Three Boston College Authors Make the New `Dean's List'

Three Boston College Authors Make the New 'Dean's List'

By Rev. William B. Neenan, SJ

Four of the five new 2002 Dean's List entries are occasioned by events that have shaken our nation and the Catholic Church this past year.

McCullough's John Adams joins his Truman on the Dean's List, the first time that two entries by one author have appeared on the same List. Harry Truman, succeeding Franklin Roosevelt as president and John Adams, following George Washington, have often been perceived as having merely supporting roles. But just as Truman's reputation has grown with the passing years, after two centuries John Adams' place in the pantheon of America's founding generation is being upgraded both by McCullough's work and by Joseph Ellis' Founding Brothers. Reading McCullough's two biographies makes one grateful that our country produced good and decent leaders at critical moments in our history.

The sexual misconduct of priests and bishops is an occasion to examine the place of God and Roman Catholicism in one's life. Three Boston College authors have assisted me in this examination. Thomas Groome provides in What Makes Us Catholic a clear explanation of the Catholic understanding of reality, and how the sacramental view of the world so central to Catholicism follows from the Father's gift to us of Jesus who has permanently pitched his tent among us.

Only a few have had the opportunity to engage the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius for 30 days. And of this small number only one, as far as I know, has detailed his personal experience, hour by hour: Paul Mariani in his Thirty Days. He does so with a surprising and engaging frankness. You may never have the occasion to follow in Mariani's footsteps but Thirty Days will give you a glimpse into how transformative that experience can be.

Those of us who have enjoyed Ben Birnbaum's essays in the Boston College Magazine will not be surprised that his "How to Pray: Reverence, Stories and the Rebbe's Dream" is one of The Best American Essays 2001, edited by Kathleen Norris. If Groome sketches the essentials of the Catholic phenomenon and Mariani shares with us his own experience of prayer, Birnbaum's essay details the wellsprings of prayer in such a moving manner that reading it becomes itself a profoundly personal prayer.

Adam Gopnik's From Paris to the Moon is an introduction to a family (his), a city (Paris) and the mores of a country (France) under lovingly critical tutelage. The essays in this book compare/contrast Paris, France with New York, New York so convincingly that one puts the book down feeling sheepishly guilty that hitherto one has not recognized how quaintly lovable French people really are.

The Dean's List
(New additions are in bold)

James Agee, A Death in the Family

Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim

George Bernanos, Diary of a Country Priest

Robert Bolt, A Man For All Seasons

Albert Camus, The Fall

Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Adam Gopnik, Paris to the Moon

Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

Thomas Groome, What Makes Us Catholic

Seamus Heaney, Beowulf

Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm

Paul Mariani, Thirty Days

David McCullough, John Adams

David McCullough, Truman

Charles Morris, American Catholic: The Saints and Sinners Who Built America's Most Powerful Church

Ben Birnbaum, "How to Pray: Reverence, Stories, and the Rebbe's Dream," in The Best American Essays, Kathleen Norris (ed.)

Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son

John O'Malley, SJ, The First Jesuits

Jaroslav Pelikan, Jesus Through the Centuries

Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels

Dava Sobel, Galileo's Daughter

Wallace Stegner, Collected Short Stories

Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter

Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men

Garry Wills, Saint Augustine

Simon Winchester, River at the Center of the World

All books featured in the Dean's List are available through the Boston College Libraries.

Fr. Neenan is vice president and special assistant to the president. He has published his "Dean's List" of recommended books since 1982.  

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