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“Dangers to the Faith: Recognizing Catholicism’s 21st-Century Opponents,” by Al Kresta. Our Sunday Visitor, 2013 (www.osv.com; 800-348-2440). 304 pages. $14.95.
When I was very young, I toured a newsroom, and I remember seeing a card at someone’s desk. It read: “Is it true? Is it kind?”
Those questions have always summed up the profession of journalism for me. Honesty and charity are defining qualities of the best in the business.
They define Al Kresta, and they shine throughout his new book, “Dangers to the Faith: Recognizing Catholicism’s 21st-Century Opponents” (Our Sunday Visitor).
Kresta is a veteran broadcast journalist and host of the daily “Kresta in the Afternoon” talk show, which airs on more than 220 stations as well as on Sirius satellite radio.
His fans (I confess, I am one) wait upon his wit and pithy, memorable phrases. They will not be disappointed by “Dangers to the Faith,” and I suspect their numbers will swell.
It is an eminently useful book, addressing challenges to the Catholic faith most commonly encountered in the media, in the classroom and in the workplace. Kresta presents the charges, almost always in the words of those making the charge, and then he provides the Catholic response. Many of the charges are based on misunderstandings, urban legends or bigotry, and Kresta is expert at exposing these for what they are.
What makes him especially effective, though, is that he manages to do this in a way that’s always fair, always kind and scrupulously truthful.
The key, I think, is that he looks to the source of the charges and sees “opponents,” not “enemies.”
“This is a work about opponents to the Catholic faith,” he writes. “We owe it to them, as a mark of decency and common humanity, to represent their positions in ways that they would recognize as fair and accurate.” Then he follows through. He assumes good will. He goes not for the jugular, but for conversion. Some of the opponents come off looking quite virtuous, if badly mistaken.
“Dangers” is structured as a handbook, easily browsed to find quick answers to the zinger someone threw at you today. Why did the Catholic Church brutally suppress all but the four canonical Gospels? Why is the Catholic Church opposed to genetic research? What does the pope have against science?….