Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Review: The Church: The Evolution of Catholocism
I thought this would be a little more historical and devote less pages to a religious vocabulary than I am not used to absorbing (liturgy, ecclesiology, monastic, eucharine, etc etc). Also, apparently Marionology (Mary) and Christology (Jesus) are words. And disciplines. Yes, religious scholars have taken scientific terminology and used it on characters in the bible, and have devoted whole areas of study to them. I just don't get it.
I skimmed through pretty quickly over the parts that had constant biblical citations or paragraph after paragraph of the aforementioned language. But the parts I did read were a slightly interesting summation of the history of the church, albeit one-sided. I will give McBrien credit for acknowledging some of the seedier sides and epochs of the Catholic church, and celebrating the small steps forward (he particularly loves Vactican II, and he wrote warmly about Pope John Paul II genuflecting at the Wailing Wall and writing some apologetic things about the Holocaust. So that's nice. Bu the rest of the book either bored me to death, or insulted my intelligence. I just don't understand a life, be it layman or scholarly, devoted to these amorphous formulations, theories, terminologies, and artifices of faith. I'd understand if it was historical (in fact, that's exactly what I was hoping this book would be), but it's pseudohistory. It's scattered too-brief sketches of what the people behind the bible might have done, plus the bible itself, and then an examination of church behavior since its founding colored through esoteric and artificial terms like eucharist, body of Christ, Holy Ghost, and Church (evidently I still don't understand what they mean that word to mean).
So I gave it a shot! Now when I read my Dawkins, I have something to compare it to.