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