Religion, at its best, helps people see reality with new eyes. A good spiritual book reveals in the hearts and imaginations of its readers how God is at work in the world. The results of the recent Catholic Press Association awards competition highlight two books that were recognized for making what might seem dry elements of the faith come alive to modern audiences.
In A Jesuit Off-Broadway (Loyola Press), James Martin, SJ chronicles his experience working behind the scenes as theological consultant to an Off-Broadway theater troupe on Stephen Adly Guirgis' The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. Martin tells how he was challenged by the profound and urgent questions the script raised among the cast and crew, and as he engaged in impassioned dialogue on thorny theological issues such as guilt, forgiveness, justice, and despair, he found himself a being a pastor in an unlikely place.
In selecting A Jesuit Off-Broadway as first place winner in the Popular Presentation of the Catholic Faith category, the contest judges said, "What more popular presentation of the faith can there be than an engaging story such as this by one of America's best Catholic writers about his experience as adviser to... a Broadway company doing a play about Jesus and Judas?" The judges said, "This is a charming, highly readable book about our faith in the modern world, brightened by humor and warmed by the author's... keen understanding of the lives Catholics lead in the world we inhabit."
Miguel Arias and Fr. Arturo Perez Rodriguez also won top honors for Santos Americanos (Loyola Press), an innovative presentation of imagined conversations with thirty saints from fifteen countries in South America, Central America, North America and the Caribbean. These martyrs and monks, laypeople and clergy, mystics and activists are honored for their holiness and remembered for their extraordinary accomplishments. Saints featured include Catherine Drexel and Elizabeth Ann Seton, who built schools and hospitals in the United States; martyr Oscar Romero from El Salvador, Venezuelan physician and healer Jose Gregorio Hernandez and Peruvian Rose of Lima, the first saint of the Americas.
The judges who awarded Santos Americanos first place winner among Spanish language titles commended its unique conversational approach, saying, "This kind of creative, engaging theological writing, from the (broadly understood) American perspective, is quite necessary and most welcome in the Spanish-speaking community in the U.S."CONTACT:
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