Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Tuesday Ten Book Review

I finished my first book of the year!! Most years (in recent memory) I read one maybe two books the whole year. I'm on a mission to read more this year. My first book was Matthew Kelly's The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic.

I was hesitant about this book because I find Matthew Kelly very repetitive. I'm sure it's a technique in his speaking that helps to drive home a point but I find it hard to read his writing when he is constantly repeating the same thing. I found this book to be much less repetitive than my previous experiences with him. Not that it didn't still have some repetitiveness, it was just less so.

This book was given away at my parish on Christmas weekend. We weren't around then, but I was able to pick it up the next weekend when we were back in town. I started reading it out of curiosity (since I was a bit hesitant at first) and ended up being drawn in. And I ended up liking the book a lot and I believe I got something out of it.

I was surprised to find out that his research showed that only about 7% of Catholics are the ones that are the most likely to be the volunteers, primary financial contributors, and most dedicated Catholics in a parish. Only 7%! He was expecting to find that number to be 20% to correlate with the 80/20 principle (80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people--usually a business principle, but I've seen it applied in many other areas as well). Instead only 7% of the people do about 80% of the work in a Catholic Church.

As I continued reading I realized that I probably do not fall into that 7%. Few of us do. That was a bit eye-opening, to say the least! With this book Kelly was trying to make the case that we as Catholics could change the world just by increasing that number by 1%. But how?? That's where the four signs came in.

In short, he broke down the four signs to prayer, study, generosity, and evangelization. Anyone who has ever  done a Cursillo retreat will recognize three of these signs and honestly I think generosity can be folded into evangelization. But what I like is that he broke these four signs down and made them seem simple.

I'm almost out of time (wow ten minutes isn't very long!), but I wanted to say that I sort of disagree with him on one small point (and I'm out of time, but I'm going to finish this one thought anyway). In his last chapter he summarizes the points of the book and speaks a little to the erosion of the Church in our modern time. He is pushing for a revival of sorts and mentions that the Church could crumble without it. I understand what he is getting at and why he goes this direction, but we shouldn't forget that Jesus Himself told us that His Church would never fall. Yes, it may deteriorate a lot due to negligence on the part of the people and outside forces trying to break us apart, but I think there will always be a Church until the day Jesus comes back and there is no longer need for a human Church. What I think Kelly was trying to emphasize here was that we need to work on building the Church up and being unapologetic in our Catholic faith. I can agree with that. But I was just struck by his mention that the Church could disappear.

And that's all I got. Overall, a very good book and I recommend it. Sorry I ran over my ten minutes! If you're interested in this book you can find out more about it at www.dynamiccatholic.com.

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