Sunday, December 5, 2010

Review: Discovering Mary

Today I got around to reading Discovering Mary, by David Mills. The book is succinctly written--super easy read. It’s also structured very well and simply--chapters that are on target, broken up further into common questions. At one point in the book, David says that the book is adapted from an FAQ he wrote, and it certainly has that feel, which is actually a good thing for this purpose.

If I had to criticize something, it would be that at times his answers/explanations come across as bald assertions, and he doesn’t provide notes to back them up. I’m not saying what he says isn’t true or founded in research, but it would be nice for those who want to dig deeper on specific topics to have the notes with specific references. With that said, he does provide a solid bibliography at the end of the book for further reading, so that’s helpful.

What I did like, apart from the brevity and succinctness, is that I think he hits the crucial common questions and is very honest, saying things like isn’t that stretching things a bit? Honest sentiments that I know Protestants have--and myself, being a convert as well and having had these same thoughts. Heck, I still think that sometimes, but as David rightly points out, sometimes the Church sees better than She can explain. I’m coming up on 10 years as a Catholic this coming Easter, and I have to agree with him that actually living and experiencing the Faith with its Marian dimensions makes a big difference from just reading the propositions, evidence, and argumentation. That’s certainly been my experience with, for example, the rosary.

I was a tad unsatisfied with the devotions coverage. It’s not that he didn’t mention the “issues” we converts have, but that the answers were a bit too superficial for me--at least, I still feel a bit uncomfortable with some of the apparent hyperbolic language that Catholics use in regards to Mary--even though we all know the actual doctrine is sound. As David said at one point, the Church goes to great lengths to reinforce that we should not worship Mary or ascribe her true Divine nature, but at the same time, I still find myself kind of bristling at words like “our life, our sweetness, and our hope,” and I still don’t get “star of the sea.”

That’s just me, though; not sure if there is anything besides living with it longer that will help. I did learn a few things, especially in the titles and devotional chapters. Probably my favorite line in the book--and the one thing to take away from an apologetical perspective, is this:

You can’t love Mary only for herself. It makes no sense.

So compact but so meaningful, so true. Also, I sometimes have to remind myself that we’re talking about Jesus’ mom, and he’d probably be happy for us to compliment her, even if we do get a bit over the top at times.

Good book. Easy read. Covers what he says he’ll cover, well, and concisely. Recommended.

Thanks to the Catholic Company for sharing this book with me. As part of the FTC rules, I have to be clear that they gave this book to me in order to elicit a review. The Catholic Company is also a great source for first communion gifts and baptism gifts.