I was recently asked to review a copy of the book "Between Heaven and Mirth" by James Martin. I'm always happy to review books and if you have a copy for me to review and promote, please contact me. I am particularly interested in reviewing books on Traditional Catholicism and the Liturgy.
For this particular book, I quickly noticed that the book suffers several serious problems and as I worked my way through the book, the problems did not cease. Simply put, after reading this text, I am forced to call into account not only the theology of "Fr." Martin but his ability to serve as a Catholic priest.
As I opened my copy the first thing that I noticed was a picture of Martin Luther on the cover. That's right, on the cover alongside Blessed Mother Teresa and other saints is the image of the well-known heretic whose false teachings are still causing untold numbers of souls to reject the truth and damn themselves.
But, I'm not here to judge the book by its cover, which may be the work of someone other than the author. Let's start by looking at the introduction. Close to the very opening of the book, Martin refers to the traditional practice in religious communities of public confession of sins by saying, "At the time young Jesuits in training were required to publicly confess their 'faults' to the men in their community..." (1). Martin put "faults" in quotation marks as if he does not truly believe them to be faults - to be sins that infinitely displease the greatness and mercy of God!
He later says in the introduction that in the course of the book he will "draw on the wisdom of the Jesuit, Buddhist, and Islamic traditions..." What wisdom? There is no salvation outside of the Church. There is no wisdom in these false religions. You disobey the 1st Commandment and grievously sin by supporting or seemingly to condone in any way this false, pagan worship. These false worshipers must be converted to the One True Faith that alone saves.
So after this introduction, I was already on guard with this book. I'll share my thoughts on the first chapter as well. First on a logical note, when Martin says that humor is "an essential but neglected requirement of spirituality" (15), I was disappointed that he never supported his claim that it is "essential." He gives too many examples of its neglect but fails to adequately show how it is "essential."
With references to Freud and numerous non-Catholic heretical worshipers, I can't seem to understand that this book was written by a man claiming to be a Catholic priest. Are you a priest or a psychologist, Martin? And, no they are not inclusive.
The only good part of the chapter was its incorporation of St. Thomas Aquinas' treatment of joy. And, I might say, that is its only authentic Catholic part.
Chapter two, however, only made matters worse. Martin begins the chapter by saying, "Let's take the New Testament as an example. And let's look first at the protagonist of the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth" (31). Is that how you refer to God Incarnate, Martin! You call our Blessed Redeemer a "protagonist" as if he was a fictional character in a novel! This is blasphemous.
Later, as he writes of the evangelists, he describes them as if they were writing a novel and not divinely inspired. He says, "The evangelists wanted to portray Jesus as an appealing figure..." (31). Blasphemy! The evangelists wrote that which God Himself desired to be written - they did not "portray" our Lord as one portrays a character!
And then he references Professor Levine of Vanderbuilt whose "book looks at the Jewish background of Jesus and the ways that the church has often missunderstood that particular aspect of his life." Martin, learn to capitalize "he" and "him" when referring to the Divine Lord. And, how dare you, a alledged priest of God, claim that the Church - which is perfect and holy - has erred in reference to our Lord's Jewish roots. Go join the Jews, Martin. You are not part of the Church's teachings so drop the title from your name and stop pretending.
What looked like a good topic for a book quickly turned sour. I'll leave my analysis at this but know that such poor theology does not stop in chapter two. Unfortunately, I can not and do not recommend this book.
Friday, October 28, 2011
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