Review: Vibrant Paradoxes: The Both/And of Catholicism

Vibrant Paradoxes: The Both/And of CatholicismVibrant Paradoxes: The Both/And of Catholicism by Robert E. Barron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This collection of pithy essays is exactly as was promised in the Foreward: little gems whose facts shine brightly in the eyes of the reader.

Grouped into five broad categories – ‘Sin and Mercy’, ‘Reason and Faith’, ‘Matter and Spirit’, ‘Freedom and Discipline’, and ‘Suffering and Joy’ – these little vignettes manage to pack some powerful intellectually solid and evangelistically provocative material into a relatively small package. The writing, the solidity, of these short essays is a testament to the significant ability of the author, now Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, as a profound communicator and apologist of the Catholic intellectual tradition.

To be clear, there is nothing “easy” in these texts. They don’t seek to respond to criticism by shying away from the fundamentals of Christian belief. On the contrary, they respond with rigour and nuance, providing a powerful discourse on what it is Christians actually believe (as compared to what we’re told we believe by some of more atheistic leanings). The subtlety of the presentation shouldn’t be lost on the reader – unless it’s done so deliberately.

A very engaging, thought-provoking, and challenging book. It comes highly recommended.

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