Every now and then it is good to read a book like The Church: The Evolution of Catholicism. Richard McBrien is a reliable source for a comprehensive overview of catholic (with both a big C and little c) perspective. Even though published in 2008 it is a timely resource. In times of turmoil and rapid changes in so many areas of life the world over, I needed to reground myself in the big picture so as to see the ongoing process of growth that is being made in the hope of bringing into being the kingdom of God Jesus came to reveal. If you need to refresh your hope in the future this book might be for you.
Shanks, Hershel. Ed. Partings. Biblical Archaeology Society. Washington, DC. 2013. How Judaism and Christianity became two. I just finished this book and can say it won’t finish with me for a long time to come. I kept thinking all the while I probed the works of the 19 contributors to 15 chapters, that we face some of the same issues today that the Jews and Christians did in those years preceding the birth of Jesus up through almost the middle ages. These scholars who have studied and taught for many years have come together to attempt to answer the question of parting. You will find that there is no consensus of when or if such a reality ever existed. Throughout the world the changes brought about by the new realities of our generation are making it necessary to recognize and value truth wherever it can be found. Be it found in science, religion, culture, ecology or economy. The old ways demand new ideas if we are to continue as a viable reality. I highly recommend this work and deeply thank the editor and those who responded to his request for this dialogue.
In his new book- A Still and Quiet Conscience, John A. McCoy tells the story of Bp. Raymond Hunthausen. The sub title “The Archbishop who challenged a pope, a president, and a church” tells the story of what happens to someone who takes on the status quo. Hopefully with Pope Francis this kind of abuse won’t be happening again soon. I have met this humble servant of God and people, and can testify to his unconditional love for even those who wish him harm. Read this and see what being a shepherd really is.
Bernard Lee wrote a book back in 1995 called The Future Church of 140 B.C.E. He sensed that the changes that came into being that we know as Pharisees were an organic growth in the influence of Jewish lay believers. Their province was the Synagogue and their specialty was study of the Torah. Lee sees the rapid growth of lay people with advanced theology degrees, positions of leadership in parish life, setting the stage for yet another radical change in the faith communities of our day. I emailed Dr. Lee and wondered how he would write that same book today, or at least update this seminal work. He responded that he was hopeful that the Spirit was working within faith communities to bring forth yet the next new thing in the way we come together to share our lived experiences.
The Holy Web by Cletus Wessels, O.P. Fr. Wessels’ book has been “rumbling around in me for many years”. He says that “I owe much to my many students and colleagues over the years. It is my hope that his work will repay all these people and excite many others”. I am sure that if you treat yourself to this book, you will not be disappointed. The subtitle, “Church and the New Universe Story”, gives you the thrust of this work. With contemporary science challenging us from many sides, most recently the human genome project, we need to have guides such as this book to help us begin to think through the many new questions and opportunities that seem to come daily anymore. More and more we realize that all that is, is in a “web of relationships”. Just how to live creatively in this web is the new story that is unfolding before our eyes.