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Catholic Thing [Paperback]

Rosemary Haughton
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Rosemary Haughton's profound gaze into the incredibly strange world of Catholicism is utterly beautiful. There are no wiser or more interesting books on this particular religion written in the twentieth century. Its supreme power comes from a radical negation on her part and a radical acceptance. What does she negate? What does she reject? A world of trash piety and sentimentality that twists the soul, corrupts cognition, constricts the emotions, tames art, and straightjackets our vital powers. She does not adore the plaster saints. She is immaculate. She is no handmaiden of power with all of its seductions, no servant of Christianity as an ideology with all of its blasphemous mediocrity. But what does she accept? In a word - the whole human and non-human cosmos. There is not only nothing human that is alien to Ms. Haughton there is nothing non-human as well. She is truly Catholic in all senses of the word "Catholic" in her attempt to "love everything until everything is transformed into the kingdom of God" as she describes the true Catholic enterprise. Ms. Haughton is a true psychologist in the best sense of the term - she is a student of the human soul which ultimately means she is a student of the dangerous but necessary art of getting to know people. She has gotten to know a grand and slight crazy cast of characters stretching from the problematical dawn of Christian history through centuries of divine folly and human madness up to the near present. Read more ›
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written and researched book on what 'Catholic' means Jan. 3 2000
By Martin A. Berg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. The title gives little clue about what is inside, except for the fact that the British-born author has set out for herself the daunting task of explaining what is gives Catholicism its specific character, and where it all came from. Her approach is to describe the Church as having two very unlike roles: Mother Church, which [to oversimplify] is the 'left-brained' and currently dominant institutionalized part of the Church; and Sophia, which I would describe as the 'right-brained' mystical aspect of the Church. Haughton explains in detail not only what these aspects are but what cultural/social/political forces engendered them, and how Mother Church became ascendant. She discusses medieval--and earlier--history, cultural considerations, politics (of course), and large dollops of human nature in order to make her point in an evenhanded way. For me the heart of her message and the best example of the flavor of this book is on page 151: A Catholic Church must...include people of all kinds. If it includes a number of saints and sages, it will also include a number of hypocrites and cynics....It must reach people where they are, in their own cultural milieu, whether that be an Austrian village or an American city, and in the process the message will be restricted, scaled down to meet their level of love and understanding. If it were not, they could never realize that it was for them, let alone have a chance to respond. That is what 'Catholic' has to mean in its cultural context. This book was an act of scholarship and love. I highly recommend it.
7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars intense intelligence, love, strangeness, and a great work May 20 2004
By Avant-Captain_Nemo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Rosemary Haughton's profound gaze into the incredibly strange world of Catholicism is utterly beautiful. There are no wiser or more interesting books on this particular religion written in the twentieth century. Its supreme power comes from a radical negation on her part and a radical acceptance. What does she negate? What does she reject? A world of trash piety and sentimentality that twists the soul, corrupts cognition, constricts the emotions, tames art, and straightjackets our vital powers. She does not adore the plaster saints. She is immaculate. She is no handmaiden of power with all of its seductions, no servant of Christianity as an ideology with all of its blasphemous mediocrity. But what does she accept? In a word - the whole human and non-human cosmos. There is not only nothing human that is alien to Ms. Haughton there is nothing non-human as well. She is truly Catholic in all senses of the word "Catholic" in her attempt to "love everything until everything is transformed into the kingdom of God" as she describes the true Catholic enterprise. Ms. Haughton is a true psychologist in the best sense of the term - she is a student of the human soul which ultimately means she is a student of the dangerous but necessary art of getting to know people. She has gotten to know a grand and slight crazy cast of characters stretching from the problematical dawn of Christian history through centuries of divine folly and human madness up to the near present. That sublime ego-ist Augustine is lavished more understanding than any other writer has ever achieved along side of figures such as Baron Von Hugel- the last sane man on earth; Heloise and Abelard - bruised in their tragic and tender glory; the real Maria Von Trapp (not the sentimental beauty from the movie "The Sound Of Music"); and a host of political and artistic rebels who cut through doors of iron, shattered chains, and took the kingdom of heaven by force. For Ms. Haughton, divine love is no pale thing - impotent, strict, and unearthly. For her it is a cosmic adventure with all of the perils and hardships implied. It is the pact and the tension between mortals and immortals, humans and real elves, humans and goblins, earth and sky, and all of reality with its own difficult self. Ms. Haughton stresses that Catholicism itself in its own dark vitals is an arduous quest for supreme wholeness, balance, and all of the dark consequences of both the quest and the wholeness achieved. Love, for Ms. Haughton, has definitely pitched His tent in excrement. Ms. Haughton firmly believes that Catholicism is not restricted to Catholicism or even Christianity. It is a completely human and divine enterprise that official Christianity - particularly in its Roman form - often subverts, corrupts, or destroys. Her fine book is especially important for people who may be interested in religion (Catholicism particularly) but utterly reject fundamentalism and are also discontent with the banalities, cheap sentiment, and the sheer theological stupidity of at least some forms of liberal religion. Ms. Haughton believes in the reality of faery tales but they are not the debased and safe faery tales so popularized by Disney. She tells us the truth - that we are all, like it or not, on a quest for the Holy Grail. No better book then "The Catholic Thing" by Rosemary Haughton could serve us on our way.
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