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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Rebuilding Catholic Culture

An interview with Dr. Ryan N.S. Topping about his book Rebuilding Catholic Culture

Dr. Ryan N. S. Topping earned a doctorate in theology at Oxford, is a Fellow at Thomas More College in New Hampshire, and has written two books about St. Augustine. His recently published book, Rebuilding Catholic Culture: How The Catechism Can Shape Our Common Life (Sophia Institute Press, 2012), has been praised by Fr. Aidan Nichols, OP (“This book deserves to Rtopping_rebuildingcatholicculturetake its place among the Catholic classics.”), Joseph Pearce (“Ryan Topping wields the Catechism as a weapon of wisdom…”), and Fr. John Saward (“This profound work of scholarship is a delight to read.”), among others. 

Dr. Topping corresponded recently with Catholic World Report about his book, and discussed the Catechism of the Catholic Church, resisting the modern and secular “masters”, the challenges posed by modernity, the various assaults on Catholicism and the family, and why Kant rules our days and Nietzsche our night life. 

Catholic World Report: It has now been nearly twenty years since the Catechism of the Catholic Church was published in English. How well or how poorly do you think it has been received and used in that time? How do you hope Rebuilding Catholic Culture will inspire a deeper reading and appreciation of the Catechism?

Dr. Topping: The work of the restoration of culture is the work of saints. How are saints born? They are born through grace, to be sure. But grace is aided by precept and example. The task of reclaiming our culture for the Church is a battle with many fronts. Far more important than good books is the renewal of liturgy within our churches and the restoration of order within our families and schools. Books rarely excite without lively teachers to place them in our hands.

To explain a doctrine is to teach, but to illustrate how its meaning can transform action is to excite. I tried to keep both of these aims in view while writing. My hope is that Rebuilding Catholic Culture will in some small way strengthen the nerve and excite the imagination of its readers.
CWR: You write, in the Introduction, that, “Intellectual humility is a great good, but self-imposed humiliation before our medical, moral, and political masters is unbecoming.” What are some examples of that “self-imposed humiliation” and why do so many Catholics embrace it? What are some examples of these modern masters? 

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