There are lots of books that outline all the reasons one should give up atheism or other religions and become Catholic and with good reason: Because tThere are lots of books that outline all the reasons one should give up atheism or other religions and become Catholic and with good reason: Because the path to the Catholic faith has its origins in many places and winds its way through a myriad of obstacles, challenges, and objections.
Brandon Vogt—one of the smartest, engaging, and energetic young Catholics out there—has written a new book, “Why I Am Catholic (and You Should Be Too),” that offers his own take on why one should consider the Catholic faith, a take that seems aimed directly at the “nones”, the large and growing percentage of mostly young Americans today who tell pollsters that they have no religious preference, and does so in a way that should appeal to a younger audience, characterizing becoming Catholic as a way of “joining the Rebellion”, rather than giving into a massive institution.
>" I’ll admit it’s a weird decision. It goes against the grain. It’s radical. It is, in a word, rebellious."
In this concise, yet compelling book, Brandon outlines the reasons why anyone seeking the truth should become Catholic, using arguments both old and new. Brandon is an engineer by training and a philosopher by avocation so it’s no surprise that the book and its arguments are laid out in a logical progression, from whether God exists to the necessity of religion vs. pure spirituality to Christianity over other religions to the Catholic Church.
Along the way, he recounts bits and pieces of his own journey from a nominal Protestantism to his discovery of Catholicism in college. However, this is not a memoir. Brandon doesn’t delve into his family life or his emotions and motivations, and doesn’t look deeply into the events and circumstances. Instead, he uses his own experiences as a buttress for his arguments, to lend an “I was in your shoes” authenticity to his claims.
Like a good philosopher, Brandon breaks down the argument for Catholicism into three parts: Catholicism is True, it is Good, and it is Beautiful. He notes that while truth is the first and most important qualities, the others are harmonious. “If a belief is true, it’s almost always good and beautiful,” he writes and notes that is the case in other areas, like science, as well.
## Truth and Goodness The section on Truth deals with the conventional arguments about dogma and creeds, like the existence of God, the divinity of Jesus and so on. He covers all the good arguments and while the ground is well-trod, Brandon manages to find some new and unique ways of expressing himself through appealing analogies.
The other sections on Goodness and Beauty are more unconventional, but no less compelling. In the section on Catholicism as good, he looks at how the the Church was the fount of Western civilization’s flowering in four specific ways.
> "Just four of the many ways Catholicism has shaped our world: science, the university system, charities, and our system of law."
Obviously, there are many more, but these offer some of the best and most convincing arguments. Science, in particular, could only have arisen in the way it has from Christian roots, contrary to the way it is popularly perceived today, because for Catholics even form ancient times, science was a way to understand God through his creation. Many of the great scientists of history were themselves clergy or religious, including Copernicus, Mendel, and Fr. Georges LeMaitre, father of the Big Bang Theory.
Likewise, the Church has contributed to the world by creating universities, by becoming the largest charitable institution in the history of the world (especially in prior ages when caring for the needy was not a virtue), and by creating the modern system of laws based on the Church’s canon law with concepts like the equality of all men.
Catholicism’s Goodness is also found in the attractive witness of the saints and martyrs, pulling out St. Lawrence, St. Damian of Molokai, and St. Theresa of Calcutta as examples; in her rebellious refusal to change teachings that cannot be changed in the face of overwhelming pressure; and in her offering of God’s forgiveness and mercy to the world. This last one may make the greatest impression in some quarters as it is the one thing so sorely lacking in the world today and which so many people are craving: someone to say I love you, you are inherently good, you can be better, let me show you the way. As Brandon writes, “People don’t want mediocrity. All of us—you, me, everyone—we want greatness; we want excellence.” Catholicism is a path to excellence and perfection.
It is also in this section that Brandon deals with the most popular objections to the Church’s teachings, the so-called “pelvic” issues which are at the root of so much rejection of the faith. He deals with ably here, but there isn’t room in his book to give a full exposition, but that’s okay because there are plenty of books that do.
## Beauty Finally, Brandon advances the case for Catholicism through Beauty. He notes the Church’s unusual insistence on the importance of aesthetics and beauty in art, architecture, and music as well as areas like mathematics.
> "Christians believed that when they studied and applied geometry, whether in mathematics or art, they were tapping into the same underlying structure of reality that God sed in Creation. This view bore tremendous fruit in the realm of Renaissance art."
And so beauty is important because it lifts our hearts and minds to God. Even the most hardened atheist can have his breath taken away by a beautiful landscape, a soaring sculpture, or the perfection of their newborn child. They may not be able to identify the source of their wonder, but the source is God. This is what the Church treasures in beauty.
Brandon then moves the discussion of beauty to an unusual place, by finding it in the Church’s teaching on an authentic humanism. Secular humanism credits humanity alone for all great achievement, but a Christian humanism sees man’s harmonious cooperation with God as a kind of symphony at work. And through Christ, our humanity is lifted up, elevated, and divinized, given greater dignity and power and authority than even the secular humanists imagine.
Finally, Brandon finds beauty in the Church’s universality, how her call and appeal crosses all boundaries of race, gender, culture, language, place, and even intellectual mindset. He uses the examples of different kinds of people who can find a home in the Church: the Thinker (with Thomas Aquinas as his example); the Partier (G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc); the Ordinary Man in the street; the Skeptic, whose doubts are welcomed because the Church isn’t afraid of difficult questions; and the Sinner.
It’s the last two-thirds of the book where Brandon really shines. Like I said, the first section is good and I have no objections, but the content is not original. However, in looking at Goodness and Beauty as arguments for Catholicism, he is quite original among today’s authors.
This is especially important because his audience of millennial “nones” in the age of “fake news” aren’t easily convinced by the old logical arguments anymore. A presentation that less about intellectual proofs and more about appealing to a sense of good and rightness and beauty may get more traction in this very cynical, distracted age live in.
If you know a “none” or any millennial, for that matter, Brandon’s book may make an interesting gift to begin a conversation with them and an invitation to reject the Dark Side by joining the Rebellion....more
This was as much a history of New York City as it was a book about oysters. In fact, if you're hoping for a wide-ranging book about oysters throughoutThis was as much a history of New York City as it was a book about oysters. In fact, if you're hoping for a wide-ranging book about oysters throughout the world and throughout history, you might be disappointed. It begins with the discovery of Manhattan by Europeans and ends with the 20th century destruction of the oyster beds around NYC. They may say the world is your oyster, but for New Yorkers, the city is the world, I guess.
That said, the author occasionally strikes out to mention oysters in other places, but usually in relation to NYC oysters. And to be fair, NYC was the oyster capital of the world for a good century or so. But the author also spends time exploring aspects of NYC history that are only tangentially related to oysters.
Nevertheless, given those parameters, I found the book interesting with compelling descriptions of all aspects of oystering around NYC, from their place in the ecosystem to the cultivation techniques to the culture that grew up around their consumption to the industries that were created and even the recipes for their preparation from the 17th to the 20th centuries.
If you're okay with the book having a New York outlook on oysters, then you'll enjoy this. I know it's left me wanting to enjoy oysters more often....more
As a first book, it's a very good effort. More has done a good job of establishing the universe he's working in, giving us just enough to whet our appAs a first book, it's a very good effort. More has done a good job of establishing the universe he's working in, giving us just enough to whet our appetites without weighing us down with details. I could have wished for a little more world building in the details of Caledonia. At times it felt like the technology of the world was 21st century, not 26th, as far in time from us forward as Columbus is, backward.
As for the story itself, that's where it shines. Moren has a knack for snappy dialogue, which I hope he hones in future novels. The personal interplay among a fairly large cast if characters, including two major viewpoint characters, was well done. Every character was distinct and alive.
The plot was good. I saw a few of the major revelations coming from a long way out, including a major reveal of the secret identity of a couple of characters. I think in one case, because the author deftly laid out clues, but in the other because I've read a lot and now how some writers think.
I look forward to future books from Moren and recommend this one to fans of good character-driven sci-fi. ...more
If you want an overview of the American Revolution, this book and its predecessor, "Rise to Rebellion", are an excellent source because it takes you bIf you want an overview of the American Revolution, this book and its predecessor, "Rise to Rebellion", are an excellent source because it takes you beyond what you learned in high school history class, while making it all supremely accessible by turning the tale into a novel rather than a textbook. That isn't to say this is fictionalized or that Shaara took license with it. He relied on first-person accounts and letters and other historical documentation to make the dialogue and recounting of events as accurate as possible.
If you're a Hamilton fan looking for more, this is a great place to start delving into American Revolutionary history. (But start with Rise to Rebellion, the first book of this duology.)...more