This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on How to Defend the Faith . This is also a great Catholic gift store for all your seasonal shopping needs, such as Christian wedding gifts and Catholic Garden Gifts. I received this book for free to review. All opinions are my own.
This book discusses current hot-button issues in the Catholic Church, including why others criticize the Church's position, and how we can help others reframe their negative views of Church teachings. The following topics are addressed:
- the Church and political life
- equality and religious freedom
- assisted suicide
- clerical sexual abuse
- defending the unborn
- women and the Church
I chose to review this book not because I have trouble with anger when talking to others about these hot-button Catholic issues, but because I am just not comfortable talking with other people about them at all. I thought this would be a great resource to provide me with information for any future discussions on these topics. I really love the way the book is outlined. Each chapter starts off with several challenging questions that Catholics might be asked. For example, the chapter on assisted suicide has questions such as "If a person of sound mind who is terminally ill and in dreadful pain wishes to die, why should the law prevent them by persecuting those who assist them?" and "What right does the Church have to tell people of no faith how they should end their lives?"
The chapter includes a lot of great information, as well as positive intentions behind criticism of the Church. I thought the positive intentions in each chapter were the best part because it helped me to have a better understanding of why some people are so against Catholic teachings. Most of the time people hold a position on a certain topic because of Christian values, particularly compassion. I loved this because I think a lot of times people can engage in ugly debates and think that anyone who stands for something they don't agree with is a monster. I think the positive intentions in the book could be really helpful in understanding the positive values that are motivating people's negative behaviors, such as having an abortion, rather than thinking that the person is evil for having done such a thing. The end of each chapter shows existing frames of thought that people have about the Church as well as how the authors hope to see people's views changed. This is followed by some key messages that are great for giving a summary of what you read.
The book ends with a chapter called "Ten Principles of Civil Communication" which gives some excellent tips for how people should conduct themselves when discussing the faith with others. As I mentioned, I think talking with others about these issues can get really ugly really quickly, so I think everyone should read the tips before engaging in discussion on these hot topics in the Church. I particularly liked how the chapter discussed bringing light to the positive vision of the Church and remembering to witness to others, not try to win a debate.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. It is a short read, and I think it is very useful to read in order to help you talk with people who have misconceptions about the Catholic Church's position on these hot button issues. However, for debating with someone who is very well knowledgeable about the Church, you will probably need other comprehensive resources (such as research studies that are mentioned in the chapters) in addition to this book. I personally found the chapters on AIDS and clerical sexual abuse to be the most enlightening because those are not issues that I know much about to begin with. It helped me to gain a much better understanding about what has been going on within the Church, as well as ways to address some of the misconceptions that people have about these things.