Friday, October 27, 2006

These are a few of my favorite things

I spent a lot of time on the EWTN website yesterday. If you haven't been there, follow the link- it is a veritable treasure trove of all things Catholic. After all of the Titus Chu brouhaha, I felt the need to reconnect with the things I believe. And although I read books all across the spectrum, and derive benefit from most of them, ultimately the truths that I hold to be self-evident are simple- I believe in one God, the Father, Almighty... I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord... I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life... I believe in one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church.

Part of the EWTN site is a huge library of their programming, both television and radio, just audio versions. It's a great source of apologetics material. And as I loaded 12GB of EWTN programming onto my hard drive, I thought about favorite books of mine. My shelves are loaded with books, I have books on top of books, and books in the attic in boxes, but there are a select number that are exempt from the attic treatment and will always have a place on the shelf of any place that I call home.

Rome, Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn is one of those books. This is the story of their conversion to the Catholic Church and the avenues they took to get there. I first stumbled upon Scott Hahn in the late 80's, during a guest appearance on the Mother Angelica Live program. He gave an abbreviated version of his testimony and I found it very compelling. At the end of the show they flashed a toll-free number on the screen where you could get the tape of his that was making the rounds (which is now simply known as THE TAPE). Free is good, and the tape became mine, one more step on the road for me.

But not the first step. In 1988 I was about to enter my second year at Bowling Green State University. Before leaving for the fall semester I went book shopping, and one of my stops was a small store in Elyria known as The Search. The Search was a Catholic bookstore, and I wasn't Catholic at the time, but they carried Thomas Merton titles and Merton was, is and always will be THE MAN. I browsed the selections and one title caught my eye. I had never heard of the author, Karl Keating, but the title caught my fancy- Catholicism vs Fundamentalism: The Attack on Romanism by Bible Christians. Hmm. And it looked like it might have some meat to it, too- it didn't have large print and it had no pictures :) I placed my $12.95 on the counter, plus 6% sales tax, and walked out with it.

Oh, man. What a book. Karl Keating may be relegated to the back of the apologetics bus these days by the young guns who speak sharply and carry an arrogant stick, but Keating started the new emphasis on Catholic apologetics. Without Catholicism and Fundamentalism there is no Envoy magazine, there is no St. Joseph's Communications, Scott Hahn probably stays a professor at a small Catholic college in Illinois, and Catholics the world over continue to cower whenever someone asks them why they call their priest "Father". This is a very readable book which covers specific organizations and their objections to Catholicism in part one, the Scriptural support for Catholic teaching in part two, and apologetics resources in part three. If you are going to start an apologetics library on a limited budget, this is the first book to get.

Another good testimony book to get would be My Life On The Rock by Jeff Cavins. Jeff used to host Life On The Rock on EWTN, hence the name. You might think that testimony books would all tread the same water, but that isn't the case. Where Scott Hahn's book concentrates on theological matters, all the while with a personal touch, the Cavins book is a little more personal with theology on the passenger's side.

Radio Replies by Fathers Leslie Rumble and Charles Carty is a three volume set of questions and answers concerning Catholicism, which were submitted to the authors' radio show in the 40's. As such, there are a few answers which are a little dated, but there are a lot more answers which are right on the money. The print is small, and some of the answers are a little involved, but it serves its purpose as a mini encyclopedia of apologetics, organized by topic.

On the other side of the coin, there are two books that I like which purport to contain the answers to Catholicism's "outlandish" claims. Evangelical Answers by Eric Svendsen and The Roman Catholic Controversy by James White are interesting in that they have unique arguments; they aren't just cold leftovers from a cursory reading of Lorainne Boettner's Roman Catholicism (a large book which is horrible). I obviously disagree with the conclusions of these books, but I find them valuable just the same. It is better to hear the other side of an argument straight from primary sources and not just what someone thinks they said.

Check out these websites for more information on these books:
Scott Hahn
Karl Keating
Jeff Cavins
Radio Replies
Eric Svendsen
James White


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