This primer on the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church provides
useful information for the uninitiated but ultimately falls under
the weight of the author's extreme bias in favor of his faith.
Johnson, a former syndicated religion columnist, clearly loves the
Catholic Church. He even points out that its name is a misnomer: It
is "the Church." All other Christian denominations are simply
sects, in need of names to differentiate them from the Church.
Though seemingly partisan, this is just one of the interesting
facts that emerge here for those not schooled in Catholic dogma and
custom. The first section, "Faith," deals with Church doctrine.
Topics include traditions, the biblical canon, and the place of the
Hebrew scriptures. The author also discusses how the Church
legislates and why it can't simply change doctrine "as Protestant
denominations do" on issues such as birth control (Christianity is
a revealed religion, he says, and "has to stick with precisely what
was revealed, never to after it"). The "Worship" section includes
an explanation of liturgy and the mass, as well as discussions of
the sacraments, the Church calendar, funerals, and rosary beads.
"Culture" treats the polity of the institution, monasticism, the
role of saints, and supposed miracles such as weeping Madonnas and
the Shroud of Turin. The final chapter, "Customs," rounds up
diverse expressions of devotion, including church music, the sign
of the cross, incense, and holy relics. An "ask-your-local-library"
postscript provides an annotated bibliography for those who want to
explore further. This reverential volume has received the
authorized imprimatur of the Catholic Church. So, although Johnson
declares, "If the idea of Christianity is to embrace the teachings
of Christ, you have an infinite range of choices of how to express
that faith," the rest of the book will lead readers to believe he
doesn't mean it. (Kirkus Reviews)
"Johnson offers lucid explanations of a dizzying array of customs and beliefs."
In Expressions of the Catholic Faith, renowned scholar and religion columnist Kevin Orlin Johnson answers the most frequently asked questions on Catholic faith, worship, culture, and customs, including:
* How the Church Makes Laws * The Hard-Fought Genesis of the New Testament * The Cycle of Redemption * A Short Guide to the Meaning and Structure of the Mass * Decoding Symbols of Scripture and the Sacraments * The Calendar as the Image of Christ's Life * The Rosary * The Stations of the Cross * Monks, Nuns, and the Rules That Guide Them * The Pope * The Laity in the Modern World * Saints * Fatima, Lourdes, and the Story of Apparitions * The Vatican: A Holy City * The Sign of the Cross, Christianity's Best-Known Symbol * Candles in Prayer and Liturgy * The Meaning of the Nativity Scene
Blending religious history, a deep appreciation for art and culture, and an enlightened reverence for the traditions of the Church, Expressions of the Catholic Faith is the definitive resource for any one who wants to learn more about the rituals, symbols, and traditions that can strengthen our faith every day.
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