For a thoughtful Catholic, ongoing divisions and controversies call for continual redefinition and negotiation of one’s faith and allegiance to the Church. And this often requires looking at respected figures from past and present for inspiration. In the anthology Not Less Than Everything: Catholic Writers on Heroes of Conscience, from Joan of Arc to Oscar Romero (available February 12), editor Catherine Wolff has compiled a thoughtful and engaging collection of essays and reflections on the Catholic figures who continue to inspire and serve as role models today--profiles of the men and women who found great personal, spiritual, and intellectual strength to keep their faith while challenging the traditional church. Some were denounced as heretics, others suffered injustice for following their conscience in ways displeasing to church authorities. And yet all of these figures have what theologian Elizabeth Johnson calls “uncanny integrity.” They saw through a lens of great moral clarity, were fueled by passionate motivation, and remained steadfast in their beliefs. Covering a range of subjects and topics--from Ann Patchett on Charles Strobel to Colm Toibin on Gerard Manley Hopkins to Alice McDermott on Horace McKenna, S.J.--the anthology showcases some of today’s most respected writers and thinkers engaging personally with their favorite saints, official and not. Exploring the tensions that arise from conflicting demands of conscience and authority, and from the challenge of living one’s faith in the real world, Not Less Than Everything speaks to both a Catholic audience struggling to make sense of their faith amidst current controversies, and a wider readership eager to understand the conflict between modern sensibilities with ancient beliefs.
Tobias Wolff is the author of This Boy’s Life. He teaches English and creative writing at Standord University. Charles Baxter is the author of Saul and Patsy, The Soul Thief, and The Feast of Love, among many other books. He teaches at the University of Minnesota. Patricia Hampl’s most recent book is The Florist’s Daughter, winner of the 2008 Minnesota Book Award for Memoir and Creative Nonfiction. She is also the author of Blue Arabesque: A Search for the Sublime, A Romantic Education, two collections of poetry, Woman before an Aquarium, and Resort and Other Poems, and Virgin Time, about her Catholic upbringing and an inquiry into contemplative life, is available in a recent paperback. Martha Stortz holds the Bernhard M. Christensen Chair in Religion and Vocation at Augsburg College.
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