Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book Review: A View From The Back Pew

The subtitle of A View From The Back Pew is "God, Religion & Our Personal Quest for Truth." This is a memoir of the VERY personal quest of Tim O'Donnell, who grew up a Catholic but whose search for faith results in a New Age-y post modern spirituality created by himself

O'Donnell's motivation for writing about his experiences is to keep others from wrestling with the same guilt and fear that he attributes to his Catholic upbringing. It is interesting that although he questions the very foundation of the Catholic Church, he is so convinced that it is the only "true" church that he never takes the next logical step of investigating the theology and practice of any Protestant church. Would his conclusions been different if he read C. S. Lewis or Tim Keller?

Rejecting both the tradition of the Catholic Church and the Protestant emphasis on the authority of scripture, O'Donnell becomes fascinated with the Gnostic Gospels and the writings of Bart Ehrman and Elaine Pagels. This leads him to reject the orthodox doctrine of the divinity of Christ in favor of the belief that Christ was a human being with a highly-evolved spirituality. He concludes that "if we just have a measure of the faith in our own divinity that Jesus had, we too will exist on a plane where we can transcend time and space." 

The book combines O'Donnell's quest for religious truth with his life story, but the transitions are awkward.

(I received a free Advance Reader's copy of the book from the publisher for review and did not promise to post either a positive or a negative review.)

3 comments:

LisaMM said...

Interesting review- you bring up a good point about questioning one faith but not really investigating another. Thank you so much for your thoughts on the book and for sharing them with your readers as part of the tour.

SingingOwl said...

"It is interesting that although he questions the very foundation of the Catholic Church, he is so convinced that it is the only 'true' church that he never takes the next logical step of investigating the theology and practice of any Protestant church."

Haven't read the book, but this statement is something that makes me deeply sad and I encounter it over and over because Wisconsin is a strongly Catholic state. I know dozens of unhappy Catholics who knew and liked me, or whose relatives I visited in nursing homes...etc but would NEVER consider visiting my church even once. They might be furious with what was happening in their parish, angry at the priest, deeply hurt, but never consider that perhaps there was a choice besides leaving church altogether.


Se

Reformed Catholic said...

Having been in Tim's shoes, as a former Catholic I can attest to the reluctance of many Roman Catholics to look at (or even set foot in) any denomination of Christianity other than Roman Catholicism.

Unfortunately, what this creates are lapsed Catholics, who are looking for truth, but find it everywhere but in Christ.

Fortunately, in my case, SWMBO was praying and nudging me into looking at Christianity from a Reformed viewpoint. Realizing after reading and studying the Bible, that the Church is not the hierarchy but the people who profess that Christ is Lord, released me from that single mindedness of the True Church to see what the True Church really is.