Monday, April 22, 2013

Catholic Monday: At the Heart of the Gospel

It's Monday again, and I'm getting a strange feeling of déjà vu. I get told by many people that I run a very niche blog, and if you've reviewed one Catholic book, you've reviewed them all. I realize how it can seem that way to the outsider. I do try to combat that by reading books from different authors and different publishers that deal with different facets of Catholicism. However, it's Monday and I am reviewing ANOTHER book about Theology of the Body written by Christopher West and published by Image Catholic Books...hence, my déjà vu. (See this post.)

At the Heart of the Gospel is the second Christopher West book I have read in as many months. I say this not to brag, but as a point of reference. The first one I read was Fill These Hearts, which left me with mixed feelings. Everything I expected and wanted from "Fill These Hearts" was found in "At the Heart of the Gospel." Mr. West's audience for this book is anyone who is involved with the New Evangelization, in hopes that they/we will use the message of Theology of the Body (TOB) to reach out to those who are "sexually broken" and in need of healing.

Despite this book being only 7 chapters, it is a very dense read. Each chapter is between twenty and forty pages long and therefore makes you read slowly. If you try to rush through it, you will miss a great deal, so pace yourself. I normally don't appreciate lengthy chapters  in books, as they tend to drone on, but it felt necessary in this book. Mr. West laid out a remarkable history of how our culture became "sexually broken" and what we as a Church must do to fix it and redeem the body.

The chapter which clicked most with me was "The Narrow Gate Between Idolatry and Iconoclasm." I have a great love for icons, and if if you love icons like I do, you know that they are more than just pretty pictures. They are prayers and windows into Heaven, which reveal theological truths to us. Mr. West uses the history of icons, idolatry, and iconoclasm as an apt metaphor for the body. Like icons, the body started out pure and holy. People became twisted though and veered off toward idolatry with sacred images, much like we veered off by idolizing the body. Iconoclasm occurred, just as our puritanical nature occurred. Eventually, icons were restored and seen as not evil in and of themselves. We hope one day the body will reach this state again.

This was a fascinating read for me. It made me realize that we have a hard battle ahead of us to set the pendulum rightly in the middle where it belongs. We are fighting against not only a culture that has grown accustomed to debasing the body, but also against the puritanical mindset on the opposite end. Blessed John Paul II's Theology of the Body has laid out a plan for us, and we must follow it. Christopher West's books will help us get there, especially this one, as he quotes from Blessed John Paul II and his other works. Five star book. Pick it up if Theology of the Body interests you.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. For helpful links related to this book see below. As always, if you found this review helpful, please click this link, and hit "Yes."