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Dr. Kevin Vaughan reads what?
We start the New Year with a list from Dr. Kevin Vaughan, our new program director for Catholic Studies at the College.
Favorite or most influential books:
Voyage to Alpha Centauri by
Imagine Herman Melville wrote chapters six to nine of the Book of Genesis and then set the whole thing in outer space and you’ve got an idea of this book. In his latest novel, Canadian author Michael O’Brien takes us on a space adventure, touching down on philosophical, political, and biblical issues along the way. It stands alongside Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz as a tour de force of the Catholic imagination of the Sci-Fi variety.
Traces of God by
In this short work, Allen, philosopher and Episcopalian priest, tackles the issue of God and suffering. But fear not! This is no warmed-over theodicy (i.e., justification for the belief in God in a world of suffering and evil), but a compelling argument for how, despite a world of suffering, we can still experience the presence of God in our lives. Allen’s treatment is as entertaining as it is lucid, drawing on a number of literary voices, including Iris Murdoch, CS Lewis, and Dostoyevsky. I’ll be forever in his debt for introducing me to Friedrich Dürrenmatt and Iulia de Beausobre. This is a book I keep close by.
Robinson Crusoe by
Call Number: PR3403 .A1 1975
Winston S. Churchill once said we read books too young. This was definitely the case for me with this classic of modern literature. Having suffered through it in high school, I returned to this classic in my mid-thirties surprised to find a page-turning read with a profound reflection on the question of God in modern life. Few contemporary authors have spoken to me with such immediacy as Defoe.
Carmina Gadelica by
At the turn of the 20th century, Alexander Carmichael scoured the Scottish countryside collecting hymns, prayers and incantations of the surviving Gaelic-speaking regions. Carmichael did the world a service by providing a glimpse into an ancient and enduring culture, much of which has fallen into the abyss of time. I regularly turn to the collection when I need inspiration and spiritual nourishment. Carmichael’s six-volume work as been mercifully adapted into a single volume edition.
Faith Within Reason by
Really, anything by the late Oxford Dominican, Herbert McCabe, is worth a read, but this collection of essays is especially helpful when it comes to understanding the Christian faith. Grounded in Thomas Aquinas, with a touch of Wittgenstein, McCabe treats an array of theological topics in a witty, sometimes preposterous, but always insightful manner, presupposing little theological background in his readers. I subject my students to McCabe whenever I get the chance! His essay “Why God?” is worth the whole collection.
What are you reading now?
Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade
I’m slowly working my way through this spiritual classic by the French Jesuit spiritual writer Jean-Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751). It’s ruthlessly practical and bears interesting parallels with Buddhist Mindfulness.
Desert Island Pick (this is your bonus title--the book that you can take along to the island for sheer reading pleasure)
That’s easy! Bill Bryson, In a Sunburned Country. With Bryson’s account of his travels through Australia, I may be stuck on a desert island, but I’ll be laughing the whole time. His description of listening to Cricket on the radio is priceless: “It’s like falling asleep without losing consciousness.”
For other faculty fav book picks, visit our Faculty Reading List Guide.