Finding God in Pop Culture

Fr. Barron’s new book, Seeds of the Word, is a fascinating series of articles on how we can find glimpses of God and His Church in popular movies, books, and current events.

Knowing the topic, I didn’t expect this book to be excellent.

But it was! Fr. Barron has a unique ability to find the nuggets of truth in even the most secular of stories. He separates the good from the bad and provides incisive commentary on where our culture is today.

seeds1I never read The Shack, for example, even though it was a big phenomenon, especially among Protestants and unbelievers. He praises the book for its many true aspects, but then also points out that it devolves into heretical teachings that run counter to the truths of the Catholic Faith, so one should be careful with it.

He also picks apart Eckhart Tolle, who rose to fame with his New Age talk on Oprah. Tolle has some ideas that are okay, but many others are straight out of heretical cults from thousands of years ago.

Each chapter is short and to the point. He describes just enough of the movie or book for the unfamiliar reader to understand the background, then he analyzes it from an orthodox Catholic perspective.

I’m happy to give Seeds of the Word five stars!

When Pope St. John Paul II Went to Wisconsin

I didn’t even know that the Pope visited a heavily Polish area of Wisconsin when he was still a Cardinal.

But Philip Kosloski did. And he wrote a book about it: In the Footsteps of a Saint: John Paul II’s Visit to Wisconsin.

This book is fun, short, and fascinating to read. Kosloski describes the unlikely chain of events that led John Paul II to spend a day in rural Wisconsin, touring Polish farmers’ land and meeting various civic leaders, some of whom didn’t realize who they were talking to.

foots1JPII’s charisma and kindness shine through in the book, in how attentive and caring he was toward each person he met, in the fact that he went to rural Wisconsin at all, and in the humility he showed when his main speaking engagement there went a little haywire.

Kosloski is from the area and drew from many local sources, including interviewing people who were there and getting photos of the trip. One great part was when some powerful bishops in the U.S. tried to get the trip cancelled so they could have more time with JPII, and the tough Wisconsin prelates put their foot down and demanded that the future pope get to come visit them.

The book is inexpensive on Kindle and if you have any love for John Paul II, you should pick it up.

We Need to Fill Our Father’s House

I just finished a timely book on evangelization by Shaun McAfee called Filling Our Father’s House.

Shaun is a fairly recent convert to Catholicism from Protestantism and brings a needed perspective on what we as Catholics can do to share the gospel, enliven our own lives of faith, as well as that of our parishes.

This book is pithy and insightful. Shaun draws from all the good things that he learned as a Protestant and shows how we as Catholics can adapt and adopt the ideas to become holier and draw others to the Faith.

Testify!

One of the first chapters is on developing your testimony. A testimony is your story of God’s grace in your life.

These things are a big deal in Evangelical Protestantism, but few Catholics are familiar with the term. However, we need not be frightened by it. Think about how God has worked in your life, how you came to believe and how your faith was strengthened, awakened, restored, or found.

Often cradle Catholics feel that they don’t have testimonies, that their lives have been “boring” in this regard. But this is not true; converts are not the only ones with stories, even if theirs often seem more exciting. You do have a story to tell, because everyone does.

shaun1Shaun explains step-by-step how to develop your testimony, find the main theme, and how to make sure that you include oft-forgotten aspects like what life is like for you now as a Catholics.

People are drawn to stories, so thinking about and sharing your testimony is an excellent way to evangelize.

Take and Read

One area Protestants often criticize Catholics about is Bible reading and study. And sometimes they are right. But that is changing.

Shaun encourages us to read the Bible and study it. He goes into the reasons why and also which translations of the Bible are best for which purposes. He then recommends verse memorization as well, something I did as a Protestant but as a Catholic have not seen focused on much.

Understanding the Bible is essential to the Christian life, and it always gives you necessary credibility when discussing the Faith with non-Catholic friends, especially with Protestants. For many Evangelicals, if you are not reading the Bible, then your authenticity as a Christian is suspect.

Know Christ and His Church

Shaun delves into getting to know Jesus, that personal relationship that Protestants stress so frequently but which seems to be missing from the lives of many Catholics.

But he doesn’t stop there; Protestants usually make the mistake of diminishing the role and importance of the Church and our relationship with it. We as Catholics however can and should have a relationship with Christ and a relationship with His Church. Because they are inseparable!

When these relationships are in place and vibrant, we can follow God’s call to build up the Church. Shaun talks about the value of small groups and how you should start one or be involved in one. I can’t agree more. We recently started a couples small group at our parish and have been benefiting from the deepening of our relationships with others and our ability to impact the parish in a positive way.

Small groups are another area where Protestants are ahead of Catholics. We need more Catholics to step up and learn how to start, facilitate, and grow small groups in our parishes. These can be Bible studies, men’s groups, young adult groups, couples groups, or focused around an interest or even common struggle.

Filling Our Father’s House is a much-needed book for our time in the Catholic Church. If we implemented McAfee’s suggestions we would see a huge transformation in our own lives and especially in the life of our parishes. Bravo to him for writing this helpful book!