Making Ignatian spirituality accessible

Boston College alumnus Joe Laramie, S.J., a priest and experienced retreat leader and spiritual director, offers accessible wisdom from the foundations of Jesuit spirituality in his new book Abide in the Heart of Christ (Ave Maria Press, 2019). Using St. Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises as a guide, Fr. Laramie helps readers make a 10-day personal retreat in the midst of a busy daily life. He combines the writings of St. Ignatius, Gospel passages, and personal stories to help readers “know Christ more, love him more, and serve him more.” Fr. Laramie is a campus minister at Saint Louis University. He has guided many people, from college students and priests to prisoners and first responders, through the Spiritual Exercises. Listen to Fr. Laramie discuss the book in an “Off the Shelf” interview from the Catholic podcast network, Breadbox Media.

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Ethics of Encounter

In his new book, Boston College alumnus Marcus Mescher presents an ethical framework for building what Pope Francis has called a “culture of encounter.” The Ethics of Encounter: Christian Neighbor Love as a Practice of Solidarity (Orbis Books, 2020) looks at this culture of encounter within an American context marked by rising individualism, racial tensions, class segregation, hyperpartisanship, and echo chambers online. Mescher, who earned his doctorate from Boston College, is an assistant professor of Christian ethics at Xavier University.

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Clementine Churchill

Bestselling author Marie Benedict likes to focus her books on the lives of women whose stories have been overlooked or underappreciated. Her latest book, Lady Clementine (Sourcebooks Landmark, 2020), looks at Clementine Churchill, the influential wife of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who refused to surrender to expectations or to enemies. Benedict is a Boston College graduate and author of several books, including The Only Woman in the Room, a novel about Hedy Lamarr that was chosen as a Barnes & Noble Book Club selection. Read more in a Q&A with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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Lincoln’s Second Inauguration

Award-winning writer and Boston College alumnus Edward Achorn focuses on a critical conjuncture in American history in his new book, Every Drop of Blood: The Momentous Second Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln (Atlantic Monthly Press/Grove Atlantic, 2020). He depicts the various characters, from wounded Union colonel Selden Connor to Walt Whitman, Clara Barton, and Frederick Douglass, who converge on the nation’s capital for Lincoln’s second inauguration and heard “perhaps the greatest inaugural address” in the country’s history. In a 701-word speech, Lincoln that said that both the North and South had been wrong, and that the Civil War’s unimaginable horrors―every drop of blood spilled―might well have been God’s just verdict on the national sin of slavery. Achorn is a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Distinguished Commentary and the editorial pages editor of The Providence Journal. His previous books are Fifty-Nine in ’84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had and The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America’s Game. Read more in The Economist

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A refugee’s story of coming to America

Abdi Nor Iftin survived a childhood in war-torn Mogadishu, Somalia, was threatened by terrorists, and spent years as a refugee in Kenya. He chronicled his journey from violence and trauma to freedom in the United States in his memoir, Call Me American (Vintage/Penguin Random House, 2018). He’s now a student in the Woods College of Advancing Studies and recently became a U.S. citizen. Read an interview with Iftin in The Boston College Chronicle.

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A historical look at a case of violence

A new book by Boston College Associate Professor of History Sylvia Sellers-García opens with a disturbing account of events that occurred one morning in Guatemala City in the summer of 1800. A surveyor and mapmaker opens his study window to find a pair of severed breasts resting on a lily pad on his windowsill. In The Woman on the Windowsill: A Tale of Mystery in Several Parts (Yale University Press, 2020), Sellers-García not only offers an engaging criminal case study, but also traces how this event became a watershed moment in Guatemalan history that radically changed the nature of justice and the established social order. According to Sellers-García, this case increased attention to crime that resulted in more forceful policing and reflected important policy decisions not only in Guatemala but across Latin America.

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Mae Ngai

Historian Mae M. Ngai, who studies questions of immigration, citizenship, and nationalism, will present “The Chinese Question, the Gold Rushes and Global Politics” — the focus of her forthcoming book — on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. in Gasson Hall, room 100. Ngai is the author of The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America and the award-winning Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America. Ngai has written for the Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times, among other outlets. Her upcoming book is a study of Chinese gold miners and racial politics in 19th-century California, Australia, and South Africa. Ngai is the Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies and Professor of History at Columbia University. Ngai’s appearance is presented by the Lowell Humanities Series and co-sponsored by the History Department.

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