Totally Off Topic

Theology and Revolution – An Open Book: July 2017

A new month and new books to read.  That’s the great thing about books: one never seems to run out of them, especially with the advent of the ebook.  Now we not only have a choice of new books to read, but old books that were no longer in print or were hard to find are becoming accessible. I wonder if this could be considered the time of the bibliophile?

But for book lovers reading them is not enough.  Always on the lookout for a good book we are ever curious as to what others are reading and are more than happy to share our current reads.  Hence, An Open Book monthly linkup hosted at My Scribbler’s Heart blog and  Let your fellow book lovers know what you’re reading by posting a blog with the title and description of the book(s) you and/or your family are planning to read this month.  Don’t forget to include the links to those two blogs in case others want to share and/or find some possible new titles to read.  After you’ve posted simply  link up your post at My Scribbler’s Heart or and you’re done!

Before July–June

Luckily, I was able to fit another book in June.  Since it wasn’t on my An Open Book list for that month I want to include it here.  The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person can Create Extraordinary Change by Adam Braun is the story of how the author came to found his own nonprofit Pencils of Promise. 

In college Adam signed on to the Semester at Sea program where students study on ""board a ship while traveling and visiting different countries.  It was in one of these countries that he asked a poor child, “If you can have anything in the world, what would it be?”  The child answered, “A pencil.”  With further questioning Braun discovered the child wanted a pencil because in the child’s mind pencils were synonymous with education.  Being a real eye-opener for the author he continued to ask the same question of other children and found the same answer everywhere he traveled.  Where education wasn’t available to them he found that’s what they wanted.  This eventually led him to found Pencils of Promise which works with local governments to build schools in areas where they otherwise couldn’t afford them.

But the story doesn’t just explain why he started this ministry, but also how he started it.  Using his own experiences Braun shares the valuable lessons he learned along the way.  His hope is that others can benefit from these experiences to found their own ministries.  So, if you’ve ever wondered what it takes to start a ministry, then this would be a good book for you.  I also recommend it because he shares some valuable life lessons.  There’s wisdom there which I found surprising from one so young.

Now for July reads

First up is Transformation in Christ by Dietrich von Hildebrand.  I’ve been wanting to read this every since reading a review in the Catholic Herald.  The review included a quote which as soon as I read it I thought to myself, “This man knows God.”  Now that ""might seem like a silly thing to say about a theologian, but not all theologian’s are created equal.  I’ve heard some strange teachings coming out of their mouths, enough to know they don’t all know God.  Now,  I’d heard about von Hildebrand to trust him as a theologian, but never anything about any particular book that would make me sit down and read one.  At least, not until I read that quote.

Apparently it’s a “modern spiritual classic” (sometimes I feel so clueless) which “gives a penetrating analysis of the true path to holiness for those who love Christ.”  Below is a description from Alice von Hildebrand on how the book helped her:

“Again and again as I read it, I was led to realize how often I had fallen into illusions about myself, and how often I had followed a path that actually had led me away from the true goal: to be transformed in Christ.  It was as if scales had fallen from my eyes.

I hope it helps me as much.  It just came in the mail today and I’m only two pages into the introduction by his wife, Alice, and I’ve already discovered three gems.  I think I’m going to love this book.

Interesting factoid: The book was originally published in German.  It had not yet been translated into English when Alice Jourdain, later to become von Hildebrand, first heard about the book.  Her interest in it was so great that she learned German just so she could read it.""

Rules for Radicals: a Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals by Saul Alinsky is another author I’ve been hearing about since around 2008. I don’t know what made me read it now.  Maybe for the same reason I read Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement last month.  I’m just looking for answers.

Alinsky says he wrote it for those who want to know “how to create mass organizations to seize power . . .”  Another reason was the only revolutionary writings available to those who wanted to bring about change at that time were ""communist writings;  “Here [in communist writings] they can read about tactics, maneuvers, strategy and principles of action in the making of revolutions.”  But those following communist writings were getting defeated in the outset because their methods were so closely tied in people’s minds with Communism.  Alinsky apparently wanted to put some distance between the two giving revolutionaries a better chance at success.  Clean up revolutionaries’ reputations, if you will.  I’m not sure he succeeded here as I can’t say his reputation is any better than communism’s.

I’m only about a quarter of the way through it, but, as can be expected, I don’t agree with much of his philosophy which seems very Machiavellian in his outlook in that any means justify any ends. Just get the job done, even if you have to corrupt your soul in the process.  Alinsky doesn’t see corruption as a problem though. He’s decided that everyone and everything is corrupt.  He uses this belief to justify any type of behavior which furthers his or the revolutionary’s goals.  It’s an old tired worn out excuse for committing evil, so Alinsky is doing nothing new or original.  He’s simply making some money off of communist ideas.

For all I disagree with him I do plan on finishing the book.  Only because I want to read about the strategies and tactics.   Even though published in 1971 others have claimed the rules are still in use today.  I would like to be able to recognize them when I see them in action.  ""

Because of the recent Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America called by the USCCB I’ve interrupted my reading of Pope Leo XIII encyclicals to reread the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelli Gaudium of Pope Francis on the the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World. Simply because this exhortation was the inspiration and goal of the convocation.

And that’s it for reading.  No fiction lined up this month either.  I guess I’m just not in the mood.

I hope you find some great books to read.  I look forward to learning what everyone else is reading, so don’t forget to link up at


Thank you Ben White for the use of the lovely photo via





3 thoughts on “Theology and Revolution – An Open Book: July 2017

  1. “The time of the bibliophile” – I like that! Never had we had such wide access to books.

    All of your selections sound so interesting, and I have yet to read anything of Dietric von Hildebrand’s. I’d love to hear what you think of this book.

    Thanks for linking up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Carolyn, I haven’t had much time for reading and this book is a little hard-going even when he speaks to those things I’ve experienced. For those things I haven’t experienced it’s really rough. He is very thorough and each chapter is broken down to what is false and what is true. If you identify with either of those, then you learn what you’re doing wrong and how to correct it or, conversely, know you’re on the right track an stay the course. All-in-all I do find it helpful and probably one of those books you should keep around as we grow in faith.

      Liked by 1 person

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