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Brother Astronomer: Adventures of a Vatican Scientist Paperback – February 12, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
It's the last two words of its subtitle that will arouse interest in this amiable book--and deservedly so. Like other Jesuit scientists before him, most notably Teilhard de Chardin, Consolmagno conveys well a passion for science wed to faith in God: two objects of devotion that, as Consolmagno realizes, many see as mutually exclusive. The triumph of his book is its persuasive argument that doing science can be a religious act--"that studying creation is a way of worshipping the creator." Regrettably, that triumph is confined to only a minor portion of the text, which overall, despite its other merits, has a ragtag feel, with Consolmagno moving from a look at his monastic-scientist's routine to discussions of his specialty, the study of meteorites; a history of Galileo's problems with the Church; a mini-autobiography; and Consolmagno's experiences hunting meteorites in Antarctica. And, in fact, the final chapter reveals that much of the book consists of reworked versions of the author's past talks and papers. Other than the brilliant defense of science's place in the religious life (and vice versa), no section of the book excels, though all are serviceable. The hard science discussions are elegant but rather technical; the Antarctic narrative, while enjoyable enough, lacks the alert wordsmithery of the practiced storyteller; and some of Consolmagno's statements, such as that all of Western science's achievements result "from the Incarnation," are so bald as to deny anyone but a devout Christian any grip. Even so, the book works, and well, for Consolmagno is a charming writer, witty, self-deprecating and, above all, genuine. There's not a whit of posturing in his words, but, instead, a sincerity and enthusiasm that are consistently congenial and infectious. 60,000 first printing; author tour. (Mar.) FYI: Brother Astronomer launches McGraw-Hill's ambitious new trade science program, which in the year 2000 will publish books by, among others, Ellen J. Prager, Alan Lightman and Joel de Rosnay.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Consolmagno, a Jesuit brother for the past ten years, has spent 25 years as an astronomer. He is now at the Vatican Observatory, where he curates one of the largest meteorite collections in the world. Consolmagno's book is an uneven mix of memoir, science, and religion; four large sections cover meteorites and comets, the perceived rift between science and theology, his life's path leading up to the decision to join the Jesuits, and his recent participation in a scientific mission to the Antarctic. The threads connecting these disparate topics are clear, deft writing and a mind at home with science and faith. However the four sections, while interesting in themselves (the last one on Antarctica is especially wonderful), do not make a cohesive whole. In addition, parts of the text were conference presentations or previously published articles, adding to the book's cut-and-paste feel. Recommended for larger collections.
-Michael D. Cramer, Cigna Healthcare, Raleigh, NC
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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The most important thing I learned in this book was a spiritual thing. Most of the book is not religious, although he certainly talks about his journey to the Jesuits. What I found most interesting, however, was the comment science and Catholicism mix very well and that studying the universe was, for a religious scientist, a way of worshiping God, as it is studying God's creation and revealing His work. I'd never thought of it that way, but, for a religious person that makes perfect sense.
An autobiography tracing a career in science and a path toward a religious calling.
A discussion of meteor and planetary science.
An adventure set against the harshness of Antarctica.
A discussion of the Occidental attitude toward nature which has led to the historical development of the scientific method.
A meditation on life as a gift and love superceding both obligation and duty as a motive for action.
Finally, a gentle reminder that the threadbare proposition that science is incompatible with religious belief is far too facile and much too simple. Brother Consolmagno portrays a reality that is more complex, more ambiguous and flat out more interesting.
By the way, it's all related with a winning sense of humor