Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Why Priests?: A Failed Tradition

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Totally fascinating review of Garry Wills’s new book Why Priests?: A Failed Tradition. By Kyle Minor, in Salon:

It takes a long time to write and publish a book, so Garry Wills certainly could not have predicted that his newest, “Why Priests?: A Failed Tradition,” would arrive at precisely the moment in history in which many thoughtful Catholics must be asking the same question.

If you’re expecting a polemic, you might get a quiet one, but you won’t get much in the way of bombast or grandstanding. Wills is a scholar, and his opposition is rooted in a position firmly inside the church. The book is dedicated to the memory of a priest, Henri de Lubac, S.J., and it begins with a long appreciation of the priests Wills has known and loved in a professional lifetime of reading and writing about religion which itself began in a Jesuit seminary, where Wills studied for five years in hopes of becoming a priest.

This brief memoiristic opening quickly gives way to a historical account of the rise to prominence and power of the priestly class in the Roman Catholic tradition, which begins with the first generation of a priestless movement that hadn’t yet begun to call itself Christianity, and it is here that the reviewer of the audiobook edition begins to experience a special pleasure. So often the better audiobooks get their traction and build their momentum through their narrative qualities — the urgency of scene-making, the building tension of information that the listener is gaining alongside the speaker, the carefully modulated rising and falling of carefully shaped juxtapositions of events.

But when listening to “Why Priests?” in the pleasantly near-professorial cadences Michael Prichard expertly delivers, the pleasure rises from that calm authority, which so well matches Wills’s method of offering information in a steady, measured way, and then giving words to the ideas about the information that the listener has already begun to formulate for himself because the case has been prepared so intelligently. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

28 February 2013 at 4:11 pm

Posted in Books, Religion

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