Recent books in brief

Recovering Common Goods

by Patrick Riordan SJ 

(Veritas, €14.99 )

In a world of heated divisiveness this book will prove a great asset to those involved in attempting to right the wrongs that damage society. Patrick Riordan, who teaches political philosophy at Heythrop College, holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Innsbruck.  

A philosopher trained in German-style philosophy may seem to be a difficult author to approach. But in the fact it seems that the basic idea of this book is a simple yet powerful one.

He writes, readers will note, of “common goods” which is perhaps a more practical aim to reach for than a less easily defined common good. Basing himself on the tradition of Catholic social teaching which has developed since the end of the 19th Century he suggests that rather than spiriting Catholics from other elements in society, reaching for what they hold in common rather than what divides, what will make life better for as many as possible, will enable many of the current divisions, social, political and religious to be ameliorated, perhaps in time eliminated – though that is perhaps too utopian even for a Jesuit philosopher.

This is a book which can be highly recommended to those involved in the social and political fields searching for a useful Catholic exposition, and also for those involved in ecumenical work.


Every Job a Parable: What Farmers, Nurses and Astronauts Tell Us about God

by John Van Sloten 

(Hodder & Stoughton, (£13.99) 

The author is the pastor of the New Hope Church in Calgary. Though what he writes is inspired by his understanding of John Calvin, what he writes here will be welcomed by all Christians. He claims that “There is no job too small for God’s presence.”

All too often people place a barrier between their “Sunday life” and thier real work. But those six days of the weeks are real life; they are what inform what people are. The idea that one day should inform the six, rather than life inform all the days of the week is what he wants people to look into.

He explores God, parables and the nature of work. And suggests they should all come together. For every reader his text will prove vitally suggestive, it’s not so much a matter of God changing your work as finding’s God’s presence in your work. This a very ancient insight surely, though one we now neglect: laborate est orare, to work is to pray.


With Advent fast approach two new books will prove inspiring. Sacred Space for Advent and the Chrstians Season 2017-18 (Messenger Publications,) from the now well-known website of the Irish Jesuits. Also available now is Gospel Reflection for the Sundays of Year B: Mark by Donal Neary SJ (Messenger Publications, €9.95).

As summer fades away into autumn days, preparations for the Nativity come to the fore.  A previous book of a smaller kind was described “gentle musing that give fresh insights to the Biblical stories and texts”. Fr Neary’s fresh thoughts will enhance many Sundays to come.