Thursday, February 2, 2012

Seek First the Kingdom: Book Review

What it is:
Seek First the Kingdom from Our Sunday Visitor makes the case for lay Catholics to engage in American politics, both by speaking the truth to their friends and neighbors and by confronting politicians about views they disagree with...but always charitably.

Who wrote it:
Cardinal Donald Wuerl of D.C.

First Impression:
Honestly, I was a little bored at first. The book starts out with some basic ideas that he builds upon later. I don't know of a better way to go about it, but it certainly didn't hook me from the beginning.

Overall Impressions:
This book gets much better as it goes on. Cardinal Wuerl makes compelling arguments about why and how Catholics should get involved in advocating for Christian values in everday life. He makes ample use of short anecdotes from "real life" and I really love the charitable way he encourages readers to promote their values, especially when in a disagreement. A quote that I really took to heart was

But we should speak with a presupposition of the other person's good will, or our shared concern for the Church, and with an awareness that we are all one in faith...Thus, even when we disagree, we strive always to speak the truth in love.
While he was referring to disagreements between Christians in that particular quote, I think the point holds true for most conversations in life. I think assuming good intentions on the part of whomever you are disagreeing with is a much more pleasant way to live one's life, and much more likely to be effective in helping you sharing God's love and truth.
I also thought he did a nice job of writing the book in such a way that it did not promote one political party over the other. A book that alienated one side or the other couldn't reach all Catholics the way Cardinal Wuerl aims to do here. I personally support a political party and honestly can't really see how Catholics faithful to the magesterium could support the other party, but he makes a compelling case for why the Church should not officially support one party or the other-even if all the lay people do. I also love the way he challenges readers to challenge policies within our own political parties that aren't in line with Christian teaching by reaching out to political leaders and letting them know where we stand.

Pros:
  • Compelling arguments
  • Real life examples
  • Non-partisan
  • Argues to do all advocacy with charitable attitude
Cons:
  • Starts slowly
  • Not a super easy read
The Bottom Line:
This book is a thoughtful look at the proper place of Catholics in public advocacy of Christian values and policies that promote those policies. It's a great book for Catholics, especially intellectuals, who are hesitant to let their faith influence other areas of their life, like their political and professional efforts.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Seek First the Kingdom: Challenging the Culture. They are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible.

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