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A Heart on Fire: Catholic Witness and the Next America

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted July 20, 2012

    Telling it like it is

    Once again Archbishop Chaput puts forth the info needed for Christians to understand that values trump politics first and foremost. I am a Catholic first and a political party supporter second. Their values are not necessarily my values as a Catholic.

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  • Posted April 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Over the years Archbishop Chaput has become one of the most arde

    Over the years Archbishop Chaput has become one of the most ardent and prominent Catholic voices in matters that concern the role that religion plays in the public life of the American republic. His book Render Unto Caesar is one of the definitive contemporary views on such topics. Even though Archbishop Chaput obviously comes from a Catholic theological and intellectual tradition, his views are ecumenical and appeal to the widest cross-section of people interested in the proper relationship between religious and political spheres.

    Since Render Unto Caesar came out, there have been many troubling social and political developments that land special urgency to the renewed defense of religious freedom in the United States. Several states have enacted restrictions on the freedom of Catholic (and other) child adoption agencies, the federal government has tried (fortunately unsuccessfully) to have the final say in the employment decisions of the religious institutions, and most recently the same federal government has been embattled with the Catholic Church in matters concerning the freedom of Catholic institutions to use the health care plans of their choice.

    As in most of his writing, Archbishop Chaput does not aim to just focus on any particular incident in his overall analysis. He offers his own insights based as much on the religious considerations as on the cultural history of America. The opening lines of A Heart on Fire are a quotation from Herman Melville Truth is like a threshing machine; tender sensibilities must keep out of the way. Archbishop Chaput is certainly not afraid of hurting tender sensibilities, but both in terms of the message and the style of writing he is eminently sensible and erudite. This short e-book presents some of his most ardent and eloquent appeals for a continuing witness of the religiously minded groups and individuals in the defense and promotion of their convictions in public. We live in challenging times, but it is exactly those challenges that can strengthen our own faith. I hope and pray that many of us will be able to rise to the occasion.

    The only issue that I have with this Kindle ebook is its size. It is a very short document to begin with, on par with a longish magazine article. Additionally, the first chapter of archbishop Chaputs book Render Unto Caesar takes up about a third of the e-book. That larger book, published in 2008, is indeed eminently relevant to the discussion at hand, and it helps frame these current issues within the larger narrative. However, you are already able to read the first chapter of that book for free on your Kindle, so there is no extra value added by including it in this shorter e-book. I would have much preferred if this extra space were taken up by the further elaboration of the new insights and arguments that make A Heart on Fire such a relevant and timely document.

    Another book that I would recommend if you are interested in exploring issues of religion and politics form a philosophical/legal perspective is Francis Beckwiths Politics for Christians. It is a probing and intellectually demanding book, but in my opinion it is one of the best recent resources on this subject.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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