Church History that engages and challenges
Guest post by Owen Swain.
[A Book Review]
As we arrive at Pentecost Sunday the beginning of the Church is fresh in our hearts and minds. Pentecost is exactly where this engaging book begins.
The Story of The Church Revised and Expanded, Alfred McBride, O. Praem is the perfect book for people who love the Church but history, not-so-much. It’s also primed for anyone inquiring about the Catholic Church.
The writing style and the format is thoroughly accessible yet informed by a solid scholarly and educational provenance and is completed by an extensive Bibliography and topical Index.
History comes alive as the content is delivered in creative modes not found in conventional history books, modes such as, the short story, plays, fictional character interviews, dialogues and even diary entries. As McBride says in his Introduction, “This book is history from a human perspective, I believe that straight narrative history tends to distance the reader from the event” . While this might offend the sensibility of some scholars it serves to make major moments in the life of the Church accessible as well as making memorable a broad overview of the Church’s story in world history.
One also gets a sense of how the Church has been a positive force in our world from the day of Pentecost forward as well as how it has dealt with major schism, the impact of moveable type and the Protestant Reformation as well as the many callenging issues arising in the post Vatican II era. It includhees new material on the life, service and import of Bl. John Paul II.
This revised edition is visually appealing for today’s history buff making use of sidebars to highlight points, raise questions and present quick-look facts and additional and anecdotal information. End chapter notes encourage further study and “Connecting to our times” life-application challenges.
For all these reasons Fr. McBride’s book would make an interesting supplementary R.C.I.A. text, book-club feature, small group or classroom study in the hands of a solid leader.
Now, condensing just over two thousands years of a living Catholic history into 330 pages does mean McBride’s book doesn’t even try to be comprehensive and systematic as the monumental six volume work by Warren H. Carroll, A History of Christendom. But neither is it the flash-card approach of the contemporary classic, The Compact History of the Catholic Church by Alan Schreck.
For those unfamiliar with Fr. Alfred McBride he “holds a diploma in catechetics from Lumen Vitae, Brussels and a doctorate in religious education from the Catholic University of America”  and is the author of numerous books on the Catholic faith including two multi volume series and A Short History of the Mass.
For this reader there are minor nits in terms of a few perhaps more liberal overtones. But go for the big picture here and the book does not disappoint. Fact is we need more positive, non defensive, non polemical books like this for the average Catholic and the inquiring non-Catholic to read and understand the good that is our Catholic Church.
This book published by St. Anthony Messenger Press when combined with a weekend or a few quite evenings at home, a suitable beverage and a comfy chair will benefit anyone hungry for a practical and lively approach to the story of the Church.
Owen is / a former Protestant minister / crossed the Tiber 2006 / a visual artist owenswain.com
This review was written as part of the Catholic Book reviewer Program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Story of the Church Revised and Expanded Edition.
As a reviewer for The Catholic Company, Owen was given a copy of The Story of the Church in exchange for my honest review.
 page vii
 Back jacket author bio.