Judging a Book by Its Cover

I just received in the mail two brand new titles from BlueBridge Books, an imprint of United Tribes Media. One is entitled The Great Medieval Heretics: Five Centuries of Religious Dissent, by Michael Frassetto. The other one is entitled The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully, by Sr. Joan Chittister.

Publishers do these things, and I suppose the public relations person who sent these to me innocently assumed that someone from Catholics United for the Faith would be interested in these “Catholic” books.

As much as I’d like to, I probably won’t get to the first book–too many heretics, too little time. However, I just might read and review Sr. Joan’s book. It’s not very long and even then it’s broken up into very short chapters.

But for those who wish to read neither the book nor my review of the contents, let me provide a brief review based solely on the cover.

For those of you who don’t know, Sr. Joan Chittister is a well-known columnist for the National Catholic Reporter, a controversial publication known for espousing positions that conflict with official Church teaching. She has made a quite a name for herself over the years as a dissenting feminist theologian and speaker, and is still very popular with the “Call to Action” crowd. (More on that in a minute.)

On the back there are several endorsements. The rogue’s gallery of supporters includes Fr. Richard Rohr, Fr. Richard McBrien, Fr. Andrew Greeley, and Sr. Helen Prejean. And by the way, neither Sister Joan nor the endorsers are identified as “Father” or “Sister,” but simply as authors of other books. No explanation is given, so one can only speculate. Maybe they are in a (Christian) witness protection program, or perhaps the publisher thought it would be more ecumenically sensitive to avoid such archaic, sexist titles that perpetuate the oppression of women in the Church. Who knows?

Lastly the subject of the book is intriguing. Sr. Joan is part of the “Call to Action” movement that had its heyday in the decades immediately following Vatican II. The leaders of the movement are aging, and the movement itself is spiritually sterile and thus unable to reproduce. The net result is an aging, shrinking population that largely failed to capture the hearts and minds of the next generation with its counterfeit gospel.

Maybe the publisher will send you a free copy, too. I sure wouldn’t pay for one. 

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