10 good faith books I read in 2013

Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers,
Portland, Oregon
Catholic Speaker & Founder of Dynamic Deacon
Originally published in Catholic World Report

Will Many Be Saved? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization by Dr. Ralph Martin. I found Dr. Martin’s analysis of Karl Rahner’s “Anonymous Christian” theory and his insights into the soteriology of Hans Urs von Balthazar particularly interesting.

Medieval Trinitarian Thought from Aquinas to Ockham by Russell L. Friedman. It was often thought that no significant development in Trinitarian theology occurred during the late medieval period. This well-researched and eminently readable book provides a great overview of the theologians who utilized philosophical analysis in the Aristotelian tradition to further the Church’s understanding of the Trinity.

Dangers to the Faith: Recognizing Catholicism’s 21st-Century Opponents by Al Kresta. A straightforward, no nonsense cultural critique of the ills plaguing the Catholic Church and contemporary society today.

Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality by Gail Dines. Not a Catholic book by any means, this penetrating sociological analysis describes how the pornography industry has negatively shaped and distorted human sexuality. The author also examines the devastating effects of pornography on society in general and families (especially children) in particular. Be warned: this eye-opening book pulls no punches. Not for the weak-hearted.

What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense by Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George. The redefinition of marriage is arguably the critical moral issue of our time. Traditional marriage is falling like dominoes around the world as many governments fail to make the distinction between public and private interest. Public authorities must protect and encourage what is in the best interest of the public, and the State must only guarantee freedom to pursue private interest. Hence, in issues of public interest, public law intervenes while issues of private interests must be referred to the private sphere. In just over one hundred pages, What is Marriage presents excellent secular arguments for the Church’s perspective on marriage emphasizing in a clear, decisive, and convincing manner the fact that marriage between one man and one woman, and any children produced from that union, is a public interest. Marriage, the authors argue, serves as the fundamental nucleus of society and should be recognized and protected as such.

Liberation Theology After the End of History: The Refusal to Cease Suffering by Daniel M. Bell, Jr. Dr. Bell assesses the tenets of Latin American liberation theology in light of global capitalism, which he sees as a discipline of human desire. Using postmodern critical theory, he adeptly critiques the failure of liberation theology to adequately address what Pope Francis has called “the thirst for power and possessions [that] knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile…is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule” (Evangelii Gaudium, 56). Bell argues that the solution lies in the refusal to cease suffering that portends the liberation of desire from its “capitalist captivity.” Although I disagree with some of Dr. Bell’s’ conclusions about the future of liberation theology (he is a proponent of liberation theology, I am not), his analysis is challenging and insightful. Not an easy read but provides much food for thought.

The Eucharist: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics by Father Mitch Pacwa, SJ. This book is comprehensive in its breadth and scope, and is very accessible at all levels of interest: for the average parishioner who wants a deeper, more personal experience of God’s word, for the armchair apologist who is looking for sound biblical exegesis to explain the faith, and even those with a more scholarly or academic interest will be satisfied by the rich fare served in this book. This guide is also particularly relevant for students and young adults who are often searching for reasons why they are Catholic, and who desire to connect the teachings of the Church with their everyday lived experience.

Politicizing the Bible: The Roots of Historical Criticism and the Secularization of Scripture 1300-1700 by Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker. A tremendous overview of the philosophical and political roots of modern biblical criticism.

Physics, Philosophy, and Theology: A Common Quest for Understanding by Robert John Russell, William R. Stoeger, SJ and George V. Coyne, SJ (editors). A series of academic essays compiled by the scientists, philosophers, and theologians of the Vatican Observatory on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the publication of Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica.

History of the Catholic Church: From the Apostolic Age to the Third Millennium by James Hitchcock. Although published in 2012, I didn’t get around to looking at it until this year. There have been many histories of the Catholic Church written but Dr. Hitchcock’s is one of the best…ever.

Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers is a Catholic speaker and evangelist and the founder and director of DynamicDeacon.com.

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