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The Bad Catholic's Guide to the Catechism: A Faithful, Fun-Loving Look at Catholic Dogmas, Doctrines, and Schmoctrines (Bad Catholic's guides) Paperback – November 1, 2012
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"John Zmirak is easily one of the funniest writers alive . . . smart, well-grounded in his Catholic faith, and not hesitant to share it. . . . He attacks the subject matter with the best of his doctrinally sound depth of knowledge and relays it with maximum humor." —Thomas McArdle, former White House speechwriter and communications director, Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights
About the Author
John Zmirak is an editor, a journalist, a college teacher, and a political commentator. He is the author of The Bad Catholic's Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins and the coauthor of The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Good Living; The Bad Catholic's Guide to Wine, Whiskey, and Song; and The Grand Inquisitor. He has contributed to Investor's Business Daily and the National Catholic Register. He lives in New York City.
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Top customer reviews
No, this is actually a quite orthodox attempt at redescribing the Church's teachings for those to whom they have been explained, if at all, very badly. Adults, young or otherwise, who haven't had any theological training since the mandatory four hours or so a week in sixth grade-- if they were lucky enough to go to parochial school-- or maybe 45 minutes or so a week, and for fewer weeks, if it was just their parish's pre-Confirmation class, will benefit from this book, both because it gives them knowledge they need when someone asks them "Jusrt what do you Catholics believe, snyway?" (and the person asking may be you yourself), and because it is not presented in anything like as boring a manner as they remember it from middle school.
The author manages to be at once very erudite and remarkably funny (and no, pneumatological heresies aren't those that make you cough), and makes things such as Nestorianism, the filioque, and the Rituale Romanum remarkably interesting and accessible. This is a book I can easily recommend to practicing Catholics, who might want to to put their faith into a broader (and more amusing) context, to former or 'back-sliding' Catholics, as a reminder of what they are supposed to believe, to Protestants, as a response to ill-informed questions about worshipping saints, and to give them a clue about their own histories, and to atheists, to let them know what they're missing.
Not sharp enough to be cutting, but dull enough for grinding your ax.
I am pleased to find that even the parts we disagree on are more logical, and logically argued (not the same thing as knock down drag out screaming threat exchanges) than some of the oddball rumors I had heard floating about. He certainly makes it much more understandable. If nothing else, while I may prefer a different interpretation or doctrine, I find (like the explanation of Mary) that it is not so far out as to be heretical, and is actually at least possibly true.
The humor is generally not offensive, and certainly makes for a better reading experience than the dry as dust methods creeds and systematic theologies are written in. I especially enjoyed how he ripped evolution to shre - listed the logical flaws in evolutionary argumentation.
I've read Zmirak's three previous efforts and am enthralled by his mischievous recasting of real Catholic teaching, customs, liturgy and philosophy. Zmirak is one of those astonishing educators who knows his topic so well he can have fun with and even make fun of it without losing his reverence for the Church and her teachings.
You won't find relativism or situation ethics in these pages. You will find the Catholic Church's authentic teaching, presented for public consumption, direct from the pages of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. His cheerful prose is marred only slightly and very occasionly by careless errors of fact, easily corrected by a decent editor, such as allowing readers to believe that Archbishop Jose Gomez made certain remarks about immigration in 2008 as if he were Archbishop of Los Angeles at the time instead of Archbishop of San Antonio. He wasn't transferred to LA until 2011. In this presnt volume on the catechism, Zmirak becomes a touch or two more solemn than in the other Bad Catholics' Guides. But it's just a touch.
All this notwithstanding, anyone reading Zmirak's series will come away with a profound respect for his familiarity with the subject and impressed with his impishness in relaying the information. Zmirak is inspired by the very best defenders of the Faith; he is, himself, a latter-day G. K. Chesterton.
God bless John Zmirak, Evangelist to all the, unhappily, poorly educated Catholics of our present age.