Saturday, July 11, 2009

Summer Reading

I'm currently trying to read three separate books, each of which came to me in a different way.

Theology and Down Syndrome by Amos Yong came home with my wife from her support group meeting for parents of children with special needs. She promised that I would read it and post a review on her blog at My Little Saint. I'm only a chapter into it, but the author, who is Pentecostal, seems to treat the whole subject of theology a little differently than I would expect a Catholic author to. His whole approach seems to be subjective rather than objective. That is to say, rather than writing and thinking about God, he is focused on the person's response on an individual and social level. Thus, there was much hand-wringing at the beginning about whether he could even write about the theology of disability without being disabled himself. Needless to say, I don't expect to see much about the sacraments or magisterial teaching.

Coincidentally, I'm slowly slogging my way through Transformation in Christ by Dietrich von Hildebrand. I'm having a hard time grasping the densely packed verbiage in this one. I find that I have to re-read paragraphs several times, and even then I only understand half of the content. At the point in the von Hildebrand book at which I started reading the Yong book, von Hildebrand was discussing simplicity, and noting that "all forms of false simplicity, except the one based on a deficiency of intellectual gifts, constitute an insuperable obstactle to the attainment of true simplicity." Mental disabilities, therefore, do not constitute a barrier to the attainment of holiness. My sister in Biloxi originally read this book, and then gave it to my mom, who passed it on to me.

A third book came to me in a most unusual way. One of my kids came to me with it, saying that a lady had dropped it off. I went to the door and looked, but she had gone. All that the kids could tell me was that she had brown hair. I recognized the name of the author, so now I also find myself reading When the Spirit Comes in Power, by Peter Herbeck. Mr. Herbeck is Vice President of Renewal Ministries, through which he has a daily radio program, Fire on the Earth, and he is also a panelist on the EWTN program Crossing the Goal. His book is subtitled "Rediscovering the Charismatic Dimension of the Christian Life." Whoever dropped the book off evidently thinks that I can benefit from opening my life to the power of the Holy Spirit. The Charismatic aspects might even help to close the circle, allowing me to appreciate the Pentecostal aspects of Mr. Yong's theology.

I don't know how long it will take me to read these. I tend to be a slow reader, and other material continues to arrive (e.g., the latest issue of First Things, the encyclical Caritas in Veritate), and I would like to get another pleasure read (I'm thinking maybe a Brad Thor or Andrew Klavan novel) in before the summer ends.

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