Flying in the Face of Tradition: Listening to the Lived Experience of the Faithful

by Brother Louis DeThomasis, published by ACTA Publications

Reviewed by: Con Kelly

The quandary in which the Roman Catholic Church currently finds itself  is what Brother Louis DeThomasis calls a “crisis of confidence” in his insightful, provocative and hopeful new book titled Flying in the Face of Tradition:Listening to the Lived Experience of the Faithful.  He points to a way of unraveling the quandary by returning to the church’s historic belief in tradition as a source of ongoing revelation and renewal.

This is not an attack by someone intent on bringing down the church but rather a wake-up call for the church itself to recognize and embrace globalization, diversity, and democratization and begin to rebuild what he calls “koinonia” or “communio”.  He uses the issue of the ordination of women as a case study of how the institutional church has fallen out of step with its own members but could work its way back to relevance and effectiveness by listening to them.

Brother Louis makes it clear that he is not just criticizing others: “I know that I am as guilty as anyone of the many of the sins decried in this book. I too have been insensitive, closed-minded, arrogant, self-centered, too-quick-to- defend-the-indefensible and overly protective of myself and my fellow church-members. For this I am sorry. And for this reason I offer this book as a small token of atonement.”

But he does insist that the institutional church has to change quickly and fundamentally if it is to recover its credibility and authority.  People like him who have dedicated their entire lives to the church have to speak up, he says: “I am a 70-year old De LaSalle Brother, entering my eighth decade of life with anticipation, appropriate energy, and some well-developed understanding about the church that I feel I have not only a right but a duty to present to whomever might want to listen.”

Those who read this book will find Brother DeThomasis’ brief work to be both congenial and informative.

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