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Zaubermond

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  • Conclave

  • A Novel
  • By: Robert Harris
  • Narrated by: Roy McMillan
  • Length: 8 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 533
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 483
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 485

The pope is dead. Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, 118 cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world's most secretive election. They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals. Over the next 72 hours, one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent book, spoilt by its ending.

  • By Patrick Fitzpatrick on 12-06-16

Mambo Vaticano

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-08-18

I like Robert Harris' writing and expected to love this book due to its subject. My expectations were, perhaps, too high.

Sadly, I found the story lacking in the elements most necessary to dramatic fiction. For example, where the author set up conflicts, he just as quickly resolved them in facile, contrived ways. But the worst part was an ending which was both unbelievable and extraordinarily pointless.

On the plus side, Harris did a lot of research and was only mistaken on a few minor points of fact. History, ritual, and rubric were woven into the narrative seamlessly. Settings contained vivid sensory detail and descriptions were detailed without being excessive. Characters were memorable. (I particularly enjoyed his pompous rad trad cardinal who, true to form, blamed all the evils of the world upon Vatican II). The viewpoint character, a moderate cardinal, was a sympathetic choice.

I enjoyed Roy McMillan's narration very much.

  • Francis I

  • The Maker of Modern France
  • By: Leonie Frieda
  • Narrated by: Carole Boyd
  • Length: 13 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24

Catherine de Medici's father-in-law, King Francis of France, was the perfect Renaissance knight, the movement's exemplar and its Gallic interpreter. An aesthete, diplomat par excellence, and contemporary of Machiavelli, Francis was the founder of modern France, whose sheer force of will and personality molded his kingdom into the first European superpower. Arguably the man who introduced the Renaissance to France, Francis was also the prototype Frenchman - a national identity was modeled on his character.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Rekindling salamandrine fires...

  • By Zaubermond on 09-29-18

Rekindling salamandrine fires...

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-29-18

Leonie Frieda was responsible for reawakening my interested in Valois history through her biography of Catherine de Medici. In this biography of Catherine's father-in-law, she brings to life an all but forgotten king.

Frieda's research and erudition are impressive, but her writing is always lively and intriguing, never dull. There is so little available in English about the Valois monarchs, apart from the dreck that passes for historical fiction and is propogated through the preposterous miniseries adapted therefrom! If you're really interested in the times of the Valois, read both of Frieda's excellent books instead.

Frieda makes the time period come to life, as she did with Catherine, and illustrates just how complicated, contradictory, and sometimes exasperating, François was. Many of his decisions are no less than baffling, while others are brilliant. Coddled by his mother, Louise of Savoy, he would also be led by other women in his life, sometimes disastrously so. Both a biography and a portrait of France, the book illuminates a France unfamiliar to many. Truly his reign set the foundation for French modernity in countless ways.

May you enjoy it as much as I did.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Vatican II

  • By: Fr. John W. O'Malley SJ PhD
  • Narrated by: Fr. John W. O'Malley SJ PhD
  • Length: 4 hrs and 49 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 9

Join celebrated Church historian John O'Malley in exploring the biggest meeting in the history of the world. The Second Vatican Council concluded 50 years ago, but it is a livelier topic today than it has been for decades. Basic questions are being asked. What did the Council do? Was it properly implemented? Are its decisions being systematically "rolled back"?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic survey!

  • By Zaubermond on 09-09-18

Fantastic survey!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-09-18

The most unutterably ridiculous nonsense I've ever heard as a Catholic has come from the mouths of other Catholics ranting against Vatican II and the errors they mistakenly believe came from it.

When asked if they have ever read any of the 16 documents of the Council, invariably they say no, but then go off on a tangent about how some tragically bewigged neocon online told them (insert subject) was all the fault of Vatican II. Often this turns in the direction of a sedevacantist conspiracy theory filled with speculation and calumnies against Paul VI which simply defy rational belief.

Please, criticize all you like! But read the documents and know what you're talking about. (Lumen Gentium is not a lightbulb). Especially in these days of irresponsible media claims about the factions in an increasingly divided Church, we have a responsibility as Catholics to know the truth about our faith's teachings and history, along with giving attention to that which needs deep reform today. I believe a reassessment of the true nature of Vatican II, as opposed to mad distortions of it, would be helpful in healing the divisions in the Church and bringing back a spirit of unity.

Father O'Malley does a fantastic job presenting the bewildering, unwieldy enormity of the Second Vatican Council in a whirlwind tour you're sure to enjoy if you have an interest in recent Church politics and history. Being a good Jesuit, he doesn't waste your time or his words getting to the essential points, from the introduction in which he sets the stage for this greatest of meetings to the four major periods into which he breaks down the process. However, you need to have an interest in this because it is complicated nonetheless. I highly recommend it to every Catholic.

Schadenfreude Alert: In about a month, Pope Paul VI will be raised to the altar as Pope Saint Paul VI. I can't wait. Tragically bewigged ranters, buy yourself a large grappa and deal with it.

  • The Miracle Detective

  • An Investigative Reporter Sets Out to Examine How the Catholic Church Investigates Holy Visions and Discovers His Own Faith
  • By: Randall Sullivan
  • Narrated by: Jeremy Arthur
  • Length: 18 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 63
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 58
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57

In a tiny, dilapidated trailer in northeastern Oregon, a young woman saw a vision of the Virgin Mary in an ordinary landscape painting hanging on her bedroom wall. After being met with skepticism from the local parish, the matter was officially placed "under investigation" by the Catholic diocese. Investigative journalist Randall Sullivan wanted to know how, exactly, one might conduct the official inquiry into such an incident, so he set off to interview theologians, historians, and postulators.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Excessively emotive and lacking objectivity

  • By Zaubermond on 09-09-18

Excessively emotive and lacking objectivity

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-09-18

As others have noted, this book does not provide what its subtitle suggests. If you are looking for that, try John Thavis' excellent book, The Vatican Prophecies.

I found the writing to be puerile, overly emotive, and absolutely lacking in any sense of objective investigative technique. It is a very poor piece of journalism. Sadly, it is also self-indulgent and tedious, and the author's quest to find himself, if you will, overshadows the purported goal of the book. He seems to have come to a crisis where he was looking for something, anything, to give his life meaning. Devotion to the Blessed Mother would be a wonderful thing....wouldn't it? But is that what Medjugorje is?

I read this book long before Donal Foley's Medjugorje Revisted, which thoroughly convinced me that these apparitions are, if not an intentional hoax, at least a dangerous delusion. Anyone who still has an open mind might examine what he has to say, along with the words of St Louis de Montfort on false devotion to Mary, and those of the great Carmelite saints, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross regarding the way the adversary can produce good fruits for a time.

Those who are devoted to Medjugorje do not, in my experience, have any interest in hearing the other side. For those who are undecided, I recommend looking into the subject thoroughly and prayerfully. It is easy to be deluded and led by emotion. True faith is accompanied by reason.

I will leave you with the words of soon-to-be sainted Pope Paul VI:

It is a strange thing that our incredulous world is never so curious about anything as it is about miracles. The Lord wishes to draw us to Himself by other ways that means of marvelous sense experiences. He wants to attract us by spiritual and moral ways, the way of faith, the way of love, and the way of the examples of the saints, through whom he shines the light of a relationship with God. And He wants to draw us also by means of the authorized voice of the Church. (1975)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Tsar

  • An Epic Chronicle of the Russian Leaders
  • By: Mike Walker
  • Narrated by: David Threlfall, Hugo Speer, Samantha Spiro, and others
  • Length: 10 hrs and 22 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

Eleven compelling BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramas telling the stories of the Russian tsars. Broadcast to mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, this extraordinary drama cycle by Mike Walker comprises 11 ambitious plays spanning over 400 years, exploring the lives of Russia’s key rulers from Ivan the Terrible to Vladimir Putin. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic BBC drama

  • By Zaubermond on 09-06-18

Fantastic BBC drama

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-06-18

I couldn't wait to get this BBC series into the cloud. It's simply a fantastic series with first-rate acting and great writing. If you love dramatizations or have any interest in Russian history, you'll love this often bloody, brilliant, and bewildering saga.

In order: Ivan the Terrible, Boris Gudunov, Peter the Great (2 episodes), Catherine the Great, Alexander I, Alexander II, Nikolai II, Lenin, Stalin, Putin.

  • Heroes of the Desert: The Lives and Teachings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

  • By: Fr. Philip G. Bochanski CO MA
  • Narrated by: Fr. Philip G. Bochanski CO MA
  • Length: 6 hrs and 9 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 9

Beginning in the third century AD, pious men and women journeyed into the Egyptian desert, where they sought to be "alone with God alone." Known as the Desert Fathers and Mothers, they pursued lives of solitude and prayer in order to make offerings of themselves to God. They acquired great insight into the spiritual life, which has been passed down to us in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Now, you can discover the fascinating lives and works of such awe-inspiring figures as St. Antony the Great and St. Mary of Egypt.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Preferring Christ to all else

  • By Zaubermond on 08-20-18

Preferring Christ to all else

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-20-18

Those who are new to the study of desert monasticism will find this a useful survey. It's broken down into 15 topics, each of which gives much information for spiritual consideration and further research. If you're already familiar with the subject, you will still enjoy Fr Bochanski's teaching. I appreciated his gentle manner and voice throughout as he brought life and relevance to a subject that can, if taught badly, be as dry as the desert in which the religious found themselves.

Perhaps the idea of desert monasticism has never seemed so strange as it does to us today. Maybe that's why it has so much to teach us. Have we gotten as far away from God as we are because of attachments and indulgences and diversions? If so, we have much to learn from these wise Abbas and Ammas.

Some left simple lives. Others left palaces and untold luxuries. Each preferred Christ to anything the world had to offer. But in choosing monasticism, they found they could abandon the world, but not the soul's struggle for holiness.

In fact, the desert fathers and mothers have much to teach us about spiritual warfare. Although their renunciation of the world allowed them to hear God more clearly, it also allowed the greatest of temptation and attacks from the adversary.

Their approach to spiritual direction was also enlightening. There was none of this ridiculous pop psych speak, nor the one size fits all answers which so often pass for direction these days. No, each piece of advice was individually chosen for each situation. This was not relativism, but enlightened guidance. It was about the person being directed, not the director. Modern self-appointed experts would do well to consider this, and the deep humility demanded of the position.

I found the whole presentation to be fascinating and recommend it to every Catholic.

These are the lectures:

1. Alone with God alone. 2. Development of monasticism. 3. Daily life in the desert. 4. St Anthony the Great. 5. Father of monks. 6. Wisdom of St Anthony. 7. Words of the fathers. 8. St Arsenius and St Makarios. 9. St John and St Poemon. 10. Mothers of the desert. 11. St Synclectica's advice for beginners. 12. St Synclectica's wisdom for life's journey. 13. St Mary of Egypt. 14. Desert conversions. 15. St Moses the Ethiopian.

  • Finding Happiness

  • By: Abbot Christopher Jamison
  • Narrated by: Abbot Christopher Jamison
  • Length: 5 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 14

In this audiobook Abbot Christopher turns to monastic wisdom to offer answers, and to explain that in essence happiness is a gift not an achievement, the fruit of giving and receiving blessings. Everybody is searching for happiness but not everybody knows how to find it. In modern Britain, more and more people say that their life is too materialistic and superficial, which leads to a feeling of dissatisfaction.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great resource on modern spiritual issues!

  • By Amazon Customer on 04-30-15

Benedictine wisdom for those outside the cloister

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-19-18

I believe every Catholic can benefit from the considerations in this book. It isn't a quick fix or an mindless menu plan for the discontented, though. Contemplating the lessons and insights takes effort and time.

Contrary to what some may believe, the desert fathers have much to teach those of us who do not live a monastic life. It is very possible to adapt their wisdom to our modern, busy, and mostly secular lives. It is possible, and certainly necessary, to sanctify our lives if we do live in the world and not set apart from it by a monastic order. Each of us is called to holiness as we remain true to our state in life. Indeed, the abbot makes it clear that monastic vows are no escape from the world, nor an escape from oneself.

Jamison considers ideas about pleasure, expectations, and habit, and how these affect our perception of happiness. If you derive nothing more from this book that that, it is worth it. But I believe you will find really useful suggestions and insights if you listen to this work with an open heart and prayerfully consider what you might need to change or reevaluate in your own life, and what happiness really means for a Catholic.

Jamison is a naturally gifted teacher, and I enjoy his delivery and the sound of his voice. I've listened to this book three times and also have read his book, FINDING SANCTUARY on Kindle. I can't recommend his work highly enough.

  • Dinner

  • A Full-Cast Production of the Acclaimed Black Comedy
  • By: Moira Buffini
  • Narrated by: David Hounslow, Harriet Walters, Nicholas Farrell, and others
  • Length: 1 hr and 35 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2

A deliciously black satirical comedy about the dinner party from hell. The fastidious host, Paige, decides to throw a dinner party in honour of her husband, Lars, who is celebrating the success of his pop psychology book, Beyond Belief. She carefully plans a surprise menu that will mark the occasion and anxiously checks with the waiter she has employed to make sure that everything is perfectly prepared. Her lucky guests include a postfeminist vegetarian artist, a distinguished microbiologist, a TV journalist and an uninvited guest who ends up staying for dinner. But it soon becomes apparent that the meal may contain some rather nasty surprises....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Deliciously dark satire

  • By Zaubermond on 08-17-18

Deliciously dark satire

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-17-18

I love a satire. The darker the better. You can't get much darker than this.

Halfway through I was wondering where it was going as it evoked memories of the movie version of Clue, Titus Andronicus, and Edward Albee!

The real beauty of this piece is the cast, and what a cast it is! Harriet Walter is Paige, our scarlet-clad, posh, silken pit viper of a hostess. Few do insufferable pomposity better than Nicholas Farrell and he is in his element as Lars. Penny Downie is the loathesome, weird-god-help-us Wynne. All the actors are superb in their roles.

While listening to the play, I considered the staging difficulties and was happy not to see it in person. As a carnivore with a strong stomach, I enjoyed it, but those of less intestinal fortitude might have some difficulties if they were to see the various courses served on the stage.

If you like your satires dark, cruel, and wicked, you'll like this piece. If you've ever known a soul-killing narcissist (or a dozen), you might even think you've been present at this dinner party. Bon appetit.

  • Dr. Katz: The Audiobook

  • By: Jonathan Katz, Laura Silverman, H. Jon Benjamin, and others
  • Length: 6 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 102
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 95
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 95

The doctor is back with a whole book of sessions from guests like Jon Hamm, Louie Anderson, Susie Essman, Gilbert Gottfried, David Mamet, Wanda Sykes, Marc Maron, Reggie Watts and a slew of others. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Just beautiful!

  • By Oscar Slovak on 08-16-18

The Katz crew gets an update

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-16-18

I'm a huge fan of the original series, so I couldn't resist this. At first I thought I'd made a mistake after the opening session with Kevin Nealon. Then everything got back to the good old days: Laura needs to leave work early because her DNA result shows she's 30% Dutch, slacker Ben is still considering career choices 20 years later, and Jen Kirkman verbalizes full-throttle angst. I enjoyed most of the comedians, but as in the original, some routines are just not funny. It is a bit more louche and vulgar than the TV series of the 90's. (I wish some male comedians would elevate from a seven year old boy's obsession with toilet humor and sexual innuendo, but that's just me). Pretty good stuff, but you'll have to imagine Dom Irrera's dance moves and crazy clothes. Enjoy.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Wounded by God's People

  • Discovering How God's Love Heals Our Hearts
  • By: Anne Graham Lotz
  • Narrated by: Anne Graham Lotz
  • Length: 4 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 68
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 60
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 59

Everyone has been wounded…hurt…neglected…by others. But as Anne Graham Lotz looks back on her life, the sad truth is that her most painful wounds were inflicted by religious people - God’s people. People she had grown to love and to trust. But people whose words and behavior were inconsistent with what they said they believed. Anne not only understands the wounded, she also understands how easy it is for the wounded to become wounders themselves.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful

  • By Dr. Kathy James on 05-23-15

Keeping your eyes on Christ

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-09-18

I'm a Roman Catholic, but found this book after praying for some insight into difficulty with forgiveness.

Several decades ago, I experienced clerical sexual abuse at the hands of a young priest. I reported this to the bishop, who lied as he made promises to remove the priest from ministry. Two successive bishops have protected the now aged priest who remains in active ministry in the Diocese of Charlotte to this day. When I admitted my struggle to forgive the priest in confession (to another priest), I was given as a penance to pray for my abuser's soul. I was left with anger, resentment, heartbreak, and a sense of betrayal that I could not put into words.

I came to Lotz's book with the idea that going to any church is the best way to lose your relationship with Christ, not to strengthen it. How many of us must feel this way? Now that I have read it, I have a (slightly) more hopeful perspective.

I found Lotz's book to be enlightening. I was naive about her, suspecting Billy Graham's daughter would be treated with the greatest respect. I was so wrong! She is forthright, candid, and without self-pity as she reveals her own struggles with a far less-than-perfect spiritual experience with the people of God.

The Bible stories I've always loved are explained in a way particularly relevant to those of us who have struggled with forgiveness, have felt alienated and alone, or have been betrayed by those who acted in ungodly ways in the very name of God. Those wounds are with us always and we take them everywhere. But there is an answer, and Lotz builds up to it gradually as she offers truly helpful suggestions and ideas for those whose hearts have been broken by fellow Christians.

I am so pleased and blessed to have read it and recommend it to anyone who is struggling with these issues. It's an easy read, but by no means a slight or insignificant one. I truly believe it can give a new perspective, and look forward to considering its meaning over the following months.