August 1, 2011: A comprehensive review of Fr. Barron's CATHOLICISM series was posted by Brad Miner on The Catholic Thing today.
Read the review here:
I have an “uncorrected proof” of the book and a “rough-cut” of the DVD series; both are titled Catholicism, but they have different subtitles: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith and The Journey of a Lifetime. Take your pick; each is true.
The chapters of the book (Doubleday, $18.47) follow – and in some cases amplify – the episodes in the video series. In its ten chapters, the book includes over 100 images of, as author Robert E. Barron aptly describes it in his introduction, “The Catholic Thing.”The ten one-hour DVD episodes ($149.95), narrated by Fr. Barron, have approximately a zillion images: all of them moving – and you can take that in several senses of the word: active, poignant, stirring.
So what is this thing, Catholicism (speaking now principally of the DVDs)? Simply the most vivid catechism ever created; a high-def illustrated manuscript for the twenty-first century; the best-ever film about the Catholic faith.
The early episodes could have been titled Mere Catholicism. Fr. Barron starts with Jesus (“Yahweh moving among his people”), and what he says about the Lord would find concert with most Christians. This, for instance, with regard to the Incarnation:
The church fathers never tired of repeating this phrase . . .Deus fit homo ut fieret Deus (God became human so that humans might become God). . . . We are called not simply to moral perfection or artistic self-expression or economic liberation but to what the Eastern fathers called theosis, transformation into God.
He often bolsters his presentation with quotes from Protestant authors: C.S. Lewis, N.T. Wright, and Paul Tillich among them. You get no histrionic preaching from Fr. Barron, which is not to say his narration isn’t enlivened by passion for Jesus Christ. It is, but he mostly lets Jesus, the saints, the Church, and the scenery illumine the emotional power of Catholicism. All films (and some books) are collaborative endeavors, and director Matt Leonard, cinematographer John Cummings, and composer Steve Mullen have created a stunningly lyrical audio-visual backdrop to the words of the globetrotting Fr. Barron.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a Catholic film or TV program and commented, “Surely we can do better than this!” Well, Catholicism is better than I ever imagined such a film could be – a feast for eye and ear and soul...
Read the entire The Catholic Thing review here.