1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Mr. Buckley is an exceptionally talented man; his writing is only one of many disciplines at which he excels. And even within this field he is an accomplished novelist, essayist, speech writer, author of monographs, and the author of a syndicated national newspaper column. This particular work could be legitimately characterized as theology although the author denies that he is so qualified. By his definition this may be true, but his level of expertise on Christianity, and on being a Roman Catholic far surpasses the knowledge the majority of the practitioners of the faith can claim.
I came back to this book for a second reading after Mr. Buckley was mentioned several times in the new book by Gary Wills, "Why I Am A Catholic". Mr. Buckley's working title was the same as that of Mr. Wills, but when his book was published in 1997 it had become, "Nearer, My God". Mr. Wills and Mr. Buckley had worked together with Mr. Wills having written for the National Review. Their personal preferences in the political sphere were to become incompatible, and the professional relationship ended.
"Nearer My God", is not as critical of the Church although it does raise a variety of questions about Vatican II, and the decline of virtually any form of religious instruction in education, public or private. Mr. Buckley shares the changes that have taken place at the preparatory school he attended, and includes at the end of his book a list of quite prestigious private schools generally founded by Christians, and their present course offerings that are devoid of anything other than religious homogeneity. The effort spent ensuring that any discussion/teaching is as far from any study of specific religions, is either laughable, or offensive depending on the reader's point of view. It brings to mind recent court rulings that took place within days of each other involving the constitutional issue of the separation of church and state. Within days two rulings were handed down, one stating The Pledge Of Allegiance was unconstitutional due to the words, "under God", and then within days a ruling that school vouchers could be used for religious schools was deemed legal. Genius or even common sense is becoming harder to find residing upon the benches of the judiciary. The decision regarding the pledge was particularly obscene as it was brought in an effort to bolster a child custody case, and not for any legitimate discourse on constitutional law.
Mr. Buckley is a devout Catholic, and while he may take issue with the decisions of The Vatican II Council, he does not attack the Church as an institution. The book explores the Catholic Faith in a variety of ways. He shares a brilliant discussion on a variety of points from the theologians Arnold Lunn and Father Knox. He then invited a group of familiar names that had either found, or converted to The Catholic Church as adults, Lance Murrow, Whittaker Chambers, and many more.
The discussions range from what either kept them from converting sooner, to which ideas finally made up their minds. There are discussions on all of the hot buttons currently at issue, and while these discussions are not devoid of feeling, they lack any manner of rancor.
on 22 March 1999
This was the book that drove some important decisions in my life. Mr. Buckley has gathered from his own experience some deeply personal relections on Roman Catholic faith. I cherish his effort in writing about his life and knowledge of the church in a manner that is spiritual and reflective of a deep sense of grace. Chapter 8 on Christ's Crucifixion and Chapter 9 about St. Bernadette's experience at Lourdes were stunning to me. I was quite struck by the personal honesty displayed for public view, but I got a sense that Mr. Buckley might someday return to the subject for a sequel. Hopefully he will continue to explain Catholicism in his interesting, witty and challenging manner. Although this book was a tremendous joy to read, it is at times challenging in it's vocabulary and depth of intellectual thought. Well worth the effort for the appreciative reader searching for some of the toughest theological questions. Casual readers will probably find the slog of the first few chapters more difficult that easier digested works. A Five Star Feast for faithful inquirer's of Roman Catholicism.
on 15 July 2014
This is a collection of essay topics written by the late author as they pertain to faith and specifically the Church. He mixes both his own life journey, as well as that of others who had come to the Catholic faith, in an attempt to gain deeper insight into the workings of religion. This work admirably succeeds and provides an erudite and humane guidance on these matters.
As the author points out that it is not supposed to be easy living a Catholic life, but this does provide an intellectual framework on how to approach it.
on 9 January 1998
A fine polished work that walks the fine line between academia and spirituality. Few books manage this successfully and, like the recent "THE Autobiography of Jesus of Nazareth" by Richard G. Patton, Buckley also manages to portray historical figures in a believable and contemporary light