Book Reviews – September 2022

The Light Entrusted to You: Keeping the Flame of Faith Alive. By John R. Wood. Reviewed by Aaron Martin. (skip to review)

The Education of a Historian: A Strange and Wonderful Story. By John W. O’Malley. Reviewed by Christopher Siuzdak. (skip to review)

Jesuit at Large: Essays and Reviews by Paul V. Mankowski S.J. Ed. by George Weigel. Reviewed by Clara Sarrocco. (skip to review)

Linguistics and New Testament Greek: Key Issues in the Current Debate. Ed. by David Alan Black and Benjamin Merkle. Reviewed by D. Malachi Walker. (skip to review)

The Sexual State. By Jennifer Roback-Morse. Reviewed by Aaron Martin. (skip to review)

Reaching for the Resurrection: A Pastoral Bioethics. By Francis Etheredge. Reviewed by Dr. Moira McQueen. (skip to review)

The Light Entrusted to You – John R. Wood

Wood, John R. The Light Entrusted to You: Keeping the Flame of Faith Alive. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2018. 297 pages.

Reviewed by Aaron Martin.

The “nones” — people who identify as being religiously unaffiliated — are a popular group these days. Many of the nones were baptized and received their other sacraments, but have fallen away from organized religion altogether. Whatever spark of the divine life they once had inside, they have allowed it to go dim and, in some circumstances, go out. Wood’s book recognizes that even when there seems to be no sign of the divine life in someone, the rushing wind of the Holy Spirit can turn the tiniest spark into a raging fire.

In the Rite of Baptism, the newly baptized person is given a lighted candle and his or her parents and godparents are given this admonition: “this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. . . . May he keep the flame of faith alive in his heart. When the Lord comes, may he go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.” In the age of the “nones” and fallen-away Catholics, it is increasingly difficult to keep the flame of faith burning when the widespread secularization and anti-religious sentiment can so easily snuff it out. John Wood’s book seeks to provide an antidote to these ailments and a blueprint to nurture and deepen faith over time.

The book reads primarily like a coach’s pep talk for parents and those who have care of or influence on others. And though Wood’s style is gimmicky at times (e.g., the “SAINTS” acronym for his main themes, “SIMU” for “Saints in the Making University,” or forever ruining a Billy Joel song for me), he is clearly a man who has encountered the Lord, who is seeking to know Him more, and who wants to share that knowledge with others. Wood’s attitude and conviction helps carry his message forward even for those who would like to see more point-by-point argument rather than locker room address.

Wood seems like someone you would meet at your local parish — the older professional man who has a solid marriage and has raised a number of children successfully in the faith. Parents who do not know how to relate the faith to their children or peers may find the words they need in Wood’s book. And as Wood notes, that is the basis for renewal in the Church and the world. We need to understand how God’s grace is working in our lives, develop our own relationships with Him, and share that experience with others.

The book may also help revive the flame within others. As Wood notes, baptism changes people forever. “Once you are sent to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, you cannot be unsent.” (174) Sometimes, people just need to remember that they have been made a disciple. God is always waiting for our return like the father in the Prodigal Son story or the long-suffering Father we see in the Old Testament.

Israel’s cycle of unfaithfulness and returning to the Lord is an underlying theme in Wood’s book. Israel lost the faith in a single generation, which Wood agrees is possible in our own age as well. Wood suggests that we can avoid that decline by grounding our faith more deeply and spreading it to others. By keeping the flame of faith alive — in our own hearts and those of our loved ones — we participate in the mystery of the Church on mission. Wood is clear on the mission, clear on the playbook, and a worthy coach to have along the way. The book would be particularly useful for parents, youth ministers, parish-based evangelists, and others who walk with others in the journey of faith.

Aaron Martin, JD, PhL, and his wife, Jenny, live in Phoenix, AZ with their four children. Aaron owns his own law practice and serves in various ways in the Diocese of Phoenix.

The Education of a Historian – John W. O’Malley

O’Malley, John W. The Education of a Historian: A Strange and Wonderful Story. Philadelphia: Saint Joseph’s University Press, 2021. 192 pages.

Reviewed by Christopher Siuzdak.

From frolicking in the river of his humble hometown located near Wheeling, West Virginia and earning a minimum wage of thirty cents per hour at his first job, to pursuing doctoral studies at Harvard University and writing his dissertation in Rome during the proceedings of the Second Vatican Council, to ultimately retiring from Georgetown University after six decades of teaching, an eminent historian of early modern European religious culture engagingly recounts, in this academic memoir, the pivotal people, places, incidents, and ideas that shaped his identity and accomplishments. Jesuit Father John W. O’Malley is perhaps best known for authoring such field-changing monographs as The First Jesuits (Harvard University Press, 1993) and What Happened at Vatican II (Harvard University Press, 2008). His latest work is a self-portrait that reveals who and what impacted his life as a historian, educator, and priest.

The first two chapters describe O’Malley’s developmental years in his familial home and his formation in the Society of Jesus. O’Malley’s boyhood parish, which happened to be led by a Polish pastor, “had a rich seasonal variety of evening services during the week, such as novenas, holy hours, Stations of the Cross, and devotions in honor of the Virgin Mary . . . we had processions in which we marched around the block singing hymns” (10). He felt an affinity for and applied to the Jesuits, ironically, without ever having met one in person. It was his piano teacher, a religious sister, who interjected comments in between pieces at the piano bench that steered him toward the order known for its educational and missionary endeavors. As O’Malley recounts, it was one of many instances in which following intuition over pure logic yielded bountiful dividends.

His initial lack of exposure to the Jesuits proved not to be a handicap in the long run. Over the course of time, he participated as a delegate in the consequential Thirty-Second General Congregation of the Society of Jesus alongside a certain Argentinian Jesuit named Jorge Bergoglio (later Pope Francis), led as rector a Jesuit community with nearly a hundred men in his charge, completed a stint as chair of the Religious Studies Department at the Jesuit-run University of Detroit, authored a masterful account of the founding of the Society of Jesus (translated into a dozen languages and studied by novices around the globe), taught succeeding generations of Jesuits for twenty-seven years at Weston Jesuit School of Theology, retired as a highly-esteemed professor from a flagship Jesuit university in the nation’s capital amid a global pandemic, and even gave testimony in the canonization process of Father Pedro Arrupe, the 28th Superior General of the Society of Jesus.

O’Malley reflects how his training as a Jesuit dovetailed with his training as a historian in numerous ways. For instance, learning to converse in Latin “gave me as a practicing historian that intuitive facility in understanding complex Latin sources that only speaking knowledge of a language provides” (35). A memorable incident in the early 1950s where he was asked to serve as a witness for an interracial marriage as well as the practice of hearing confessions taught him the “hermeneutic of suspicion” tempered by “a hermeneutic of compassion” (40). “My pastoral experience,” O’Malley reflects, “had taught me the necessity of tempering suspicion with compassion in interpreting the motivation of historical personages” (50).

Chapter three describes his doctoral studies at Harvard University and dissertation research conducted while a fellow at the prestigious American Academy in Rome. Gelato-fueled intuition steered him away from German religious history toward the field of the Italian renaissance. Heeding the advice of an academic mentor, he settled on the sixteenth-century reformer Giles of Viterbo as his dissertation topic. O’Malley describes the “severe asceticism of scholarship,” but also conveys the beautiful settings and congenial friendships that he was fortunate to experience (55).

Chapters four, five, and six survey the scholarship O’Malley produced as a professor and the professional recognition that it garnered. Ever mindful of conceptual frameworks and historiographical methods, he succinctly explains how applying the lens of rhetorical style helped unlock key values and assumptions undergirding important and difficult texts. Although the insight that “form (or genre) determines purpose, and purpose determines content” may seem simple, its implications for mining meaning are profound (104). Another of the many foundational lessons about the historian’s craft that O’Malley imparts has to do with the often-underappreciated importance of endings. He puts forward the following precept: “Authors must conclude the book by telling readers the significance of what they have read” (89). “The conclusion is, therefore, the most important part of a book because it is the conclusion that packs its punch,” O’Malley explains. The lesson can be summed up in an elegant Latin aphorism: finis coronat opus (89).

Written from the vantage point of ninety-four years of life (and counting), this memoir is implicitly an extended meditation on Psalm 103:2: “Bless the Lord, my soul; and do not forget all his gifts.” These reminiscences by a gifted historian, who served as president of the American Catholic Historical Association and the Renaissance Society of America, are laced with easily digestible historiographical lessons and a healthy hint of nostalgia. It is unfortunate that the book does not include any photographs or a comprehensive description of O’Malley’s extensive accolades (for example, there is no mention of his twenty honorary doctorates). The Education of a Historian is recommended for academics, especially budding historians, interested in some light reading about the human dimension of a long and accomplished career in academia. General readers seeking to understand more thoroughly the life of the Catholic Church over the past century will be delighted as well.

Christopher Siuzdak is a canonist in the Tribunal of the Diocese of Portland.

Jesuit at Large – George Weigel, ed.

Weigel, George, ed. Jesuit at Large: Essays and Reviews by Paul V. Mankowski S.J. Ignatius Press, San Francisco. 2021. 237 pages.

Reviewed by Clara Sarrocco.

In his Introduction to Jesuit at Large, George Weigel gives us some insights into what made Father Paul Mankowski, S.J. (1953–2020) such an extraordinary scholar, writer and most of all a devoted priest dedicated to God, the Church, the Jesuit order and the truth. Father Mankowski never forgot his early life as a worker in a steel-mill to help pay for his college tuition. His Catholic roots were deep, and when the call came from God that he should enter the Jesuits, he did not hesitate to answer.

Weigel quotes from a heartfelt letter that Father Mankowski wrote to a young man who was asking him about his own vocational discernment. Father does not hesitate to spell out all the problems in the Church and in his Order with complete honesty. He wrote: “. . . That said, if I had to do it all over again, knowing what I now know, I would enter the Jesuits tomorrow . . . the orthodox men you meet are orthodox for the right reason because they believe in the truth not because it is a shrewd career move.” He knew that a true vocation cannot be built on romanticized ideals but on the harsh reality of things as they are. Like a true priest he wrote: “I offered my Mass this morning for the intention that God might be with you in your vocational discernment.” (14)

Weigel continues with Father Mankowski’s remarkable life. Before entering the Jesuits he graduated from University of Chicago with with a degree in classics and philosophy. Previous to his ordination in 1987, he earned a MA in classics from Oxford. He then went on to work for a Master of Divinity and a Licentiate of Sacred Theology from Weston Jesuit School of Theology. In 1997 he completed a PhD in Comparative Semitic philology from Harvard University. After all this learning, Weigel tells us that he was a professor of Old Testament languages at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome for fifteen years. Following this he served as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Amman, Jordan. When he returned to the United States in 2009 he became a scholar in residence at the Lumen Christi Institute, University of Chicago.

Ever the devoted priest, as Weigel notes, Father Paul “lived a rigorous life of evangelical poverty and material detachment.” (11) He gave retreats to the Missionary of Charity in Haiti and “. . . rarely expressed doubts about anything. But he displayed a great sensitivity to the doubts and confusions of those who had the humility to confess that they were at sea.” (10)

Father Paul was a prolific writer with an acerbic wit and a winning sense of humor — all with the grace of his intelligence and learning. He sometimes wrote under the pseudonym of Diogenes, the controversial Greek philosopher who often commented on cultural conventions. In his dedication to the truth and undoing wrongs, he helped to reveal the more-than-uncomfortable facts about the political career of Father Robert Drinan, S.J. Weigel writes: “The results of all this for Paul Mankowski were draconian. He was forbidden for years to publish in his own name. He was constrained in his pastoral work. He was often treated like a pariah.” (16)

His untimely sudden death from a brain aneurysm while in the dentist’s office has left a vacuum which George Weigel in editing Father Mankowski’s essays and reviews has hoped to fill. All of this is prologue to Father Mankowski’s writings.

George Weigel wisely separated his book into three sections. Part One is Father Mankowski’s essays from 1990 to 2019: “Catholicism in This Time.” Part Two is the essays from 1990 to 1993: “Religion and the Culture Wars”; and Part Three is his book reviews from 1993 to 2019: “Of Many Things.” The Appendix, “The Drinan Files – A Memorandum,” explains the Drinan affair.

The first of the nine essays in Part One is probably one of the most beautiful homilies on the Blessed Virgin Mary ever preached. “Why the Immaculate Conception” is not a rhetorical question but a statement of fact. The remaining eight essays in this time period refer to the sorrowful conditions in the church, mainly pertaining to the clergy and their behaviors or mis-behaviors. Father does not shy away from the difficult questions but rather faces them head-on.

Part Two covers the period from 1990 to 1993, intersecting the previous recorded essays but with a different emphases. These four essays relate to the state of feminism and its effects on the Church as well as the many absurdities found among its proponents in the realm of religious groups. Father Paul reveals his profound insights into human behavior but with a wit that leaves one with not just a smile but with a heartfelt laugh.

Part Three consists, as its title says, Of Many Things: Reviews, 1993 to 2019. Father reviews a book edited by Professors Marsdan and Longfield on the secularization of the universities. Two books, one by A.N. Wilson and the other by Gore Vidal, on supposed “biographies of Jesus” do not escape Father’s rapier analysis, nor does Norman Mailer’s novelized gospel account. Not to be left out, in another review, Father James Martin, S.J.’s book, Building a Bridge, is held to the same scrutiny. The next three reviews are on the life of Evelyn Waugh, a New Testament translation, and a commentary on the Bible and the Qur’ān, They are the work of a scholar writing about the works of brother scholars. The last review Weigel included was Father Paul’s view of Father Theodore Hesburgh’s biography by Father Wilson Miscamble, C.S.C.: American Priest: The Ambitious Life and Conflicted Legacy of Notre Dame’s Father Ted Hesburgh. It is a perfect sequel to the Appendix, which explains so much of Father Paul’s rebuff by the Jesuits in authority.

While doing research for his doctoral dissertation, Father Paul came across unrestricted archives which related to the perfidy that had been perpetrated on the Father General of the Order, Father Pedro Arrupe, about Father Robert Drinan’s run for election to the United States Congress, and his very public and unequivocal pro-abortion stance, and other malfeasances. Father Arrupe, a Spaniard, was not privy to what was involved in holding a political office in the United States. The equivocation of the Jesuits involved in advising him was at the very least disingenuous, and at most, perfidious. The correspondence contained in the archives proved this.

With permission of the archivist, Father Paul copied the unrestricted correspondence and gave it to Professor James Hitchcock to publish. “It involved clericalism of the rankest sort, in which a Jesuit superior informed the Society’s Roman authorities that there was no layman in Massachusetts capable of replacing Drinan in Congress. It involved duplicity, dissembling, and prevarication with the Society of Jesus, and between some of the Society’s senior American leaders and American bishops. It involved those same U.S. Jesuits leaders deceiving the Jesuit General in Rome and eventually involved the General’s own weakness in bending to what he likely knew was wrong. And throughout, it involved years of cover-up.” (16)

Father Paul readily admitted, and it was so stated in the article, that he was the source of the material. For this he was accused of breaking confidences, of destroying priestly discretion, and other serious matters of confidentiality. “It does not make for easy reading. . . . It is essential for the posthumous vindication of Father Paul Mankowski’s honor.” (17) Father answered each charge and proved that he did none of these things. If anything, he was guilty of exposing what in some circles is considered jesuitical reasoning and even much worse. As a result he was silenced by the Order. He was not permitted to write anything under his own name except what pertained to his work as a Biblical scholar. He was also prevented from taking the fourth vow that is part of the Jesuit charism. He was made an outcast among his brother priests and faithful Catholics. “He was berated, deplored and rejected by his own.” (13) It is all documented in the Appendix. If for nothing else, this alone is worth the price of the book.

One wonders why it ended so abruptly, with his unexpected and tragic death. There is so much more work to be done. There are so few people, so few men, so few bishops, so few Jesuits who tell it like it is. But as Christians we must believe that God’s ways are not our ways. He has a plan that someday will be revealed to us. Shakespeare’s Hamlet fears that conscience makes cowards of us all. For Father Paul Mankowski, S.J., conscience has made him Jesuit strong.

Clara Sarrocco is the longtime secretary of The New York C.S. Lewis Society. Her articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications.

Linguistics and New Testament Greek – David Black and Benjamin Merkle, eds.

Black, David Alan, and Benjamin Merkle, eds. Linguistics and New Testament Greek: Key Issues in the Current Debate. Ada, MI: Baker Academic, 2020. 288 pages.

Reviewed by D. Malachi Walker.

In 2019 the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary held a conference called “Linguistics and New Testament Greek: Key Issues in the Current Debate.” The 11 chapters in Linguistics and New Testament Greek: Key Issues in the Current Debate, released in 2020, were papers which came out of that conference. The purpose of this book is “to try to help Greek students become more familiar with the significant contributions that linguistics can make to their study of New Testament Greek. (2). In an explicit effort to move beyond a study of Greek that has a focus on merely memorizing paradigms and principal parts (2), each chapter in this book tries to fill out what is otherwise an exiguity of New Testament Greek research: dialogue with linguistics.

After David Alan Black’s preface describing the state of New Testaments studies, chapter one by Stanley E. Porter (“Linguistic Schools”) fittingly begins with a discussion of “linguistic schools and their impact upon the study of the Greek language of the New Testament” (10). Black puts into relief the importance of understanding linguistics in a well-rounded way, because historically one’s knowledge of a foreign language can be accidentally reduced to the terms of one’s native language (the study of aspect offers a kindly example – 11–12). Porter begins by defining what a “linguistic school” is (13–14) and proceeds to analyze in brief different approaches, including: traditional grammar; rationalist language study; comparative historicism; formalist schools; systemic functional linguistics (of which he is a member); and several others. This chapter will be very helpful to those less familiar with the basics of linguistic schools and thought.

In chapter two (“Aspect and Tense in New Testament Greek”), Constantine R. Campbell goes through some of the points in New Testament Greek scholarship that are commonly held and others which are more contested. For example, there is broad agreement that Greek maintains, at the least, the perfective and imperfective aspects (42). Whether or not a stative exists in Greek is more hotly contested. (42–43). Campbell then concludes with a discussion of semantics versus pragmatics (47) and the relevance of this topic for exegesis (50ff).

Topically following Campbell is Michael G. Aubrey’s “The Greek Perfect Tense-Form: Understanding its Usage and Meaning.” Aubrey’s chapter on the Perfect form shines as a highlight of the book. He first considers the confusion around the perfect (found even in introductory grammar books) and proceeds to scrutinize event structures, aktionsart, and transitivity (59–61). He then applies these concepts to the perfect and imperfect (61–62). In the remaining pages he discusses the relationship between the scale of transitivity and the verbal forms (62–80).

Jonathon T. Pennington uses chapter four (“The Greek Middle Voice: An Important Rediscovery and Implications for Teaching and Exegesis”) to argue for the distinction that “in the active voice, the subject does the action of the verb, and in the middle, the subject also does the action of the verb but in some way that entails a greater subject-affectedness or involvement” (89). This is argued in contradistinction to the idea of Greek deponents (found in Latin, for instance).

Chapter five is “Discourse Analysis: Galatians as a Case Study,” written by Stephen H. Levinsohn. In it, he examines constituent word order. The importance of word order shows itself in the idea that “choice implies meaning” (110). That is to say, when there are multiple options of expressing oneself, each option provides a different nuance of meaning. Discourse analysis becomes relevant inasmuch it permits scholars to understand what is being communicated through the written text. This in turn necessitates engaging the nature of the discourse (111), the genre (112), the divisions of the text (112), and prominence-giving devices (116). Putting the rubber to the road, Levinsohn proceeds to analyze Galatians from its macro-structure down to conjunctions found in 1:6–2:14.

In Steven Runge’s contribution (“Interpreting Constituent Order in Koine Greek”), he, like others in this book, conveys the historical framework of his topic: the tendency for Greek to have either a (verb – object) order or a pragmatically motivated (subject/object – verb) order. He takes up the distinction between the theme and the rheme and Dik’s template of P1 and P2 to understand prominence in written communication. Importantly, Runge discusses NIF, the “Natural Information Flow,” the principal that language moves from the known to the unknown (131). He then applies this to several passages (133–143).

Chapters 7 acts as a major break in of the book. Whereas the previous several chapters were quite focused and robust, chapters seven through ten discuss more practical matters. T. Michael W. Halcomb in his “Living Language Approaches,” discusses the historical pedagogy for language learning (beginning with the Renaissance) and argues for the importance of the living language approach. Randall Buth’s “The Role of Pronunciation in New Testament Greek Studies” dovetails Halcomb’s discussion. Because a written language is predicated upon a prior spoken language, Buth argues for a thoroughgoing understanding of the spoken language. According to Buth this includes using the target language in the classroom (Buth would prefer the cessation of Erasmian pronunciation in favor of a more accurate historical reconstruction). He also discusses the evidence for specific phonemic changes found in Koine Greek.

Thomas W. Hudgins’s article, “Electronic Tools and New Testament Greek” offers various tools for New Testament Greek study online. Robert Plummer’s penultimate chapter (“An Ideal Beginning Greek Grammar?”) offers thoughts on what an ideal grammar book might include such that it can inspire students, incorporate mnemonic devices, have a clear and simple style which is not overly burdensome, and most importantly, be accurate! High ideals should not eschew practicality, however. The best grammar for a student is the one that the student owns. Finally, Nicholas J. Ellis’ “Biblical Exegesis and Linguistics: A Prodigal History” acts as a bookend together with Porter’s first chapter. He surveys the linguistic field, both in its present form and historically. He then tries to show the intersection between linguistics and biblical studies.

One very important highlight of this book is the number of resources the authors provide for further study. If the reader is wanting for knowledge of systemic functional linguistics, he will know where next to turn after this book. Granted that the last several chapters are more accessible, knowledge of both Greek and, minimally, the lineaments of linguistics are absolutely essential in order to appreciate the book fully. Ellis’ critique of structuralism in chapter 11 will be lost on the uninitiated.

While the first six chapters are very theoretical, each chapter grounds the discussion of the relationship between linguistics and New Testament Greek in relevant examples. Levinsohn’s chapter on discourse analysis is based in a well-articulated discussion of Galatians. Again, not to know basic terminology such as “constituent word order,” “fronted constituent,” or “back-reference” puts one at a disadvantage when reading this book. These chapters are meant to be serious contributions to the evolving cross-disciplinary study of New Testament Greek and Linguistics. Not every contributor is on the same page in terms of their linguistic school or approach to Greek; however, each in its own way adds a profile to the existing push to analyze Greek in a well-rounded and lucid manner. Even those who are not as familiar with linguistics will still profit very well from this book, but the student that does not already have a solid knowledge of Greek will find it difficult to understand the valuable discussions found therein.

D. Malachi Walker was born and raised in Nashville, TN. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the Pontifical College Josephinum and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in the Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The Sexual State – Jennifer Roback-Morse

Roback-Morse, Jennifer. The Sexual State. Charlotte, North Carolina: TAN Books, 2018. 406 pages.

Reviewed by Aaron Martin.

With the reversal of Roe v. Wade this year, some people believe that we have come to the end of an era. The errors and terrors of the sexual revolution that sprung up in the 1960s have caused immense damage over the last 60 years. Abortion is the worst and most visible of those poisoned fruits, but it is the product of a broader ethos that pervades society. That same ethos has skewed the way that people relate to each other, how they make moral decisions, and how they understand what is or is not moral. The sexual revolution brought far more than abortion. Today, the sexual revolutionaries question the relevancy of sex itself, holding that men can be women, women can be men, and that polyamorous groups of all shapes and sizes should be treated the same as a traditional heterosexual marriage.

Societal mores can change over time, so the degeneration of morals after the sexual revolution is no surprise. What may be a surprise to readers is that it was no happenstance. The poisoned fruit of the sexual revolution, and the continuing attacks on traditional sexual morality today, are the result of a concerted and deliberate effort — “a movement of the elites justifying their preferred lifestyles, imposing their new morality, and, in the process, allowing them unprecedented control over others.” (54) These elites are not primarily found in think tanks or in Ivy League institutions, though they are certainly there. As Jennifer Roback-Morse found, these elites are frequently found throughout government and are supported by government-employee foot soldiers who carry out the elites’ agenda. She notes, “[t]he changes we now call the Sexual Revolution were initiated by elites, institutionalized through State power, and are sustained by a steady diet of propaganda and misinformation. The State is at the core of the Sexual Revolution, so much so that it’s no exaggeration to call it the Sexual State.” (54–55)

Throughout the book, Roback-Morse provides numerous examples of government indoctrination regarding sexual immorality. Unfortunately, in the four years since Roback-Morse published the book, these examples have multiplied geometrically. They are regularly splashed across the front of newspapers and Internet news sites. Some examples include actual government programs pushing this agenda, while some focus on misguided bureaucrats trying to further the agenda. Whatever the source, these ideas are being forced upon people from all sides.

Roback-Morse speaks also about the “managerial class” that is promoting a skewed version of gender ideology. Although she did not specifically predict the ubiquitous push of gender ideology from corporate America, corporations of all kinds have clearly taken sides. They are vigorously and unapologetically promoting gender ideology in their own advertising, their employee training, and by funding programs schools. Once you start indoctrinating a 5-year old with the belief that there is only a subjective moral system, the rest of these errors quickly follow. When there are no longer any constants, you are free, as our own Supreme Court has said in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, “to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

What people miss about that odd passage in Casey is the very next sentence: “Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.” Yet as Roback-Morse expertly describes throughout her book, the “compulsion of the State” has defined and implemented the Sexual Revolution for years. Indeed, the State continues to compel people to believe its chosen ideology on a vast range of issues, such that personal conscience or belief is no longer a valid reason to fall out of line.

Roback-Morse suggests that the antidote to the many poisons of the Sexual Revolution is the Catholic Church and its teaching on sexual morality. Her book is a wealth of information about the underlying causes (or “Ideologies,” in her words) and how Church teaching refutes such ideas. The Church’s moral teaching proposes the good about things — the beauty of human love and sexuality, the true nature of the human person, the freedom that comes with choosing the good — and demonstrates how they integrate into a harmonious whole. Roback-Morse follows the same method, proposing the good and showing how the Church’s vision combats the false ideologies of the Sexual Revolution. It is a powerful argument regarding the power of the Church’s teaching.

My only criticisms of the book are not Roback-Morse’s fault. First, although the book has an extensive and helpful bibliography (43 pages!), it lacks an index, which would be very helpful to track issues as they are developed across different sections. Second, it already needs to be updated. The book was written in 2018 and would already benefit from a revised addition with more examples and more discussion of the many issues that have developed over the last four years. Indeed, expanding Part Four on gender ideology may require a separate book altogether.

These minor shortcomings do not take away from the substance of Roback-Morse’s work, which is a useful primer for those seeking to understand the intellectual genesis of these ideologies and to prepare for the inevitable variations to come. This book will give people the tools they need to address these ideological errors. And if Roe v. Wade falls, it will not mark the end of the fight. It will require a new generation of informed culture warriors ready to take up the fight in a changed landscape. Jennifer Roback-Morse has been a leader in that culture war for some time and her book is a useful field guide to keep close at hand when the battle begins.

Aaron Martin, JD, PhL, and his wife, Jenny, live in Phoenix, AZ with their four children. Aaron owns his own law practice and serves in various ways in the Diocese of Phoenix.

Reaching for the Resurrection – Francis Etheredge

Etheredge, Francis. Reaching for the Resurrection: A Pastoral Bioethics. St. Louis, MO: En Route Books and Media, 2022. 99 pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Moira McQueen.

Through sharing some of his own intensely felt experiences, Francis Etheredge leads the reader to reflect on some current bioethical and social challenges such as euthanasia and anorexia. He is concerned that feelings of alienation and worthlessness, as well as fear of being a burden to others, perhaps lead some to consider suicide or, in countries where the practice is legal, euthanasia.

Etheredge shows the essential difference between loneliness and aloneness: the first, in extreme forms, can lead people to want to end their lives, while the second is necessary for mature psychological and spiritual growth, both personally and in our capacity for relationships. He strongly encourages us to allow the Word of God into our lives as the true source of sanity and healing, the Word of a God ever open to loving us into the recognition of our innate dignity and worth, which we do not always “see.” He tells us we have to be humble, admitting our weaknesses and asking for help, and here the author recounts the many, futile paths he trod before God’s Word became a “lamp to his feet,” guiding him to an acceptance of the realities of life and leading him into a loving relationship.

Etheredge’s psychological and spiritual journey clearly influences his pastoral response to current life-challenging questions in bioethics, including a consideration of the criteria for brain death. His bioethical critique is valuable, but this reader sees as even more valuable the honest portrayal of himself as a “lost soul,” who in time came to see that “wrongdoing had its own dynamic and kept a person prisoner.” (P. 75) He admits to experiencing desperate loneliness until eventually released, in effect “resurrected,” by the power of the Word of God. While psychological help is, of course, important, his main message is to be open to that “Word,” trusting in the God who forgives unconditionally, who sets sinners free and, most of all, loves us back into life when we invite him to enter “under our roof.”

Etheredge’s conversion shows that when God penetrates hearts, the meaning of both life and death become clearer, and his journey will speak to many people of our day who sadly experience similar life-threatening loneliness and feelings of worthlessness, as well as to those who minister to them. The truth of God’s love for His people lies, to me, at the heart of pastoral bioethics, and is my main “takeaway” from this wonderfully succinct book.

Dr. Moira McQueen, LLB, MDiv, PhD, DSL (Hon.) is Executive Director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute in Toronto, Canada.

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