Melbourne's legal profession gather for annual Red Mass 2022

Justice & Mercy: The Red Mass Explained

Book Reviews by Alice Woolven

December 2020

On Faith. Lessons from an American Believer, Antonin Scalia

Edited by Christopher J Scalia and Edward Whelan

Published 2019

I had heard about the great Antonin Scalia but it wasn’t until all the hoo-ha surround ACB’s nomination to the US Supreme Court that I thought I should probably know a little more about this man, his interpretation of the US Constitution, and why so many seemed to dislike him (and therefore ACB as well).

The first book to arrive was this one. It’s a collection of speeches, writings and reflections broken up into three themes; personal lessons from Christians, political lessons for believers, and public lessons for Americans. Far from dry, these insights from Scalia are incredibly engaging and make for rewarding and easy reading. The volume is far from a manual containing everything needed for a future process of canonisation, indeed the editors are at pains to present Scalia as a struggling pilgrim like the rest of us.

One of my favourite quotes from his speech on Faith and Work perfectly summarised his approach to his work as a Supreme Court justice;

‘Just as there is no Catholic way to cook a hamburger, so also there is no Catholic

way to interpret a text, analyze a historical tradition, or discern the meaning and

legitimacy of prior judicial decisions – except, of course, to do those things honestly

and perfectly.

Personal accounts from colleagues and family are intertwined throughout, making this book a real delight to peruse.


Cynical Theories: How universities made everything about race, gender and Identity – and why this harms everybody

Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay

Published 2020

If anyone has struggled to keep up with all the post-modern ism’s of the last twenty years (unless of course you have an Arts degree from Monash) this book will bring you up to speed on all the theories ranging from postcolonial, queer, intersectionality to disability and fat studies (who knew?!).

I recommend reading this with a glass of something fortifying because in between laughing out loud at the ridiculous conclusions of these theories, you’ll be hoping that they all die a quick death or at least return to the relative safety of being theories instead of (for many) a reality.

This book does a great job of intelligently explaining post modernism and the ways in which all the theories emanating from it fail to promote human flourishing. Although brief, the authors do offer a number of suggested personal and organisational approaches to counter the status quo.  

A Brief Introduction to prayer

Fr Cameron Forbes

Click here to download PDF