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Ink Slingers Victoria K

REVIEW: Everyday Evangelism by Cathy Duffy

REVIEW Everyday Evangelism for Catholics Cathy Duff

Overview

Evangelization.  Sometimes a scary word for Catholics.  Lions and tigers and bears and…evangelization.  Oh my.  Catholics are notoriously bad at evangelization, at least, that’s the stereotype.  We imagine our protestant brothers and sisters doing the big work of evangelization: standing on street corners, handing out pamphlets, going on mission trips, praying out loud, actually knowing what’s in the bible, flocking around a dynamic preacher.

Cathy Duffy’s book “Everyday Evangelism for Catholics” addresses this concern.  Duffy utilizes insight from her own personal experiences in evangelization to create a playbook for modern Catholic evangelism.

Her work contains a plethora of resources and pragmatic strategies for approaching evangelization.  It is clear from this book that she’s had a TON of experience.  What’s more, she doesn’t limit her perspective to “formal” evangelization situations.  She shares examples of evangelization work she’s done both at her parish and within her personal life, and points to resources that help with both categories.  This gives the reader a broad sense of many forms of evangelization.

What I LOVE about this book

What I just love about this book is the focus Duffy places on listening: 

“…while an understanding of doctrine and worldviews is helpful, more often than not, the most valuable skill you bring to the table for an evangelistic conversation is the ability to listen.

I would consider this to be the thesis statement of Duffy’s guide, and something all too necessary to remember in the New Evangelization.  Think of the list of “evangelization” activities I put up before.  Standing on street corners, handing out pamphlets, going on mission trips, praying out loud, actually knowing what’s in the bible, flocking around a dynamic preacher.  Although these are good things, very few of those place the focus listening.

Duffy presents the core of evangelization as listening completely and intentionally to those in your life.  Instead of shoving doctrine down throats, you ask questions to better understand their worldview—and to encourage them to start questioning what they believe is true.  You build trust, and show them that you truly want what’s best for them—the overwhelming love of Christ.

Perfect… for the right audience

To be completely honest, this book was not the perfect resource for me.  I have had the blessing of taking courses on sharing the gospel and seminars on good listening skills.  What’s more, I’m inundated with the Catholic community that has formed online, which is a beacon for evangelism.  This doesn’t make me “perfect” at evangelization, but I think I’m beyond the scope of this book.  If you feel yourself already well-versed in evangelization, this book is not for you (unless you’re looking for a list of resources for evangelization, for which this book is a treasure trove!).

However, that’s not to say that this book isn’t extremely useful in the right circumstance.  It is the PERFECT beginner’s guide to evangelism. Are you new to the process of evangelization?  Do you feel overwhelmed at the prospect of sharing Catholicism?  Please read this book.  Do you have a friend who would love to evangelize, but doesn’t know how?  Buy them this book.

For the newbie to Catholic evangelization, this book is essential.

#dreamteam

Yes, this book would be great for a beginner evangelist to read on their own.  But, IMHO, the VERY BEST setting for this book—and the idea of this makes me really excited—would be for an evangelization team at a parish. Some parishes have them, and this book makes me want to start an evangelization team at mine!   The team could get together, pray the prayers at the start of the chapter, and delve into the discussion questions. This book could help the group develop skills and form a common vision.  How cool would that be??

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Books Domestic Church Reading Reviews

Best of My 2018 Reading: Nonfiction Edition with Sarah Reinhard

Best of My 2018 Reading: Nonfiction Edition with Sarah Reinhard

I used to think I was an all-fiction-all-the-time type of reader, but last year proved me wrong. Last year, I found out that I love nonfiction just as much.

I had a stretch of binge reading, and it included some great novels.

But I found something missing. I wanted something that {gasp} wasn’t fiction.

I read a lot of nonfiction anyway, both for paid review and for pleasure. There’s so much to learn. There’s so much that’s good. There’s…just…so…much.

So without any more rambling, here are my favorite nonfictions reads from my 2018 pile!

The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise, by Cardinal Robert Sarah with Nicolas Diat. This was a book I couldn’t whip through, and yet one that I savored and couldn’t put down. Reading it felt anything but accidental, that’s for sure. (I wrote about that here.)

To Light a Fire on the Earth: Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age, by Robert E. Barron. My first inclination with this was to offer it to a new deacon at our parish, who, as it happens, had already read it. Barron has a way of boiling things down and, yet, also planting seeds that stay with you.

Jesus Approaches: What Contemporary Women Can Learn about Healing, Freedom, and Joy from the Women of the New Testament, by Elizabeth M. Kelly. Water is a recurring theme that Elizabeth Kelly uses throughout this book, and it struck me throughout. It began like a long cold drink on a hot day: refreshing and soothing. It continued like a mug of steaming tea: comforting and snuggly. It traversed the paths of a wet washcloth on a hot forehead, a shared laugh over a glass of iced tea, a moment together over the baptismal font. Kelly’s depth of insight and the reach of her wisdom went right to my heart, in each and every chapter. The book examines eight women from the New Testament, and they may not all be the ones you expect. Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of Jesus, Martha and Mary of Bethany: no surprise there. But a shepherd girl who was there on Christmas night? That caught me…and captured my imagination. Kelly has a way of doing that throughout this book, and it’s a beautiful experience.

Clueless in Galilee: A Fresh Take on the Gospels, by Mac Barron. You’ll laugh, yes. (A lot, if you’re like me.) But you’ll also look differently at those Gospel stories that may be so old hat that you don’t even hear them anymore. I love Barron’s approach to “riffing” on the Gospels, and I also appreciate his innate ability to challenge readers to go beyond.

One Beautiful Dream: The Rollicking Tale of Family Chaos, Personal Passions, and Saying Yes to Them Both, by Jennifer Fulwiler. I’ve been following Fulwiler for quite a while, and I’ve enjoyed watching her hard work pay off in success. I read this in a can’t-put-it-down kind of way and laughed so hard, at times, that I was crying. She has a self-deprecating way of writing and sharing her life that makes her approachable. This book also challenges readers to think beyond their constraints — it’s equal parts memoir, humor, guide, and good story.

The Fisherman’s Tomb: The True Story of the Vatican’s Secret Search, by John O’Neill.This reads like an adventure in many ways, and yet it’s true. O’Neill has a way of turning the dry facts into interesting tidbits, and the pictures don’t hurt either. This is a book you can whip through and then find yourself saying, “Wait, what just happened? Was that real?”

I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life, by Anne Bogel.I’ve become a late-to-the-game Anne Bogel fangirl. I listened to this, but I think I’ll be getting a hard copy because…truth. She speaks to me and inspires me with her reading.

How Catholic Art Saved the Church: The Triumph of Beauty and Truth in Counter-Reformation Art, by Elizabeth Lev. This book was such a gift to read. I didn’t mean to start reading it, to be honest. I was just leafing through it, looking at it and admiring the pictures. I glanced over the table of contents and the introduction caught my eye. I’ll read just about anything, but this was GOOD. Elizabeth Lev is a master storyteller: She had me flipping to examine pictures, smiling at what I read, and thoroughly enjoying every aspect of this book. Of course, at least part of that was because of the beautiful job Sophia Institute Press did with the actual book: thick, glossy paper and four-color, magazine-quality images. Truly, this is a book that’s an aesthetic delight on many levels.

Lovely: How I Learned to Embrace the Body God Gave Me, by Amanda Martinez Beck. I read this book for the first time this year (it’s a new release, so I couldn’t have read it sooner), and then I reread it. I think, in fact, I’ll be reading it a third time in 2019 with a group of friends. Beck starts strong and finishes stronger. I think every woman probably needs to read and reread this book.

What nonfiction did you read last year? What did you love (or hate)?

Categories
Books Domestic Church Ink Slingers Reading Reviews Sarah Reinhard

Best of My 2018 Reading: Fiction Edition with Sarah Reinhard

BestofMy2018ReadingFictionEditionwithSarahReinhard

While I drink enough coffee to drown a fat pony, I also read enough books to weigh that same pony down. Well, it was a lot for me, and a respectable 100+. When Martina heard that I had written about my favorite reads of 2018, she invited me to share it here. Never one to be outdone in ideas, I offered to do one for fiction and one for nonfiction.

So, let’s dive into my favorite fiction reads from 2018, shall we?


East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. This was a massive novel I intended to read years ago. I started by listening to it, and tried to supplement my listening with reading (because I have the book). I just couldn’t limit my enjoyment of it to the times when I could hear it. The story was huge and long and wonderful in all the ways I love.

Endless Water, Starless Sky, by Rosamund Hodge. This is the sequel to Bright Smoke, Cold Fire. I’m not classically trained, but Hodge is. I know, at some level, that I miss a huge amount of her brilliance because of my own ignorance. And yet, I am hopelessly a fan of hers. Of the books she’s written, I think these two may be my favorites. I’d call this the best writing I read all year, judged on actual writing and on storytelling and on enjoyment level.

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1), by Neal Shusterman. I heard this referenced as someone’s favorite book, and that’s sometimes all it takes for me to run after a book. I read and loved Shusterman’s so it stands to reason that I may like his other books. I just…hadn’t gotten around to them. Though this is first in a series, it stands alone. Once again, Shusterman has taken an old trope of a question and carved it into a mind exercise of a book. There’s a plot, but there’s also the exploration of ethics and the great what-if. AI meets immortality meets scandal meets human nature. This is a book not just to read, but to discuss and ponder.

The Eighth Arrow: Odysseus in the Underworld, a Novel, by Augustine Wetta, O.S.B.This book made me want to actually attempt Homer and some other classics. (I’ve read Dante, so I got those references.) And yet, the book made sense without any of that and only a rudimentary knowledge of what I knew were deeper references. The adventure was great, peppered with humor. I couldn’t put it down, and I found myself thinking of it in the times I wasn’t reading, which is, to me, always a sign of a great book.

Death Comes for the Archbishop, by Willa Cather. I listened to this and found myself wanting to hold it and actually read the words. Cather paints an image of the Southwest that I could see as I listened.

A Dog’s Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron. My teen daughter handed this to me, and I’ll be honest: I was going to quit if it didn’t pick up or something. Cameron has his own style, that’s for sure, and the premise behind the book didn’t make sense to me until I was about a third of the way through. And then…hooked. The storytelling is fabulous, and you’ll never look at a dog the same way again.

The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. This is one of my all-time favorite books. It seems like I’ve read it about even 18 months or so since the first time I read it. Every time I pick it up, I find some passage that was right there for me. The premise: A devil writes letters to his nephew, filled with advice and tips for tempting more effectively. Turn your expectations upside down and prepare to be wowed by Lewis’s wonderful writing.

The Cricket on the Hearth, by Charles Dickens. Another all-time favorite book, and one that inspired my handle for many years. This year, it also inspired me to read some other Dickens. It’s a family story, in many ways, and a glimpse at life many years ago. I never saw the movie (which I heard was horrible), but Dot Peerybingle remains a favorite character of mine.

Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery. I listened to this via CraftLit and was then inspired to listen to the rest of the eight-book series. And then, because I couldn’t get enough, I listened to Before Green Gables and Marilla of Green Gables. My girls have both turned their noses up at Anne, but I think I’ll be revisiting her quite often.

What fiction did you read last year? What did you love (or hate)?

 

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Allison Welch Books Ink Slingers Reviews

12 Rules for Life: Chapter 2

She declared it in the middle of my misery like a National Holiday: “It’s ‘Be-Good-to-Allison-Day.’” Yes! Finally! Someone “gets me,” appreciates me, and understands my pain. And she has given me ammunition to confront others in my life: Be good to me! I am worthy of dignity and respect. Don’t you know it’s ‘Be-Good-to-Allison-Day?!”

As I looked into the eyes of the woman throwing me a lifeline, it occurred to me that she was talking to me, not to others in my life. Quickly the urge to get up and fight dissolved into the desire to be still. Be good to yourself, she encouraged me.  Sometimes when the world won’t or can’t give you what you need or deserve, you need to give it to yourself. Take a timeout or hot bath. Go for a walk. Treat yourself to a quiet cup of tea and a scone. Visit a friend. Be good to yourself.

It’s good advice. It’s why I keep a framed photo of myself as a little girl in my bedroom: How would you treat her, Allison? How would you talk to her? How would you allow others to treat and talk to her?

As women, we know we are soooo good at putting others first and neglecting ourselves–until we just can’t anymore.  Until someone takes advantage of us. Until discouragement and resentment rear their ugly heads and we snap. So much for Christian witness.

This is Jordan Peterson’s advice in Chapter 2 in his book, 12 Rules for Life: “Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible for Helping.” 

Peterson begins with the fact that we often take better care of our pets than ourselves. Ouch. In true philosopher style, he puts this current dilemma in the perspective of human history: today, our worldview is decidedly scientific and material. What can be measured and objectified is reality. Everything else is dismissed as superstition.

Spirituality IS Reality.

But as Peterson points out, for millennia humans have understood the “most fundamental elements of human life” to be subjective experience (emotions, dreams, pain, and joy). This is the stuff that best expresses the truth of existence. This is why the Bible was written in story form, as opposed to how we would likely record “Truth” today as a series of facts (names, dates, places and times).

Peterson presents the problem of pain as an argument that the subjective is reality. He dares us to consider that “pain matters more than matter matters.” Been there, done that. Has anyone ever tried to talk you out of your pain? Subjective, yes. Real? YES! Suffering, Peterson says, is “the irreducible truth of Being” we are still trying to understand.

Balance

As humans in this material world, we are uniquely created to operate in both the physical world (the domain of order) and the immaterial world (domain of chaos). We are both bodies and souls. Interestingly, Peterson points out that order is traditionally associated with masculinity and chaos with femininity. (He’s obviously never been to my house–I live with three males and creating order feels like my life’s work. As Barbara Bush described it: it’s like shoveling the sidewalk while it’s still snowing.)

This part hurts my head: Peterson says we have a “primordial knowledge of structured, creative opposition.” This knowledge, such as parent/child and male/female, predate humanity and major world religions throughout history have understood and illustrated this opposing tension:

  • The yin and yang symbol of Taoism, with its narrow, squiggly way between the opposing forces of light and dark;
  • The Star of David, which incorporates the male symbol (a triangle) intertwined with the female symbol (an upside-down triangle); and
  • Michelangelo’s Pieta, which expresses “the dual unity of male/female.”

According to Peterson, we live in this tension and attempt to walk with a balance that promotes unity.

The Fall

Enter: The Fall of Adam and Eve and the source of all our pain. Human beings have consciousness and free will. We are uniquely created to move through the material world by using our physical bodies to choose to either obey or disobey how God intended us to behave. The rest of creation did not get this gift of free will.  It is a gift I sometimes want to give back to God; sometimes I just wish he would just make me do what I ought.  It’s a brave prayer. The rest of creation must follow the laws of nature. Try telling a tree that it ought to not bloom when we have a couple weeks of mild weather in the middle of winter. Or holding the tree responsible when the premature blooms are destroyed when winter returns. Ridiculous, right? No more ridiculous than refusing to acknowledge that we ought to live by the Supremely Good Rules of Behavior God made for us.

C.S. Lewis referred to these spiritual rules of behavior, rules that govern actions not objects, as “Laws of Human Nature.” And failing to obey them has real consequences for ourselves, for others, and for creation. Sin, which is separation from good, happens as a result. To fail to accept these Laws of Human Nature is as ignorant as refusing to believe in the law of gravity and the consequences of disobeying it.

What is Wrong with the World Today?

Are you, too, feeling misery and pain because of the fallen nature of humanity? Are you overwhelmed with the state of society? “We have seen the enemy, after all,” Peterson says, “and ‘he is us.’” Amen. When G.K. Chesterton was asked 50 years ago what was wrong with the world, his answer was, “I am.”

Wow.  Imagine that response in the Garden of Eden. What would the world look like if we all accepted responsibility for our actions? If we concentrated on the beam in our own eye instead of the splinter in another’s?

While Peterson’s rules can sound cliché and I sense a real danger of too much talk of “self,” I still find them helpful. Have I created tyrants in my life by allowing others to mistreat me? Am I my own worst enemy and the biggest tyrant in my life? “It is not virtuous to be victimized by a bully, even if that bully is oneself,” Peterson says. Be good to yourself.

What I find missing most is the Christian perspective. How does one discern when to stand up and fight and when to let something go? What is the best way to confront bullies and tyrants in a way that doesn’t divide us into us v. them, winners and losers, or those who are good v. those who are bad? How do we know if the cross we are carrying is truly Christ’s or whether it is one of our own or another’s making? 

If 12 Rules for Life reads like a psychological self-help book, we should not be surprised. That is exactly where you’ll find it in the bookstore. While I miss the more in-depth discussion of how these rules fit in with the daily Christian walk, they certainly challenge me to think about it.

What are your thoughts, readers? 

Homework:

Be good to yourself.  Set some goals for yourself today and don’t forget to reward yourself for accomplishing them. Start small!

Categories
Curriculum Homeschool Ink Slingers Michelle Reviews

REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY: THE STORY OF CIVILIZATION- VOLUME II- THE MEDIEVAL WORLD

As the summer was winding down and our homeschooling year was about to start, I had been thinking a lot about what subjects the kids will take and how I will teach them. We typically sit down on our first day of school (the first Tuesday after Labor Day) and as a family discuss what everyone wants to learn about. Of course there are some things that are non-negotiable… we always have math, reading, science, and history on our list. However, we talk about what else the kids may want to learn.

As eclectic homeschoolers we don’t “school” in a typical fashion. We incorporate many ways of learning into our school year. We embrace school books but we also love to allow the kids the freedom to learn hands on through everyday life experiences as well as through discovery. This may mean they are knee-deep in videos about the ocean, reading books about the ocean, playing with seashells and starfish, or going on a field trip to the aquarium or the ocean when we are lucky enough.

Still, there are times that we love to use text books as well. Typically I have never invested much into a set curriculum. This is for many reasons but one of those reasons has always been the cost. As a large family who lives on a very set (and small) budget, some of the curriculum out there is just out of our means. We tend to accept hand-me-downs on a regular basis and fill our shelves with those textbooks. So when I was asked if I would like to review TAN’s The Story of Civilization (brand new even!) I jumped at the chance. Not only do I love TAN’s books (and I have found them to be pretty reasonably priced), but I also knew that my husband, being my help with history, would love it as well.

Imagine my surprise when my package arrived… not only did I have the textbook for the curriculum but it also included a 7 cd dramatized audio book set, an activity book, a test book, the teacher’s manual, and an amazing timeline we can put up on the wall! Seriously, this curriculum has everything I need to effectively teach about how our civilization began and was transformed through the years. With children who learn in a variety of ways, this set truly could reach each and every one of them in a unique way.

FEATURES

While the first volume, The Ancient World, was reviewed by our site already, I was blessed to review both the second and third volumes- The Medieval World (Vol. II) and The Making of the Modern World (Vol. III). The textbooks are an easy read… not that they are easy in content (they have great content!) but that they are engaging and easy to follow. This isn’t always the case for a history book. If you are like me you may remember those drab, boring history books from our childhood. These are nothing like those! Thankfully so! While they engage the reader as they teach history, they also teach our Catholic faith. Highlighting Saints and their contribution to history as well as showing how the Church has been a force to build society, these texts are an amazing lesson in both secular and Church history. The texts themselves are listed as a 5-8th grade read but they can easily be read aloud and used with younger or older ages as well.

The Teacher’s Manual is awesome as it not only gives questions for review but also includes additional information as well as activities, crafts, and snack ideas. Building on this is the Activity Book. Within the Activity Book you will find print outs of maps, prayers, coloring pages, puzzles, and drawing pages. These activities all go perfectly with the chapters within the texts. While TAN states that the Activities Book is geared more towards 1st-4th grades, I can tell you that my older kids loved helping the younger ones with some of the activities. TAN has found a way to incorporate all grade levels into their curriculum to engage and inspire our students.

The Test Book is geared towards 5-8th graders and includes multiple choice, true-false, and matching questions. There are tests for every chapter and the perforated edges in the book mean you can tear out the pages to photocopy each test so you can not only have enough tests for your children now but you can also save the book for later use if you have younger children you hope to use the book for later.

The package we received came with a video lecture series code that allows you to stream all the video lectures for the series. This gives you permanent access to the lectures! For kids who learn visually or engage better through videos this is a perfect addition to the series.

Finally, the dramatized audio books are great! They are easy to take along with you in the car, pop into a cd player with headphones so a child can listen to them on their own, or so you can listen to them together. The chapters on the audio books follow along with the text but are short and engaging lessons that don’t take much time and that just about any child can listen to without getting too antsy.

I’ll be honest and tell you that while I love history and can read up on just about anything history related, my kids have never been too wild about studying history. When they saw this curriculum arrive they were excited that I got a package but then groaned when I showed them what was inside. However, since using the curriculum (we started before our school year did!) they have since changed their attitudes towards history. They love the hands on activities and listening to the audio. They like reading aloud together from the texts and the older kids don’t mind taking the tests. We have not tried out the videos but I have no doubt that they will be amazing and engage my kids in a completely different manner as well. As TAN says, “Children should not just read about history, they should live it.” This curriculum has allowed my kids to do just that.

PRICE AT THE TIME OF REVIEW

$14.95-$39.95 for individual items

$154.70 for the complete set

DETAILS AT A GLANCE

Intended for: families, anyone using schoolhouse model
Good for grades: elementary and middle school
Parent/teacher involvement level: moderate to high, depending on needs of student
Prep time: medium when used on your own
Teacher’s manual: available for purchase and used with the activity book
Educational philosophy: schoolhouse model
Catholic: yes

You can purchase all of these amazing parts of the curriculum as stand-alone products or you can purchase them as a complete set. While the school year has already begun, we want to bless one of our readers with a complete set of The Story of Civilization: The Medieval World as well as The Story of Civilization: The Making of the Modern World. This includes the textbook, the Teacher’s Manual, the Activity Manual, the Test Book, the 7 cd Dramatized Audio Book, and access to the online streaming Video Lecture Series.

If you would like the chance to win this amazing curriculum- BOTH volumes II and III of the Story of Civilization, please leave us a comment about why you would like the opportunity to win. We will randomly pick a winner on Friday September 28th.

 

DISCLOSURE AND ACCURACY OF REVIEW

Catholic Sistas was not paid to do this review – the publisher offered free materials in exchange for an honest review of this product. All reviews are current as of the publish date. If you notice that a review contains information that is no longer accurate, please email us at Homeschool@CatholicSistas.com and we will be happy to amend this review.


THE GIVEAWAY

To enter,

1) share this contest on any social media outlet, email to friends or family, or your local homeschool groups and tell us where in the comments

AND

2) answer the following question in the comments below:

“Why do you want to win the complete set of The Story of Civilization, Volume II – The Medieval World AND
The Story of Civilization, Volume III- The Making of the Modern World?”

THE LOOT

ONE lucky winner will win an ENTIRE set of The Story of Civilization – Volume II – The Medieval World as well as the ENTIRE set of The Story of Civilization- Volume III- The Making of the Modern World, which includes the textbook, test book, activity book, teacher’s manual, audio drama {CDs}, and the streaming video lecture series, and the timeline map, making this a value of $308! Good luck!

THE CONTEST IS CLOSED.

OUR WINNER IS: SARAH STECHSCHULTE 
Congratulations Sarah Stechschulte!