1 Following

Books with a Beu

Jamie Beu, owner and co-author (with his wife) of CatholicFamily.info, is a "cradle Catholic", devoted husband, and father of two girls. He is a regular contributor to his parish newsletter, as well as an impassioned defender of the faith who is able to both support and challenge others as necessary -- all in an effort to build-up Christ's Kingdom on Earth. To this end, he does a lot of reading - not just of religious books (for education and research), but also of secular books, both to decompress as well as to keep a finger on the pulse of pop culture (the better to relate to others, as well as to help restore the culture).

Currently reading

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know
Meg Meeker, Meg Meeker
Dan Simmons
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
'John Townsend', 'Henry Cloud'
Boundaries Face to Face: How to Have That Difficult Conversation You've Been Avoiding
Henry Cloud
Jesus of Nazareth
Pope Benedict XVI, Adrian J. Walker
Permutation City
Greg Egan
Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions
Pope Benedict XVI
Is Jesus Coming Soon?: A Catholic Perspective on the Second Coming
Ralph Martin
Prelude to Foundation (Foundation: Prequel, #1)
Isaac Asimov
Autobiography of a Saint: Therese of Lisieux
Thérèse de Lisieux, Ronald A. Knox, Vernon Johnson

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship - U.S.C.C.B. While the intention of this book may be to help Catholics better discern how they should vote in elections, the material is neither concise nor clear nor timeless.

First, the lack of conciseness. At 26 pages long (not including appendices), this is not a quick, little "voter's guide for Catholics". Although it isn't intended to be a voter's guide (it says so in the Introductory Note), that is the main reason people will pick this up in the first place. While a bait-and-switch tactic might be a useful way to get Catholics to learn more about their faith (e.g., Crown ministries gets people through their finances, but they end up doing a Bible study), it's contents would be need to be unambiguous to do so successfully.

This brings us to point #2: the lack of clarity. At many times, this booklet seems to be "speaking out of both sides of its mouth." While trying to be non-partisan, it raises issues that are clearly partisan in the United States (the intended audience). It tries to say that certain issues must never be compromised, but fails to list those explicitly. It also suggests that some topics must not be forgotten while not compromising on the other points, leading to confusion as to whether you should vote for anybody at all!

Finally, for a Church document, it is nowhere near the standard of papal encyclicals for timelessness. Vatican documents like the writings from the Council of Trent (from the 16th century) or Rerum Novarum (from the 19th century) are as relevant now (or even more so!) as they were when first written. This USCCB document is a sad shadow of such writings, attempting to sound authoritative for all time while making references to contemporary issues like "the war in Iraq". (Honestly, in just 20 years from now, one might be asking "which war in Iraq?")

A good recommendation I can make for the proper understanding of this book would be to read another guide as well, like Catholic Update Guide to Faithful Citizenship. Better yet, do what I did: get a group of people together to study it, one section at a time, to discuss its contents - paying special attention to where it references other documents like those of then-Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), e.g., "Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life". Reading the referenced material - in context - will yield a much better understanding of this muddy, "made by committee" hodge-podge of authentic Catholic beliefs co-mingled with modernist social justice musings.

I cannot recommend this booklet without an informed, orthodox guide. With a guide, it can deepen your understanding of the faith. Without such help, it can only serve to confuse you more (which is sad at this critical point in our nation's history).