Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Book Review: How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization

For both the dedicated Catholic and the sceptic, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization supplies much food for thought regarding the role Catholicism has played in western history. It should be in every library.
Dr. Woods has covered many subject headings including Morality, Science, Art and Law and provides well documented examples of the Church's contributions, often foundational contributions, to each one.  He also meets head on the discussion of the idea that the Church was responsible for the "Dark Ages".  And who says they were dark?  There is a concise and fair review of the "Galileo affair" which I think most would find interesting.
I found the book affirming and often surprising.  I do not think anyone would be able to walk away from this book and still believe that the Church was anti-science or anti-reason.  This book is an antidote to much of what we have been taught in schools and exposed to in the media.
The many footnotes are arranged at the end of the book, so that they are not distracting.  The off-white colour of the paper makes the book easy on the eyes.  There is a section which included photographs relevant to the subjects.
The one shortcoming of  this book, if it is to be used for serious research, is the index.  I wanted to find something that I'd read in the book about an experiment in flight in the 11th century, and I ended up having to go through the book page by page to find the reference, as the only index entry was the name of the obscure monk who managed to glide 600 feet.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone involved in RCIA, either as a catechist or a cathecumen.  I think the parent or catechist involved in preparation for Confirmation classes would also find this book very helpful in responding to young sceptics.

I wrote this review of How The Catholic Church Built Western Civilization for the free Catholic Book review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, your source for Baptism Gifts and Oplatki Christmas Wafers. Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases. I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

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