Josh Mcdonald's Reviews > Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith

Catholicism by Robert E. Barron
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Dec 27, 2011

Read from December 27, 2011 to January 06, 2012

Aristotle said that the best activities are the most useless. This is because such things are not simply means to a further end, but are done entirely for their own sake. Thus watching a baseball game is more important than getting a haircut, and cultivating a friendship is more valuable than making money The game and the friendship are goods that are excellent in themselves, while getting a haircut and making money are in service of something beyond themselves. This is also why the most important parts of the newspaper are the sports section and the comics, and not, as we would customarily think, the business and political reports. In this sense, the most useless activity of all is the celebration of the Liturgy, which is another way of saying that it is the most important thing we could possibly do.


My own total lack of interest in sports notwithstanding, this passage does a good job, I think, of capturing the heart of why I remain a devoted Catholic. That sense of God's values being mostly the polar opposite of the World's values is, for me, a large part of what following Christ is all about.

My one disappointment with the book is that it does feel very much like it's preaching to the choir. I found myself nodding in agreement with most of it and enthusiastically agreeing with bits of it, and finding almost all of it to be familiar and well-trod territory. There was really nothing here to challenge me or force me to re-think or see anything in a new light. And I've always felt that religion and religious thought is pretty much useless if it doesn't challenge one's comfort zones or prompt the occasional re-thinking of one's accustomed values. Although I will say that this book does a very good job of stripping away the fluff and boiling down to the essence of what a Christ-centered life is all about -- and the reminder of what is truly important certainly has value. So maybe it did prompt me to re-think some long-held assumptions after all...?

On the whole, this book was a very good refresher on why I am and remain a Catholic.
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12/27/2011 page 52
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message 1: by Lacey (new)

Lacey Louwagie I think a lot of the value of "preaching to the choir" type books (i.e.: reading books about ideas you're pretty much already on board with) is that it helps to strengthen your faith or resolve. Even though we may already believe a certain way, living and being conscious of those beliefs on a daily basis is a bigger challenge. To me, reading books like this helps me stay connected with what I believe, which has its own value equal to challenging your comfort zone, I think (although I agree that is also important.)


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