07 May 2009

The next book?

In the past I've asked readers to suggest topics for blog posts. The topics suggested were usually quite good.

So, now I'm asking readers to suggest topics for my next book. I already have a couple of ideas bouncing around in my head, but it's good to keep things fluid.

The question: if you could order a custom-made book written by a Dominican priest, what would you order?


1). Nothing too academic. I have a thesis and dissertation to write, so what brainpower I still have access to will have to be spent pounding out these demonstrations of academic prowess.

2). Something useful to regular Catholics. I spend way too much time around "religious professionals," i.e. priests, religious, etc. so it is too easy for me to see the world in terms of our issues and answers.

3). Something that will challenge, provoke, build-up. It would be too easy to write something that confirms what we already know.

4). Something creative. I take this to mean: not a Q&A, not a "self-help" book, not a "Catholicism for Dummies" type book, nothing merely apologetical.

What I'm thinking of doing. . .

. . .a book of short essays dealing with cultural themes (e.g. violence, debt, excess, joy, death)

. . .a book of meditations on selected passages from the writings of the Church's spiritual masters, a sort of daybook for growing in holiness

. . .or maybe a book of meditations on selected poems from a Catholic perspective

. . .at some point I want to write a book of short stories.

. . .what else?

Some news: I sent too much material to my editor, so there is a possibility that we will divide the manuscript into two books!


  1. Anonymous12:37 AM

    The daybook sounds awesome. Often when I'm doing the Office of Readings I start jumping up and down and shouting "everybody should read this!" but of course most laypeople simply don't have the time.

    A "short version" with readings and a meditation that goes with the Church seasons would be so cool.

  2. Oh, I would love that book of meditations on poems. My BA is in English Lit, and I had to slog through plenty of feminist, Marxist, postmodernist muck to get it. I've been looking for materials that would help look at literature from a Catholic perspective.

  3. Hmmm...

    I'm actually going to recommend the short stories going from cultural themes like debt, excess, joy, etc. When I have heard you at your best, it has been in speaking through parables. For example, the homily you wrote in the Devil's voice was brilliant although I think it's better suited to this medium than to the liturgy.

    I'd be very interested in a cross between the essays on cultural themes and maybe even something akin to the Screwtape letters insofar as offering a narrative account that explains a vice or virtue in an unconventional manner.

    You can't get more creative than writing fiction really, and I think it'd be a good and necessary balance for the dissertation. You are most insightful in nuanced and indirect approaches that open the mind to the suggestion of truth. So, that's where I'd write.

  4. How about something in true Aquinas style about seeking the truth and upholding it all cost. This is a time in history that we as Christians really need to be ready to do just that. And we need the tools and spiritual guidance from our fearless Sheppard’s. A work of fiction with this slant would probably be the best way to “sell” it. Something like Michel Obrien’s novels....yadayada that’s my two bits.
    Love the blog keep up the good work!

  5. A book of your own poems.

    A book about Christian poetry.

    A book about poetry as prayer.

    A book of your own poems and meditations.

  6. Faith, I should have put "no poetry" in the guidelines. I really don't have the time to put together a book of poems! And I doubt Liguori would be interested.

  7. Father,

    How about a book, as an above poster said, "in Aquinas style" explaining the lay secular vocation? Or, about discernment of vocations for young people in general. (both to a religious state and to the lay vocation.)


  8. Elizabeth9:48 AM

    I like Innocent's suggestion about a book on discernment, but thinking about it, I'm not sure how well it could work. Discernment is a delicate art between the individual and spiritual director (and later the community).. I think it would be difficult to write. At best, it would give information and direct someone toward a good spiritual director. At worst, someone could read it and draw inappropriate conclusions about discerning.

    I agree with Jana that fiction is the most creative option and may be a nice contrast for you while you work on your dissertation.

    Two other ideas:
    -A book about the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience and the ways in which non-religious can and should live these out
    -A book about men and women, their qualities, differences, places in the Church. I haven't seen any Catholic books on men and women that don't deal primarily with sexual relations.

  9. The short essays about cultural themes sound awesome. Personally I love your homilies--and they are always thought-provoking and sometimes controversial but in a good way. :-) I personally would love a book of essays because you seem to be so excellent at them (homilies, when not spoken aloud but are in print form, are much like essays)...

    That's my vote.

  10. Anonymous12:39 PM

    This is very selfish, but how about a book for young people considering a Dominican vocation? Even a series of posts, if you haven't done one already.

    I for one have my foot hovering over the threshold, half a breath from asking the promoter for the forms, and could really use something like that right now (Fr Dom OP won't let me apply until next year, my final year at university).

    Of course you'd probably need to consider writing one for the friars, one for the nuns and one for the sisters - but in my own experience I only see the numbers of people my age (early 20s) expressing interest rising, so you'll have a market!

  11. Meghan Maresh9:40 PM

    Hi Father,

    About your book requests--do you know about BookMooch.com? I have some points on there I can spend from having sent off novels I'd finished. I'll try to have the 2005 Spiritual Readings anthology sent to you.

    Thanks for sharing your writing here!

    -Meghan (Walbran) Maresh
    B.S. UD '99

  12. Father..A book of essays on faith for dealing with cultural matters would be my wish.

  13. Anonymous12:19 PM

    How about a book on preaching the Good News, a classic Dominican ministry. Such a guide would be essential to modern Catholics, especially living here in the Bible Belt. This guide would involve both listening and speaking:
    - How to listen to Holy Scripture in a way to draw others into the Fold (not necessarily a "Where's that in the Bible?", but how to listen to what God is trying to speak to people and oneself)
    - What to listen for in reading the Church Fathers
    - How to listen to a homily
    - Maybe guidelines on reading the secular press, evangelist preaching, etc. to understand what people are wanting
    - What to preach and how to preach(for priests)
    - Different kinds of preaching, or what lay Catholics can do to preach, especially to their relatives, co-workers, and friends.
    Anyway, food for thought. Considering that these topics fall under your "My fav Hanc Aquam posts", I would imagine that you would love to do this. You know better what others want and need, so consider that first! :)