranging from topics such as faith, the grace of God and the nature of religious belief itself. In these sections, the two interlocutors deftly straddle the fence between deep scholarly erudition and accessibility, soberly discussing issues that could easily devolve into academic minutiae. Most of their discussions, however, center on topics of social controversy that are not irreducibly religious: marriage, tradition, failure, disappointment, anger, sex, forgiveness and elderly care. The reflections on the nature of spiritual life are typically profound and intelligibly presented: “As you suggest, the addition of other forms of so-called spiritual expression—be it yoga, meditation, or a dash of Buddhism here and there—have sufficed for many who choose to lead completely secular lives. I find this development sad and, at worst, tragic. There is nothing wrong with supplementing one’s religion with these so-called spiritual exercises. But one should be careful not to make those supplements to our religion the religion itself!” Underlying the entire dialogue is evidence of a life of friendship; even differences between the two men, sometimes enlivened by a gentle argument, never rise to the level of fiery debate. In fact, one minor failing of the book is that the significant theological differences between the two men and their religious traditions are sometimes lost amid the men’s congeniality. It’s heartening to see a committed Jew and a Catholic converse about such powerful topics without a hint of adversarial conflict; yet their worldviews are powerfully distinct, especially regarding the afterlife and the bonds of marriage.
A philosophically instructive, spiritually uplifting dialogue.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)