June 2001By David Arias Jr.
Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling. By James W. Sire. InterVarsity Press. 263 pages. No price given..
All Christians, Sire maintains, are called by God to be intellectuals in accord with their abilities, circumstances, and states of life. That is, Christians, insofar as they are able, are called by God to think well about matters, especially ultimate matters, to the glory of God. Some Christians, however, are called in a particular way to the intellectual life. These Christian intellectuals are those whom God calls not only to spend their lives thinking well about matters for the glory of God but also for the sake of the intellectual well-being of their fellow Christians. In describing the intellectual vocation, Sire lists and explains some of the virtues and disciplines necessary for the intellectual life. He also discusses those tasks which uniquely belong to the Christian intellectual.
Although Sires work is helpful and interesting, it is too eclectic. Sire brings together many citations from intellectuals whom he respects and judges to be wise. The reader, barraged with variegated quotations, will likely put this book down feeling bewildered. For another work on the intellectual life which does not suffer from this impediment, the reader is invited to consult The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, and Methods by Fr. A.G. Sertillanges.
Joyce Kilmer: A Literary Biography. By John Covell. Write-Fit Communications. 163 pages. .
This work is both a significant contribution to the area of Kilmer research and an illuminating biography. It is, indeed, the first thorough biography of Joyce Kilmer. Covell does an excellent job in tightly weaving together his informative and detailed text with many selections from Kilmers poetry and other works, painting a portrait of Kilmer as a humorist, historian, playwright even, fisherman and ditch-digger but most importantly, a son, husband, and father and a Catholic. One might add that Kilmer was a Catholic whose love for the Blessed Sacrament was especially strong, so strong that it was wont to spill over into his conversations and writings.