Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truthby Richard John Neuhaus
In Catholic Matters, Father Richard John Neuhaus addresses the many controversies that have marked recent decades of American Catholicism. Looking beyond these troubles to "the splendor of truth" by which the Catholic Church is constituted, he proposes a vibrant, forward-thinking way of being Catholic in America. Drawing on his personal encounters with the late John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, Father Neuhaus describes their hope for a springtime of world evangelization, Christian unity and Catholic renewal. Catholic Matters shows a vibrant Church-one strengthened and unified by hardship-that may be on the cusp of a great revival in her spiritual vitality and poised to make an even greater contribution to our common life.
About the Author:
Richard John Neuhaus a priest of the Archdiocese of New York
The New York Times
- Basic Books
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- 5.84(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.01(d)
Meet the Author
Richard John Neuhaus is acclaimed as one of the foremost authorities on religion in the contemporary world and is President of the Institute on Religion and Public Life. He is the editor-in-chief of the Institute's monthly publication First Things. He is the author of many books, including Freedom for Ministry, The Naked Public Square, The Catholic Movement, Believing Today, Death on a Friday Afternoon, and As I Lay Dying. A priest of the Archdiocese of New York, he lives in Manhattan.
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This is an excellent book. It gives one hope for the future of the Church, and is a unique view from someone who spent 30 years as a Lutheran Pastor and theologian, and who is obviously brilliant.
I started reading this book with a biased attitude, expecting a didactic, mildly pompous defense of traditional Catholic values. By the time I finished, I had gained new perspectives on my Catholic faith and the challenges that the Catholic Church is facing from within and without in an increasingly complicated and technological society.
Father Neuhaus threw me a life preserver in this book. I often feel like I am under seige by Protestants and 'fallen' Catholics who angrily demand that I answer questions about my faith. People clearly want to believe in some pure, solid good, but our culture has become so 'inclusive' that it lacks any real teeth. A clear, black & white approach to the most meaningful moral issues is something that few public leaders are willing to embrace. Father Neuhaus is unafraid, and elegant in his description of those hard line issues. I appreciate the way that the Church invites the faithful to debate and argue over the tenets of our faith. It has made me stronger and deepened my spiritual life into my middle-life. My family has a happy and fulfilled life because of the Church. The author paints that receptive nature of the Church into the background of his book. I especially appreciated the way that Father Neuhaus provides the written and spoken sources of the Church's doctrine. (I also enjoyed the dry humor with which he observes Americans.) I am a 'cradle Catholic,' and though I understand what our Church is about, I can't always cite the source of our beliefs to those who demand answers of me. Someone who chose, as an adult, to become a Catholic, is often better equipped to cite reasons for our beliefs and sources of our doctrine, the Deposit of Faith. Now I can too. I am grateful. Highly recommended to those of us rusty on our Catechism, and to Christians of all denominations who want to understand the origins of all Christian faith.
I am a regular reader of the magazine "First Things" of which Fr. Neuhaus is editor in chief, so I've been looking forward to reading this book, and by and large, I've been more than satisfied with it. Fr. Neuhaus is a great master of the English language and the book is written in the same flowing and articulate style that we've come to expect from him. Many of the themes from his writings for the "First Things" have been repeated in this book, often substantially elaborated upon and expanded. I find particularly insightful and informative parts of the books that deal with his own experiences, of "becoming the Catholic [he] was" (to use the title of one of the chapters) and being present in Rome during the April of 2005, during the funeral of Pope John Paul II (the Great), and election of Pope Benedict XVI. I wish, however, that Fr. Neuhaus spent more time on exact details of his conversion. Those seem to be swept under the rug of theology. I would also like to know how exactly did he decide to become not only Catholic, but a Catholic priest. On the surface of it that would seem a logical progression for someone who spent thirty years as a Lutheran pastor, but I would still want to know more about his perception of what that vocation meant for him. Other objections that I have to the book have to do with two of Fr. Neuhaus's pet peeves: English translations of the Bible, and woeful state of singing in Catholic Church. The reason I became a Christian and a Catholic is very simple: I read the Bible. I read a very old translation into Serbian language, and yet all the main ideas that I came to associate with Christianity were very clear. I believe that it would be very hard for any translation to substantially alter the basic meaning of the Christian message. Of course, translations should be as accurate as possible, but I think it does little good to agonize over how a particular word was used here or there. As for singing, I consider myself particularly challenged in that regard. I often say, only half jokingly, that I became Catholic because that was the only church that wouldn't kick me out because of my singing. I think it's actually a blessing that Catholics can't sing, because most people can't sing either. And if there is one thing that Fr. Neuhaus is so fond of saying is that Catholic Church is 'Here Comes Everybody'. Let's keep it that way. If this review comes across as overly critical, that's because I believe that other reviews have been very good at spelling out this book's good points. I still consider this to be a wonderful book for anyone interested in all things Catholic, and a very worthwhile read. We need more Catholics and writers like Fr. Neuhaus.
Comes out of a very traditional stuctured theology that leaves out the very heart and arms of the Church!