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Opus Dei: an objective look behind the myths…
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Opus Dei: an objective look behind the myths and reality of the most…

by John L. Allen

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A very thorough and detailed examination of the structure, philosophy and practices of this organisation. In my view, Allen succeeds 90% in showing that fears about the organisation being a sinister, organised and reactionary force with a baleful influence on the Catholic church are grossly exaggerated or entirely fictitious. Yet at the same time some of the common practices, particularly as regards aspects of the lifestyles of the celibate numeraries such as their limited access to sources of information and contacts with the outside world, seem rather cultish and seem to have no real objective justification even from a religious viewpoint. A worthwhile book, clearly sympathetic to a Catholic viewpoint overall, but lacking nothing in rigourous investigation of its subject. ( )
  john257hopper | Oct 26, 2007 |
4109 Opus Dei An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church, by John L. Allen, Jr. (read 22 Dec 2005) Opus Dei was founded Oct 2, 1928, and this account is a good explanation of it and its objectives. The book shows that Opus Dei is not very powerful and most of the bad publicity about it is not well founded. Its wealth is about the same as that of a medium-sized American diocese. Its members are a good zealous group, trying to lead holy lives and do good. ( )
  Schmerguls | Oct 18, 2007 |
This is a very good, balanced investigation of Opus Dei. The organisation comes out of it much more postively than media reports might lead one to expect, but its faults are also acknowledged. I would have given this five stars had it not been for the fact that the author very occasionally lapses from his own high standards and takes a "no smoke without fire" approach. This is very rare and quite clearly flagged, however. Overall, I recommend this book highly. ( )
  lizw | Jul 10, 2006 |
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John L. Allenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Morgan, Jean-LouisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385514492, Hardcover)

For readers of The Da Vinci Code, John Allen's book on Opus Dei may be something of a revelation. One opens it expecting to find at the very least GPS coordinates pinpointing albino monk training camps. Or perhaps full disclosure of untold wealth flowing through offshore bank accounts. Instead one finds exhaustive research, interviews and careful analysis that reveal a group alive with ideas and purpose, but a bit short on sinister plans. Removing the sense of mystery surrounding Opus Dei may not serve future thriller writers well, but the journey is fascinating in its own right. Allen's biography of Opus Dei is also necessarily a brief biography of Saint Josemaría Escrivá, born in Spain in 1902, whose vision of the sanctification of work gave birth to Opus Dei, or "The Work" as its members call it. The idea of finding sanctification through work was not original to Escrivá, but the power of his vision certainly brought it to a fuller realization within the Catholic church. Allen explores this central idea that "one can find God through the practice of law, engineering or medicine, by picking up the garbage or by delivering the mail, if one brings to that work the proper Christian spirit." For Escrivá sanctification flowed in equal measure both in and outside the walls of the church. Much of Allen's own work getting to know Opus Dei is done with numerous, wide-ranging personal interviews, from the halls of the Vatican, to Africa, to U.S. suburbs. Allen is also careful to include voices of ex-members. He recognizes the best way to dispel the aura of mystery surrounding Opus Dei is to shine a bright light on it, and with a remarkable degree of cooperation from Opus Dei itself, that is exactly what he does. His aggressiveness in countering conspiracy theory with information reaches its apex in the only slow-going chapter in the entire book, a survey of Opus Dei's financial holdings and activities where a double-shot of cappuccino is recommended before attacking the endless lists detailing financial information. Ultimately, Allen's work comes across as a balanced, perceptive inquiry into a group that, while perhaps not preferring the center stage limelight, does not suffer greatly when exposed to it.--Ed Dobeas

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:39 -0400)

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The first serious journalistic investigation of the highly secretive, controversial organization Opus Dei provides unique insight about the wild rumors surrounding it and discloses its significant influence in the Vatican and on the politics of the Catholic Church. Opus Dei (literally "the work of God") is an international association of Catholics often labeled as conservative who seek personal Christian perfection and strive to implement Christian ideals in their jobs and in society as a whole. It has been accused of promoting a right-wing political agenda and of cultlike practices. Its notoriety escalated with the publication of the runaway bestseller The Da Vinci Code (Opus Dei plays an important and sinister role in the novel). With the expert eye of a longtime observer of the Vatican and the skill of an investigative reporter intent on uncovering closely guarded secrets, John Allen finally separates the myths from the facts.--From publisher description.… (more)

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