June 15, 2008

Book Review: Marriage Secrets of the Catholic Church

Beginning Your Marriage: Ninth Edition by John L. Thomas, SJ, and revised by Joan McGuinness Wagner (ACTA Publications, 2002, ISBN 0-915388-24-3).

This book was written by: John L. Thomas, a Jesuit priest--widely regarded as the most qualified, authoritative profession in the field of marital experience--and it was revised by Joan McGuinness Wagner, former president of the national association of Catholic family life ministries.

What is in this book: An update of the original Beginning Your Marriage, which "was written years ago"(p.7). Pains have been taken to use more modern references and analogies. For example, "If you are truly in love, your love for each other will want to burst out of your relationship, like new wine in old wineskins, and overflow to all around you"(p.118). It also draws from recently released movies like City Slickers to share wisdom like Billy Crystal's character's view on adultery (p.27-28), because if there's anyone who can eloquently express the Catholic Church's feelings about the sanctity of marriage, it's a Hollywood Jew reading a film script.

What is not in this book: An endorsement of anti-Catholic frippery or other such nonsense. Billy Crystal's efforts notwithstanding, "the mockery of marriage made by Hollywood is pervasive"(p.32). It also has stern words for couples who are living together as "the most convenient way of having sex before marriage. They simply can't wait, even though they know that what they are doing is wrong"(p.43).

Would you recommend this book to Angelina Jolie? No, I would recommend she write her own book, Ending Someone Else's Marriage.

Would you recommend this book to Cole Porter? Yes, because I'm dying to work in a joke about "Beginning the Beguine."

What was interesting about this book: The way in which the Catholic viewpoint is consistently worked into all of the issues experienced in marriage. For example, couples are reminded that natural family planning "is natural, highly effective, inexpensive and medically safe"(p.99). And when it comes to tithing to the church, "It has been said, 'Give as if your marriage depends on it.' It does" (p.118).

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June 1, 2008

Book Review: Remember Me?

The Memory Key: Unlock the Secrets to Remembering by Dr. Fiona McPherson (Career Press, 2000, ISBN 1-56414-470-4)

This book was written by: Dr. Fiona McPherson, who "has three degrees, all in psychology"(back cover). The back cover also states that Dr. McPherson suffered from postnatal memory loss which, according to her memory-loss website, "is a facetious rather than clinical diagnosis, although no less real for that." She is also an author of works of fiction, and reviews books at her author's website, www.fmmcpherson.com.

What is in this book: Ways to improve your memory so that you can become more successful and avoid embarassing social situations. Her exercises can help you when "you see a person you know--you remember that she belongs to your tennis club--but you cannot remember her name"(p.31). These exercises can also help you when you need assistance at other times, like when you have to remember the name of your chauffeur, broker, spouse, or child.

What is not in this book: Perfectionism. "Don't aim to remember everything. Focus on remembering what is important"(p.193). Although most memory-improvement strategies work, "very few people want to put an effort into making them work. That's not laziness, that's an appreciation of costs versus benefits"(p.10). This book can also help you realize that "you may be poor at remembering people's names, but perhaps you don't really care"(p.12). This book will help you "get into the habit (develop the skill) of asking yourself: Is this worth remembering? When you're reading the paper--"Do I want to remember this?" When your partner tells you something--"Do I need to remember this?" When you meet a new person--"Do I want to remember this person?""(p.193). Following the instructions laid out in this book will give you a better memory in no time, you uncaring bastard.

Would you recommend this book to stouthearted young men of fighting age from the year 1898? No, such men would do better to remember the Maine.

Would you recommend to someone suffering from memory loss? I'm sorry, what was the question again?

What was interesting about this book: Two things. First, the way that Dr. McPherson describes memory codes(p.77):

The memories in your head dance.
The codes in the spotlight do not therefore have to be sitting together in the theatre. Imagine them instead in a ballroom. The codes waltz around the dance floor. Here two couples are dancing close together, there two couples change partners. The spotlight moves, its very action bringing about changes in the dancers. "Quick," they say, hurrying over to get in the spotlight. In response to the dancers, the spotlight too changes. It thinks, "Oh, look at that arrangement," and it grows larger, more diffuse, to catch it all.

Also of interest are the suggested exercises to improve your memory, like trying to make up a story using items from a list you're trying to memorize. For example (p.70):
Here is a brief story to help memorize a shopping list of ten items (the items are capitalized): "the BREAD is full of JUICE. I will MILK it and wash the PAPER TOWEL off, then FISH for CORN, CHIP it into BEANS and STOCK up on ORANGES."

Although I tried to use this method to bring home some JUICY steaks for dinner, my ASSignment was a failure. I put a LARGE amount of effort into crafting a story, but came home with six pounds of chicken BREASTS.

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