Archive for May, 2012


At a recent Bible Study (using the stellar Ignatius Catholic Study Bible to study 1 Corinthians), we found ourselves discussing some of the incidents in the Old Testament and lamenting how our muddy understanding of the Old Testament makes it hard for us to readily understand the richness of the New. Walking with God

I immediately thought of Jeff Cavins’ “Great Adventure” course , which turns-up periodically in its primitive form on EWTN. Even those of us who don’t have the time or money to take such an in-depth course right now have a real need to understand the basic narrative of the Scriptures to give us a framework to put our knowledge in and to understand Jesus’ words and the apostles’ teaching more clearly. So, I eagerly told the ladies that Mr. Cavins and Dr. Tim Gray have given us a scaled-back yet rich course in one essential volume, for our Bible Study groups or for personal use, “Walking with God: A Journey Through the Bible.” ***

I am very impressed by several features, including:

  • a logical and detailed chronological walk through the Bible’s narrative in twelve chapters
  • an attractive layout and detailed maps, charts/illustrations, and index
  • a color-coded system explained on the front flap to aid memory of the twelve eras (this ties-in to the video series and materials), and
  • an imprimatur by Archbishop Chaput and a recommendation by Dr. Scott Hahn.

This volume successfully resists being what it is not — a textbook — but packs-in a vast amount of useful information (with sparingly-used footnotes), including historical references and citations of the Church Fathers.

It has to hit the ground running, so to speak, navigating the creation controversy artfully by addressing literary types and the core of the story: covenant.

I put-together for myself an inexpensive but invaluable study package that I would recommend, consisting of:

Basically, what I am doing is carefully reading this book and referencing the colorful timeline to keep it straight in my mind, while jotting notes in the journal, which is itself printed with many study helps. This method helps me remember (I learn by writing.) and will provide a good reference for me in future Bible studies and in homeschooling.

*** Many thanks to Aquinas and More Catholic Goods for providing a review copy to me.

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American Catholics often lamented — at least until the governmental attack on our First Amendment rights shook us all awake last Fall — that our bishops don’t say much that matters to us in our ordinary lives. However, several bishops who are attempting to provide us with timely guidance have contributed to “The Shepherd’s Voice Series,” including one of my favorites, Phoenix’ Bishop Thomas Olmsted (“Catholics in the Public Square“).

I received for review (a shameful amount of time ago — mea culpa!), from The Catholic Company, Cardinal Justin Rigali’s entry into the series, “Let the Oppressed Go Free: Breaking the Bonds of Addiction.” Even though it is short and seems sound to me, I had trouble plowing through it and would have a hard time recommending it to anyone in the grip of an addictive demon.

The problem is, I think, that the book wants to be both academic and practical; the cardinal wants to address students and addicts, and probably reaches neither. The student would find the hokey Q and A style grating, superficial, and disorderly, while the addict would find the very section headings dull and pointless (”Part II: The Importance of a Robust Christian Anthropology,” followed by “Part III: Initial Appraisal of Problems Posed by the Internet”).

The cardinal falls into bishop-speak, too. On page 36, he refers to “the proclivity of the masculine gender to the visual stimulation of sexual desire.” My guess is that a guy struggling with a porn addiction wouldn’t find that wording helpful — and he might not even realize that he’s under discussion!

Though I’m glad the cardinal broaches Internet addiction — my original interest in requesting this title for review — he envisions it solely as addiction to online gambling and pornography, not taking obsessions with social networking, chat, fantasy sports, celebrity gossip, and other such things into account.

A better book about the practical issues of online addictions is “Breaking Free of the Web.”

“Let the Oppressed Go Free” ends with a cursory discussion of the Catholicity of the Serenity Prayer and the 12 Steps. I would imagine that a brief Google search would turn-up the same sort of information about the cycle of addiction and methods of recovery within the Catholic Church. This book would have been helpful had it gone beyond evident or easily-found information and provided the addict a detailed program for recovery, or even had it been written as a properly-formatted academic paper for students training to help addicts.

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