Item description for Following Christ: How to Live a Moral Life by Daniel Lowery...
Overview Moving from apostolic times to the present, Following Christ includes sections on the foundations of the moral teaching of Christ and the Church, God's love for us in Christ, and moral freedom and the dignity of moral conscience. Includes practical questions that offer opportunity to apply the Church's teaching on topics such as the value of human life, sexuality, organ transplants, drug use, money, and responsible parenthood. This text has been granted the imprimatur.
Publishers Description Moving from apostolic times to the present, "Following Christ" includes sections on the foundations of the moral teaching of Christ and the Church, God's love for us in Christ, and moral freedom and the dignity of moral conscience. Includes practical questions that offer opportunity to apply the Church's teaching on topics such as the value of human life, sexuality, organ transplants, drug use, money, and responsible parenthood. This text has been granted the imprimatur. "Paperback"
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Studio: Liguori Publications
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.24" Width: 5.48" Height: 0.54" Weight: 0.54 lbs.
Release Date Oct 1, 2000
Publisher Liguori Publications
ISBN 0892438509 ISBN13 9780892438501
Reviews - What do customers think about Following Christ: How to Live a Moral Life?
Although Still Too Exclusively Anchored in Vatican-2 Mindset, Lowery's Revision of His Morality/Ethics Manual Gains in Relevance Dec 25, 2009
Having reviewed separately for this site the original (1982) edition of Daniel L. Lowery's "Following Christ", in assessing the Revised Edition (1996), it seems helpful to compare the two editions to aid a purchaser to decide which of the editions to obtain for himself, or whether having the earlier of the two, it is sufficiently desirable to acquire the revision. The bibliographic details for the two editions of Lowery's book on the aspect of Catholic teaching of which it treats are as follows:
Following Christ : a Handbook of Catholic Moral Teaching / Daniel L. Lowery. -- [First ed.]. -- Liguori, Mo. : Liguori Publications, cop. 1982. -- 159 p. -- ISBN: 0-89243-173-3 (pbk.). -- Includes index.
Following Christ : Referenced to the Catechism of the Catholic Church / Daniel L. Lowery. -- Rev. ed. -- Liguori, Mo. : Liguori Publications, cop. 1996. -- xi, 177 p. -- ISBN: 0-89243-850-9 (pbk.). -- Includes bibliography and index.
This book, in either edition, has many excellences and it does make a sufficient introduction to its subject, i.e. Catholic moral and ethical teaching in a 20th century context. The Revised Edition resembles the first edition more than it differs from it, hence the comments here apply to both, unless noted.
The book's author is a Redemptorist priest and he displays the loyalty to genuine Catholic teaching that still prevailingly characterises members of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, a religious order which has suffered rather less from the wild excesses of post-Vatican II chaos than most priestly orders have. The Redemptorists certainly seem restrained compared to the Paulist Fathers, the Marists, or the Jesuits, three orders which in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council ("Vat-2"), to a large extent, "went berzerk", as all too many priestly, monastic, and women's religious orders did in the sorry, confused, and ongoing aftermath of Vat-2.
Nonetheless, there is an air of decidedly Vat-2 sensibilities in both editions of Lowery's book. There is a crying absence of pre-Vat-2 statements from the many, many Church councils that preceded Vat-2 way back in a chronological succession of councils which, after all, go back to the Apostolic and Patristic eras. The initial oecumenical council, the reader should recall, was one held in Jerusalem, the dealings of which St. Luke himself reported in the Book of Acts in the New Testament (N.T.). At least Lowery uses the conciliar documents of Vat-2 responsably, without distorting their genuine intentions to any irksome degree. On the other hand, Lowery draws on the many (indeed, tiresomely frequent) public statements of the national bishops' conferences of the U. S. of A. and of Canada too extensively, even more so in the 1996 edition (accounting in part for its increase in length) than in that of 1982. Due to their own hypocrysy, many folks, Catholic and others alike, pay increasingly little heed to the pronouncements of these organisations, which have proven how resistent they are to criticism of bishops in the scandals, those of a sexual nature especially, of recent decades, especially across the U. S. of A., the bishops merely closing ranks to maintain secrecy and to resist judicial accounting for their negligence. This has not impressed the public at all, and it can be tiresome to read the fulsome prose of these less-than-saintly yet sanctimonious clerics at such length, even when dealing soundly with the noblest of causes. It would have been better for Lowery to have used the space to quote and discuss what the past Catholic thinkers of nobler character have written on so many of these matters.
There is some advantage, at least, in quoting only from the conciliar documents of Vat-2, the most recent of Roman Catholic Church Councils, which the Catholic Church (but not the Eastern Orthodox Church) considers to have oecumenical conciliar status. This advantage is the avoidance of the kind of obsessive scrupulosity that so beset earlier Catholic thinking and writing on personal morality and ethics, a legalistic mindset which Lowery and the Vat-2 Council Fathers themselves mostly set aside, apart from such an issue as masturbation, about which Lowery is as "hung-up" as ever a Catholic moralist of the past has been about this peccadillo, so prevalent and inevitable in (and irresistible to) pubescent male adolescents as they discover, explore, and exercise pleasurably their developing sexuality (and which men, notably older than that, continue to enjoy, at least occasionally), whether they are of the Catholic or of any other faith (or, indeed, of none). Lowery's strictures on the topic (cf. page 135 in the Revised Edition) to which so many other Catholic teachers long have referred as "self-abuse" (an expression which Lowery himself, rather fortunately, does not use in this book's consideration of the topic) remain in the book's revision. Nonetheless, the documents of earlier councils, and the writings and transmitted sayings also of Catholic saints and theologians did regard moral (and sexual) purity and also fairness between social classes with a dignity and sense of "The Holy" that are entitled to more than merely being shoved entirely aside in favour of everything that is claimed to embody, whether rightly or to poor efect, the highly vaunted "spirit of Vat-2" and its so often sorry aftermath!
Some moral dilemmas, but really rather few, have arisen not only since the earlier writers to which I allude, but even since the time of the first edition of Lowery's book. There are two issues in particular, treated in the 1996 Revised Edition, which Lowery had not discussed in the 1982 edition. One was an oversight in the 1982 edition regarding a fairly longstanding ethical question, i.e. the Catholic attitude towards unionisation of labour, the resort to strikes, and jusitifying participation in them, and Lowery deals with this succinctly and well on pages 149 and 150 of the Revised Edition. The other is, indeed, a moral question that largely has arisen since the publication date of the 1982 edition, namely the dreadful affliction of AIDS and even of the outbreak of epidemics of that fatal affliction. On pages 104-106 Lowery teaches soundly about AIDS, drawing on the relevant teaching of former times about disease, its causality, charitable care of (and concern for) the sick, and the moral ramifications of all of this. His position on AIDS seems to me to be sound and reasonable on that vexing issue, too. The attention that Lowery draws to these issues of wide social impact helps to make this 1996 revision of book somewhat more relevant than even the original 1982 edition of it had been.
In his defense regarding Lowery's use of authoritative sources, one should note that Lowery does quote from some of the pre-Vat-2 saints of the Church, e.g., St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, St. Alphonsus Liguori (of course! since Liguori was such a famed Redemptorist!), as well as from a few popes whose reigns precede those of the overrated and over-quoted John Paul II. Of the popes preceding John Paul II, Lowery quotes from Popes Leo XIII, Pius XII, and (in Vat-2 times) John XXIII and Paul VI. He should, however, have quoted the words of many more pre-Vat-2 saints, popes, and others than he chose to do so. The same applies to theologians. The words of such among them as Bernard Haering (a Redemptorist, but one of at times quite suspiciously modernist tendencies), Timothy O'Connell, Kevin O'Rourke, and others, among post-Vat-2 theologians, are well chosen, at least as they occur in Lowery's quotations of them. Lowery does quote from earlier Catholic theologians and scholars at times, but the bias really is too excessively in favour of very recent Catholic thinkers.
Typical of his (and others') Vat-2 preferences, Lowery resorts to the often banal New American Bible (N.A.B.) translation of Holy Scripture, for the numerous Bible quotes which welcomely pepper this study. (Lowery had made use of the original 1970 edition of the N.A.B. in the first edition of "Following Christ" and he resorts to the N.A.B.'s text as it stood as of 1991 for use in the Revised Edition of "Following Christ".). The N.A.B. falls grievously short, in any edition of that version, of the task of acceptably rendering the Sacred Scriptures into English. It would have been much better if Lowery had given the reader the benefit of any of several far better 20th century Catholic versions to which he could have resorted, especially to the much superior Confraternity Version (O.T. from no edition or printing later than 1969, N.T. of 1941), which the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine forced into disuse when its catchpenny N.A.B. version initially appeared, or to the Knox Version, the Revised Standard Version (first Catholic Edition), or the Jerusalem Bible translations, all of which had appeared prior to 1982 and any one of which Lowery much more advisedly could have used as preferred text from which to quote in his first edition of the book. By 1996 Lowery also could have made use (in the Revised Edition of his work) of the New Jerusalem Bible, a moderate revision of the earlier Jerusalem Bible. Instead, Lowery persisted in quoting from the then latest text of the shabby N.A.B. in his revision of "Following Christ".
Despite its limitations, as studies of Catholic morality and ethics go, especially those intended (as Lowery's book is) for the laity, "Following Christ" makes for a balanced and sane point of departure. For someone interested in seeking out Lowery's book for purchase, it makes little difference which of the two editions he acquires. The newer edition profits from use of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (C.C.C.), although for the most part Lowery simply inserts references to the C.C.C. (by these initials) within the text of "Following Christ" as Lowery only slightly revised what he had written in the original edition. There are other passages of the book, however, where the words themselves of the C.C.C. are quoted, and to good effect. Keying (even if rather minimally) "Following Christ" to the C.C.C. makes Lowery's work more useful for Catholic study groups. The layman reading it, or his clerical or otherwise professional guide, can supplement himself Lowery's tome with earlier books, published before the 1960s, on these matters, to give a more balanced view of the riches that Catholicism over the ages has provided in treatises and Church documents for readers at all levels and of all ages.