Page 6, 21st December 1973

21st December 1973
Page 6
Page 6, 21st December 1973 — Despairing definitions

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Despairing definitions

Wishful Thinking by Frederick Buechner (Collins 11.50) This little book of just 100 pages is a dictionary of terms relating to religion, in alphabetical order. The definitions concern the most sublime and the least important conceptions and, unfortunately, the author writes "smartly". His achievement gives the impression of irreverence in regard to what Catholics. and many Protestants. hold sacred.

In particular, he is both low and irreverent in regard to the Mother of Our Lord. Despite an occasional Awe observation, his general attitude offends reverent Christians, and this does not exclude his treatment of the Last Supper and its consequences for us all.

What and how he believes is not readily apparent, but his book is certainly not to be recommended to any Catholic family. Occasionally, as we have inferred, he makes an astute observation, as when he describes secondarily a "chaste person in the best sense of the word as somebody in the order of a priest who gives up sex in general and marriage in particular so that the Church can he his better half and the whole parish his children."

He is far from wrong when he writes: "Religion is praying, and maybe prayer will be answered and maybe it won't, at least not in the way you want". but he adds "and maybe not at all." Our prayers are always heard and answered,

On the whole his book is distasteful. There is a range of prose that lends itself to flatness and bad taste, and it nauseates in matters of religion, no matter how "smart" it may be. Nu reverent Christian and, a fortiori, no Catholic could like this booklet.

Dom Peter Flood, O.S.B.

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