Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Dad's new book is out: The Christianity Primer (are you wondering if it comes with a free pewter cross? It does.)
Paul Zahl's new book is out on Palladium Press (Birmingham, AL). Palladium Press is strictly mail-order. It can be ordered through TESM's book store (http://www.tesm.edu/resources/bookstore), and Trinity could use the sales, I'm sure. Otherwise it can be purchased on Palladium's own website (http://www.palladiumpress.com/).
It may be his best book yet, and is definitely the most accessible. Are you wondering how it looks though? Well, it's purple (hard back) with an inlaid gold cross on the cover, and gold-leafed. Basically we're dealing with a limited Las Vegas edition of the Book of Common Prayer done by the NIV team, only it's a survey of the entire history of Christianity. And we've got to hand it to Dad; he finally wrote a book that is longer than about 94 pages. In fact, the Primer is chock full at 471 pages!
And it comes with a free pewter cross for your neck,...or anklet?
Title page reads:
The Christianity Primer: Two Thousand Years of Amazing Grace: The History, Development, and Meaning of the Christian Religion
The Introduction follows:
"The world's most widely practiced religion can use a primer, a basic, simple digest of its beliefs and how it has come to be what it is. Christianity is a huge and complex subject, very old and many layered. But it is still possible to say what the essence of it is. It should not be hard to get the basic facts about a thing. Those facts may not describe the thing exhaustively. Yet they can capture its essence.
"The purpose of The Christianity Primer is to state clearly and simply the main facts about Christianity: how it started; how it developed over the years and centuries; how it split, like an amoeba, into several different forms of itself; and how it survives and even thrives today.
"Who were and are its main thinkers? Who are its main activists? Who are its saints? Who are its statesmen? Who are its villains? Who are its unsung heroes?
"What is Christianity's influence on the world stage today? How does Christianity related to other religions, especially to high-profile religions such as Islam, and also Judaism and Buddhism? What are Christianity's strengths? What are its weaknesses? What questions about life does it claim to answer? What questions about life does it claim to answer? What questions does it leave unanswered? How does Christianity, in its vastness of numbers and many expressions, relate to its founder, Jesus of Nazareth? What would he think of worldwide Christianity today? What do you think of it?
"The Christianity Primer offers straight facts, in chronological order, with some interpretation for the lay reader. It surveys the big ideas and history of the Christian faith (as found predominantly in the Sci-Fi films of the 1950s), right from its first-century beginning. It offers short biographies of the important personalities, from then to now. It also includes a few of the main, primary sources -- the original documents themselves -- that have been the charter texts for the religion.
"To avoid the use of footnotes and make for easier reading, descriptions of key subjects, events, and writings mentioned in the text are given in alphabetical order in a glossary at the back of the book, commencing at page 371. Similarly, biographical sketches of significant persons mentioned in the text are also listed in alphabetical order in a separate section at the back of the book, commencing at 433.
"Aside from the most important event of Christianity, the coming of Christ, there are two other watershed events that I would like you to keep in mind as you read the Primer. One is the splitting or Great Schism of the Christian Church into two parts, the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox (or simply "Orthodox") Church, in 1054. The other is the Protestant Reformation, which began in Germany in 1517 under the leadership of Martin Luther. The Reformation further divided the Roman Catholic Church, resulting in the establishment of Protestantism. Since that time, the Christian church has consequently consisted of three branches: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant.
"As the author of the Primer, I hope you have before you a clear and easy digest of almost everything you need to know about Christianity to comprehend it, critique it, embrace it, or even reject it -- in short, to understand it as it really is.
"I myself am a convinced Christian. I am also made uncomfortable by the contradictions and hypocrisies of many people and groups who call themselves Christian. I am trying to follow the founder, and what he taught. Yet sometimes, when I look around me at the Christian churches, it makes me want to drop out. I shall try to give you a sympathetic view, but not one that hides the scar tissue and the fault lines."
(parenthetical statement added by JAZ)
(typed while listening to Lootpack)
Posted by John Zahl at 12:51 PM