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Why Be Catholic?: Understanding Our Experience and Tradition

by Richard Rohr, Joseph Martos

Buy the book: Richard Rohr. Why Be Catholic?: Understanding Our Experience and Tradition

Release Date: January, 1990

Edition: Paperback


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Buy the book: Richard Rohr. Why Be Catholic?: Understanding Our Experience and Tradition


This book has the element of the unexpected. For example, "At bottom the Catholic tradition is in touch with the goodness of the world and the joyfulness of life" (p. 6). The authors paint Catholicism as altogether too optimistic and care-free and try to support that using a contrast with Puritans. This is an intellectual slight of hand, rather than a sound intellectual argument. Puritans arouse against what they saw as corruption of the Church as it really existed at the time of Renaissance, not against the universal Christian tradition as it should exist. The Bible is very pessimistic about human nature and the New Testament is also pessimistic about life on earth in general, seeking salvation in the world Beyond. To continue this theme of the unexpected, the authors turn decidedly Nietzschean in their historical criticism on page 41, when they discuss Christianization of Germanic peoples: "They were, as the Romans called them, barbarians. They were crude and illiterate. They were wild and uncivilized. They were often at war with one another. Christianity tamed their barbaric instincts." But immediately following this, the authors become true believers: "It gave them a higher standard of morality. It gave them a deeper purpose and a broader vision."

Half way through, the book begins to wear on, warily reaching the end. It does not present a compelling argument for being or not being a Catholic. It just tells you somewhat haphazardly what Catholicism is about and presents questions at the end of each chapter for your consideration. This book is not like other books about Catholicism, so it is worth taking a look at.

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An Honest Look at Catholicism...

I was impressed by the way this book looks honestly at both the postive aspects of being Catholic and the "shadow" side. Reading it reinforced for me all the good reasons to be Catholic, reaffirming for me my decision to profess my faith in the Catholic Church some years ago. I am presently serving as Coordinator of Catholic Campus Ministry in a small university, and often have students (both Catholic and non) that have questions about the Catholic faith. I plan to have several copies of this book on hand to loan them. I will highly recommend it to those thinking of leaving their Catholic faith!

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