Book Club Channel
Reading Guide for "The Pope Who Quit"
"Jon Sweeney, one of my favorite contemporary spiritual writers, turns his considerable talents to the story of the world's best known translation of the world's best known book. By recounting its fascinating history, showing the superlative beauty of its prose, describing its lasting effect on individual believers, and even pointing out its occasional if inadvertent humor (e.g., 'He stinketh'), Sweeney will make you love a beloved translation even more."
—James Martin, S.J., author of the New York Times Bestseller, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything (for Verily, Verily)
"Like C. S. Lewis, Sweeney is able to appreciate and teach a large-C Catholic understanding while maintaining a small-c catholic identity that is uninterested in fully aligning itself with the church he admires and even seems to accept—in a limited way—as authoritative."
—Elizabeth Scalia, writing for InsideCatholic.com (for Almost Catholic)
"Jon M. Sweeney's Almost Catholic could be about as purely a post-evangelical book as I could recommend, but it is almost entirely about personal spirituality and not the church. Subtitled An Appreciation of the History, Practice and Mystery of Ancient Faith, it's a good popular survey, with a balance of appreciation and creative, critical engagement. Sweeney is less critical toward Catholicism than I would recommend, but the book is still extremely helpful for those who like to wade in, but not swim across, the Tiber."
"Charming...should find readers among those who enjoy Thomas Merton's writings or Philip Gröning's documentary film Into Great Silence."
—Graham Christian, Library Journal (for Cloister Talks)
"An informational yet personal account of the transformative power of the Catholic and Orthodox churches' special role models. Sweeney, in very accessible concepts and language, presents a marvelously contemporary and inclusive theology of sanctity and saints....both a miniature encyclopedia on saints and a book of spiritual reflection."
—Catholic Library World (for The Lure of Saints)
"Sweeney achieves a fine balance between excellent scholarship and sweet accessibility for every average reader. To learn the life of Francis, to learn to love that life, and at the same time to experience the time in which he lived, this is the book to read."
—Walter Wangerin, Jr., author of The Book of God (for The Road to Assisi)
"Fundamentalists and those who love them will appreciate Sweeney's abiding affection for the faith he left, while those who fear the religious right may be relieved to discover that it has a gentle side."
—Publishers Weekly, (for Born Again and Again)
"If you ever wondered what a monk's life might be like, if you don't mind looking into a mirror to see the craziness of life in our culture, if you think you might splurge and go deeper with God, Sweeney shares his cloistered, very human and wise friends with us as companions along the way.
—James C. Howell, author of The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray (for Cloister Talks)
"Over a century after its 1894 release, this excellent biography of Francis of Assisi has been re-released with some delicate editing by Jon Sweeney. In his Introduction, Sweeney pays tribute to author Paul Sabatier, making it clear that this biography remains timeless due to the French biographer's extensive research as well as his ability to capture the true humanity of St. Francis.... One of the highlights of this new edition is Jon Sweeney's sidebar commentary, which adds a satisfying layer of depth and richness to Sabatier's text."
—Gail Hudson, Religion Editor, Amazon.com (for The Road to Assisi)