Announcing a new book by Joseph Stoutzenberger, Ph.D.: “A Catholic Worldview Today” (working title). It ties the hidden wisdom of Catholicism to larger cultural contexts in the clear and conversational tone Stoutzenberger’s previous works are known for. Expected publication in May.
Joseph Stoutzenberger, Ph.D., taught religion at a Catholic high school for eleven years, where he also coordinated retreat programs. He went on to teach religious studies in colleges and served as a campus minister. He taught in a catechist preparation program and ran workshops on parent-teen communication and for single and divorced Catholic groups. He has been involved in inter-religious dialogue for many years, especially working with Muslim organizations in Jewish-Catholic-Muslim dialogue. His hands-on experience led him to translate what contemporary theologians are saying and Catholic sources are discussing into language that relates to people who are not necessarily religious practitioners or church insiders. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, available in English since 1992, is meant to be a compendium of Catholic teaching. However, it was not originally designed to be put into the hands of people who are not already familiar with traditional Catholic concepts and language. Rather, it provides guidance for church leaders and ministers who are charged with helping others make sense of the Catholic faith.
For many years Stoutzenberger has taken up the challenge of explaining Catholic beliefs, practices, and worldviews to lay audiences. He wrote five widely used textbooks for high-school religion courses. He has written for college students and for general readers interested in exploring how Catholicism can speak to them as they examine their own spiritual life. His latest book, A Catholic Worldview Today (working title), is a culmination of his earlier work in its style, approach, and purpose. Stylistically, it presents information and explains complex concepts in clear but thorough language that relates elements of Catholicism to a larger cultural context. Its approach is engaging and conversational, inviting readers to relate what they are reading to their own lives. Its purpose is to assist spiritual seekers in delving into what wisdom the Catholic worldview offers as they seek to cultivate spirituality in our predominantly secular world.
In the marketplace of worldviews available today, both secular and religious, Catholicism can too easily be dismissed, like a treasure hidden in plain sight. Evangelical Christianity seems to be more lively and personal than Catholicism. Religions of the East offer spiritual practices and don’t seem to require accepting particular beliefs. Judaism makes sense as the religion for Jews, and Islam is closely allied with its exotic roots in the Middle East. Catholicism can be like the old neighbor next door. She always seemed to be there, but we never bothered to discover the wisdom she possessed, seek her advice about the challenges we face, or look below the surface to discover what her quaint ideas and practices mean. Stoutzenberger’s book invites readers to learn about and think about this religion, which is deeply rooted in tradition but ever-developing. He offers a fresh look at what Catholicism says about God, scripture, Jesus, the church, sacraments, and morality. He doesn’t confine his treatment of these topics to Catholic sources alone. No one today lives in a world that is exclusively Catholic, and Catholicism has always been in dialogue with cultures in which it found itself. Stoutzenberger relates Catholicism to a broader cultural context and vice versa. In so doing, readers will discover that a Catholic worldview should not be so easily dismissed but should be mined for the treasure it is.