Recent Acquisitions

Ancient Iraq by Georges Roux, Third Edition
I've been working my way slowly through Lawrence Boadt's excellent Reading the Old Testament:  An Introduction.  It's the kind of book that needs to be read with other books:  the Bible, of course, but also other works on the ancient Near East, like Seton Lloyd's The Archaeology of Mesopotamia and The Oxford Bible Atlas.  Consulting Roux's Ancient Iraq, I noticed its 1964 pub. date and wondered if it had ever been revised.  It had been, twice!  I ordered the third, 1992 edition, a Penguin paperback.  Alas, it is missing the color plates of the first edition, so I will keep my 1964 World Publishing hardback.

Light of the World:  The Pope, The Church, and the Signs of the Times:  A Conversation with Peter Seewald, by Pope Benedict XVI
Seewald is a German journalist whose two previous book-length interviews, with then Cardinal Ratzinger, were published as Salt of the Earth (1997) and God and the World (2002).  If you have been keeping up with Pope Benedict's speeches and writings, you will not find any surprises here, but it is a pleasure to see him unwind in an informal setting.

What I'm waiting for is the sequel to Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus of Nazareth: Part Two, Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection, is due out in March from Ignatius Press.

Meditations on the Tarot:  A Journey into Christian Hermeticism, Anonymous, Afterword by Cardinal Hans Urs Von Balthasar
Long-time readers of this web log will know something of my history with the Tarot.  Honestly, it surprises me to have these cards reappear in my life unbidden.  Well, all right, I wrote the post about my car wreck in 1977.  That was what started it.

Still, early Tarot decks had Christian qualities that were altered in English versions influenced by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and those that followed.  The fifth of the twenty-two major trump cards, for example, was renamed in the Waite-Coleman deck, and in decks that followed, from "The Pope" to "The Heirophant."

Meditations on the Tarot is translated from the original French, and derives from the French school of occultism, as did the first book I ever read about the Tarot as a teenager, The Tarot - A Contemporary Course on the Quintessence of Hermetic Occultism, by Mouni Sadhu, (Mieczyslaw Demetriusz Sudowski).  I was interested to learn that Sudowski asked Thomas Merton to write a forward to his 1965 work, Theurgy, (Merton declined), and remained a faithful Catholic until his death in 1971.

Meditations on the Tarot is notable for its approving blurbs by several authorities on contemplative prayer, Fathers Bede Griffiths, Basil Pennington and Thomas Keating, and by a cardinal of the Church, the theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar.  Thomas Keating says, "This book, in my view, is the greatest contribution to date toward the rediscovery and renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition of the Fathers of the Church and the High Middle Ages."

So I will give it a chance.  What I know is that no private pursuit of hidden knowledge can take the place of a personal relationship with God.  He wants to know us and to be known by us.  We must not hold Him at arm's length with the idea that He is hidden behind a veil.  That veil was rent by the power of the Cross.

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