December 1, 2017

New book says people should be Catholics because the Church is true, good and beautiful

Reviewed by John F. Fink

Cover of Why I Am Catholic (And You Should Be Too)Probably the single most important problem the Catholic Church in the United States faces today is the fact that it is losing its young people. The Pew Research Center has found that almost exactly half of millennials who were raised Catholic no longer call themselves Catholic today, and that 80 percent of people who have left the Catholic Church have left before age 23. And, unlike those of earlier generations, they are not returning after they marry and start raising a family.

That’s why the book Why I Am Catholic (And You Should Be Too) is one of the most important books published this year.

Brandon Vogt now works for Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron’s Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, but in this book he explains why he converted and was received into the full communion of the Church as a 20-year‑old mechanical engineering student at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla.

In doing so, he acknowledges, he went in the opposite direction of most people his age. Choosing to be Catholic in today’s culture is provocative and countercultural. All the more reason, then, for young people to read this book.

At 178 pages, the book is a fast read. Vogt tells how he carefully studied the Church’s claims and how he prayed, read, thought and discussed the Church. He finally became a Catholic, he writes, for the same reason as G. K. Chesterton did: that Catholicism is true. But, he says, it’s also good and beautiful, so the book is divided into three parts: Catholicism Is True, Catholicism Is Good, and Catholicism Is Beautiful.

Each part has multiple chapters and each chapter has sub-parts. But the chapter heads give a good idea of how he treats each part. Catholicism is true, he says, because God exists, because we need religion, because Jesus is God, and because Jesus started the Church.

Catholicism is good, he says, because it built western civilization, because of its heroic charity, because it doesn’t go with the times, and because it offers true forgiveness.

Catholicism is beautiful, he says, because it cherishes beauty, because it lifts us up, and because it’s for everybody.

Vogt insists that his book isn’t just a conversion memoir—there are lots of those—but an appeal to readers that they should consider Catholicism. Even exploring the Catholic Church is an act of rebellion in this culture, he says. “It’s not rebellious to get drunk, criticize institutions, pursue sex and money, or come out as an atheist,” he says. “Everyone’s doing that. Those are all mainstream. What’s truly radical is to consider a Church that billions of people have embraced throughout history, but millions of people today dismiss as bigoted and outdated.”

Maybe the Catholic Church is wrong, evil and ugly, as it’s portrayed, he says. Or, “Maybe in a strange and confused world, the Catholic Church looks so backward because everyone else is facing the wrong direction.”

It’s an excellent book for Catholics, especially young Catholics, and for anyone who is asking the important questions of life.

(John F. Fink is editor emeritus of The Criterion. Why I Am Catholic (And You Should Be Too) by Brandon Vogt is available on Amazon. The cost is $14.26 in hardcover, and $8.49 on Kindle.)

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