Friday, September 6, 2019

Walking with Jesus: A Way Forward for the Church by Pope Francis

Walking with Jesus: A Way Forward for the ChurchWalking with Jesus: A Way Forward for the Church by Pope Francis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So, I don't know what was expecting from this book from Pope Francis, but it wasn't a long dissertation on Catholic doctrine on various topics. I guess I thought there would be some kind of conversation with the reader about the challenges the Catholic church faces, and by extension Christianity faces, and what his plan is to deal with it. I expected stories, engagement, and real conversation. But no. I was bored by a compilation of one-sided, dry sermons instead.

That is not to say I didn't learn things. I am not of the Catholic faith, and so there were many new things I encountered in this book, as well as a few things I already knew, but that I was reminded of. I will list them, mostly because I love lists.

- The Catholic church, like any other group, has its own jargon. Litany, homily, Eucharist, etc, etc. I've encountered these terms here and there, but only in passing, and never in complete context. Well, I'm much more aware of these terms now, although I doubt they will show up in my vocabulary, or that I could really define them in a way that wouldn't have my Catholic friends rolling their eyes.

- The Catholic religion has many doctrines that are different than my faith. That is no surprise to anyone. However, when I put Sunday sermons aside and look at outcomes, these two religions have a lot in common, as do most other religions I have encountered. Take care of the poor, beware of greed, pray. We should all be leveraging our commonalities to promote peace and a general community of faith, rather than focusing on differences.

- But to talk about our differences... the main differences between what I heard in this book, and what I hear every Sunday at church, for me, boiled down to how we see mankind among God's creations. This book left me with the impression that man is worthless, and without power or choice. That we are meant to suffer and be poor during our whole existence, and that to exercise freedom of will, or to strive to improve our temporal means is an act against God. I just can't see humanity in this light. We are obviously beings who have the power to make choices, and if we choose to better our lives, we have even more choices to do good or evil. So I don't want to dwell on this difference, but if I summarize it to one main difference, that's it.

- Finally, if there is any doctrine I straight up disagree with, it is the concept of abstinence as a spiritual requirement. Several times in these speeches, the Pope gives advice on marriage and raising kids. At best, it was the advice of someone trying to teach someone something they read about but never tried themselves, and at the worst, absolutely awful advice. This is not just an idle opinion, but from someone who has been married for over 20 years (to the same person) and is raising 4 children. They really need to revisit that whole concept. Man was not meant to be alone.

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