Monday, October 10, 2005

Latest Book I'm Willing to Admit I've Read

I just finished How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. Regular readers of this blog might guess that I'm sympathetic to the aim of the book, and I am, but this was a pretty average read. In spite of the embarassing pains the author takes to establish his bona fides ("four Ivy League degrees, including an A.B. from Harvard and a Ph.D. from Columbia"), it's not a terribly good book. Mostly a cut-and-paste job, there were nevertheless some interesting sections that I marked in my own copy: pp. 195-196: St. Anselm's argument for what, exactly, was the need for the incarnation and crucifixion of Christ, given that God could just as easily decided to "forgive" the human race for "original sin" and obtained the same result. (I use the quotation marks in that last sentence judiciously, I think, and respectfully because I am not sure what original sin really is, given that the story of Adam and Eve is, I currently believe, an allegory for how the world was really created.) St. Anselm's reasoning is, to my way of thinking, pretty good and I certainly had not heard of it before. In the same vein, Soren Kierkegaard's likening (pp. 218-219) of the love of God for mankind to a king who wished to pursuade a commoner woman to genuinely fall in love with him. Both references to our necessarily limited attempts to understand the incarnation of Christ are touching. The book as a whole is interesting, it just could have been a whole lot more. Even so, I recommend it.

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