Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Book Reviews: New Mass, Fatima, and EWTN.


Share/Bookmark I was told in confession not to read any literature that might cause me to doubt or deny my Faith. There are a few books that I had in my list which now I do not know if I should read. They are the following:

1) Rama Coomaraswamy, "The Problems with the New Mass."
2) Fr. Paul Kramer, "The Devil's Final Battle."
3) Christopher Ferrara, "EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong.

Would you say these books are safe for someone like me, who has not had a formal theological education?



-I would say the following:

1) I think Coomaraswamy's book, "The Problems with the New Mass," is not "safe" for the average layman. However, it is still valuable for those who are more advanced in theology and who wish to examine the issue of the validity of the New Mass in detail. But you don't need to read this book to be aware that there are problems with the new Mass. A more fundamental book on this issue is The Ottaviani Intervention. But perhaps someone who is pursuing his theological studies at seminary can tackle this book as part of his Sacramental Theology course. It might prove profitable for him, not in order to convince him that the New Mass is invalid, but to give him a good, sober summary of the arguments generally offered against the validity of the New Mass, and for him to be able to see where they fail, based on the solid traditional Sacramental Theology.

2) At least superficially, I can't find anything wrong with Fr. Kramer's "The Devil's Final Battle." It looks like a collection of very good articles on the truth about Fatima, which among other things, synthesize and update (in light of more recent events) the historical research presented in the trilogy by Brother Michael of the Holy Trinity, "The Whole Truth about Fatima." But Bro. Michael's books seem to be more a more solid, objective presentation of the facts, without some of the passionate rhetoric that I sense in the book edited by Fr. Kramer.

3) Ferrara's "EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong" seems very interesting and good overall. Ferrara's book is part of his rhetorically-charged crusade against Catholic Neo-Conservatives or "Neo-Catholics," who are characterized by an extreme loyalty to the latest papal fashion, who disregard the perennial tradition of the Church, and for whom EWTN is a primary medium of communication. Ferrara began this "crusade" by co-authoring (along with Thomas Woods) his first book, "The Great Facade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church," which I would recommend you read before reading (if you do read it) "EWTN, A Network Gone Wrong." "The Great Facade" is so aggressive (Ferrara is a lawyer), relentless and convincing that you won't be able to put the book down! My wife and I read it in the car!

Interestingly, in "EWTN," Ferrara does not wish to argue that the network has ALWAYS been COMPLETELY bad. He does admit that when Mother Angelica ran it, there was much good in EWTN, and that even now there are still some good programs. But he argues that since Mother Angelica's resignation in March of 2000, part of the network has "gone wrong," accomodating a "moderate" and subtle (and, therefore, all the more dangerous and deceptive) sort of modernism.

It seems very interesting, and I think I want to read it. (I am especially interested in finding out if what a colleague of mine said is true, namely, that most of the "facts" that Ferrara gives about EWTN are "dead wrong.")

But, again, if you do what I do (ignore EWTN altogether), then you don't have the absolute need to read it. Not that the book would be bad, but that there is SO much more out there that would be almost infinitely more profitable for you to read. (The curriculum that I have offered previously, for example.) You need, first of all, a solid foundation that will enable you to judge all these other issues correctly. There are millions of books out there that are dead wrong for fundamental philosophical and theological reasons!

Plus, never neglect your spiritual reading! That is what matters the most. Your spiritual life is, to use Christ's own words the unum necessarium, "the one thing necessary," the part that Mary Magdalen chose, and "which shall not be taken away from her." So I would recommend that, along with all your readings on philosophy, theology, apologetics, polemics, etc., you always keep reading spiritual books: e.g., scripture, lives of (and writings by) the saints, ascetical and mystical books, books on apparitions and miracles, etc.

I hope this is helpful.
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