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Comment: The item is fairly worn but continues to work perfectly. Signs of wear can include aesthetic issues such as scratches, dents, and worn corners. All pages and the cover are intact, but the dust cover may be missing. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting, but the text is not obscured or unreadable.
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On Being Catholic Paperback – February 1, 1997

4.7 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Would it be brash to say that Thomas Howard is an American counterpart of C.S. Lewis? I think not. Thomas Howard's intelligent, literate and erudite approach to the experience of faith and all of the challenges that faith brings will be enlightening to anyone who takes the Gospel seriously."

-- Fr. Benedict Groschel, CFR

"Tom Howard has done it again. With gentle and compelling wisdom, he shows the Catholic faith for what it is, the grandeur of the biblical gospel and a reflection of the immensity of God's wisdom and grace. On Being Catholic is an apologetic and literary gem."


Scott Hahn, Ph.D.

About the Author

Thomas Howard was a Professor of English and Literature for over 30 years. He is the author of numerous popular books including Chance or the Dance, Dove Descending: T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets, On Being Catholic, Lead Kindly Light and Evangelical is Not Enough.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 265 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (February 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898706084
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898706086
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Bennett VINE VOICE on June 22, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thomas Howard is a former evangelical, turned Anglican, turned Catholic, and an editor-at-large for Christianity Today. His Evangelical credentials were very impressive, and so is his case for the Catholic Faith. Howard does not sling Scripture at the reader, nor does he attempt to do fundamentalist-style apologetics. Had he done this I probably would have put it down after the first page.
Howard's style reminds me a lot of C.S. Lewis'. When I first read of this comparison on the back cover I was dubious. However, his writing is laced with references to classical literature and a variety of philosophies. His knowledge of secular and Christian thought is quite impressive, as is his Latin and English vocabulary. Like Lewis, he seamlessly and clearly articulates his thoughts in a way that is quite beautiful without being superficial. Like Lewis, he also handles objections to his ideas as he writes, anticipating the objections various types of readers might have. While it is likely that Lewis will be read long after Howard, this is no reason to dismiss the importance of what Howard has to say.
For me, what makes his work so impressive is that he appeals to the deep need that humans have for tradition, religious encounter, symbol, sacrament, ritual, etc. Much of the book is based not on cold logic, but on human need and longing. A good example is when he explains the need that humans have for ceremony and ritual, and how eventually we "give external shape to what is in our hearts." He explains how when we internally remember a birthday, we give visible and external shape to this inner matter through common birthday rituals like candles, cakes, and presents. These rituals do not supersede the inner reality, but give meaningful shape to it.
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Format: Paperback
Despite his being a prolific and engaging writer, Howard's books have only shown up willy nilly, here and there throughout the years. Students may have taken his classes at Gordon College or St. John's Seminary. He wrote an entertaining column in the New Oxford Review when that was still an Episcopalian journal. His biography, Christ the Tiger, and a beautifully written apologetics book, Chance or the Dance, went in and out of print in various editions. He gave seminars at the C.S.Lewis Institute held at Seattle Pacific University, and wrote a wonderful book on the novels of Charles Williams, published by Oxford University Press.
That doesn't exhaust where you may have come across Thomas Howard, but those are a few places I ran into him. He described himself once in the New Oxford Review as sitting on a cliff overlooking Rome, dangling his legs off the end, and wondering how long it would be until he jumped. As it turned out, not only Howard, but editor Dale Vree, and everyone else associated with that publication jumped--with the magazine shifting from lively Episcopalian discussions to lively Catholic ones. Eventually I followed Howard and another favorite writer, Malcom Muggeridge, and jumped off myself.
Fortunately, my sponsor gave me this book as a confirmation gift. I say fortunately, because Howard describes a worst-case church service of the sort I experienced as a new convert in a new church. If not for this book, I would never have gone back, and never found the sort of joy and belonging that follows the awkwardness and discomfort of exploring something new.
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Format: Paperback
Howard was a shining star among Protestant Evangelicals until his conversion to Catholicism in the 1980s (described in his earlier book, _Evangelical is Not Enough_). This decision shocked his former compatriots, some of whom attacked him rather severely for it. Howard had already written several books on Christianity--some dealing with his hero, C.S. Lewis--and has continued to write books discussing aspects of the Catholic faith. This work is a beautiful and illuminating description of what it means to be Catholic, written by one who spent much of his life outside the Church. As a result, it has much within its pages that will benefit Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Howard's gift for making complicated issues clear has led some to call him "America's answer to C.S. Lewis."
Howard's approach to Catholicism is deeply rooted in his former life as a Protestant Evangelical, and indeed, he still has a great love and respect for that period of his spiritual development. This is by no means an anti-Evangelical book. Howard often prefaces each chapter by outlining the objections that Protestants hold regarding each topic, which allows him to illustrate Catholic beliefs with greater clarity while still retaining what is good about the Evangelical approach. The fact that he once shared these objections gives added weight and authority to his discussion and shows how deeply Catholicism has been misunderstood by many Christians. Howard's tone is always optimistic, always passionate, and always informative. He brings to this book a clear love for Christianity in general and for the Catholic faith in particular that readers of any faith will likely find contagious.
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