ON BEING HUMAN: Reflections on Life and Living by Fulton J. Sheen

ON BEING HUMAN: Reflections on Life and Living

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Newspaper columns, scads of thÉm (117) and none very distinguished, written by the late Bishop Sheen from 1949 to 1977. Sheen was intelligent, well-educated, a world traveler and, as his TV series proved, a gifted speaker. But he was also a well-oiled rhetorical machine, as opposed to a real writer, and so despite the subtitle these little essays don't have much life in them. Ranging over a broad gamut of subjects from psychoanalysis to the sexual revolution, from the A-bomb to the need for spanking, from a stout defense of chivalry toward women to a vehement protest against ""slobbering over the criminal,"" Sheen preaches a clear, coherent, and grimly unimaginative brand of Cold War Catholicism. The problem with pieces like ""Egotism--The Enemy of Inner Peace,"" ""Does Happiness Consist in Glory, Reputation, and Honors?,"" or ""Sweet Obedience"" is less their fiat conservatism than their steady impersonality. Sheen may be speaking from the heart, but you'd never know it. Sentence follows sentence in a steady drone (""Character building should not be based solely on the eradication of evil, for it should stress even more the cultivation of virtue"") as a very public man puts his dogmas and eternal ethical truths through their paces. It's a depressing spectacle, recommended only for diehard fans of Life Is Worth Living.

Pub Date: March 5th, 1982
Publisher: Doubleday