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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Catechism as our guide for rebuilding Catholic Culture
Using different sections of the Catechism, Dr. Topping divides his chapters into topics such as the Creed, Sacraments, and Prayer. He then explains how these topics shaped the world once, with the hope and possibility that they will again. Each chapter also eloquently and seamlessly serves as a stepping stone to lead you to the next chapter. At first glance in the Table...
Published 23 months ago by Stuart Dunn

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nobility in a Dictatorship of Relativism
Ryan Topping's "Rebuilding Catholic Culture" spans ten chapters covering different areas such as liturgy, virtue, law and family to address how the world went astray from a Christian, specifically Catholic, foundation and abandoned it for its own ideals. While these ideals echo Christian morals, Topping argues because they are severed from anything religious - making them...
Published 21 months ago by James F. Day


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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Catechism as our guide for rebuilding Catholic Culture, February 25, 2013
This review is from: Rebuilding Catholic Culture (Paperback)
Using different sections of the Catechism, Dr. Topping divides his chapters into topics such as the Creed, Sacraments, and Prayer. He then explains how these topics shaped the world once, with the hope and possibility that they will again. Each chapter also eloquently and seamlessly serves as a stepping stone to lead you to the next chapter. At first glance in the Table of Contents, one might think this book is just a series of essays under a common theme. Instead, it is a carefully woven tapestry that provides a fuller picture the further you read.

The book also references Vatican II heavily, which isn't shocking as the Catechism was a direct result of Vatican II. As pointed out by the author, one can see the previous influence of Catholic culture in our artwork and architecture, and even in our literature with works such as "The Lord of the Rings." However, the most interesting chapter to me concerned the family. It was both fascinating and depressing to see how far society has fallen. The traditional family is now anything but, as we have modern families with step-parents, two moms or two dads, or families where the parents aren't even married at all. Blessed John Paul II wrote and spoke openly about love and the functions of family life including service to society and, more importantly, service to the Church.

When I received this book, I thought I was getting a book which would go through the Catechism section by section and provide me with step-by step instructions on how to change the culture. Instead, I got a book that shows what the culture was like and how the Catechism and Church could shape it, if we only allow it to do so. I'm therefore having a hard time rating this book and waffled on giving it a 4 or a 5. The book is magnificently written and claims to be accessible. Yet it is a challenging read, which has the possibility to frustrate the average reader. However, I do like that the message is presented in a hopeful light, and not doom and gloom. For that reason, I am deciding upon a 5 with a caveat that the reader pace themselves while reading this book and don't try and chew it up and digest it all at once.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nobility in a Dictatorship of Relativism, May 8, 2013
This review is from: Rebuilding Catholic Culture (Paperback)
Ryan Topping's "Rebuilding Catholic Culture" spans ten chapters covering different areas such as liturgy, virtue, law and family to address how the world went astray from a Christian, specifically Catholic, foundation and abandoned it for its own ideals. While these ideals echo Christian morals, Topping argues because they are severed from anything religious - making them neither Christian nor moral - they have no real foundation and the only result to this new world order is catastrophe.

Topping is theologically sound, very cognizant of the trends of secularism, and does not avoid addressing ways of in fact rebuilding Catholic culture. But he waits too long into the text to offer his remedies (end abortion, have more children, learn Latin, build better churches) and does so breezily instead of making them pillars that could have informed the rest of the book. As it is, we have more time spent on the world's abandonment of God and the Church than for Catholics themselves to turn their own agenda around. It's there, but it's not driven by the four recommendations that appear in the conclusion.

For readers familiar with the numerous references (papal documents, the Church Father, Dante, the Enlightenment philosophers and Marx and Engels for example), appreciation will be given to the intelligence of Topping's insights and arguments. However, at the core of the text is an emphasis on rebuilding the family and the parish. My guess is these readers would be more familiar with the works of Matthew Kelly, like "Rediscovering Catholicism." Topping's book is a more advanced version of Kelly, but lacks the mainstream foundation that makes Kelly so popular (you won't see this book passed out at your local parish at Christmas).

Still, the seriousness of what compelled Ryan Topping to write "Rebuilding Catholic Culture" applies to all who are serious about not abandoning God to the march of secularism. As he says in a profound parenthetical throwaway, "(If truth really is just an expression of one's own racial, sexual, or any other 'interests,' why should anyone else bother about hers -- or his?)"
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ, March 23, 2013
This review is from: Rebuilding Catholic Culture (Paperback)
This book provides a clear roadmap to all Catholics who are serious about their beliefs (or at least serious about getting serious) and want to know what next to do. Topping goes through what it is Catholics stand for in such a way that they can forge a path onward, even in a world where many say faith and God are irrelevant. He puts the faithful back in touch with their roots by going through the Catechism in a refreshingly clear way.

The writing is accessible and his insights worth committing to memory. All source material is well referenced, thus providing the readers who are emboldened by Topping's call to action with lots of choices for further reading.

This is a great read for anyone who is trying to make sense of what it is to be Catholic these days. It reads easily and it sticks with you once you're done.

A MUST BUY BOOK.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the Read!, May 27, 2013
This review is from: Rebuilding Catholic Culture (Paperback)
As a mother of young children, this book took some time to read, but I am very glad I did read it. It has inspired me to focus on raising my family Catholic with renewed energy. It has encouraged me to be proud of my faith rather than apologetic or shy.

There are lots of beautiful pictures, and wonderful quotes from the Catechism, Popes, Doctors and Documents of the Church. It goes through ancient and modern philosophies to show the foundations of our society today. I felt reading this book was a review of my liberal arts education -whose purpose is to discover truth, goodness, and beauty.

I enjoyed the discussion on Vatican II particularly Topping's analysis of what "active participation" in the Mass means. (Deeper prayer, not more pronounced activity). It also explores secularism: What kind of society do we get without God? We are still moralists but without a compass. We cannot even look to nature and what is natural for direction without recognizing the foundation of Natural Law given by the Creator. So what we get is "abstract equality plus unlimited liberty backed by state enforced tolerance."

Because of poor catechesis, many Catholics do not know how to defend their faith. We must not only know what others believe but what our Church teaches also!

Alright, the chapters on the Liturgy/Sacraments are amazing! I was really inspired by the reminder that WORSHIP is the Church's first work. God is the primary actor and it is first for His Glory, not for the building up of the community. We don't need to be creative in the liturgy.

There is a very important discussion on conscience. It's not just our personal judgment, but because of original sin, it must be formed by moral laws. Anyone can make up values and they can be different for every person. If we would appeal to conscience rights in our society, we must also defend traditional moral principles.

This book has helped me to remember that Jesus' Kingdom is not of this world. We cannot hope to attain earthly perfection, but must keep our eyes on heaven to live rightly here and now. Our work requires penance for sins, and prayer, especially in our families.

The conclusion is funny but profound in it's truth and simplicity. Wonderful book. I keep talking about it to friends and family and definitely recommend it to you!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Relevant and Inspiring Read, April 30, 2013
This review is from: Rebuilding Catholic Culture (Paperback)
I found `Rebuilding Catholic Culture' to be an invigorating book with many great ideas about the role of the Catholic Church in our society. The book is filled with relevant examples, amusing anecdotes and memorable quotes. It is an inspirational read that not only encourages one to think about how the Church can influence culture for the good, it also gives some relevant practical ideas about where to start.
But if you're looking for a clear outline of "10 steps to a better life" you will be disappointed. Topping's project of renewing Catholic Culture is a big one and so his topics are vast and sweeping. This can occasionally lead to a feeling of getting lost in the grand scale, only to be brought to earth with his pithy statements and practical applications. Topping's insistence on the relevance of Catholic belief to every important aspect of our modern culture gives us food for thought and hope for the future.
This book is a good read for those who are longing to see a happy and healthy world and want to start with the right Catholic ideas. This would be a great book to use in the college classroom to inspire young minds to be confident in their own faith, and have the courage to hold their faith dear enough that it will positively influence the society in which they live.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Embrace Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here", June 16, 2013
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This review is from: Rebuilding Catholic Culture (Paperback)
The organization of the book is very neat, and I appreciate the structure Professor Topping uses: two chapters each for the four parts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Dogma; Liturgy; Morality; Prayer: Faith and the Creed; Worship and the Sacraments; Virtue and the Law; Family and Prayer. Throughout the book, Topping considers the state of Catholic culture today, examining the impact of the Second Vatican Council, secularization, etc, and often juxtaposing the decline of Catholic culture with the teachings of the Church in the Catechism. So modern church architecture ignores the role of beauty and order in liturgy; modern thought about conscience, as expressed by Robert Bolt in "A Man for All Seasons", contrasts to the true meaning of conscience; current ideas about marriage contrast with the true definition of marriage, the family, and children, etc.

I particularly enjoyed Topping's section on Dante's "Purgatorio", with the introduction that it's only in that part of the Divine Comedy in which there is any conflict and drama: the souls in Hell have no hope; the souls in Heaven have all they need and want: the souls in Purgatory are working to expiate the punishments for their sins on earth--they have hope, they will progress, they will achieve sanctification, and they will join the saints in Heaven. The motto for Purgatory, in contrast to Hell, could be "Embrace hope, all ye who enter here."

Another aspect of this book I appreciated is that Topping gives us insight into the decline of Catholic culture in Canada and the triumph of secularism there. Topping offers sketches of a history similar to Russell Shaw's comprehensive "American Church", tracing a story of accommodation and acculturation.

I agree with the publisher's blurb that this book "will renew your confidence in the world-transforming character of our Creed and in the potency of our Faith to shape and redefine the culture of the West", but it still makes me sad that we have had to undergo such decline and fall.

Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good insight on decline, not so much for rebuilding, November 17, 2013
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I really enjoyed this book, but I agree with some of the other reviewers that the author waits too long in the book to offer his prescription for rebuilding Catholic culture. His insights into Catholic culture's decline are fascinating and sometimes quite surprising. I particularly enjoyed his thoughts on church architecture. However, based on the title I expected a more in depth treatment of how the culture of the Church can be reinvigorated. All in all a solid read however.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth is beautiful!, June 9, 2013
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This review is from: Rebuilding Catholic Culture (Paperback)
This book lives up to all the recommendations and more. I can't tell you how many times I found myself saying YES! Our Catholic faith is being bombarded from the secular world is every direction, Mr Topping has incredible insight. I highly recommend this to everyone who seeks the truth.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than George Weigel's book, April 30, 2013
This review is from: Rebuilding Catholic Culture (Paperback)
This book is indeed a "Must Read". In my opinion, the author has a better feel for the state of the Church than George Weigel does. Also, he utilizes the Catechism of the Catholic Church to guide his analysis and recommendations. This book is the most important book on the subject that I have read in recent years.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended!, April 9, 2013
This review is from: Rebuilding Catholic Culture (Paperback)
Here is a book worth reading. There are a lot of books out there that are not worth reading. This is not one of them.

And it is worth reading for a number of reasons. First, because it has a nice cover. And I think that contrary to popular belief, one can (more often than not) judge a book by its cover and fare quite nicely. In this case, I prove correct.

And this is because, you see, the outside of the book is a reflection of the inside of the book. Which brings me to my second point: it is beautiful. That is, it is beautifully written, and that goes a long way in my mind. Not only does Topping treat the topic of beauty and the lack thereof in our modern world (which I thoroughly appreciated), but he also writes beautifully. I found it quite enjoyable to read and was amazed by the number of fitting analogies he uses throughout. In fact, I often found myself thinking, `You should remember this line,' only to go on to another well-put phrase or analogy, and in the end I had to concede that memorizing the whole book may not be possible.

But most importantly, it is a book that has some content. And good content at that. Don't be scared by the word "catechism" - it is not written like the thick green book many may have on their bookshelves in the eternal `to be read' section. Though the themes are taken from the catechism, Topping weaves together a bit of history, some philosophy, a touch of literature, a few anecdotes, and some current day trends, which will leave you excited to read the next chapter. The content is deep, but written in such a way that both the philosophizer and the average person could enjoy and be left with something to think about.

If you are a Catholic, you may just learn a few more things about your faith, where the Church is in the world today and why, and perhaps you may even be a little more proud to be a Catholic and be inspired to strive for a renewal of what is good, beautiful, true and Catholic in our culture.

If you are not a Catholic, you will find it interesting and perhaps may gain some insight into our modern world and why some Catholics hold strong to what they believe. You may not care so much about Catholicism, but you may be surprised at what you will discover about our present society and culture.

I highly recommend Rebuilding Catholic Culture to anyone and everyone. Brilliantly and beautifully written!
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Rebuilding Catholic Culture
Rebuilding Catholic Culture by Ryan Topping (Paperback - January 7, 2013)
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