by Kevin Orlin Johnson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 1994
This primer on the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church provides useful information for the uninitiated but ultimately falls under the weight of the author's extreme bias in favor of his faith. Johnson, a former syndicated religion columnist, clearly loves the Catholic Church. He even points out that its name is a misnomer: It is ""the Church."" All other Christian denominations are simply sects, in need of names to differentiate them from the Church. Though seemingly partisan, this is just one of the interesting facts that emerge here for those not schooled in Catholic dogma and custom. The first section, ""Faith,"" deals with Church doctrine. Topics include traditions, the biblical canon, and the place of the Hebrew scriptures. The author also discusses how the Church legislates and why it can't simply change doctrine ""as Protestant denominations do"" on issues such as birth control (Christianity is a revealed religion, he says, and ""has to stick with precisely what was revealed, never to after it""). The ""Worship"" section includes an explanation of liturgy and the mass, as well as discussions of the sacraments, the Church calendar, funerals, and rosary beads. ""Culture"" treats the polity of the institution, monasticism, the role of saints, and supposed miracles such as weeping Madonnas and the Shroud of Turin. The final chapter, ""Customs,"" rounds up diverse expressions of devotion, including church music, the sign of the cross, incense, and holy relics. An ""ask-your-local-library"" postscript provides an annotated bibliography for those who want to explore further. This reverential volume has received the authorized imprimatur of the Catholic Church. So, although Johnson declares, ""If the idea of Christianity is to embrace the teachings of Christ, you have an infinite range of choices of how to express that faith,"" the rest of the book will lead readers to believe he doesn't mean it.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994
Page Count: 304
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1994
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