Sunday, February 2, 2014

Book Review: Why Catholicism Matters by William Donahue

ISBN: 0307885356
Published: May 29th, 2012
Publisher: Image
Read from January 9th to 30th, 2014
Synopsis from publisher:
The most visible representative of the Catholic Church in the United States shows how the Church is far from being an ossified carry-over tradition from antiquity. Why Catholicism Matters celebrates the significant contribution the Church makes in many aspects of today's world and applies its wisdom to issues on a personal, national, and global scale.
In recent years the Catholic Church has gone through turbulent times with the uncovering of horrible abuse that persisted and could have been prevented by certain bishops for so many years. Yet the many positive aspects of what the Catholic Church teaches and practices are not being overlooked. William Donohue, the outspoken and highly visible president of the Catholic League, shows Church teachings remain the best guide to good living ever adopted. He reminds readers of the great wealth of charity and wisdom that exists in the Catholic tradition and explains hows its best attributes can be applies to solve many of the biggest problems society must confront today and in the future.


This book is an attempt to explain why the Catholic Church is significant and what it has done to affect the world positively over the years. This is a small part at the beginning that is focused on the Catholic Church's contributions in the past, and then the rest of the book is entirely focused on how the Church's values could affect today if more people followed them.

I wasn't entirely thrilled with this book. My biggest problem was that it was covering such a wide range of topics that each one could only be focused on for a couple of pages or so. There were countless times over the course of the book where I didn't think the author was making a good argument at all. If there had been more space to flesh out his arguments better, then that wouldn't have been so bad. I know that this book is supposed to be more of a quick overview then anything, but it's also written as if it's trying to convince people to believe in Catholic values. I don't think it'll be convincing anyone of anything because the arguments aren't convincing enough. If someone who is already Catholic reads this, then they'll probably already agree with the author of course, so that's not a problem. However, I don't think the book is really useful in this way. It seems to want to convince people of something, and it's just not successful at doing that.

One good thing about the book is that it quote a lot of sources, so if someone really wanted, they could go to those books for more extensive looks at each topic. I just don't think someone's going to do that if they weren't convinced at least a little by the argument in the book.

I was also a bit put off by the beginning of the book, as it seemed a little arrogant. The author seems to want to attribute every single advancement in modern times on the Catholic Church. Now, believe me, I know how influential the Church was, and I'm not denying that it did contribute to a lot of the things the author mentions. However, the author gives off a very arrogant attitude about it in my mind, and I was just a bit put off by it. It most definitely gives off the impression that western culture (not just Christianity as a religion, but the entire western culture) is better than other cultures, and that goes so far as implying that western art is superior to art from other cultures.

Overall, I probably wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. It's not a horrible book. It's easy to read and it introduces arguments to a variety of topics. The problem is that I don't see it convincing anyone of anything, and those who are already Catholic really don't need this book. I just don't know of anyone who would be a good audience for this book.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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