George Dennis O’Brien
Finding the Voice of the Church is written for a broad audience interested in the challenges facing the contemporary Catholic Church. These challenges are ones that should concern all Christians, not only Catholics. Noted scholar and commentator George Dennis O’Brien poses (and answers) three provocative questions: What is the proper voice of the church? Is there a voice of Christian faith? Can what is said about Christianity be fundamentally distorted by how it is said? Through his clear and relevant discussion of the basic content of Christianity, O’Brien concludes that the primary voice of Catholic Christianity, the papal teaching voice, must be radically “re-understood” if the Church is to be the proper medium and voice of the gospel message.
O’Brien begins with the primary voice of the Church: baptism, gospel, and Eucharist. He contends that too much official teaching from the Roman magisterium to the local pulpit reverses the order of the ancient formula lex orandi, lex credendi (the law of prayer is the law of faith) and therefore misses its message. In the second part of the book, he turns to specific consideration of the papal voice as the teaching voice of the Church. O’Brien concludes with a series of practical suggestions for how the practices and institutions of the Church can again become the authentic voice of faith. This is a book all concerned Christians will want to read and discuss.
“What makes this book a must is that it is not only creative, it is also a new kind of theological voice in the American Catholic church. O’Brien is neither a cleric nor an academic theologian. But he is a wise and discerning Catholic layman who has much to teach both the clerics and the theologians. There is absolutely nothing else out there that is like it.” —Paul Lakeland, Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., Professor of Catholic Studies, Fairfield University
“This is a contemporary and passionate revisioning of authority in the Roman Catholic Church from the perspective of a committed layman. O’Brien . . . articulates two viewpoints, or ‘voices,’ that seemingly encapsulate the debate in modern Catholicism regarding faith and ecclesiology. . . . Somewhat philosophical, the text, complete with eight pages of endnotes, is easily understood and devoid of much theological jargon. Recommended for all libraries interested in theological titles.” — Library Journal
“A philosopher by training and a cradle Catholic, O’Brien has a deep commitment to his religious tradition and strong opinions about how it is being handed on. Reading this in the preface, I was buoyed by the hope that Finding the Voice of the Church would be a book nurtured by a mature faith sufficiently critical to cut deep and sufficiently grace-filled to offer healing—minus academic jargon. I think the author succeeds. . . . Finding the Voice of the Church is not theology-lite; neither are its rewards. For careful readers, it can nourish hope, strengthen faith and maybe complicate the intent of Matt 23:9.” — America
“To be both a defender of the faith and an advocate of church reform is not easy. King Henry VIII failed spectacularly in that mission, but in his new book George Dennis O’Brien succeeds wonderfully. . . . Employing a masterly command of philosophy, theology, literature, drama, and art, O’Brien proposes another theological approach. . . . O’Brien, [in] this book, will help committed believers understand the solid ground on which they stand without flattening that ground or pretending to map it completely. . . . [It is] original, astute, and praiseworthy.” — Commonweal
“In response to the divide between papal teaching and the opinions of both the Catholic left and the Catholic right, O’Brien opens an inquiry into what the voice of Christian faith is and to what extent, and by what means, the church is capable of being the medium for the Gospels. He looks at the papal voice and official teaching, from the Roman Magisterium to the local pulpit. He also proposes ways in which the church can re-envision the structure and tone of its teaching to be a more authentic voice of the faithful.” — Conscience
“It is a soul-searching exploration, a challenge to the status quo, a thinking-out-loud, an invitation to reassess. . . . But those who are open to the stimulation of looking at the Church in an unconventional way will be impressed with the wit and wisdom of a grandfather who loves the Church and knows it can do better.” — St. Anthony Messenger
“In this very important work, O’Brien employs all the his ample philosophical acumen to bring us through a consideration of who speaks for the church and how such a one must speak in order to be heard . . . . This book is an important contribution to the many volumes claiming to examine the problems in the Catholic Church today. However, this work emerges above the others in its fascinating consideration of the religious persona and its ability to transform the reader’s suppositions about the very nature of faith and teaching.” — Catholic Library World
“George Dennis O’Brien thinks the Church has lost its voice. . . . [He] has something to say about how the church should speak to its members and the world at large (and about what the church should say), and he is ready to tell Rome and the rest of us how to recover our voice. And after reading Finding the Voice of the Church, I think the Vatican, the U.S. bishops, the clergy, and the folks in the pews could do a lot worse than pulling up a chair and giving O’Brien—and one another—a good hard listen.” — U.S. Catholic
“_Finding the Voice of the Church_ seems to offer something for most everyone. . . . George Dennis O’Brien has listened to and sounded a wide variety of voices to establish a solid foundation and to suggest a voice for the church in the world today.” — CatholicBooksReview.org
“As the church finds itself in what O’Brien describes as a ‘profound crisis’ (xi), the author sets about with humor and exaggeration, but serious intent, to describe a way in which the church can begin, not to change or even to reform . . . a process of listening so that it can understand the value of the voices of the concerned from all parts of society, within and outside the Catholic Church.” — American Catholic Studies
“While oriented toward a Catholic audience, this volume can prove engaging to Protestant and others as a lively exercise in developing a narrative theology and ethics out of a scholastic institution. . .". — Religious Studies Review
Selected for Public and Secondary School Libraries in 2008, American Library Association Finalist in Religion Category, Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award for 2007Finalist in Religion Category, Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award for 2007