Book Reviews for Late Autumn 2018

The First Society: The Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of the Social Order
By Scott Hahn. Reviewed by Matthew Rose. (skip to review)

In Praise of the Useless Life: A Monk’s Memoir
By Paul Quenon. Reviewed by Matthew K. Minerd. (skip to review)

Building the Benedict Option: A Guide to Gathering Two or Three Together in His Name
By Leah Libresco. Reviewed by K.E. Colombini. (skip to review)

The Spirit of Simplicity
By Jean-Baptiste Chautard, OCSO. Translated and annotated by Thomas Merton. Reviewed by K.E. Colombini. (skip to review)

Humility Rules: Saint Benedict’s 12-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem
By J. Augustine Wetta, OSB. Reviewed by Timothy D. Lusch. (skip to review)

Two Wings: Integrating Faith & Reason
By Brian Clayton and Douglas Kries. Reviewed by Fr. John P. Cush. (skip to review)


The First Society – Scott Hahn

Hahn, Scott. The First Society: The Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of the Social Order. Steubenville: Emmaus Road Publishing, 2018. 182 page​s​​​​​.
Reviewed by Matthew Rose.

One does not need to be on one particular side of the political aisle or the other to see that there is a crisis in our contemporary society. At the root of this crisis lies the breakdown of the family, a disaster visible through the rise in divorce and single-parent households. The Church is keenly aware of this reality. She refers to the family as the “original cell of social life” (CCC 2207). Popes refer frequently to the importance of supporting the family for a healthy society (see, inter alia: Humanae vitae, Familiaris consortio, and Amoris Laetitia), echoing the Tradition that reaches back to the Bible itself.

Drawing from all of this, as well as his own personal experience, Scott Hahn, in his recent work The First Society: The Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of the Social Order, presents a powerful meditation on the role of the Catholic family in society. His thesis is more than the simple “save the family, save the world” mantra, as key as that idea is to reorienting society; nor does he wring his hands and bemoan the loss of an idyllic past. This is not a time, Hahn repeats throughout his book, for wistfully reminiscing or waxing nostalgically about pre-1960s small-town America. Such a world is a fantasy; while the ideal world of Leave it to Beaver played out on the small screen, the sexual revolution had already began to churn, as evidenced by the debut of Playboy magazine in 1953 (p. 6).

The crisis gets at the root of the family, the fundamental root of society, and thus one can only describe Hahn’s proposition as radical. I mean radical in both senses. Hahn’s proposition goes to the root of the family, to its origins in the Garden of Eden, holding up the “first society” of Adam and Eve before the Fall as our model for family life. The proposition is also radical in that it offers a solution beyond the view of most social scientists. Hahn proposes that if we want to save society we need not just strong families, but strong Catholic families.

Why Catholic families in particular? The answer lies in the mystery of grace. It’s no accident that the subtitle of Hahn’s book refers to Matrimony the sacrament as the key to restoring our social order. Strong natural marriages are a good start, of course, but marriage does not realize its full potential until it is lived out in the sacrament of Matrimony. After all, grace does perfect nature. Marriage, as Dr. Hahn points out, is impossible without God’s grace. We may find a joining of two people in a natural marriage, but a true marriage is a covenant, not a contract; it builds a family, not a business. Scott Hahn, perhaps more than any other theologian writing today, can testify to the theological lineage of covenants in salvation history. In every case, a covenant requires calling upon God to witness the union of two into one family. Hence the impossibility of a true marriage without God.

Hahn spends several chapters presenting his case for Matrimony as the solution to our social ills, culminating in a reflection on grace perfecting nature in our families. However, this comes at the end of a powerful tour of marriage throughout salvation history. Beginning with the first community, namely Adam and Eve in Eden, Dr. Hahn examines first what marriage (and society, by extension) was like in the beginning. From there, he moves to a somber reflection on our “marriage-haunted society,” ultimately the result of our efforts to replace God and his Providence with a radical autonomy from him and ourselves. Only light dispels darkness, and Hahn shines the light of Christ into the darkness of modernity, starting with the shining example of the Holy Family in Nazareth. Mary, St. Joseph, and Jesus were, in essence, the perfect marriage, and in being that were the perfect church and the perfect society (p. 58–59).

From this model of the perfect family, Hahn turns his attention to the Church herself, through which Christ continues his saving mission. Hahn returns to themes familiar to readers of his work, such as the sacraments, the importance of God’s covenant with us, and the remarkable role of grace in our lives. These discussions fluctuate between focusing on the individual’s responsibilities and the importance in society-wide conversion. For example, Hahn spends an entire chapter examining “Sex and the Common Good.” He treats both one’s personal need for chastity and the important role a society has in guiding its citizens to such a virtuous life. As he points out, “Getting sex wrong, as a matter of philosophy and as a matter of policy, is both a symptom and a cause of social breakdown” (p. 95).

The book reaches its climax, a rising theological scaffold, in the last third of the book. Hahn begins with the importance of personal sanctity for the success of society’s transformation. As the individual finds sanctity in the sacraments, in the perfection that only comes about through God’s grace, so also does society, particularly in the sacrament of marriage. This puts the Church in a unique position, she being the earthly source for sacramental marriages. In offering Christ to the world, the Church offers the true solution to society’s problems. The result is a revolution wherein our society transforms into a “sacramental society,” one that recognizes man as body and soul, and marriages as the foundation of all other societal norms.

Is such a social vision possible? Scott Hahn thinks it is, no matter how “speculative” or “fanciful” the idea may seem (p. 175). If we are to make such a society work, however, we must admit that it is impossible for us. Only he for whom “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26) can bring such a society into existence, nurture it, and bring it to its ultimate fulfillment.

The First Society is a shocking book, and it might not convince all dissenters to its side; few works could do such a seemingly miraculous feat. Yet in examining Dr. Hahn’s process and his blueprint for saving society, one sees an idea that has not yet been attempted. Perhaps, as we continue to face unrest in all levels of society, the time has come to do something radical, to return to the “first society.” Having failed to reimagine society in our own image, perhaps the time has come to turn back to the Creator, in whose image we were made.

Matthew Rose is a theology instructor at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, VA.

 

In Praise of the Useless Life – Paul Quenon

Quenon, Paul. In Praise of the Useless Life: A Monk’s Memoir. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2018. 160 pages.
Reviewed by Matthew K. Minerd.

The wisdom of monasticism ever remains a rich source of inspiration for traditional Christianity. Through the ages, Western and Eastern Christianity have drawn from the wisdom of those men and women who have flown from the world in search of the “one thing that is necessary.” And, in every age, vocations match the temperaments of that time. In Br. Paul Quenon’s In Praise of the Useless Life, we are presented with the musings of a Trappist monk who has lived the monastic life at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Bardstown, KY, following in the footsteps of St. Benedict for over fifty years of tumultuous ecclesial history.

A caveat is necessary at the start of this review, which I do intend to be a positive appreciation of Br. Quenon’s musings on his monastic life. In short, the text will strike the more conservative reader as being a reflection of the often-caricatured portrait painted of the late years of Thomas Merton. On many occasions, Br. Quenon’s prose and subjects of reflection bear the marks of a man who was reared in the tumultuous ecclesial era of the 1960s and 1970s — including a tale of the Gethsemani community inviting a guest who was a dancer to interpretatively tell the tale of Merton’s journey to the Far East. Searching my own heart, I know that a younger version of myself would have written him off for this reason, convincing myself that I should not bother with reflections that arise from the somewhat wooly-haired days of those decades.

Yet, I caution the reader against such an attitude. God’s grace works through all ages and all locales in the history of salvation. Quite clearly, Br. Quenon’s life has been one of grace and closeness to Christ. His idiom is not my own, most certainly, but it is, in fact, an idiom with which I am familiar. On many occasions, his recollections reminded me of the wisdom of the man who was my aged, Hungarian novice master when I was a Benedictine novice myself. At first, I thought him to be a man who was “polluted” by the 1960s — I was (and still am) a Thomist; he was a scholar of the existentialist philosopher Karl Jaspers. Yet, I came to realize that there was much wisdom under the surface of a man who suffered and enjoyed so many experiences in the monastic life through many decades.

Hence, as I read Br. Quenon, I was reminded of my holy old novice master, and I would invite the reader to imagine a similar case. His idiom (and even his thought) may well strike the reader as strange (or even dissonant) at times. It’s human and divine depths, however, will be acknowledged when you slowly engage with his open reflections on various topics. I will glean only some of them here for the reader, to whet the reader’s appetite.

Early in the text, he recalls like a loving and pious son his novitiate under Thomas (Fr. Louis) Merton. Well aware of Merton’s foibles and character flaws, Br. Quenon presents the image of a novice master who had a light touch. He recalls that the novitiate was not approached as a training ground for formal instruction in meditation but, rather, was permitted to be a space wherein the slow and unspoken growth of the Spirit might unfold according to its own dynamism, allowing choir recitation and lectio divina to be the appropriate monastic space for learning to listen for the inspirations of God. Clearly reflecting a true love for his novice master, Merton is not presented as a guru but, rather, as a kind of gardener of novices.

As the reader likely knows, Merton himself fought for some time to be permitted to live a hermit’s life. As one reads Br. Quenon’s reminiscences, one senses that this was “in the air” at the abbey during that era. Indeed, his own personal (and emphatic) desire to be a non-ordained choir monk was not an uncommon occurrence during the period following on the Second Vatican Council. For whatever one may say in that regard, it nonetheless provided a healthy counter-balance to a kind of clerical vision of the monastic life, which in its historical roots is not priestly in character but, rather, is a consecrated flight form the world so as to seek the “one thing that is necessary.”

This dynamic brought forth the eremitical and quasi-eremitical orders that are like jewels in the crown of the Church, among which are numbered the Camaldolese Hermits and, in their own way, the Carthusians. At Gethsemani, this “desire for the desert” expressed itself in an efflorescence of hermit culture in the period following the Second Vatican Council. Br. Quenon recalls charming tales of various hermitages built by the brothers — little structures dotting the varied landscape surrounding the abbey in the beautiful hills of Kentucky. One senses some of the quirkiness of the era in some of the structures and locales. Quite clearly it was an era of spiritual experimentation, yet the picture that is painted is one of zeal to return to the ancient roots of Christian monasticism. Anyone who is familiar with the eccentricities of the desert fathers will find some analogue in these exploits.

A number of the other chapters of the text are personal reflections on various topics — his space of meditation, the relationship of his spirituality to the land surrounding the abbey, his own time on retreat, poetry, and the acquaintances he has made through his years as a monk. At times, these reflections are dotted with his particular theological bent, one that is clearly informed by some of the well-known reactions expressed during the post-Conciliar period (an outlook that, again, I do not share). Nonetheless, the grace of God sets itself to work in many environments — and does so in quite varied periods of the Church’s history. In my own life, I have met many Benedictines whose general profile matches that of Br. Quenon and, despite my differences with them, I have forever cherished those relationships. Indeed, in the end, the sense I was left with upon finishing Br. Quenon’s text was, “I miss my old novicemaster.” Hence, I invite the reader to join the aged Trappist in his ruminations. His text is written in an accessible and charming style, making it a quite-personal reflection and meditation upon a long and prayerful monastic life — a life that is quite “useless,” precisely because the most important things in human existence are beyond the mere requirements of utility, a lesson that we must always be ready to learn in a world that is obsessed with means and not with ends.

Dr. Minerd is Professor of Philosophy and Moral Theology, Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, Pittsburgh, PA.

 

Building the Benedict Option – Leah Libresco

Libresco, Leah. Building the Benedict Option: A Guide to Gathering Two or Three Together in His Name. Foreword by Rod Dreher. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2018. 163 pages.
Reviewed by K.E. Colombini.

Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option has been the focal point of much debate the past few years, both online and offline — long before its actual publication in early 2017, in fact. Subtitled A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, the book talks about the need for Christians to come together in small groups and communities to fortify their spiritual resilience, an idea few can argue with. However, many do, because they often misinterpret Dreher’s book as a call to retreat and abandon the world outside. Dreher’s work was inspired in great part by reflecting on this quote of Alasdair MacIntyre, from his masterpiece, After Virtue: “What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us.”

If Dreher’s work could be called strategic, then Libresco’s new book could be considered tactical, for it tries to show how specifically we can live this life in the world. In his foreword, Dreher refers to the author as the “den mother” of the Benedict Option. To borrow from one of the chapter titles, she calls for the home to be the center of gravity of this movement in the lay world. One of the reasons for this, she argues, is the virtue of hospitality; if a small group meets at a coffee shop, they are all customers. Using homes allows someone to host the group. She writes: “Hospitality is an unveiling, in which my guests show me their needs, and I show them something of what I am.” This is the sort of sharing that cannot take place at a café or pub, or even a church basement.

It’s an important point to emphasize, because each of these other places has limitations and controls. The sort of privacy needed for a truly deep conversation about the world and our response to it cannot be held outside the privacy of one’s home. Unfortunately, even parish halls or meeting rooms can be unwelcoming for those who want to embrace the “BenOp.” Churches in their bid for relevance to the world (and to be more welcoming) have often made families feel unwelcome who simply want to live with more fidelity to Christian tradition.

 

As she ends her book, Libresco reiterates what Dreher has often said. It’s not about running away from battle. “The Benedict Option is not primarily a retreat but is meant to draw us closer to Christ, so that we can receive His grace and allow it to spill out through us.” As true as this is, one of the things this reviewer appreciates about Libresco and Dreher is how their approach is so ecumenical. To some extent, the battle faithful Christians — Orthodox and Protestant as well as Catholic — are fighting is spiritual warfare against many of the same enemies that even observant Jews and Muslims have.

As much as these enemies abound and may control culture through media or politics, there is reason for hope, as Libresco notes toward the beginning of her book. “We must keep in mind that we have been promised that we are not fighting a losing war,” she says. “Despite attacks on our stability, on our time, on our capacity to love, we have every reason to be fearless and profligate with the gifts God has given us.”

Small signs of progress are there if one looks. Recently, our youngest daughter and I attended a Latin High Mass at the beautiful St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis, MO. The Mass took an hour and 45 minutes and there was no air conditioning. There were probably 200 or more people present, and many of them were young families. Our archdiocese’s Theology on Tap regularly pulls in large groups of young college students thirsty for fellowship and truth. Perhaps someday soon, restored and refreshed in our domestic churches inspired by the Benedict Option, we can be like those in Narnia when Christmas returned after a long absence.

K.E. Colombini is a Catholic writer in St. Louis, Mo. He also has written for First Things and other publications.

 

The Spirit of Simplicity – Jean-Baptiste Chautard, OCSO

Chautard, OCSO, Jean-Baptiste. The Spirit of Simplicity. Translated and annotated by Thomas Merton. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2017. 139 pages.
Reviewed by K.E. Colombini.

Those who are familiar with the story of Thomas Merton would know that when the writer entered the monastery in 1941, his personal talent was quickly put to use. The success of his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, brought many monks to the Trappist order and led to the expansion to other sites in the years that followed World War II, as many men sought something deeper after the harrowing experience of war.

Merton may have been famous for that and other books for a more general lay audience, but his monastic years also were filled with other writing more specifically for the good of the monks, including works of translation, such as we have in this new book. It kicks off with Merton’s translation of a booklet by the French Abbot Jean-Baptiste Chautard (1858–1935), perhaps most known for the popular spiritual work The Soul of the Apostolate, about the importance of the interior life for those active in the world. This short work includes Merton’s translation, as well as generous readings from St. Bernard of Clairvaux that come with equally generous reflections from Merton.

Simplicity, for Merton and the other monks (dating back to St. Bernard) consists in “getting rid of everything that did not help the monk to arrive at union with God by the shortest way possible.” Looking for a more simplistic definition than even this should be easy for Trappists. Carved above the entrance to the cloister of Merton’s Gethsemani are the words GOD ALONE. Now, that’s simplicity in a nutshell. But what does this mean for us living outside the monastic walls and in the world? The fact is, we are all called to some extent, in each of our vocations or states, to live in devotion to the evangelical counsels. While we may not take vows or make promises, we are all called to reject things that lead us away from God. One could easily argue that the more we do this, the better off society would be.

In the crisis facing the Church today, a stronger focus on the spiritual and moral development of secular priests in the seminary, emphasizing the role of the counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience in their lives as priests in the world, could have gone far to decrease instances of sexual abuse. It could be argued that one of the problems in the Church today is that diocesan priests and their bishops are too secular. In Archbishop McCarrick’s case, for example, the idea of a diocese buying its bishop a beach house — one outside the diocese — should have been repugnant to all who considered and approved it. Even for those married and living in the world, chastity remains a virtue all are called to, and poverty as well, insofar as the married couple needs to often sacrifice material luxuries for the good of the family and its children, and to those in greater need, in true obedience to their state in life.

One can easily extrapolate this book’s writing on simplicity for these non-monastic settings, and a section that did so more specifically would have been most welcome, as it is greatly needed in today’s climate.

K.E. Colombini is a Catholic writer in St. Louis, Mo. He also has written for First Things and other publications.

 

Humility Rules – J. Augustine Wetta, OSB

Wetta, OSB, J. Augustine. Humility Rules: Saint Benedict’s 12-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2017. 182 pages.
Reviewed by Timothy D. Lusch.

This is a dangerous book. For those of us who tend to read more about humility than practice it, Augustine Wetta’s Humility Rules serves as both reminder and challenge. It is a reminder that Saint Benedict’s Rule, while written for monks, is for everyone. It is a challenge because it demolishes every excuse not to practice humility. It leaves one feeling both eager and terrified for lessons in the humblest of virtues.

And well it should. As Isaac the Syrian had it, “humility is the adornment of the Godhead. By becoming man the Word invested himself with it.” Without it, Isaac says, “there would have been no encounter with him.” And so we, too, must wrap ourselves in it as we encounter the Word in our own lives. Humility, then, is not for wimps. Saint Benedict knew this, of course, and in writing the Rule sought to strengthen his brothers and sisters for the road ahead.

The Rule is a marvel of concision and practicality. Its dynamism and flexibility have been lauded by commentators for centuries. But it isn’t readily accessible for most of the faithful outside monastery walls. Sure, it can be read and studied, with bits and pieces cobbled together for regular practice. One runs the risk, however, of a loss of the balance, harmony, and proportionality that comes with guidance. The wisdom and discernment of a spiritual director, mentor, or starets is crucial. Augustine Wetta is one such guide. A monk of St. Louis Abbey in Missouri, Fr. Augustine is well acquainted with the Rule. He is also well acquainted with his failures in the practice of it. This makes for encouraging and humorous reading.

The structure of Wetta’s book is based on chapter seven of the Rule. Known as the Ladder of Humility, it teaches twelve steps necessary for earthly lives to be raised to heaven. Wetta takes each step in turn, coloring the serious discussion of things like fear of God, obedience, and perseverance with helpful and humorous lessons he’s learned. He incorporates other parts of the Rule to help us see how opportunities for, say, silence can be understood and embraced with regard to growing in humility.

Fr. Wetta, a juggler and surfer in his spare time, writes in a nimble and easy style that makes reading almost effortless. But style and humor are, throughout the book, entirely in the service of teaching Benedict’s steps toward authentic humility. And despite the funny jokes, anecdotes, and lighthearted additions to the paintings of such masters as Fra Angelico (St. Romuald with ear buds), Wetta is careful to draw a distinction between fun and joy. This is important to monks and non-monks alike.

For example, he once worked as a lifeguard. His students often ask him if that wasn’t more fun than being a monk. He concedes that in some ways it was, though “there is nothing more depressing than a forty-year-old lifeguard.” But the point, he says, is that in life and in faith we need the wisdom to choose joy over fun. Only in this way will we be free from the tyranny of possessions and gain some measure of serenity; serenity, of course, being merely halfway up the Ladder at step six.

And, lest one be discouraged at the difficulties and sacrifices in the practice of humility, Wetta observes that “fifty percent of holiness is simply getting to bed on time.” Many of our lives offer evidence of this, but it still has a revelatory ring to it. So does his parting admonition that “the minimum is not enough.” After all, humility ought “never be confused with mediocrity” if we are to attain perfect holiness.

Fr. Augustine Wetta has given us a marvelous book. Young adults will benefit greatly from it, especially in a cultural moment that runs so obviously counter to the practice of humility, let alone the other virtues. And older adults will find much encouragement as we struggle to remain vigilant in the later watches of life.

Timothy D. Lusch is an attorney and writer. He has appeared in numerous publications online and in print, including Catholic World Report, New Oxford Review, Chronicles, University Bookman, Toronto Star, and Michigan History Magazine.

 

Two Wings – Brian Clayton, Douglas Kries

Clayton, Brian and Douglas Kries. Two Wings: Integrating Faith & Reason. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2018. 387 pages.
Reviewed by Fr. John P. Cush.

Dr. Brian Clayton and Dr. Douglas Kries are both professors of philosophy at Gonzaga University and it is apparent that their text, Two Wings: Integrating Faith & Reason, is the product of two men who have teaching experience, both on the undergraduate and graduate level. Two Wings is a clear book, one that I would plan to use in my own classroom for introductory classes in fundamental theology for first year seminarians who have already completed their studies in philosophy. As a text, Two Wings may be a slight challenge to those who have not yet studied philosophy formally. However, it is never inaccessible and, for a reader like that who is willing to put in the effort, this is a book that will be immensely helpful in Catholic apologetics.

Building upon the thought of Pope Saint John Paul II’s encyclical Fides et ratio (1998) that “faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of the truth,” Clayton and Kries are clear about the purpose of their work:

It is our conviction, based principally upon a great many years of teaching undergraduate university students in the United States, that such a book is desperately needed for our time. Instead of two wings working together to enable man to ascend to the contemplation of truth, what we are generally presented with today — if John Paul’s analogy may be extended — is the claim that man must ascend to the truth with a single-winged soul. We are told that faith and reason are enemies rather than friends, incompatible adversaries between which one must choose. Reason, especially in the modern form of natural science, is said by some to be opposed to all believing; faith is said by others to be the only reliable way by acquiring truth since human reason is untrustworthy and, in addition, arrogant. Instead of two wings functioning in tandem, it is suggested that we must engage in a sort of self-mutilation, cutting off one wing and trying to fly with the other alone. (p. 7)

Two Wings attempts to avoid a fundamentalist fideism on the one hand, and a rationalistic scientism on the other, presenting an argument from the best traditions of the Western world, namely the Catholic Tradition in general and the thought of Saints Augustine and Thomas Aquinas in particular. The authors admit that the primary audience for whom this book is written are Catholics, but it should prove to be a text that will be helpful to all theists. They write: “If one were to commit oneself both to theistic faith and to reasonable philosophy, how could one reconcile the two in a coherent view of reality?” (p. 8) This is their task and, in my opinion, they succeed.

Clayton and Kries’s text is divided into four parts, with each part systematically building upon the last. The first part discusses the “Preliminary Explanation of the Integration of Faith and Reason” and, in my opinion, is the best part of this excellent book. In chapter one they clearly explain the difference between faith and reason, and in the second chapter the authors explore the commonality of faith and reason. The third and fourth chapters offer an explanation, both in general terms (chapter three) and in more specific terms (chapter four), of exactly how faith and reason work together. Especially appealing is the section “Clarifications regarding Revealed and Philosophical Theism” (pp. 43–45) in the fourth chapter. Chapters five and six offer practical applications in terms of education and daily life for one who attempts to live a life in which one’s faith and reason are integrated. The authors sagely state: “the soul of the believing theist committed to reason and to faith can indeed expect to experience tension, and it is not obvious that such tension can be completely removed, in this life at least. In arguing for this path of integration, then, we do not claim that it is easy; our argument is in favor of its logic and correctness rather than in favor of its simplicity or facility.” (pp. 63–64)

The book’s second part, “Classical Arguments regarding the Existence or Nonexistence of God,” offers a solid survey of thought from theistic and atheistic sides. Readers will find chapters twelve and thirteen, which concern atheistic arguments against the existence of God due to the presence of evil in the world (chapter twelve) and the theist’s response (chapter thirteen), particularly insightful, as well as the fifteenth chapter, “Theism and the Projection Theory of Religion,” which can be useful in the creation of solid apologetics for the believer. In particular, chapter ten, “The Kalaam Argument for the Existence of God,” was fascinating. I had never been exposed to this Islamic thought, let alone its implication on Saint Bonaventure. This Kalaam argument is distinct from the classical cosmological argument for God’s existence, and this is clearly explained by the authors. They write: “the argument between the two (Aquinas and Bonaventure) was not over what was in fact the case about God and the world. Both thinkers agreed that God existed, that God continually creates the universe, and that the universe began to exist in time. The difference was about why they recognized these truths. For philosophers, it is not just enough to agree; one has to agree for the right reason.” (p. 104)

Part Three involves “Arguments about Theism and Contemporary Natural Science” and part four details “Arguments about Theism and Morality.” Both sections are well written and easily accessible for both the student of philosophy and theology and those who may not necessarily have the academic background but are willing to wrestle with the ideas. Doctors Clayton and Kries have written a fine book in Two Wings: Integrating Faith & Reason that will prove to be useful in both philosophy and fundamental theology classes throughout the English-speaking world.

Rev. John P. Cush, STD, is a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn. He serves as Academic Dean and as a formation advisor at the Pontifical North American College, Vatican City-State. Fr. Cush earned a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy, where he is also an adjunct professor of theology and U.S. Catholic Church history.

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