Monday, November 30, 2009

High Praise for Theologian Paul Lakeland's Latest Book

As many readers of The Progressive Catholic Voice would know, theologian and author Paul Lakeland will be the keynote speaker at the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform’s September 18, 2010 Synod of the Baptized, “Claiming Our Place at the Table.”

Lakeland is the Aloysius P. Kelley SJ Professor of Catholic Studies and director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University. He is active in the American Academy of Religion, the Catholic Theological Society of America, and the Workgroup for Constructive Theology. His previous two books, both winners of Catholic Press Association awards, are The Liberation of the Laity: In Search of an Accountable Church and Catholicism at the Crossroads: How the Laity Can Save the Church.

In his recently released book Church: Living Communion, Lakeland pays close attention to the classical “marks of the Church” while at the same time focusing on what we can learn about the nature of the Church as living communion. He does this by examining the values and practices of ordinary believers. He also explores ten questions that the Church must address. These questions affect both the internal workings of the Church and its relationships to other groups, religious and secular. He also offers a constructive proposal for a contextual ecclesiology of the U.S. Catholic Church that utilizes the images of hospice, pilgrim, immigrant, and pioneer.

Following is a sampling of what’s being said by Catholic theologians about Church: Living Communion.

“Paul Lakeland’s brilliant account of ecclesiology may well come to be recognized as the first truly twenty-first-century analysis of the Church. His study addresses the events and insights of the last decade and then transposes into a new key historical-critical readings of the New Testament, themes from Vatican II, ecumenical consensus statements, Lonergan’s methodology, and postmodern concerns. In an engaging, refreshing style, he also faces up to the Church’s failings in hard-hitting language, marked by stark realism. Finally, he gently poses ten challenges to the Church, which he deems eternal.”

– Michael A. Fahey, SJ,
Professor, Boston College

“This is a teaching moment in the Church and this is a teachable book on the Church. In this eminently readable book, Paul Lakeland offers his readers only what they need to know to think and talk intelligently about the identity and mission of the Church. With honesty, he describes the challenges facing the Church that perplex and polarize in a way suitable for debate in the classroom and in reading groups. He invites his readers to develop an inductive approach to ecclesiology, and in the process he promotes the cultivation of practical wisdom that can help communities respond to these challenges with genuine hope.”

– Bradford Hinze, Professor of Theology,
Fordham University

“Paul Lakeland’s Church: Living Communion seizes the moment of a church on the brink of change and points the direction forward. He defines the church realistically through its marks, and leads us through the serious internal and external challenges to its authentic witness. Attentive to the laity, he then builds a practical strategy for moving beyond survival to revival. All this in limpid accessible prose: brilliance in simplicity. This authoritative book will appeal to everyone who has a stake in the Catholic Church in North America today.”

– Roger Haight, SJ, Scholar in Residence,
Union Theological Seminary

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