Almost Catholic: An Appreciation of the History, Practice, & Mystery of Ancient Faith
By Jon M. Sweeney
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008
Review by Carl McColman
Raised evangelical and now an Episcopalian, Jon M. Sweeney (who is the editor of an ecumenical Christian publisher) has plenty of cred as a Protestant. But like many who were born on Luther’s side of the Reformation, he enjoys a deep love and attraction to Catholic culture, without feeling impelled to actually become a Catholic. In this heartfelt book he celebrates both the splendor and the kitsch of the Catholic world, dancing from veneration of the saints to novenas and rosaries to the sacramental emphasis on blessing and contemplation. With thoughtful chapters on topics such as excommunication and the value of hell in a postmodern faith, Sweeney’s vision of Catholicism from the outside is both honest and refreshing. His idea that the Catechism could be viewed as a “mystical novel” I find both beautiful and enlightening. As a life-long “almost Catholic” who four years ago went ahead and crossed the Tiber, I found plenty to reflect on in this book, which makes me suspect that cradle Catholics and confirmed Protestants might benefit from it as well.