Why do people think differently from you about religion?

Faith at the Edge:
A New Generation of Catholic Writers
Reflects on Life, Love, Sex and Other Mysteries
Edited by Angelo Matera
Ave Maria Press, 2008
193 pages. $15.95.

Why do people think differently from you about religion?

Why do some who call themselves believers not seem to believe things you believe?

Cradle Catholics who have never had a crisis of faith, never gone through a time when they didn’t go to church wouldn’t seem to have any use for a book like Faith at the Edge, edited by Angelo Matera.

This collection of commentaries is targeted for those seeking something to believe in or perhaps a spiritual home in which to land.

It contains nuggets of wisdom, insights into the mystery of God that will nurture the faith of those looking for a place to call home as well as those who long ago found a faith where they belong.

That’s not to say that all that’s written here is good.

Look at the offerings in the book as you would dishes on a luncheon buffet: Some are tastier than others. Some are better for you than others. Some might be hard to swallow. But you don’t know if you like something until you try it.

Don’t be scared away by a chapter titled “Gay and Catholic.” Quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, writer David Morrison notes, “The Catholic Church looks at me as an adult and says, ‘You might live with same-sex attraction, you might even define yourself as a homosexual, but we think that you can and will be a saint.’ And that, I believe, is head and shoulders above what anyone else says on the topic.”

Note, though, that there are also thoughts like that of a candidate in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults: She sees the church as authoritarian -- that it puts the rights of the institution ahead of an individual’s rights -- and she thinks this may be OK: “An easier choice might not do the job, might not be able to tame this thing in me that needs taming.”


Could it be that that’s what some people need from the church?

Easier to digest is the column by the young adult mom who found comfort in the rituals of prayer from her own Catholic school childhood and who is determined to give this as a gift to her own children, especially the connection with Mary.

Other pieces, however, show naive perspectives on life, on women, on women religious, on bishops. You read some of it and you want to shout “Grow up!” and “Get a life!”

[Zyskowski is associate publisher of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.]

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