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CHURCH CHAT

BY

TOM SMITH

Number 112, August 7, 2015

What Are You Reading?

 

We chat about many things. Even when we narrow the topic to “Church”, there remains a wide variety of appealing topics. Sometimes our church chat revolves around what we are reading: books, articles, on-line items, or even bulletin announcements.

Here are three churchy books I have read and chatted about recently. I recommend all three, though they are not related. They are all available through Amazon.

  1. I just finished Whistle: Tom Doyle's Steadfast Witness for Victims of Clerical Sexual Abuse by Robert Blair Kaiser who died this past Holy Thursday after a distinguished long-term career advocating for progressive causes within the Church.

    The book follows the life of Fr. Thomas Doyle, the renowned canon lawyer who continues to champion the rights and dignity of clerical sexual abuse victims. His consistent message is that the victims themselves are the courageous heroes of this centuries old debacle when they speak out and share their truth.

    To those of you who feel you have heard enough about clerical sex abuse and the cover-up by our hierarchy, I still suggest you read this book. It is a jack-hammer, relentless chronology of a sordid reality infesting the core of the institutional church, and it will add some insider details you probably don't know. In particular, Whistle will expose the tactics and mind-set of the bishops and popes who denied and deliberately blocked any attempt to seek justice for victims and honesty from our institutional church.

    There is also more focus than I have seen before on the role that diocesan lawyers played in this whole squalid mess. Another highlighted dimension: the frightened leaders of the “treatment centers” to whom the bishops sent their pedophile priests warned the pope and hierarchy early on that the “treatment” wasn't working. The bishops and popes ignored the warnings.

    Whistle is a must-read in the same way that Elie Wiesel is a must-read for anyone serious, or even curious, about the Holocaust. And for the same reason: we must never forget. Or think that it is over –especially the culture that spawned the cover-up.


  2. Jesus Christ, Peacemaker: A New Theology of Peace by Terence Rynne introduces us to a side of Jesus that many of us missed. Far from the common notion that Jesus avoided the political and social turmoil of first century Israel, Rynne demonstrates that Jesus was deeply involved in the seething unrest of his times and culture. Jesus' commitment to non-violence is complete, even as he firmly and boldly confronts tangible evil.

    This excellent, solidly researched but reader-friendly book, clarifies the profound nature of Jesus' peacemaking mission. In particular, he emphasizes the public dimension of the peace-creating core of Jesus' life and message. He demonstrates how the Jesus approach has real, practical results in current and recent world conflicts, outlining its effectiveness on the large scale in India, South Africa, Poland, Philippines, and, in the USA, with Martin Luther King. Rynne has contributed a valuable piece to Christian thinking, and the appendix demonstrates applicability on many levels in our real world.

    He has expanded peace from the necessary but cozy confines of our own hearts and put it in the non-violent streets of change.

    The non-violent, peacemaking mission of Jesus has been co-opted and sanitized by the just war theory. Rynne points out that some of the principles, and some actions following those principles, may be “reasonable” in some circumstances, but don't claim those principles and actions are Christian. The church's accommodation to those principles is a rejection of the Jesus message and his demonstrated life and death. A steadfast commitment to non-violence is the only way to gospel integrity. Just war is a path to more war, even when it may halt a current bloody conflict. It is not a path to the gospel.


  3. My third recommended book is a change-up, and I mean that literally, in the baseball sense. Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game by John Sexton, the President of New York University, is a passionate analysis of the game and a lighthearted but serious insistence that baseball parallels and even leads to experiences that accompany our spiritual journey.

    Regardless of your faith perspective or the depth of your spiritual life, this book introduces two seemingly different experiences (baseball and spirituality) and invites you to look more closely in the hope that you will see and feel some convergence between them. Hold baseball in your left hand and your spiritual life in your right hand for nine innings (chapters in the book) and then, after the game, see if your right and left hands are joined.

    My guess is that you will accept and delight in that co-mingling.

In any case, read away! And chat about it.



2015 Essays
What Are You Reading - Church Chat #112, August 7, 2015
Hitler - Church Chat #109, April 17, 2015
A Church for the Poor - Church Chat #108, April 2, 2015
Ferguson - Church Chat #107, March 16, 2015
The Big Umbrella - Church Chat #106, February 9, 2015
The Book - Church Chat #105, January 20, 2015

2014 Essays
Story versus System - Church Chat #104, April 5, 2014
Bishop Schneider's Dilemna - Church Chat #103, March 18, 2014
Bishop Schneider's Priests - Church Chat #102, February 12, 2014
Meet Bishop Schneider - Church Chat #101, January 26, 2014
Step by Step - Church Chat #100, January 7, 2014

2013 Essays
A Christmas Wish - Church Chat #99, December 23, 2013
Survey - Church Chat #97, November 16, 2013
Church and Politics - Church Chat #95, October 11, 2013
Creed, Code, Cult - Church Chat #92, August 18, 2013
Rio Repeated - Church Chat #91, July 30, 2013
The Pope Francis Fan Club - Church Chat #90, July 12, 2013
A Priest Forever - Church Chat #89, June 21, 2013
People of Good Will - Church Chat #88, May 30, 2013
Urgency - Church Chat #87, May 6, 2013
Trickledown Papacy - Church Chat #86, April 16, 2013
Selection of a Pope - Church Chat #84, March 10, 2013
If I Only Knew Then - Church Chat #82, February 4, 2013
Suicide - Church Chat #81, January 16, 2013

2012 Essays
'TIS NOT THE SEASON - Church Chat 80, December 17, 2012
Lunch - Church Chat 79, November 17, 2012
Revolution - Church Chat 78, October 29, 2012
Democracy - Church Chat 77, October 15, 2012
Religious Liberty - Church Chat 76, September 28, 2012
www.iamfrrowe.org - Church Chat 74, August 20, 2012
Feelings - Church Chat 72, July 10, 2012
Conscience - Church Chat 71, June 16, 2012
The Butler Did Not Do It - Church Chat 70, June 2, 2012
The Vatican Catholic Church - Church Chat 69, May 17, 2012
Schism - Church Chat 67, April 25, 2012
Fear - Church Chat 67, April 16, 2012
Holy Week - Church Chat 66, April 5, 2012
Church, Inc. - Church Chat 64, March 1, 2012
Loyalty to ? - Church Chat, February 16, 2012
The New World - Church Chat #62, February 6, 2012
Big Stuff, Little Stuff - Church Chat #60, January 20, 2012

2011 Essays
Resolutions - Church Chat of December 29, 2011
New Liturgy Christmas - Church Chat of December 12, 2011
Doctrine versus Mission - Church Chat of November 25, 2011
The Diocese of Penn State - Church Chat of November 15, 2011
The Episcopal Woodshed - Church Chat of October 29, 2011
The Global South Model for All Catholicism? - Church Chat of October 18, 2011
Prophets With a Smile - Church Chat of October 4, 2011
Choices - Church Chat of September 20, 2011
There's Gotta Be More - Church Chat of September 5, 2011
Gaps - Church Chat of August 7, 2011

2010 Essays
What If It's Narcissism? - Church Chat of November 24, 2010

 

 

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