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Flinn's (religious studies, Washington Univ.) entry in the publisher's world religions series succeeds admirably in presenting Catholicism and its tenets to a general audience. Easy to read and to comprehend and written in accessible, nontechnical language, the work is made up of more than 700 A-to-Z entries detailing the theology, events, persons, doctrines, and movements that have shaped Catholic religion throughout its nearly 2000-year existence. Entries come with ample cross references and suggestions for further reading. A comprehensive index, a chronology, and a brief introduction to Catholicism help to instruct and aid in further reading. Flinn manages to explore both basic concepts (e.g., the Bible, God, the patron saints) and more controversial issues (e.g., abortion, pedophilia, anti-Semitism) with clarity and objectivity. Although he discusses many social and religious issues, the volume lacks any mention of homosexuality and the church, an interesting omission. Some 80 black-and-white illustrations complete the text.
—Amanda K. Sprochi