Saturday, August 15, 2009

book review

I'm reading a pretty interesting book right now (trying to stuff it all in before I get too busy with grad school...)
"The Signs of the Times--Understanding the Church Since Vatican II"
yes. exactly what I want to understand.

It's a compilation of short writings/essays by Fr. Richard Gilsdorf, who passed away before the book was put together, I've never heard of him until now, and he requested Patrick Beno to put his writings together.

I like reading it, because it is kind of chronological, and you can sort of see what was going through the mind of a devout, obedient, and very smart priest from Vatican II onward.

For example, he starts off with an article on "unity," and how not everyone can be right: there must logically be rights and wrongs. (Not relativism.) Particularly as they relate to different Christian denominations. You can see where this is going as it relates to both the questions of ecumenism that V II brought up, as well as growing disobedience within the church.

He then continues with an article on the tension that was particularly increasing within the church at that time. "Salvation lies in huddling close to and embracing Christ in faith, hope, and love..." yeah! it's actually pretty simple!

He continues on with many shorter essays, surprisingly readable (the editor had a warning that they might not be that easy to read in the beginning,) for example, the one I'm reading at the moment is on the terminology "People of God" rather than "Family of God" which was proposed at V II. While he discusses that "Family of God" is quite theologically accurate, "Since the Council (and contrary to its spirit), we have seen a corrosive attempt to interpret "People" in a way strictly equated to some transient form or purely human political society."
Oh yes, a political society. That does seem to be a pretty accurate summary...

"We see Machiavellian maneuvering for positions...and the aping of the secular in a direction exactly counter to that of the Incarnation."
And I'm only 82 pages into this 500+ page book, and every chapter is filled with quotable gems like that!

While you can see how all of the widely varied topics do tie into the atmosphere of the past 40 years, the book is broad enough that I think most Catholics interested at all in "wtf happened" would find this a good read. (It's not all so strictly discussing the actual problems of interpretation of the Council.)

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