Now Available: Debating Catholicism Series
Here are transcripts of four rollicking debates I was in with prominent anti-Catholics. The books and my opponents:
The Bible Battle: Peter S. Ruckman, the dean of the King James Only faction of Fundamentalism;
High Desert Showdown: Jim Blackburn, a pastor who riled a whole town with his anti-Catholic antics;
Tracking Down the True Church: José Ventilacion, minister of Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), a sect that originated in the Philippines;
Face Off with an Ex-Priest: Bart Brewer, a one-time Discalced Carmelite priest who ran an anti-Catholic ministry.
The four books appear together in the omnibus volume Debating Catholicism.
Each transcript has been edited for readability but without sacrificing my opponents' best arguments. Here are their cases against the Church. I leave it to you to judge which side had the better of it.
A Book Full of Confusions: How to Profit from Them
To understand the Catholic Church, observe how others misunderstand it. In Jeremiah's Lament I tackle common misunderstandings as expressed by Fundamentalists and Evangelicals. I explain their errors and how to overcome them.
The people profiled here came to their confusions variously.
Sometimes it was by reading the wrong books or failing to read the right books. Sometimes it was heredity, with prejudices passed down from father to son and mother to daughter. Sometimes errors were imbibed at the foot of the pulpit, in the lecture hall, or from door-to-door missionaries.
(By the way, the Jeremiah of the title isn't the biblical Jeremiah but a Chicago priest who turned against the Church. It's quite a story!)
When Is It Okay to Criticize a Pope, and Who Can Do It?
This is the most controversial pontificate in memory. Catholics are at loggerheads with Catholics.
Some criticize Pope Francis, while others say that there isn't anything to criticize or even that popes shouldn't be criticized, period.
In The Francis Feud I examine how conservatively-minded Catholics have been arguing about the pope—and with each other.
I find myself in a dual role: I try to be a reasonably objective observer while also being (I hope) a reasonably fair participant.
In these pages I look at recent books that are critical of the pope, and I look at what others have said about those books, both pro and con.
(The Francis Feud is available as ebook, paperback, and audiobook.)
First Book in the How to Fail at Hiking Series Now Available with Others Soon to Follow
I'm working on a four-book series (plus a fifth, omnibus volume) on hiking and backpacking. The second title in the series is the first to be completed. The complete set will be:
How to Fail at Backpacking (an overview volume)
How to Fail at Hiking Mt. Whitney (now available at Amazon)
How to Fail at Hiking Yosemite
How to Fail at Hiking Grand Canyon
How to Fail at Hiking (omnibus volume)
My thesis is that we learn as much from observing our own and other people's mistakes as we do from positive instruction. These books are full of mistakes that, if avoided, will make your outings pleasurable and successful.
Johnson's Wit and Wisdom, 365 Days a Year
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) is remembered for producing the first substantial dictionary of the English language and for his enthralling and sometimes cantankerous conversation as recorded by his biographer, James Boswell.
Beyond that, nowadays not many people know much about Johnson. It's a pity. He was more than a raconteur. He was one of the great moralists and teachers of all time, a man of deep insights and deeper compassion.
In this upcoming book I present 365 of Johnson's best quotations, one for every day of the year, augmented with observations of my own.