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Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the…

Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian…

by Charles J. Chaput

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I quickly scanned this book, but intend to dig into it. This is part of my reading for Lent 2017. As a "cradle Catholic," I can identify with the author's viewpoint. I recently read an editorial in a Catholic archdiocesan newspaper. The article addressed "faith shaming," a practice that derides people for openly expressing their faith. I have had this experience, so found this book to be of interest, since it fits the theme.
  LadyoftheLodge | Mar 1, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review.

Definitely not a light read, this took me a couple of months to digest. I should say that I'm Catholic and do fall in line pretty closely with the teachings of the Church, so I suspect that I struggled less with some of the author's perspective than others might. The most insightful part for me was early on where we get perspective on the unique history of this country. As Americans we don't come from a common ethnicity or race, and the individualism at the root of our values perhaps put our sustainability in jeopardy from the beginning. Other themes of the book: with great freedom comes great responsibility, and true change can only come from within each of us. ( )
  annpool | Feb 18, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Reading this book was a movement of my heart. I had once been a stranger in this land I call home, and yet, without knowing it, had become a resident - a citizen - of this land. I had lost my roots, and this reading has re-invigorated them and planted them in good soil again. The book speaks of the long history of faith in our country, its morals and beliefs that have helped to shape it, and us, in all that is America. Yet, the distractions created by all of this have helped to pull people from the faith, morals and beliefs of their founding, creating new "truths" and confusion in life. The book speaks of restless hearts, hearts ever restless until they rest in God. By resting our lives, our beings, in God and his love, we find truth again. We come to see that in order to truly live in this land, we must use the good and the bad that we receive, and bear fruit for all things - but, never losing site of our true home in heaven. We become joyful in the land because we are not of it, but are of God and His love.We find our true purpose. "We're here to bear one another's burdens, to sacrifice ourselves for the needs of others, and to live a witness of Christian love - in all our public actions, including every one of our social, economic, and political choices; but beginning with the conversion of our own hearts." What we do in this journey of life through this strange land we call home, makes all the difference if we are truly to get home again. Wonderful read!
1 vote tbodenhorn | Jan 29, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Strangers in a Strange Land by Charles Chaput is an excellent example of a well composed book. That is what first impressed me about the book. The grammar, structure and logic from the initial pages invited me to read on. The author is a Catholic Archbishop, so his point of view may be assumed to be that of a bishop of the Church. The foundation he lays from the earliest pages is used as the basis for pages that follow and subsequent develop follows in like steps. That alone would be praiseworthy for an author.

The book is unabashedly about the need, in an "invented" republic without place or heritage as its raison d'etre; for a common set of beliefs to underscore its creation and continued growth. He starts by explaining the need for hope, as understood from a biblical perspective, not naive optimism. Hope requires faith and hope makes possible true charity.

He refers often to the philosophers and historians, as did the founders, fearing the danger of misled majority rule inherent in simple democracy, built check and balances like the governors used in clockworks to moderate the actions of government. Tocqueville understood and described the dangers in democracy and the ease with which it can be overtaken by despotism. He understood that democracy doesn't encourage strong characters but rather self-absorbed ones. Many of those checks are based on the assumptions of common understanding of truth. The constitution's Article IV Section 4 reads in part "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government..."

The book then proceeds to demonstrate by many references to examples and respected thinkers how when by majority opinion swayed by convenience and public acceptance self-evident truths are allowed to be re-defined. Its logic will be very uncomfortable to many, but to an open mind it is solid. Constitutional guarantees of rights are not easily challenged. Instead, the more convenient path is the change the definitions of the words contained in the guarantees.

For example: Life is self-evident. Sex is self-evident How life begins is self-evident. If one gets the governmental authorities to redefine one, then we have obliterated the basis of the formation of the United States expressed in the Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

If, instead of relying on self-evident truth the government's agents accept that they may define when life begins, it is an easy and very logical step to redefine how it may begin, if it does so then it is easy to redefine what life is and when it may be deemed not worthy of rights. With the authority to define life comes the ability to define if one has a right to life. For me, Chaput's development of this line was particularly elegant.

He logic is easy to follow and persuasive. He cites innumerable scholars and authorities from Aristotle to Augustine to C.S. Lewis to contemporary scholars. He proceeds to the end of his book assuming the reader was able to accept the logic and its conclusions and the tone becomes much more pastoral, almost sermon like. The most difficult part of reading the book is realizing the frequency that one has used excuses or popular culture to choose convenience over right. For those who celebrate the many current excesses of re-definition, I would expect it is very uncomfortable or impossible.

He closes by examining the question, "Who is man?" explaining what faith permits one to know. "God is not a supreme being within reality, but the author of reality itself, outside the envelope of time and space..."

For anyone who is a sincere thinker this is a book that should be read. ( )
  gpsman | Jan 28, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Although I'm Catholic, I don't consider myself overly religous. I do, however, like to read books about faith which allows me to open my mind to different perspectives. It was difficult for me to get through this book. I found myself "zoning out" and rereading a lot. I liked the information about the influence of religion in our country. Other than that, I didn't get much out of it. Perhaps someone with stronger beliefs and interest in this topic would enjoy this book. ( )
  KWROLSEN | Jan 28, 2017 |
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