Books in Brief

June 2020

“Political culture in the United States, at least as we’ve come to know it over the previous two generations, is collapsing.” But this shouldn’t scare us, writes Charles Camosy. Rather, the disintegration leaves Catholics open to consider how a consistent ethic of life, articulated by Cardinal Bernardin and encouraged by our three most recent pontiffs, can create a political culture that upholds the dignity of all. The goal is twofold: to resist what Pope Francis has termed a “throwaway culture” that discounts the humanity of the vulnerable or the inconvenient, and to promote a “culture of encounter” that enacts hospitality, solidarity, and mercy. Studying several issues in-depth—sexual ethics, abortion, ecology, state-sponsored violence—Camosy clarifies our mission to “go to the peripheries” of our familiar communities. 

Resisting Throwaway Culture: How a Consistent Life Ethic Can Unite a Fractured People 
Charles C. Camosy
New City Press, $19.95, 374 pp. 

 

Stephen Hough’s brilliance isn’t limited to the concert stage or recording studio. The classical pianist, as his fans already know, is something of a polymath. This lively collection of writings gathers dozens of unfailingly perceptive, often charming, and occasionally moving reflections on the musician’s craft, the symbiosis between performer and audience, Rilke, Simone Weil, Lou Reed, and the importance of practice—which allows “the time to make mistakes and the leisure to correct them.” Also, and head-on: religion. Hough delves into Scripture and the sacraments, puzzles over certain dogmas, and, in a longer and striking essay titled “Is He Musical?” speaks directly to the challenges he has experienced as a gay Catholic. Bonus: a concluding eight-page discography of Hough’s recordings.

Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More
Stephen Hough
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $14.99, 464 pp. 

                                                            

After working on the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac teamed up to write The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis, a book that presents not only the desperate need to combat climate change—specifically by halving carbon emissions by 2030, and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050—but also a vision of the greener world we could create. Their suggestions range from the concrete (plant trees, vote, improve your home’s insulation) to the abstract (shift society’s definition of success away from increased consumption, cultivate local and international collaboration), but all are stubbornly optimistic. The authors insist that we must not let the scale of the task at hand overwhelm or excuse us.

The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis
Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac
Knopf, $23, 240 pp. 

Published in the June 2020 issue: 
Also by this author
Known Unknowns

Please email comments to [email protected] and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Must Reads

Politics
Religion
Books
Collections