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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Catholicism Paperback – 14 Mar 2000


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Paperback, 14 Mar 2000
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Imprint Unknown; 1 edition (14 Mar. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0028636392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0028636399
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 2.6 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,249,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

The Complete Idiot's Guide To Catholicism explores the world's largest religious denomination and introduced you to the Catholic practice. It offers you a new approach to learning Catholicism, covering the rituals and symbols of the religion, such as Mass, the Seven Sacraments, and the holy days and their meaning. The authors tell you how Catholicism has spread throughout the world, its roots, and how it has grown and changed over the course of this century. It's a valuable tool for anyone interested in examining--or reexamining--this large and complex religion.

About the Author

Bob O'Gorman teaches at the Institute of Pastoral Studioes at Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois.

Mary Faulkner holds a Master's degree in Religious Education from Scarritt Graduate School and is a freelance writer.


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Customer Reviews

2.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Saper Vedere on 4 Dec. 2003
Format: Paperback
There are lots of solid chunks of readable explanations of the traditions, teachings and practices of the Church. However, the book is a bit too light and flippant about the teaching of the Church in our present times. The authors overlooked Chesterton's rule that "If the church marries the fashion of the day, she will be a widow in a fortnight". A far superior and better organised book is "Catholicism for Dummies" by Triglio and Brighenti.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By RedOktober on 6 Nov. 2004
Format: Paperback
I read this book as a practising Catholic hoping to learn more about my faith. However, the view presented is a very parochial, US liberal one ie not representative of what the faith means for the majority of the world's Catholics. It is also theologically dubious, coming up with statements such as 'Mary is the female face of God'. While I've certainly heard of Wisdom or Sophia being God's feminine aspect, I have yet to hear of the Trinity having expanding to include Mary within its ranks.
Also, the book's insistence on using 'inclusive' language has led to some very odd and clumsy phrasing. It furthermore presents as Catholic belief rituals performed out of local superstition by certain Catholic communities.
If you are hoping for an objective presentation of Catholic belief, practice and history, don't bother. If you are hoping to understand why Catholicism is so widely practised around the world, you won't find the answer in this book. Indeed, I left the book puzzled as to why anybody would want to follow this religion. However, if you're interested in finding out how some Catholics interpret their religion then this book is worth a look.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Nov. 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this hoping to find a book I could recommend to a friend interested in Catholicism. Unfortunately its dripping with inaccuracies and errors. Please don't buy it, I'll send you mine for free! There is a new complete idiots guide to the Catholic Catechism and also Catholicism for Dummies which both carry imprimaturs (an official license of the RC church - Notably missing from this). Try there instead.
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Format: Paperback
Having read this book I can understand why devout Catholics may be disappointed by some of the content within it.
However, as this book cites from the beginning, it is aimed not just at Catholic's but anyone with a general interest in this religion who may want to learn more. It is because of this that the writing style may seem libertarian and igorant when really it is quite impartial and objective.
This book is, in fact, an excellent read and I would certainly recommend it to anyone interested in Catholicism as it goes to great depths to cover all aspects of Catholicism without ever trying to thrust the religion upon you.
People may have criticised this book but remember that it is a "Complete Idiot's Guide" so there will, inevitably, be idiot's reading it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 128 reviews
96 of 110 people found the following review helpful
Nice Format, but not always correct 12 May 2000
By M. Horak - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When I opened this book, the first page I saw offered this information: upon entering Church, Catholics genuflect to show respect for the altar. Actually, we genuflect to show respect for the Eucharist, when it is present. Otherwise, we bow slightly to show respect for an empty altar.
While this example may seem minor, it is indicative of the general feeling I got as I moved through the book. In a nagging way, it seemed slightly inaccurate at times.
That's unfortunate, because I was impressed by the format and breadth of information - in a very readable form. That's a combination which is tough to find in any book about religion.
The book tries to introduce the reader to many of the cultural aspects of Catholicism such as meatless Fridays, ruler-wielding nuns, etc. This is the first time I've seen this much "Catholic trivia" in a book about Catholicism, which may be a large part of its appeal. The treatment of Catholic cultured seemed a bit cliched to me, but that's just one view. A person with a different (or non-Catholic) background may see it very differently.
Before you buy this book, you might take a look at Kevin Johnson's "Why Do Catholics Do That?" Johnson doesn't cover all the same information, particularly the cultural aspects, but his is also a very readable book which covers many of the doctrinal aspects in which Catholicism is different than most Christian traditions.
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
You'd have to be an idiot to believe this book. 15 May 2006
By Lynn Breaux - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just read Bob's co-writer Mary's other book and you will see where her objectivity went. She is the "Earth Goddess" lady. Please read Catholicism for Dummies if you want a pretty accurate overview to Church teachings. Better yet, get the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read it yourself - I don't think you're an idiot and I think you are smart enough to be able to understand the Catechism. The Idiot's Guide is a misrepresentation of the Catholic Faith. It focuses on the authors' opinions and "Feelings" rather than official Church teachings. It wouldn't let me give it 0 stars, so I selected 1.
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Limited--not always correct--information 9 July 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I bought this book as a new Catholic because I craved more information about the church and my new faith. It has disappointed me at almost every turn because the information given is so scanty, and often what I am looking for is not in the book. In one instance (wish I could specifically remember which subject), I found it to be incorrect. If you want a very broad overview of the faith, this book could work for you. If you want something with depth, steer clear of this one.
45 of 56 people found the following review helpful
I give it 1 star, and that's being generous 22 April 2003
By Foye Hitomi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I bought the book expecting a down-to-earth explanation of Catholic beliefs and practices; was I ever disappointed.
Much of it isn't an explanation of the faith, but rather the authors' pushing of a liberal and politically correct version of Catholicism.
I can't list all the inaccuracies here -- but one glaring one occurs in Ch. 19, where one section heading reads "Abortion: A Tough Choice." A reader totally unfamiliar with Catholicism would get the idea that abortion is a valid choice for Catholics; it's not.
A little later, the authors claim that "the church allows abortions when they are necessary to preserve the mother's life." False; the Catholic Church disapproves of abortion in all cases.
There are numerous statements about the Church's roots to the Earth (is it about Catholicism or Gaia worship?) and about how Vatican II gave "shared power" to the people (it did no such thing; Vatican II reaffirmed the definitive authority of the pope and the bishops in communion with him).
There's also a claim that Christ never directed his teaching toward the authorities of his time, but only to the people. Again, false: there's more than one instance in the Gospels where Christ specifically directs his teachings toward the authorities, namely the Pharisees and teachers of the Law.
The authors give kid-gloves treatment to classic Catholic no-no's, such as abortion, homosexual acts, birth control, and the like. For instance, they write about how the Church "has not changed his view on homosexuality at the present time." Why would it? The Church's teachings on homosexual acts are definitive acts regarding a moral issue; it cannot be changed! Not to mention that such a change would not wash with the Bible. The book is littered with doctrinal errors of this sort.
The authors also assert that the Church's survival depends on its people; another "Catholic LIte" and "power to thee people" push. This directly contradicts Christ's promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against his Church.
For the authors Christ's words apparently mean nothing in their "power to the people" scheme.
In this case (and in several others too numerous to mention here), the authors are pushing "facts" that are entirely contradictory to Scripture.
In Ch. 25 the authors state that women have moved into the mainstream of society "with the exception of the Catholic Church." This is ridiculous; women are just as much a part of the Church as of any other institution.
They complain that all the "leadership positions" are filled by men. Wrong again; lots of leadership positions in the Church (Catholic hospital directors, school principals, social service agency directors, diocesan chancellors, etc.) are open to women.
In Ch 25 the authors complain about women not being priests, ignoring the fact that John Paul II and every other recent pope has stated definitely that the Church has no authority to ordain women. This isn't explaining; it's pushing an agenda -- one that's at odds with authoritative Church teaching no less. It has no place in a book that supposedly explains Catholicism to the uninitiated.
Much of this book is but a screed pushing the authors' "Catholic Lite" view of what the church should be; in so doing, they make numerous factual and even doctrinal errors. This book bears no bishop's imprimatur; plus the title page has a statement saying that the opinions in the book are solely those of the authors.
Want to buy a book on Catholicism that explains our faith (all of it) as it really is, rather than how the "progressives" want it to be? Make sure it has a bishop's imprimatur; ask the publisher or Amazon if it does, before you buy it.
Many problems in the Church, such as the sex-abuse scandal, are the direct result of the very sort of "Catholic LIte" version of the faith that the authors are pushing. The sort of agenda pushed by the authors, and those who share their opinions, has done estensive damage to the Church and its faithful.
The book's title is a misnomer; it's not a guide to true Catholicism. It's a guide to what the authors want Catholicism to be -- a feel-good, morally relative, politically correct, overly tolerant, "lite" religion that makes people feel better about their sins, rather than strive to turn from them. Do not buy nor read this book.
37 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Contains false teaching 15 July 2003
By David Ancell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I paged through this book to see if it would be good for any of the RCIA folks I work with. Unfortunately, I would have to say that I have warned them against this book because it does not put forth the authentic faith. I paged through the typical areas of dissent and found that this book teaches falsely.
For example, it mentions the facts that after Vatican II some religious no longer wore habits and some priests would advise a person that in their circumstance it is okay to practice contraception. Neither was an intended reform, and in fact Vatican II empathetically proclaimed that we must be loyal to the teaching of the Magisterium. I found no reference to Vatican II's actual teaching on the subject.
This book caters to the American disobedience by inserting the irresponsible "Don't get caught up in the rules; it's love that matters." statements without the realization that it's those laws that teach us what love is. The law is the minimum, not the ideal that we can just break at our will.
If you want a better reading, go to Catholicism for Dummies. It is well-written and loyal to the faith.
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