Nov 1, 2012
A myth, like a gun, can be deadly. But myths are unloaded guns. Exposing the empty barrel removes the threat to bystanders and the one taking aim. Everyone benefits from the truth, but not everyone takes it well. Even blanks can backfire. Thus, truth always requires the company of charity.
Catholic myths can lead people astray, prevent some from entering the Church, and embarrass the faithful. Thus, we need guys like Christopher Kaczor and his latest work, The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church. He logically debunks the myths with clarity and brevity. But not without the threat inherent to apologetics – reducing Christian mysteries to mere formulas, reducing evangelization to winning the argument, and in the worst case, speaking truth without charity. Yet the author delivers the ultimate antidote to deadly myths by highlighting the crucial foundation of the Church – the life and love of Christ. Kaczor begins with a proper perspective of real persons living out their faith, and at times, failing to be saints. “Would it be fair to judge a hospital by the patients who disregard doctor’s orders and fail to take their medication?”
Kaczor’s fortifies each chapter with pointed references to Church teaching, saints, experts and psychological and sociological statistics. He relays scientific facts (which are good for critics) without implying, “just believe it.” This, however, may leave the reader seeking a more theological explanation and a less practical or sociological one, such as in the chapter on earthly welfare. In such places a horizontal explanation is emphasized at the expense of the vertical. Of course, the book’s purpose is not to be extensive manual. Yet it accomplishes the subtitle’s aim: distinguishing fact from fiction about Catholicism.
Kaczor exposes the seven myths quite simply. Is faith an obstacle to science? Albert Einstein didn’t seem to think so; he said, “Not everything that can be counted counts; not everything that counts can be counted.” Did the Church oppose science with Galileo? What about evolution and embryonic stem-cell research? Or perhaps the Church recognizes the value of both faith and reason as being complimentary.
Does the Church oppose earthly welfare, freedom, and happiness? Not according to Hilaire Belloc. He wrote, “Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, there’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!”