Two Items for a Saturday

First, this tonic for those being gaslit by MAGA liars that anybody but themselves is responsible for the treasonous riot and assassination attempt against Congress:

Second, Where Peter Is has a very warm review for my book The Church’s Best-Kept Secret: A Primer on Catholic Social Teaching! Here’s a taste:

Given my own experience, when I picked up Mark Shea’s new book The Church’s Best-Kept Secret: A Primer on Catholic Social Teaching last year, I had high expectations. And I wasn’t disappointed. That same passage from Faithful Citizenship could have been the thesis for this book. In the introduction, Mark explicitly writes, “each therefore tends to evaluate the Church’s social teaching in light of their political and cultural priorities rather than evaluating their political and cultural priorities in light of the Church’s teaching” (page 12).

The temptation to put our political values before Gospel values, our party before the Church, is precisely what Shea challenges, head-on. He contrasts what it means to think with the “categories of the world” and to think “with the mind of Christ,” and urges his readers to do the latter. It’s this tendency, Shea claims, that has made the Church’s social teaching “secret.” It’s not that the Church has hidden these doctrines, it’s that we actively avoid listening to them. He says, “The Church’s moral teaching is regarded with tremendous confusion, not because it is confusing but because we are confused” (13). Our political ideologies have made us blind to the truth.

The content of the book revolves around the “four pillars” of Catholic Social Teaching: the dignity of the human person, the common good, subsidiarity, and solidarity. Shea warns his readers that our temptation will be to over-emphasize or under-emphasize some of these pillars because of our political biases. However, “just as a throne would tip over if each leg differed in length,” it’s precisely the balance and tension of these pillars that hold these doctrines up (21-22). 

Weaving together the work of writers such as G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis with the magisterial teachings of Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis, Shea provides a very accessible catechesis for some of the Church’s most important, but also nuanced, teachings. As I read, I kept thinking about the different people with whom I wanted to share this book with, and the ways I want to incorporate it into the ministries I lead at my parish. I have never read a more thorough primer on Catholic Social Teaching that is this concise and approachable for regular Catholics. 

Something that particularly struck me was how helpful this book would be as an introduction to Pope Francis’s newest social encyclical, Fratelli Tutti. Even though it was written months before the encyclical came out in October, it was as if Shea intuited the most relevant themes on which to focus. This book breaks down many of the barriers that often intimidate Catholics when approaching social encyclicals and other magisterial documents. 

Read the whole thing and then get my book, which I think is a good first step back to the Church’s actual moral tradition, forward to healing from the trauma of the past four years, and out of the freak show of MAGA antichrist false religion.


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