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« Evolution and the Catholic Church | Main | Worthy Is The Lamb | An interview with Thomas J. Nash »

Monday, September 04, 2006

Comments

Teresa Polk

There are some comments on the same letter at The Cafeteria Is Closed. One of them recommends an Ignatius Press book: Martha Rasmussen's "The Cathlic Church: The First 2000 Years." (I already posted my thoughts there too.)

Plato's Stepchild

Bokentotter's History of the Catholic Church is an idiotic screed that I first encountered early in my conversion and smelled the hooey emanating from its pages even though I wasn't very far along.

Its a staple in Canada, which is why Canada is in the shape its in. Hey, if you really want to cause a ruckus, why not post a review of the hideous Born of The Spirit Catechetical Series that is in use in Canada?

Nick Milne

Thanks for confirming the validity of Prof. Toner's criticism, Carl. I found his review the most useful of the bunch, and it's good to hear I can trust it.

Tim

Unfortunate that such a book is used for a class....
I found "Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church: A 2,000-Year History" by H. W. Crocker III to be an excellent history book.

Kevin Jones

I bought the book because it was wrongly listed as a text for a Church history course taught by a solid Jesuit. I never returned it, but we did use Alan Schreck's Concise History of the Catholic Church.

I've only skimmed it now and then, but I found it woefully overfocused on the West, even when a focus on the Eastern Christological controversies was required.

Robin L. in TX

I attended a Formation Toward Christian Ministry series a few years ago in my diocese. In it, was a Church History class which I felt at the time that could have been presented by an anti-Catholic Protestant. There was absolutely no sense of the Holy Spirit guiding and protecting the Church from error--no worth in Jesus' promise to protect the Church or in His prayer for Peter to strengthen and guide her, but rather an ofttimes misrepresentation of events, or a portrayal of them without regard for the milieu of the times. The class was merely an apology of what the Church has done through history. The Inquisition was discussed without mentioning the huge overestimation of victims, nor of the fact that many people blasphemed so as to be brought before the Church tribunal rather than the far more severe state tribunals. (Well, I mentioned it, as well as the Chief Rabbi of Rome's conversion to Catholicism who took the Pope's name after WWII, etc.)

I was the one who kept raising her hand to ask what the footnote revealed as to sources. I never received an answer other than the source book, Bokenkotter's History. It is nice to know that my Holy Spirit jitters were on the mark.

BTW,thank you. It was mostly my Ignatius books and the Catholic Educator's Resource Center which taught me enough to know that the course that was presented was not accurate.

In Christ's peace and joy,

Robin L. in TX

Sean H

Required reading in my History of the Catholic Church course. Only remember hating to read it, didn't know enough to see the problems with it until years later when I looked some things up in it. Fortunately, the cover fell off, so I through it out.

Got an A in the class though.

Plato's Stepchild

Warren H. Carroll's series of books on the History of Christendom are quite good.

Gail

I am appalled by these comments. Yes, it's a little liberal, but Fr. Bokenkotter's book hardly deserves this thrashing. I read it twice -- once for a class at a seminary, where it was the assigned text by a very orthodox professor. Most educated adults can read a text and recognize the difference between the author's opinions and facts. I disagree with many things in many books, but I don't write comments like these. The book is not idiotic, and I certainly wouldn't blame whatever is going on in Canada on poor Fr. Bokenkotter, who is a respected priest in my Archdiocese (though I do not know him personally).

Plato's Stepchild

"I am appalled by these comments."

Well then, here is a test. Compare Fr Bonkenkotter's text with Philip Trower's Turmoil and Truth and Fr Aidan Nichols, OP's The Shape of Catholic Theology. Now, imagine you are an impressionable undergraduate or other young person who is, as most young people are, uncertain about the Church and enmeshed in the Catholic trashing culture in which we live.

If the professor were one Cardinal Ratzinger in 1969, teaching you an introduction to the Catholic Church, which one do you believe that he would select?

If one wants to teach Bonkenkotter's text in an orthodox graduate program, fine. But I am more than world weary of meeting fallen away Catholics who were nudged along the way to acedia by the unchallenged arguments proferred in texts such as Bonkenkotter.

The fellow who handed me in Bonkenkotter was a graduate of a protestant seminary (though he was Catholic). I returned it to him after reading it and said:

"St Athanasius this is not."

Plato's Stepchild

And, in a final point, let me add that John Allen Jr. when criticized about the tone of his early work on Pope Benedict (then Ratzinger) acknowledged his deficiency and corrected the error.

Bonkenkotter's text had a great effect on my sticking to certain publishers for orthodox books and steering clear of others.

Brian John Schuettler

Plato's Stepchild:
"Bonkenkotter's (sic) text had a great effect on my sticking to certain publishers for orthodox books and steering clear of others."

Have you read every book in the other publisher's catalogue? Is there an "acid test" for publisher orthodoxy? Who makes that decision? How do we then frame our comparative references?

"Its a staple in Canada, which is why Canada is in the shape its in."
Canada is in the shape it is in because of this book?

Such power! Such cause and effect!...and,btw, what shape is that?


Plato's Stepchild

"Its a staple in Canada, which is why Canada is in the shape its in."

Its selection is the effect, its cause is the same cause that afflicts much of Western Christendom and what Cardinal Newman warned about.

"Have you read every book in the other publisher's catalogue?"

To paraphrase Blaise Pascal, I get my friends to tell me about them. A Catholic theologian or historian, particularly a priest, who can't distinguish between a sinless Church and the sins of its members is one that I have little interest in reading.

Sandra Miesel

I'd sooner have people reading the Pelican History of the Church (volumes written by such folk as Owen Chadwick and Richard Southern) than the Triumphalist blather of HW Crocker.

Brian John Schuettler

"To paraphrase Blaise Pascal, I get my friends to tell me about them"...So, then, to rephrase...you rely upon the opinion of others without evidence.

Brian John Schuettler

"He who seeks not knowledge directly but rather inquires it of a friend discerns neither wisdom nor truth and inherits the wasteland of ignorance."

A paraphrase of Aristotle as imagined by B.J. Schuettler

Plato's Stepchild

"So, then, to rephrase...you rely upon the opinion of others without evidence."

I rely on my Illiative Sense, as Newman mentioned in his Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent. In doing so, I exercise the cardinal virtue of prudence in determining who my friends are and what their opinions of certain authors (and generally, but not exclusively, publishing houses) are.

Aristotle had a few things to say about friendship in his Nicomachean Ethics.

Plato's Stepchild

"I'd sooner have people reading the Pelican History of the Church (volumes written by such folk as Owen Chadwick and Richard Southern) than the Triumphalist blather of HW Crocker."

Very well said. I also enjoyed The Church in the Dark Ages by H. Daniel Rops. I am curious what Sandra thinks of it.

I assume someone will mention Jaroslav Pelikan

Plato's Stepchild

The Illiative Sense is like Peter Parker's Spider Sense for those with Arachnophobia.

Brian John Schuettler

History is littered with failed friendships, regardless of the exercise of the virtue of prudence or not by one or the other friend.
Jesus was a faithful friend to Judas but it was not reciprocated and betrayal resulted.
Is it prudent to make broad statements in a dogmatic manner that are based on opinion? Possibly yes, as long as you admit that it is opinion. No harm done. Obviously Gail from Canada has a different opinion than you.

Plato's StepDogma

"Is it prudent to make broad statements in a dogmatic manner that are based on opinion?"

I suggest rereading Josef Pieper's Four Cardinal Virtues - The Power of Wrath.

I also suggest noting how many responses get generated when "broad statements in a dogmatic manner" get made. I believe Chesterton had something to say about that.

21 responses and growing -- all in a day's work.

Plato's Stepchild

"Obviously Gail from Canada has a different opinion than you."

Gail is obviously not a pagan convert.

Plato's Stepchild

Or, to paraphrase:

"Everyone has gone too far, except me."

Dorian Speed

I have a copy of Bokenkotter's work, but I'm not very familiar with it, as I opted for the heftier _The Catholic Church: The First 2000 Years_ by Rasmussen as an assigned text for my high school students. I personally enjoyed the first of the Penguin series (History of the Early Church) but it's a much more substantial book.

I've enjoyed the chapters of _Triumph_ that I read, but it's not something I would hand to someone looking for a general history of the Church - the tone (and title) are triumphalistic enough to provoke skepticism.

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