September 26, 2011:
Tim Muldoon, scholar, author, and writer for the Catholic portal on Patheos.com, reviewed Fr. Barron's book, Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith. Read his review here:
First, and to the point: this is an excellent book, the new standard to give to the seeker, the RCIA participant, the college student, the non-Catholic spouse, the skeptical friend. It is slender and readable, accessible, creative, and thorough. It is artful. It is the fruit of both an accomplished scholar and a popular writer. I highly recommend it.
As I was reading it an image came to mind. In 1895 the French artist Paul Cézanne produced a still life painting entitled The Basket of Apples. Like any still life, it appears to the viewer first as a picture of something: apples spilled out of a basket onto a table. One is immediately drawn to what the painting is about, its subject. At face value, Barron’s book does something that any number of other books do: present the subject of Catholicism by walking the reader through many of its key elements. There are ten chapters (a good Biblical number) on revelation; the person and teachings of Jesus; God; Mary; Peter and Paul; the Church; the liturgy; saints; prayer; and last things. So at this face value, Barron gives us a very pithy presentation of the Catholic Church’s major doctrines.
But there is something remarkable about Cézanne’s painting, and something remarkable about Barron’s book. Just about any new art student can paint apples on a table, and any blogger can write some ideas he gained by flipping through the Catechism. Cézanne’s painting demands a careful look: the table seems oddly disjointed, as if it were painted from different perspectives. The flashes of light that are the apples resist the structure of photographic realism. Cézanne started with a blank canvas and made very specific choices to paint the way he did; why did he do things this way? Analogously, I asked myself, why did Barron do things this way, rather than (say) just expounding on the Catechism of the Catholic Church? What were these men trying to say, and what were they trying to elicit from us?...
Visit patheos.com for the rest of Mr. Muldoon's comments on the book.