Monday, February 25, 2013

Catholic Monday: Rebuilding Catholic Culture

Today on Catholic Monday I am reviewing, the book Rebuilding Catholic Culture: How the Catechism Can Shape our Common Life. This book is published by Sophia Institute Press, which is the publishing arm of Thomas More College and Holy Spirit College. "Rebuilding Catholic Culture" is like all their books I've read so far. They are dense and require you to focus and read slowly, which isn't a bad thing.

Using different sections of the Catechism, Dr. Topping divides his chapters into topics such as the Creed, Sacraments, and Prayer. He then explains how these topics shaped the world once, with the hope and possibility that they will again. Each chapter also eloquently and seamlessly serves as a stepping stone to lead you to the next chapter. At first glance in the Table of Contents, one might thinks this book is just a series of essays under a common theme. Instead, it is a carefully woven tapestry that provides a fuller picture the further you read.

The book also references Vatican II heavily, which isn't shocking as the Catechism was a direct result of Vatican II.  As pointed out by the author, one can see the previous influence of Catholic culture in our artwork and architecture, and even in our literature with works such as "The Lord of the Rings." However, the most interesting chapter to me concerned the family. It was both fascinating and depressing to see how far society has fallen. The traditional family is now anything but, as we have modern families with step-parents, two moms or two dads, or families where the parents aren't even married at all. Blessed John Paul II wrote and spoke openly about love and the functions of family life including service to society and, more importantly, service to the Church.

When I received this book, I thought I was getting a book which would go through the Catechism section by section and provide me with step-by step instructions on how to change the culture. Instead, I got a book that shows what the culture was like and how the Catechism and Church could shape it, if we only allow it to do so. I'm therefore having a hard time rating this book and waffled on giving it a 4 or a 5. The book is magnificently written and claims to be accessible. Yet it is a challenging read, which has the possibility to frustrate the average reader. However, I do like that the message is presented in a hopeful light, and not doom and gloom. For that reason, I am deciding upon a 5 with a caveat that the reader pace themselves while reading this book and don't try and chew it up and digest it all at once.