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 Post subject: New Book:"We Have a Pope! Benedict XVI" (Our Sunday Visitor)
PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2005 10:10 pm 
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Sons of Thunder
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In the days immediately following the announcement that Cardinal Ratzinger became the first German Pontiff since Victor II (1055-1057AD), the biographys began to appear.

Of the few that I was looking forward to, Matthew E Bunson's, "We Have a Pope", was not one of them. It was enough for me to know that it was being published by Our Sunday Visitor. However, in the wait for biographies that I had ordered online to arrive at my house, I saw again Brunson's book at Barnes and Noble yesterday, so I decided to read it anyway.

I wish I could say that after reading the 200 pg. book I had a change of heart--I didn't. However, I certainly would have no problem suggesting it as a good introduction to the life and thought of Benedict for those who like easier reads.

In it, Brunson, like the other biographies out there, starts with an overview of the last days of JPII, moves into the Conclave, and then sets out to discuss the upbringing of Ratzinger, before giving an overview of his theological career.

The part that I appreciated the most was his discussion of Ratzinger during the Council and the Post-Conciliar era. Brunson brings to light Ratzinger's frustrations with the Post Conciliar theological circles that were twisting the "spirit and the letter of the Council". But Ratzinger wasn't alone. He found refuge in the like minded resourcement theologians (de Lubac, Balthasar, etc) and with them responded to the abuses of the age in starting the theological Journal "Communio", something that Ratzinger refers to subtlely on a regular basis in his writings. Cardinal de Lubac had a great influence on Ratzinger's "eucharistic ecclesiology", Brunson notes (129-130). Ratzinger, a self descriped "Augustinian theologian", was probably most influenced by Balthasar than any other contemoraries. When teaching at Regensburgh two young students (Joseph Fessio of Ignatius Press, and Christoph Schonborn, the celebrated Austrian Cardinal who worked for years on the new Catechism) took great interest in him. Fessio wrote, under the eye of Ratzinger, his doctoral dissertation on Balthasar, and has since made it is personal mission to translate the works of Balthasar and the other resourcement theologians for English speakers.

Even though the book is intended for readers that are less theologically engaged, those readers will probably find some words and referencs that they are unfamiliar with, thus the author took the time to create glossary in the back, along with a chronalogical listing of popes since St. Peter, and other references throughout.

The more engaged reader will find it frustrating that nothing is cited, there is no bibliography, and no index--but these are all things that turn the average reader off.

In the end, I found the book borning, but I realize that it does have an audience that the next book I will talk about probably can not reach.

Those who ARE interested in good biography I would suggest the one by Vatican insider, John Allen JR: The Rise of Benedict XVI--The Inside Story of How the Pope Was Elected and Where He Will Take the Catholic Church. I have yet to read it, but I am familiar with the work of Allen. He is known for his ability to get the information that nobody else can through his access to the Curia and influential theologians. In the past Allen's liberal bias really shined out in his work (as in his first biography of Ratzinger a few years back), but he has since had a sort of "converstion" (as he calls it). A friend of mine (the eldest son of the Hahn familiy) just read the book for review and he said that it was excellent. More of all this later, after I read the book.

************************************************************

New to the Desk today:

1. The Dynamics of Grace: Perspectives in Theological Anthropology, Stephen Duffy (This, and his other book, "The Graced Horizon", are good introductions to the Nature/Grace debate, but he is painfully biased toward the veiws of Rahner. Nonetheless, an imporant book and an important author).
2. Nature and Grace: Toward and Integral Perspective, by James A Carpenter (Anglican theologian. Know nothing about him, but found the book online and bought it. He seems a little more radical than Rahner, giving heavy weight in the dicussion no only to Rahner, but also to Tillich, Metz, Moltmann, and Whitehead [of all people!]. Should be an interesting perspective).
3. Ancient Philosophy, Julia Annas
4. Teach Yourself Latin
5. The Threefold Garland, by Von Balthasar.
6. Cambridge Companian to Aquinas
7. Providence, by LaGrange

Chou.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2005 3:26 am 
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Sharing the label of 'resourcement' doesn't seem to me to be compelling evidence for anything. I'm reminded that Wordsworth and Byron are both appropriately called Romantic poets.

But if you say that there's a fruitful comparison to be made of Balthasar and Ratzinger, why don't you go directly to the men themselves and show some pattern of similarity in their theological writings? Even leaving out Ratzinger's writings for the CDF, you may be disappointed if you expect to find more than superficial agreement between them on grace, on salvation (and damnation), and on the boundaries of the Church.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2005 3:06 pm 
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I have Matthew Bunson's 'Encyclopedia of Catholic History' and I must say that it is very good, thought it suffers from the usual defects of a one volume encyclopedia, namely that it doens't go in much depth on most topics. A good overview nevertheless.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2005 4:19 pm 
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I have another new book. It is titled "Pope Benedict XVI: A Personal Portrait" by Heinz-Joachim Fischer. The publisher is The Crossroad Publishing Company. Translated from German, original title "Benedikt XVI - Das Portrait" Herder Verlag. I haven't start reading it yet.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2005 9:49 pm 
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Sons of Thunder
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lbt wrote:
I have another new book. It is titled "Pope Benedict XVI: A Personal Portrait" by Heinz-Joachim Fischer. The publisher is The Crossroad Publishing Company. Translated from German, original title "Benedikt XVI - Das Portrait" Herder Verlag. I haven't start reading it yet.


I just got that one today... It arrived, but I didn't remember ordering it. It does look pretty good.

There are a few others out there that are using the fact that there is a new pope to write a book about the same old (gays, celibacy, women's ordination, etc. etc. etc.). You think you are getting a biography, but really, you are just getting a bunch of clllraap...

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