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United States

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I blog about my Catholic faith, my prayer life, good books and good movies.

Book Review: United States of Jihad by Peter Bergen

Abigail Benjamin

Peter Bergen's "United States of Jihad: Investigating American's Homegrown Terrorists," is required reading under the Trump Presidency. The fear of terrorism has changed the national conversation on immigration from predominately Muslim Countries and the need for an increased military defense budget. Separate the fact from the fiction in this well-researched, compelling read about the true impact of terrorism on our modern world.

Book Review: Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking teh Secrets of the Last Supper

Abigail Benjamin

I'm a great lover of the Christian Passover Seder Meal. I make my eldest son put lamb's blood on our doorway. We dress up in sandals and tell the story of Moses to our children. I made a family Haggadah. My favorite part of the meal is when we pray "It would have been enough", or the dayenu, as we put the ten drops of wine (or grape juice) on our plates in thanksgiving for God's active role in our lives. When I celebrate the Seder with my family, I'm not pretending to be Jewish for a night. I'm celebrating the entire history fo my family. I link the Old Testament and the New Testament together. I provide context for the "Last Supper" on Holy Thursday.

"Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper," by Brant Pitre is an excellent read for Lent. Image Books has released a paperback edition with a new Study Guide and forward by Scott Hahn. Pitre explains that this book came out of a lecture he created for priests. This book doesn't read like a boring list of ancient Jewish customs. Instead, Pitre provides clear and relevant historical context to the sights, sounds, and materials of the Mass.

Before Easter Sunday give your mind and heart a boost by reading Pitre's words on such topics as "The Jewish Custom of Giving Wine to the Dying" and "You have to eat the lamb." This book would make a great family project to review with Middle School and High School students.  Why simply nag Young Adults to keep their faith in college. Instead, be a role model to show that the Catholic faith is a life-long pattern of learning deep theological, historical and sacred truth? 


The Moviegoer: Hidden Figures

Abigail Benjamin

This Martin Luther King, Jr Holiday take everyone you love to see "Hidden Figures" starring West Virginian heroine, Katherine Johnson, and two African-American Colleagues at NASA in 1961. This movie is the perfect antidote to all Presidential Election Stress from 2016. The film describes the segregation and sexism that all women faced as Math geniuses in vivid detail. The movie trailer highlights the indignity of segregated bathrooms. Even more chilling to my nine-year-old daughter was how none of the white men in an elite NASA room would share a coffee pot with Katherine Johnson. While working on the complex geometry that would allow the astronauts to safely reenter the earth's atmosphere, she had to drink coffee from her own ancient coffee maker marked "Colored."

The performances are even among all three female leads. In the way home from the movie, my daughters and I had a hard time deciding on our favorites. Kudos to the screenwriter for amazing, yet realistic sounding dialogue. This is a movie I want to see often, so I can memorize all the "drop the mike" lines these smart women used in ordinary microaggression moments to fight sexism and racism. Hidden Figures is history without the boredom, and the discovery of inspiring new role-models without the lecture. Enjoy! Let's go make our own spectular splashes on world history!