Monday, July 1, 2013

Sophia Institute Press: The Church Under Attack

History was never one of my favorite subjects in high school or college. I'd even go so far to say that it was a thorn in my side. Part of my attitude toward history derived from the fact that textbooks are usually just a dry presentation of dates and facts. Perhaps a greater cause of my apathy/disdain toward the subject was that it seemed like I was always studying American History, with the attitude that nothing else happened in the world. I did learn at least one valuable piece of advice when reading history: "History is written by the winners." I tried to keep that in mind when reviewing this book, as it's easy to ignore biases in history and just accept what you read and are told.

The Church Under Attack is Dr. Diane Moczar's latest release. For those of you who have not heard of her before, Dr. Moczar is a Catholic historian. This is an important distinction to be aware of before reading this book, as it means the book will be written from a pro-Catholic perspective. This is not unheard of in the field of history, but it is rare. In her book, she provides a brief glimpse of the previous five centuries (1500s-1900s) and how the Church has been attacked throughout the ages.

The author starts off remarking about how crammed the Sixteenth Century was with happenings.  She states that there isn't enough room to record all of the events that occurred during this time and even proclaimed, "Stop doing things! Leave something for the next century!" That made sense to me, and I appreciated her condensing her thoughts on the Sixteenth Century to 24 pages. However, she then proceeds to devote 43 pages to the Seventeenth Century. That seemed a bit backwards to me. I personally would have loved to read more about the Sixteenth Century, as opposed to the Seventeenth Century, but that's a personal preference. The book then works its way through Reformations; Revolutionary Wars, both French and American; World Wars, and the Cold War. There was a ton of information packed in these 200+ pages.

There were several aspects I liked about this book, but the biggest one was that the author doesn't present you with a "just the facts" approach to history. She makes it interesting and fun with a bit of snarkiness, i.e., referring to the Protestant Reformation as the Protestant Revolution. I also appreciated her focus on Mary's impact on historical events as well as the holy men and women throughout the centuries. This served as a reminder that there were still people fighting for what was right in the world when others weren't.

Overall, I would give this book 4 stars. It's impossible to write a lively history text like this one, without some sort of bias. Don't mistake me. I greatly appreciated the author presenting the Catholic Church in an almost entirely positive light., and it was refreshing to read a history text without a clear bias against the Church. However, if you read a Protestant history text on the Reformation, I imagine you would get a completely different viewpoint than the Catholic viewpoint in this book. With that said, this is still a fruitful read and would be a great book for home-schooled students. It could also serve as a good supplemental text for your high school or college student to read and counter their dry and generally anti-Catholic textbook.

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