In search of a book for a loved one for Christmas? Turn to NR’s literary editor, Mike Potemra:
One of the most uplifting books you can give anyone is The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis — a book beloved of Christians of all denominations, and for good reason. Just looking through it again today, I was thinking, My life would be better if I remembered to read a couple of pages of this every day. It’s a distillation of pure wisdom, from the very first page onward: “What doth it avail thee to discourse profoundly of the Trinity if thou be void of humility, and consequently, displeasing to the Trinity? . . . If thou didst know the whole Bible by heart, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what would it all profit thee without the love of God and His grace?” About halfway through, there’s some great advice for people in politics and journalism: “Let not thy peace be in the tongues of men, for whether they put a good or bad construction on what thou dost thou art not for all that other than thou art.” This is “sticks and stones” — in a religious phrasing. I’m quoting from my own favorite version, an old translation called My Imitation of Christ, published by the Confraternity of the Precious Blood — it goes for $8.95 and fits in the pocket easily. There are also a number of modern-language translations available on Amazon, including one by Msgr. Ronald Knox.
We’re also fortunate to be living in a golden age of study Bibles; if you have friends who are interested in exploring Scripture, they might appreciate a gift of some of these great resources. The ESV Study Bible is conservative-Evangelical in orientation; The Lutheran Study Bible: English Standard Version also uses the recent word-for-word ESV translation; The NLT Study Bible uses a freer, thought-for-thought translation and has great notes. (Those looking for a good Catholic study Bible are not quite as well served as their Protestant brethren. The Catholic Study Bible from Oxford is nicely produced and has a lot of notes and explanatory material, but many conservative Catholics will find its approach too liberal. The Navarre Bible series is conservative in its scholarship but contains many volumes, and is expensive; the delightful Catholic apologist Scott Hahn has a study Bible coming out next year, but it will cover only the New Testament.)