In a time of discouragement, how can the Church renew itself and its outreach to all people? Bishop Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, insists that a "dumbed down" Catholicism cannot succeed in today's highly educated society--instead, the Church needs to draw upon its great theological heritage in order to renew its hope in Christ.
With Renewing Our Hope: Essays for the New Evangelization, Bishop Barron traces this renewal through four stages. "Renewing Our Mission" lays out the challenges that call for Catholics to become more aware of their own intellectual resources in encountering the "Nones." "Renewing Our Minds" showcases the importance of theological reflection as a font of wisdom and sanity in the Church, touching on Thomas Aquinas, Hans Urs von Balthasar, the recently canonized John Henry Newman, and Pope Francis. In "Renewing the Church," he proceeds to look at how Scripture, the family, the seminary, and Catholic college graduates can each contribute to this renewal. Finally, in "Renewing Our Culture," he returns to the judgments Catholics must make in assessing contemporary culture, specifically, family life, liberalism, relativism, and (surprisingly) the beauty of cinema.
Bishop Barron, known as the host of the Catholicism PBS video series, was previously rector and professor of systematic theology at Mundelein Seminary outside Chicago, Illinois. He demonstrates again in Renewing Our Hope his ability to make the fruits of his wide reading accessible to a broad audience, while still giving his academic colleagues much to consider.
"Barron's fans well know the reservoirs of thought and learning he draws, so effortlessly, upon. Here we trace the waters to their source: his charism as a scholar and teacher. This is the Bishop at his reflective, ruminative best. More gripping than Grisham!"~Stephen Bullivant, author of Mass Exodus: Catholic Disaffection in Britain and America Since Vatican II
"With the passing of Francis Cardinal George, the mantle of Windy City sage turned Catholic bishop passed to Robert Barron. The essays in this volume, however, offer much more than the view of the Church from Bishop Barron's new pedestal in the cultural hub of Los Angeles. They assemble an incisive disentanglement of the theological problem posed by the ‘nones.’ How can we as a Church respond to the Zoomified indifference of the next generation while avoiding the divisions of the past and actually entering into the to and fro of a culture that calls itself postmodern? A brilliant way forward is sketched in these scintillating pages."~Peter Casarella, Duke Divinity School
"The virtue of hope depends on the virtue of faith; we first need to believe in God in order to trust him. Bishop Barron’s special genius, vivid throughout these marvelous essays, is his gift of making the ’new evangelization’ more than just pious words, but the seeds of a new and fulfilling life in Jesus Christ."~+Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap., Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia
"Wisdom is not an everyday affair though the everyday depends on wise people if we are to live well. Bishop Barron is a man of wisdom which means he writes about our faith in God with joy and insight. Hopefully this book will be read by those who no longer think what Christians believe to be true. For as Baron makes clear when all is said and done we are followers of Christ because He is the truth that makes life joyful."~Stanley Hauerwas, Duke Divinity School
"More than almost any person I know, Bishop Barron lives to ponder and savor the things of God. And in meditating passionately upon the gospel, he takes delight in reasoned argument and in the power of a memorable turn of phrase. Ever attuned to the real-world purchase of doctrine, he can be said to embody St. Paul's dictum: 'Test everything; hold fast to what is good.' For those engaged in the mission of thinking with the gospel and bearing it to the world, this book will be a beacon."~Matthew Levering, James N. and Mary D. Perry Jr. Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary
"The beauty – the splendor – of things may depend ontologically on their goodness, truth, and being, but it is their beauty that awakens us to them. The splendor of truth draws us to the truthful. In the seventeen essays and lectures collected in this book, Bishop Barron shows, in vivid detail, how our Christian faith needs to focus primarily on God our Father and Creator, shown through his Son and Word Jesus Christ, in the light of the Holy Spirit. This is a book for preachers, catechists, and faithful who wish to develop a Eucharistic and Biblical way of thinking that responds, not primarily to argumentation, but to the glory of God. The most colorful chapter is the final one, "Christ in Cinema," in which Bishop Barron shows how the figure of Christ is depicted in "Babette’s Feast," "The Shawshank Redemption," and "Gran Torino." The most lyrical passage is the claim that the best image of God in the bible is the burning bush, which is on fire but not destroyed: "The closer the true God comes to the creature, the more radiant and beautiful the creature becomes." The book was written to renew our hope, that is, to diagnose a turbulent situation in our Church and our culture, and to show what can be done in response to it."~Robert Sokolowski, The Catholic University of America
"What Pope St. John Paul II dubbed the "New Evangelization" is the Catholic Church's grand strategy for the twenty-first century -- and the way of being Catholic that animates the living parts of the Church around the world. No one understands the theological and historical roots of the New Evangelization more thoroughly, and no one implements the New Evangelization better, than Bishop Robert Barron, a true apostolic evangelist."~George Weigel, Ethics and Public Policy Center