Where The Rubber Hits the Road recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Colin Kerr, PhD (theology) on his recent project, The Catholic Review of Books. It is a high gloss publication published from his home office in Barry’s Bay and stands as another tremendous resource emanating from the dynamic Catholic community built around Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy where he worked as a professor until 2011.
WTRHTR: What inspired you to start the CBR?
I have long thought about this. I never thought I would be able to bring something like this to fruition. I didn’t know anything about printing and had no money. But I wanted to share my love of books. Books had done so much for me; I thought they could do things just as ideal for others. Books taught me about Jesus and His Church and the world that God has always been a part of. They fed and directed my questioning. Books by Plato and Tolstoy got me thinking about the bigger questions of life when I was in high school. Books brought me into the Catholic Church when I was just seventeen years old. And it was books like Augustine’s Confessions, The Little Flowers of St. Francis, and St. Gregory’s Life of St. Benedict that started to make me thirst for holiness. In time I came to see that God could not be figured out, but that the whole mystery of life was meant to lead us to Him. The whole world is about God and literature has a privileged place in that. Literature is the record of the world’s greatest minds and hearts thinking about the bigger picture. I wanted to share this insight with others, that it could be a blessing to them as it was for me. Now, so many years later, I have a PhD in theology and think that I have a duty to share what I’ve learned with others.
WTRHTR: How do you see the CRB as an example of lay ecclesial leadership/involvement in the model of Pope Francis?
My papal model is Pope Benedict. He loves truth for its own sake, and so do I. He realised that all truth is from and can draw us back to Christ. His life is proof to me that bookworms have a role to play in the Church too. However, I have had to learn the hard way that lay leadership in the Church is not a given and is not all that it’s cracked up to be. You have to find your path, not presume that there is any slot prepared for you to fit into. Pope Francis gives some credibility to this. Everything in the Church doesn’t have to be clerical. “Being in the Church” means being the way God wants you to be a Christian. Pope Francis has certainly wanted us to learn this.
WTRHTR: How do you get the reviews that are published in the CRB?
So far, I am the author of far too many of them! I love writing, but I don’t want the Review to be about me, but, as I said, the “perspectives of Catholics.” Besides those written by me, some old friends, some new friends that I made precisely through the magazine itself, and people who have only just heard of it and reached out to me, have shared their love of books in our pages. I have had scholars write reviews, stay-at-home moms, grandmas, journalists, authors and students write reviews. So far writers from Canada, the US and England have had reviews published in the CRB. I am always looking for contributions! I have only two requirements in a prospective author: they are Catholic in the broadest sense of the word and love books. You don’t have to be primarily intellectual or schooled. We talk about every kind of books – Catholic classics, new Catholic books, world literature, fiction, non-fiction, books for teens and kids. Any one, any one at all, interested in sharing their love of a certain book, series, or author should send me an email!
WTRHTR: How does one go about obtaining a subscription and what does it cost?
You can get a subscription by going to our website: www.catholicreviewofbooks.com/subscribe. You can subscribe online, or you can mail me, or you can email me. It costs $40 for a year’s subscription (4 issues). I am hoping that the Review will become available in Catholic bookstore – please ask your favourite one to start carrying it!