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Papal Bull: An Ex-Catholic Calls Out the Catholic Church

by Joe Wenke

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This book delves into the Bible and the Catholic Church and rips apart everything from unsaintly saints, the gospels to supposed truths and beliefs about God and religion. The author is an ex-Catholic and also looks at the subject from a LBGT perspective. He seems to have done a lot of research and comes up with some interesting details such as saints that never existed and of course, hypocritical, misbehaving clergy. He assails the biases exhibited against Jews, women and anyone who isn't a man & a woman having marital sex with only procreation in mind. He gives many compelling arguments but it gets kind of boring and repetitive at times. As another ex-Catholic, I agree with most of his concerns and may burn in Hell for even having read the book.

I got this book free from Netgalley ( )
  jwood652 | Oct 21, 2015 |
This book delves into the Bible and the Catholic Church and rips apart everything from unsaintly saints, the gospels to supposed truths and beliefs about God and religion. The author is an ex-Catholic and also looks at the subject from a LBGT perspective. He seems to have done a lot of research and comes up with some interesting details such as saints that never existed and of course, hypocritical, misbehaving clergy. He assails the biases exhibited against Jews, women and anyone who isn't a man & a woman having marital sex with only procreation in mind. He gives many compelling arguments but it gets kind of boring and repetitive at times. As another ex-Catholic, I agree with most of his concerns and may burn in Hell for even having read the book.

I got this book free from Netgalley ( )
  jwood652 | Oct 21, 2015 |
This book was given to me as an Advanced Review Copy for an honest opinion of it, and I thank the media department, and a whole lotta luck, for letting me get this copy.

Whew! I feel like I've been to confession with the universe, (not God, that's a bad fairytale) and I've been absolved of ....something. Thank you, Dr. Wenke, for putting into words and print and citing sources for what I've been thinking about religion, especially Catholicism for a long time. As a kid, I really wanted to believe in God, and if there had been the least bit of evidence for one he would have had me. But I kept looking and nothing.... And I saw, even as a kid, how our congregation was condescendingly treated by the Catholic Church, and I didn't like it.

As Dr. Wenke did, I grew up in a large but lower, lower middle class Catholic family, and went to Catholic school. And in my case, he was certainly right about Catholic School in the 60's and having to memorize the Baltimore Catechism. I do remember once in first or second grade trying to ask a question of the priest teaching us out of the catechism. I also vividly remember being stared down like I was some kind of squished worm, and my question was totally ignored. But as Dr. Wenke also notes, we can all write long, long books about those days. And yes, there was a lot of physical and emotional abuse being dealt out. So I completely understood where Dr. Wenke was coming from.

One of the best things I liked while reading this book, was the feeling that the author and I were holding a really good interesting conversation. And while he cited sources to support his arguments, I never felt like I was being talked/wrote down to as much scholarly religious work seems to do. Yes, Some reviewers have taken him to task, for the organization of his work, and his apparent "anger" with the Church. I never saw any of this in his writing. Yes, he expressed frustration, but who wouldn't? And another reviewer tried to make the point that he repeated himself over and over again. Not surprising at all when one can see that he's trying to break through the indoctrination the Church brainwashes into their students and parents. Parents who rarely had even completed high school, let me add, and who often didn't have the money or energy to question the Church's procedures.

The one thought that kept repeating for me throughout the book, was that I need to buy about 2 dozen copies of this and hand them out to my family members, and at least try to spark a conversation. Because you seen when dealing with these kind of religious beliefs it's often like running your head into a wall over and over.

I encourage you to read this book, especially if you're afraid to read this book. Dr. Wenke makes his points, back them up and makes a completely convincing case that organized religion works only to take over our minds and lives. They certainly don't want us thinking for ourselves. ( )
  dreplogle | Apr 16, 2014 |
My problem with this book is not that I find the content offensive, it's how poorly it's executed. The author speaks about how he wrote this book over a short period of time, almost as if in a trance, and henceforth published without changing hardly a word. Well, maybe some editing would have made for a better book.

The author is obviously smart and quirky and has a lot of anger towards the Catholic Church - a lot of anger that I believe i justified. Unfortunately it's executed like a 200 page Buzzfeed list rather than a well structured humorous book with legitimate beef with a institution steeped in hypocrisy. I know this isn't an academic book, but references are ALWAYS nice, especially when you're arguing explosive things like religion and politics.

There are parts of this book that are extraordinarily poignant and witty. My favorite part is the comparison between the famous Potter Stewart line on pornography being hard to define but "I know it when I see it." and using it to compare it to exorcists knowing demonic possession when the see it.

This book could be great, but instead it's too hastily put together to make much sense.

(This review is based on am advance review copy supplied through NetGalley by the publisher.) ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
Papal Bull: an Ex-Catholic Calls Out the Catholic Church
By Joe Wenke
Trans Uber LLC
Reviewed by Karl Wolff

The Catholic Church has a lot to answer for. Dr. Joe Wenke seeks these answers in his new book, Papal Bull: an Ex-Catholic Calls Out the Catholic Church. (NB: Wenke, an LGBT rights advocate, received his doctorate in English.) Beginning with an autobiographical account of his childhood in a large Catholic family in working-class Philadelphia, he looks into the Catholic Church's many facets: saints, miracles, popes and anti-popes, sex, birth control, and systematic child sexual abuse.

Much ink has been spilled about The New Atheists. (Cue screams of horror and outrage.) While Wenke is part of this phenomenon, his work is strictly second-tier. The trouble remains a matter of tone and intent. Unlike the works of Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, Papal Bull, as evidenced from its punning title, is aimed at a popular audience. His tongue is sharp, but he's no Christopher Hitchens. But I came late to the New Atheist movement, having come out as a skeptic by reading the Marquis de Sade and listening to George Carlin and Bill Hicks.

The book has lots of jokes. Some are pretty blasphelicious. But once he investigates the Catholic Church's history of institutional misogyny, homophobia, and, until recently (read: 1965), Anti-Semitism, things get serious. His chapter on clerical child abuse radiates with righteous outrage. He calls out the priests from his school days he knew were pedophiles. And in an attempt to bring balance to this account, he spends a chapter outlining the various positive things Catholic charities have done.

As someone who wasn't raised Catholic, I found the book illuminating in its explanation of specific Catholic doctrine and practice. I never knew Catholics considered that the Virgin Mary was born sinless. Or that Purgatory was just as bad as Hell, except one could leave it. Or what First Fridays were or what the term "Pagan Babies" meant. Being raised Lutheran, all these details were fascinating. (Although one of my parents is Catholic, I attended Catholic services as a confessional tourist, not as a participant. On the other hand, living in a Milwaukee suburb, Catholicism left an indelible mark. Seriously, Friday Fish Fries in Milwaukee, kind of a big deal. One of the many things I miss about the Greater Milwaukee area are the plethora of loca church festivals.)

While I agree with Wenke's anger at the institution, I found the execution less than satisfactory. As a self-confessed skeptic and freethinker, the "Vatican is bad" thing gets old quick. One can rail at the corruptions and depravities of the Holy See until one's blue in the face. But that comes off as yet another set of tu quoque arguments. (Tu quoque means simply, "not admitting one's guilt by blaming others.") The Vatican is just as corrupt, ossified, and unimaginative as any other political body on the planet. Corruption is pretty banal at this point. But Wenke does have a point when he unleashes a verbal tirade against the institutional deception, misinformation, and moral rot involved in the clergy child rape scandals. Plenary indulgences, nepotism, and simony are corrupt practices. When an institution allows for its members to rape children, bankrolls the cover-up, hires Jesuit attack dog canon lawyers, and blames the rapes on gays cuz the gayz are pedophiles, then, well ... that's crossing the Rubicon into pure evil. The anger is genuine, but there aren't any real solutions posited. Well, except the obvious ones: Let priests marry; accept marriage equality as a cultural norm; prosecute pedophile priests with brutal efficiency. In the words of ex-Catholic stand-up George Carlin, "Now's not the time for rational solutions!"

To be fair, this book was written during the Pope Benedict XVI regime. While it is too early into the reign of Pope Francis I to make knee-jerk conclusions, many things Wenke rail against remain true. But on the whole, this is an entertaining book. A little light in places and at times glib and smug in its attitude, but for those wavering between Lapsed Catholic and Ex-Catholic, some time with this book might be worth it.

Out of 10/8.0 and higher for fans of the New Atheists. Also higher for those wavering between Lapsed Catholic and Ex-Catholic status.

http://www.cclapcenter.com/2013/12/book_review_papal_bull_by_joe_.html

or

http://driftlessareareview.com/2013/12/13/cclap-fridays-papal-bull-by-joe-wenke/ ( )
  kswolff | Dec 13, 2013 |
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